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Top tourist places in Russia

Lake Baikal

When it comes to breaking records Lake Baikal is hard to beat. This massive high-altitude rift lake in Siberia is the oldest and deepest lake in the world—reaching a maximum depth of 1,642 meters and an estimated 25 million years of age. Baikal is also the largest freshwater lake in the world—over 20 percent of the world's fresh water is in this lake.

Although Lake Baikal is considered one of the clearest lakes in the world, this is particularly noticeable in winter, where, in some areas, it's possible to see up to 40 meters down into the water—even though much of the lake's surface freezes over for up to five months of the year.

For about a month around August the lake's water temperature can reach around 16 degrees Celsius, making it suitable for quick dips or short swims. During the rest of the year, however, it usually stays under five degrees Celsius.

In summer, Lake Baikal is a famous destination for kayaking, boat cruises, and island hopping to discover shorelines and beaches. In winter, when the lake freezes over, visitors can cross-country ski across sections of it and visit the frozen Tazheran Steppes caves.

Moscow

Since most international flights arrive or at least stop in Moscow, it's worth planning your trip so you at least have a few hours to explore the city. Russia's capital is a magnificent mix of greenery, stunning architecture, and lots of reminders of times gone by.

Visitors to Moscow usually start exploring in the center where the Kremlin, Red Square, and the colorful St. Basil's Cathedral are located. The shopping mall GUM with its glass and steel roof is also a popular destination—even by tourists who can't afford the luxury brands sold here—and a great place to try authentic Russian food.

Even if museums are not your thing Moscow has some amazing options including The State Tretyakov Gallery (which houses only Russian art); the Pushkin Museum (for more international collections); and the Kremlin Armory Museum for a look into some unique items such as the ivory throne of Ivan and gold-covered imperial carriages. The Bolshoi Theater one of the largest ballet and opera theaters in the world is also worth a visit if you can get tickets.

Some of the best things in Moscow require some walking to be properly explored such as the pedestrian-only shopping street Stary Arbat and the boardwalk along the River Moskva.

Moscow's Metro stations are a work of art in themselves decorated with porcelain relief, crystal chandeliers, and unique mosaic artworks that make these places basically look like subterranean palaces.

St. Peter burg

Although smaller than Moscow St. Peters burg actually has so much to offer it's often impossible to see it all in one day. Compared to Moscow St. Peters burg feels more European—fine art and exquisite design details mixing in with around every corner. You can explore it on foot to admire the architecture up close and personal or hop on a cruise to explore part of the 300 kilometres of canals that through the imperial city.

For a stunning overdose of white and gold colors visit Moika Palace (most famous for being the place where Rasputin) and the Neoclassical, 19th-century St. Isaac's Cathedral, which is actually a Russian Orthodox museum.

The Hermitage Museum perhaps St. Peters burg's most famous tourist attraction and the second largest art and culture museum in the world has a collection of over three million items that cover everything from prehistoric art (including articles from the nomadic tribes in Altai) to Catherine the Great's art collection.

About 25 kilometers outside of St. Peters burg, and more than worth the day trip, is Peterhof Palace. Built in the early 1700s as a summer residence for Peter the Great, it greatly resembles the Palace of Versailles in France.