Russia, once the largest and most powerfulmember of the former USSR, remains a fascinating country to visit.
It is a country of contrasts, from great subtropicalbeaches to bitterly cold winter regions in the north.
The east may have fewer people, but its lovelycities are among the most interesting in Russia and can hold their own against the west.
Russia is steeped in history everywhere atraveler goes, from vicious battles to great classical music and literature.
Here’s a look at the best places to visitin Russia: Number 10.
Yekaterinburg Yekaterinburg has been the setting of numerousimportant events in Russia’s history.
It is here that the Romanovs were executedand Boris Yeltsin came to power.
Lying next to the Ural Mountains, the citywas once the object of a gem rush, as miners poured into Yekaterinburg hoping to make theirfortune.
Nowadays, it has lots of historical and culturalsites for visitors to enjoy.
With a growing economy, many bars and cafesare springing up and there is a fantastic gastronomic scene.
Sochi Sochi on the Black Sea is a great winter sportsdestination and, in fact, it hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Despite winter snow, Sochi offers a subtropicalclimate and great beaches, making it a key part of the Russian Riviera.
The resort city makes a great summer and wintergetaway for Russians.
Strolling along the pedestrian-only sea embankmentis a pleasant experience.
From here, you can go hiking in Agura Valleyor head to the nearby ski resorts in the mountains – where the Olympics took place.
Veliky Novgorod Lying on the banks of the Volkhov River, thisancient city was the first capital of Russia all the way back in the 9th Century.
Set on an important trade route between CentralAsia and Europe, Veliky Novgorod thankfully avoided being destroyed in the Second WorldWar, so most of its fantastic monasteries and monuments are intact.
The medieval heart of the city is fascinatingto explore, and numerous old churches can be found.
The 11th Century St Sophia’s Cathedral isjust one of many highlights, alongside St George’s Cathedral, the oldest monasteryin Russia.
Vladivostok Mountains and bays surround Vladivostok, makingit a stunning beautiful city in Russia’s east.
The last stop on the Trans-Siberian Railway, Vladivostok is the country’s largest port on the Pacific Ocean; it is just a jump awayfrom North Korea and China.
Some lovely architecture can be found interspersedamongst Soviet-era buildings.
A city on the move, new theaters and culturalattractions are opening up in Vladivostok, while its fantastic restaurant scene is perfectlycomplemented by trendy cocktail bars and pumping nightlife.
Nizhny Novgorod With the Volga and Oka Rivers running throughit, Nizhny Novgorod is most famed for the spectacular hilltop kremlin looking out overthe spot where the two tributaries join.
Although it is understandably the highlightof what is on offer, the city has more than enough to entertain visitors for a coupleof days.
There are some great museums and restaurantsfor tourists to enjoy, as well as lovely views of the surroundings.
From here, you can go on a scenic river cruiseto some of the villages and towns nearby.
Lake Baikal Many travelers on the Trans-Siberian railwaymake plans to stop at Lake Baikal, the deepest and oldest lake on Earth.
Lake Baikal holds around 20 percent of theworld’s fresh water and is considered one of the clearest lakes in the world.
Located in Siberia, the 25-million-year-oldlake is surrounded by beautiful mountain ranges.
Known as the Pearl of Siberia, Lake Baikalis home to several resorts, making the area a popular vacation destination.
Kazan Kazan is sometimes referred to as the Istanbulof the Volga because it is a city where European and Asian cultures meet.
The capital of Tatarstan is a lovely citywhere church tower and minarets fill the skyline.
Also known as the third capital of Russia, after Moscow and St.
Petersburg, Kazan residents enjoy one of the highest standards of livingin Russia.
Sights to see include the remains of the KazanKremlin that was destroyed by Ivan the Terrible and the Kul-Sharif Mosque, named after a mankilled defending Kazan from Ivan.
Golden Ring The Golden Ring strings together several citiesoutside of Moscow that fill the senses with awe.
Picturesque countrysides filled with cherryorchards, quaint cottages, onion-shaped domes and iconic churches that contain the country’soldest art make this region a special place to visit.
One of the oldest regions in Russia, todayit is very popular with tourists who want to experience a bygone era.
The traditional way to view the cities andtowns makes a counter clockwise loop beginning and ending in Moscow.
Saint Petersburg Only founded in 1703, Saint Petersburg’stumultuous history has seen it change names numerous times.
The former capital from which the Tsars oncereigned hosted the Communist Revolution and was later sieged by the Nazis.
With a Western European feel to it, elegantpalaces and grand cathedrals are abundant in the city, while lovely, leafy parks makeit a simply beautiful place to wander around.
Rivers and canals cut through Saint Petersburg, and delightful bridges cross its waterways.
Not to be missed is the spectacular art collectionat the Hermitage Museum.
Moscow As the capital of Russia, Moscow is the mostimportant city in Russia, but not just for political reasons alone.
This city of more than 12 million is alsowell known for its artistic endeavors, including ballet, symphonies and art.
Onion-shaped domes of historic churches fillthe skyline.
The stately Kremlin and impressive Red Square, one of the largest squares in the world, are sights not to be missed, as are statues ofLenin and Stalin, controversial leaders in the 20th century.
Further evidence that Moscow’s past wasn’talways squeaky clean can be seen in the Gulag and Cold War museums.