After visiting 80+ countries around the world, I decided to visit Russia. I don’t know why it took me so long to visit the largest country in the world. Since I was a kid, I studied about Russian history and I really loved the architecture. And I was so curious to travel around Russia every time I see a map. I spent one month visiting Russia last June and July, and it wasn’t enough really. Russia became one of my favorite countries immediately after this trip. Included in my top 3 are China and India. I had amazing an experience meeting local people, eating local food, learning some basics in Russian language and moving around Russia thru hitchhiking and riding their public transportation. I found Russia totally different to all the places that I’ve lived in and visited before. And those things made me love Russia and all their amazing people. I learnt many things while visiting Russia and now I want to share them with you. There are many reasons why you should visit Russia today. (In fact, I will even write an even more extensive guide later)
History and Religion
If you love history as I do, you can’t miss traveling to Russia. Since Russia is the largest country in the world, it is also full of so much history. Walking around the streets, churches and museums will literally make you feel the rich history that is surrounding the country. One detail which attracted my attention a lot was the Lenin statue. It is everywhere in Russia, even in small villages, you will be able to see it. People really love him. Also, religion in Russia is very diverse including Christianity, Islam, Buddhist and Judaism.
I chose to hitchhike while I was traveling to Russia. Lately, I’ve been traveling and working with more brands, however hitchhiking is something I will never totally abandon. I love having the choice, and in Russia, I chose to experience the country thru hitchhiking. It’s one way for you to feel the crazy adventure, plus to really feel how people are in a new country. In Russia, hitchhiking worked really well. I had a great time meeting locals, driving hours in a truck. The distances were very long and it will take long days of hitchhiking, but the experience was well worth all those time. I also rode shared taxis, buses to leave the cities, and the beautiful metro. One thing that I missed visiting Russia was traveling by train due to my short stay. Next time I will make sure that I travel with the Trans-Siberian.
I really loved the churches in Russia. Walking around the city, you can see the huge churches. Even in long distances. It’s good actually, especially when you’re in a very unfamiliar area. It helps you to get situated with the place and not get lost. Once you are close to a church, you will not get tired of taking pictures and walking around to admire its beauty. It doesn’t matter if it’s day or night. When you enter the church, you can spend much more time admiring the sculpture, the design, and the structure – all paintings, walls and decors are just amazing. My favorite churches in Russia were The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour which is the tallest Orthodox church, and Church of The Savior on Blood. Both of them are in Moscow.
Local food while visiting Russia
If there is something that I liked while visiting Russia, it was the food. I had the opportunity to try many different local dishes. Dishes cooked at home, street food and even in restaurants. My favorite food was Tatarstan cuisine while traveling in Russia. It was a little different than the other local dishes that I tried before in Russia. Something that I was having in Russia every day is the Kefir, which is a fermented milk made with Kefir grains. I was drinking everyday, it taste similar to the Turkish Ayran. Have you ever heard about horse milk? Russian people drink and it´s very healthy. I tried and it was good!
Drinking tea with locals
There was one surprise I got when I visited Russia. Before going there, I always heard that Russian people are hard drinkers (alcohol) and I did see some of these people. But based in my experience during this trip, many of the Russians weren’t drinking alcohol. And almost all of them love drinking tea all the time. I didn’t know about this before going to Russia. Russian people love drinking tea and eating sweets, bread, salad, fruits and cookies at the same time. Plus they love enjoying tea with good conversation.
Learning Russian language
One of the challenges I had while visiting Russia is learning a few words or sentences in the Russian language. It will depend on how long you will stay there. It’s very useful since Russia is such a big country. And they are not the only ones using the Russian language. There are many countries around Russia who also speak the same. There are some basics that you need to learn to communicate with them, for example numbers, asking daily questions like, “How much is this?” and “Where is it?” – various basic statements you need to know to communicate in some way with the locals. It was a little bit of a stretch since it was hard to learn and speak the Russian language. But it will be very helpful for meeting locals.
I fell in love with the parks in Russia. As I was visiting Russia in summer, the parks were full of life. I really loved the atmosphere in parks. You can see people walking around anytime and especially during the weekends. People are working out, riding bicycles, playing sports and sunbathing, especially the girls who love to get some color in their skin. Children love playing around the fountains. Parks were very big, clean and well maintained. I really loved parks in Moscow!
In big cities in Russia, you need to spend hours in local transportation. I really like the metro in Russia, especially in Moscow. How big and efficient they are! Not only efficient but also there are some metro stations that look like museums. You can see paintings and sculptures about their history. Prices were very cheap and you can find wifi. The metros go very deep. Everything is properly named, so you will not get lost in the metro. Since the language in Cyrillic can be a little bit tricky, you can just get a map and everything will be a piece of cake.
Russian people love travelers and you will feel very comfortable traveling around Russia. And if you try to communicate with them using a few words in their language, they will really like you and they will help and will try their best to understand you. Staying with locals, I felt very comfortable and happy. They were very generous, especially with time. Russian people love to take care of their guests and spend as much time as they can with them. Showing you around, cooking or introducing their friends and families.
One of my favorite things visiting Russia was walking around and looking at the architecture. They follow the Slavic style. In every big city you can find the Kremlin where people visit to walk around. It’s located in old town and I really enjoyed the architecture visiting them. Around the Kremlins you will also find churches. Sometimes you couldn’t even capture in photos what you can really see with your eyes.
Hope you liked the reasons why you should be visiting Russia. It’s one of the most historic country, and if you’re from Europe, the aesthetics and environment is so different. There will always be something new to see all the time!
Let me know how you liked the stories I added here. If you have been planning to visit Russia, and haven’t done yet, tell us in the comments below what you want to see when you get the chance to travel! Been to Russia yourself? Perfect! Share to us what’s your favorite thing to do in the country. Let us know in the comments below! A full travel guide about Russia will be coming soon so make sure you watch out for that!
Happy Travels dearest friends! See you again in another part of the world. x