Here Moscow and St Petersburg are the must-see destinations, twin repositories of eye-boggling national treasures, political energies and contemporary creativity. Within easy reach of these cities are charming historical towns and villages, such as Veliky Novgorod, Pskov and Suzdal, where the vistas dotted with onion domes and lined with gingerbread cottages measure up to the rural Russia of popular imagination.
Take the Trans-Siberian Railroad
This winding link between Europe and Asia offers a sense of Russia’s scale. The journey provides plenty of time for reflection and making acquaintances. Lake Baikal and the Altai Mountains are stunning interruptions in the masses of pine and birch forests.
Take a Private Boat Ride
On the Neva River in St. Petersburg gives a unique perspective on this city of waterways.
Visit Spectacular Churches
Frescoes, mosaics, onion domes make Russian ecclesiastical architecture. See spectacular buildings such as Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul, Saint Isaac’s Cathedral, St. Basil’s Cathedral and the cathedrals inside the Kremlin.
Enjoy a Winter Ride
Troika (horse-drawn sleigh) rides through sprawling parks are among the best ways to enjoy the snow that blankets Russia in winter.
Savor Authentic Cuisine with Vodka
Try dishes such as khachapuri, a type of flat or shaped bread topped with cheese and egg, and nigvziani badrijani, a dish of fried eggplant with walnut paste. Borscht is a very typical Russian dish served in many variations: hot, cold, and with roasted apples, smoked goose breast or other tasty additions.
Enjoy a Night Out
The Bolshoi Theater in Moscow is a must.
Built in 1911, this plush venerable hotel with an imposing facade is a 4-minute walk from Saint Isaac’s Cathedral and 14 minutes’ walk from the landmark Hermitage Museum.
Elegant rooms with parquet floors and marble bathrooms feature free Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs. Upgraded rooms add Nespresso machines. Suites include iPod docks, and some provide antique decor, dining rooms, libraries and/or terraces. Room service is available.
There’s a cafe, a swanky cocktail bar and an upscale Italian restaurant, plus afternoon tea. Amenities include a full-service spa, an indoor pool, a 24-hour gym and a ballroom hosting up 450 people.
Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace St. Petersburg
Occupying an updated 19th-century palace, this luxury hotel is a 10-minute walk from the Hermitage Museum and 1.6 km from Mariinsky Theater.
The elegant rooms feature free Wi-Fi, flat-screens, premium coffee machines and marble bathrooms. Suites add separate living rooms., while upgraded suites offer dining areas. Some rooms and suites have terraces with city views. Room service is offered 24/7.
There are 3 sophisticated restaurants (Asian, Italian and international) and a genteel bar. The 4-story, glass-enclosed spa includes a pool, a sauna, a steam room, a hot tub and a 24/7 fitness center.
Hotel Ritz Carlton Moscow
This neoclassical luxury hotel is a 3-minute walk from a metro station, a 9-minute walk from Red Square and a 13-minute walk from the Kremlin.
Elegant rooms, some with city views, offer free Wi-Fi, flat-screens and Nespresso machines, plus marble bathrooms. Club rooms add lounge access to drinks and snacks. Plush suites have sitting areas; upgraded suites feature living/dining rooms, whirlpool tubs and/or kitchens. Room service is available 24/7.
Amenities include 2 chic restaurants, a refined lobby lounge, and a swanky rooftop bar with a seasonal terrace overlooking Red Square. There’s also a fitness center, and a spa with an indoor pool.
Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow
A 4-minute walk from the renowned Bolshoi Theatre, this upscale, colonnade-fronted hotel is also 14 minutes by foot from the colorful spires of Saint Basil’s Cathedral.
Refined rooms with scenic city views feature flat-screens, iPod docks, minibars and free Wi-Fi, plus tea and coffeemakers. Upgraded rooms add plush seating areas, while select suites offer whirlpool tubs & terraces; some are split-level. Room service is 24/7.
There’s a polished Armenian restaurant, a sushi bar and a stylish cocktail bar with a terrace, in addition to a cafe and a sports bar. Other amenities include a luxe spa with an indoor pool, a fitness room and treatments.
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