When people think of Russia, they think of Babushka dolls, vodka, the Romanovs, brightly coloured buildings, and wrapping up warm. What people often don’t think is that there could be a gleaming vacation destination somewhere in the semi-arctic tundra. Russia spans two continents and 17.1 million square kilometres, making it the largest country in the world. It also hosts a population of 144.3 million people. So, here are some surprising things to do on holiday in Russia.
The World Cup of Culture at Ekaterinburg
Snapping up the coveted FIFA World Cup hosting duties is a mean feat for any country, and Russia are pulling out all the stops to host for summer 2018. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the country prides itself on its sporting prowess and its dedication to going for gold. No less than 11 cities will take hosting duties for the prestigious football tournament, allowing visitors to experience a range of Russia’s climate and culture – including the flourishingly cultural city of Ekaterinburg. When witnessing the football at Ekaterinburg Arena, fans will be able to experience Ekaterinburg’s lively arts scene. As Park Inn explain, Ekaterinburg boasts a huge amount of cultural wealth, including the Opera and Ballet, the Museum of Fine Arts and Yekaterinburg Museum of Modern Art – as well as being home to 16 universities, providing a groundswell of culture for the future.
Sochi’s Olympic Success and Beyond
Russia recently had a stint hosting the Winter Olympics in 2014 in Sochi, and it has been argued that the $50 billion spent on their hosting job may actually have been worth it to develop Sochi as a year-round vacation destination that attracts a multitude of tourists. As well as offering winter sport courses and terrain, Sochi is also home to subtropical climates and hot springs that ensure tourists are well catered for. In their determination to showcase the immersive experience of Sochi, it is also home to a sprawling casino and resorts, which Betway Casino claims may be a rival to Las Vegas. Plus, the World Cup will bring flocks of fans to Fischt Stadium in Sochi while continuing to sing the city’s praises as a worthwhile destination. There is no doubt that a vacation to Sochi will inspire the sporting nature in anyone interested.
Ballet at the Bolshoi and Moscow’s Delights
Russia’s athleticism is further shown through their dedication to the graceful dance of ballet. With the Bolshoi ballet company established in Moscow in 1776, and the Mariinsky ballet company set up in St Petersburg in 1783, a strong emphasis has been placed on the discipline. The ballet companies not only offer breath-taking performances but also opportunities to learn the arts and develop talent in ballet, which could be influential for budding ballerinas and cavaliers. Moscow also boasts a huge amount of theatre and opera, as well as ballet, providing a chance to snap up culture across the board. Whatever you decide to do in Moscow, it will be sure to be memorable.
Heritage in Saint Petersburg
Already established as a ballet centre, St Petersburg hosts a wide range of cultural and exciting activities to pit itself as a rewarding travel destination. The Hermitage Museum, founded in 1764, plays host to Russia’s history, art and culture throughout the years. The former residence of the emperors, The Winter Palace also boasts its own history – as does the Peterhof Palace, which sits on the coast and showcases its own unique Russian history. By looking back into the past, the true glory and beauty of the city can be seen, and strolling through the city will take on new meaning. For a cultural excursion, St Petersburg provides it all.
Sometimes, to take the path less travelled or to take inspiration from sources most unexpected can result in uncovering staggering sights and experiencing things you never thought you would. Russia may be known for vodka and the cold but, underneath the surface, they have a rich artistic, sporting, and cultural heritage that has inspired countless pieces of literature. While thousands will flock for the World Cup, Russia will continue to excel across the board in years to come