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The project

 What is it about?

You are planning a visit to Russia. What do you want to see? Is it really worthwhile? You have never been there. First, you will ask your friends. If they do not have any ideas, you will buy guidebooks or search the internet. Then you will discover that many guidebooks are lousy, and that you can relatively easily find information on a small number of top attractions (Moscow, Saint-Petersburg, Novgorod, the Golden Ring, Transsiberian Railway) but almost nothing beyond that. If you do not read Russian, then for many attractions you will not find anything. And, besides, to find something you need to know what you are searching for — what is interesting to see in Russia.

Our intention is to present at this website what is interesting to see. Obviously, some selection is unavoidable, but we will try to present what we believe is worthwhile. The major part of the information is taken from other sources or found in the internet, and we do not really perform deep research. Instead, we present a relatively short article for each attraction, and include some practical information - how to get there, where to eat, where to sleep and so on. For further reading we give links to other websites (most of which are unfortunately only in Russian). The only important restriction is that the text and pictures at each page are original (the authors are listed). The project coordinator is Yaroslav Blanter, . If you have any comments or want to add some material, please write to him or leave a notice in the guestbook. All comments are very welcome.

The English part of this site is still underdeveloped, but we are adding new pages. If the information you need is not available, come back later — soon or later it will appear at our website.

This website is available at and mirrored at (free hosting with pop-ups). They are identical and updated simultaneously. The original mirror,, is closed.

 How to use this guide?

Every page describes an individual attraction: a town, sometimes with surroundings, an estate, or a monastery, a natural attraction, like an island, a mountain ridge, or a canyon, an industrial object, for instance, a railroad or a canal. The information is subdivided into parts: General information; Attractions (if possible, with pictures); practical information (transport, food, hotels); and also collection of links (most of them in Russian).

To make the orientation easier, some attractions have ratings. We give 3 — worth a journey, 2 — worth a detour, 1 — interesting. The ratings are very much subjective. We try not to overdo, and the ratings are more for convenience. If an attraction does not have a rating, it does not mean it is of no interest.

This page contains a list of Russian attractions which got the rating 3. From this page, links point out to those pages of individual attractions which are ready, and to the pages of subjects (republics, krays — territories, and regions) of Russian Federation. The pages of individual subjects contain (provisional) lists of all objects of interest included into this guide (not necessarily with three stars). Currently, only the objects with ratings are mentioned (unless the pages are actually ready). This page shows the updates of the website.

There is no unique way of transliterating of Cyrillic characters, used in Russian, into Latin letters. This means that Russian names can look differently in English, depending of the chosen transliteration system. As a rule, we follow the transliteration shown below (Russian letter first, English letter second):

— Aa;   — Bb;   — Vv;   — Gg;   — Dd;   — Ee;   — Yo yo;   — Zh zh;   — Zz;   — Ii;   — Yy;   — Kk;   — Ll;   — Mm;   — Nn;   — Oo;   — Pp;   — Rr;   — Cc;   — Tt;   — Uu;   — Ff;   — Kh kh;   — Ts ts;   — Ch ch;   — Sh sh;   — Shch shch;   — ' ;   — Yy;   — ' ;   — Ee;   — Yu yu;   — Ya ya .

The endings - and - in adjectives are traditionally transliterated as -y (Nizhny Novgorod). We may deviate from this system in case of internationally known names. We use existing names, for instance Moscow rather than Moskva.

 Essentials of travel in Russia

If you are used to travel in Western Europe or North America, some things in Russia could surprise you. This could be a lifetime experience, and we are not going to provide you with all the details in advance, but you might want to know some things which may help you to enjoy the trip. A very brief list is below. It is definitely not intended to scare the independent traveler and made him/her to change his/her mind. On the contrary, as soon as you understand the rules of the game, you will immensely enjoy your trip.

  • Unless you are a national of one of the CIS countries, you need a visa to visit Russia. You can not get visa on the border upon arrival. You need to apply in a Russian consulate, and often well in advance. An application package always includes an invitation certified in a police station in Russia, either from an individual, or from a tour operator. Getting it from an operator is the easiest. A list of these operators, as well as consulate info and further information, can be found elsewhere, for example, at Everbrite's Guide to Getting Good Information by Ruth E. Imershein.

  • In any case, when you arrive to any new city in Russia, you are required by the law to register with the police within three working days on arrival. If you are staying in a hotel or a hostel, they usually will do the work for you. If not, or if you are staying at a private place, the registration is really a hassle. Sometimes, the company from which you have an invitation, can register you; check in advance! If you are staying at the same place less than three days and can prove it (for instance, by showing the train tickets), you do not need to register. (For citizens of Russia and Ukraine, different regulations apply).

  • Russia is as safe as any other European country. As far as you observe reasonable precautions nothing should happen. If you are Black or Asian, you will be definitely singled out of the crowd, but you chances to become a victim of a racial attack are negligible. We currently advise against travel to North-Caucasus Republics of Chechnya, Daghestan, and Ingushetia. In big cities, use public transport rather than taxis, do not show that you are in hurry, and avoid unnecessary contacts with the police (In case they stop you, be polite and self-assured).

  • Russia is a developed country: Things like internet, ATMs, GPS receivers and such are available. Contrary to common beliefs, bears are for two hundred years off the streets of big cities. On the other hand, the tourist business is very much underdeveloped.

  • The most common mode of transportation between big cities is train, followed by bus (where the train does not exist or is too slow). Trains and buses run on a schedule which does not follow simple patterns (say a train every second hour); there are places served once per day or even less often. Except for suburban trains, all train tickets require a seat reservation. If the train is fully booked, you may not board it. Car travel becomes increasingly popular, gas is readily available, and more and more roads of acceptable quality appear. However, car rentals are very uncommon if at all existent, and if you are driving your own car, it must be guarded all the time, at best at guarded parking places. Where public transportation does not exist, hiring a car with a driver is common; always negotiate the price in advance and try to get the idea of the price beforehand.

  • Hotels generally exist almost everywhere. However, budget hotels of acceptable quality are rare; hostels are even less common. Some hotels do not register foreigners and do not let them stay. The quality of most hotels is really horrible. On top of that, they are not really interested in hosting visitors. Situations when you arrive to the hotel and nobody has heard of your advanced phone reservation are not uncommon. Apart from major tourist centers, usually the best strategy is to look for the hotel as soon as you arrive to the city you want to spend a night in. Camping is allowed anywhere anytime except for restricted areas; in practice, you need to observe obvious precautions. Organized camping places almost do not exist.

  • Quality of restaurants may vary, but is generally ok. The problem is usually that the concept of non-smoking areas is almost non-existent.

  • You will hardly find any English (or, for this matter, any other foreign language) speakers on the street outside Moscow and Saint-Petersburg. Nevertheless, people managed to travel independently in Russia for extensive periods of time without speaking any Russian. It is strongly recommended that you familiarize yourself with Russian alphabet, since signposting is not the strongest side of Russian public transportation. If you have time to learn some basics of Russian, it will be very much appreciated, and even with rudimentary knowledge of Russian you can get much further than without it.

 Copyright protection and adjacent issues

This site and its content belong to the public domain. Non-commercial usage of the materials is permitted provided the reference to this site and the author(s) is provided. Commercial usage of the materials is prohibited. We do not publish any kinds of advertisement, positive or negative, and do not follow the policy of mutual banner exchange. We are not related to any tour operators. We do not assume any responsibility for damage which may occur as a result of usage of the materials of this site, and for the content of external websites to which we provide links.

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  Last updated: 02.08.06.
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