10 Things to do in Russia besides watching the World Cup

As the countdown to the most awaited football tournament gets underway, the world’s largest country is all prepped to play host. If there’s a noticeable boom in Russia’s tourist inflow this year, the upcoming football game is undoubtedly to blame.  
Yes, your trip to Russia this summer is guaranteed to be eventful. The joy of watching the action live amidst a horde of delirious football fans is indeed an experience. But if you want a change of scenery, the country has a lot more to offer.  
Here’s a list of must-sees and must-dos when you’re in Russia and have time to spare.

The Kremlin

If you’re planning to visit Moscow – as you undoubtedly should – your trip would be incomplete without checking out the imposing walls of Russia’s seat of power. The Kremlin is an iconic Russian landmark that’s a world in itself. Housing a complex of exquisitely built churches, museums and palaces, this architectural ensemble is a fine example of Russia’s historical and cultural heritage. 

Bolshoi theatre

The prestigious Bolshoi Theatre is renowned for hosting some of the world’s best ballet and opera performances. Witnessing this world-class talent unfold before your eyes will send chills of anticipation down your spine. The theatre’s opulent auditorium and the spellbinding performances will impress even the snootiest theatregoer.

Lake Baikal 

With the impressive Chersky mountain range hugging its rugged shoreline on one side and the mystical Cape Burkhan on the other, Lake Baikal offers picturesque views. The crystal-clear waters tempt you to take a dive, but beware of the freezing cold, even in the so-called summer months! If you’re not quite an aqua-fanatic you could explore the countryside, which includes hot thermal springs and the Circum-Baikal railway line.

Lenin’s mausoleum 

Beyond the red granite walls of the formidable edifice, you will come across one of the most appealing attractions of Russia’s turbulent history. Every year, a crowd of visitors throng to this mausoleum in Red Square, Moscow, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Russian revolutionary’s sarcophagus. Some may find a tour of the mausoleum a morbid adventure, but it’s undeniably a walk down history. 

Siberian tours

The forbidding images stereotypically associated with this apparent land of exile don’t exactly place Siberia on most people’s bucket list. But the reality is that this is a paradise for all who desire to revel in the nature’s pristine beauty. Spanning the vast stretches of the Eurasian steppes and extending to Lake Baikal and the Ural mountains, this land is indeed enchanting. And if you have time to spare, a journey on the Trans-Siberian railway can be a trip of a lifetime 

Mount Elbrus 

If you’re an intrepid explorer with an appetite for adventure, climbing Mount Elbrus should be a real challenge. This double-peaked volcano has a dynamic terrain, making the trek all the more demanding. Apart from great determination, make sure you come equipped with a healthy pair of lungs to tackle the challenging conditions. But once you’ve overcome these hurdles, the rest is pure bliss. But be warned; this is not an activity for just anyone. You must be physically and mentally prepared to take on this beast of a mountain. 

The Winter Palace

Strategically situated on the banks of the river Neva in St Petersburg, this Baroque-style palace is extravagance personified. This brilliant example of skilled craftsmanship portrays a dramatic synthesis of elegance and luxury. The intricately carved sculptures, ornate marble friezes, gold-encrusted staircases, and richly embellished columns add to the magnificence of this monument. It is truly a sight to behold, so don’t skip a visit to Russia’s second-largest city.

Gorky Park 

Gorky Park is to Moscow what Central Park is to New York. It’s an escape hatch for the locals who seek a getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life. One might call it an urbanised Eden stretching across the Moscow River. Gorky Park is a place for fun and leisure; and serves as a fully furnished recreational centre, and comes equipped with a range of fun rides, a skating rink, an outdoor amphitheatre, and a host of restaurants. For the placid traveller, this is the perfect place to unwind.

Snowy Sochi 

You may have made it in time for the football match, but not in time for winter fun. Regardless, the western region of Sochi is clustered with ski resorts that offer an adrenaline-pumping experience. The thick white blankets of snow draw snowboarders and skiing fanatics from all over the world. Whether you are an amateur or an advanced professional, no trip to Russia is complete without putting those skiing blades and snowboards to test.

Moscow nightlife

If there’s anything Russians love doing, it’s letting their hair down and partying till sunrise. As the saying goes, when in Russia party like the Russians. And there’s no better place to groove than the capital city. Moscow brims with Russia’s best nightlife – which hinges on music and dancing. From rough-and-ready bars to elite nightclubs, the city has something for everyone. After all, there’s no better way to end a long day than with a glass of Russia’s finest.  

It’s time to begin your holiday!

When you’re not hitting the bleachers to cheer for your favourite team, there’s a long Russian itinerary waiting in the wings. Huge as it may seem, Russia has an even larger experience to offer. From foodie to hill lover to the history buff, everyone can find new interests and #TravelGoals in this country. And if you have an HDFC Bank ForexPlus Card you can be sure of a hassle-free holiday. With features like zero cross currency fees, tap and pay option and emergency cash. So, get set and #GoForGoals without a worry!

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