Post-Soviet Russia is spending its petro-dollars hand over fist from party capital Moscow and cultural capital Saint Petersburg to the once closed city of Vladivostok. But you can still find the Russian soul among the stoic mariners of Polar city Murmansk and the holidaying babushkas of the Black Sea resorts. Bring some comfortable shoes, a sturdy liver and an open mind.
Cosmopolitan European Russia runs from the frozen wastes of the northern Kola Peninsula to the southern vineyards of Krasnodar. Beyond the rugged Ural Mountains, Siberia's pine forests stretch east to the volcanic Kamchatka peninsula and the military stronghold of Vladivostok. Relax on the shores of Lake Baikal or discover exotic cultures around the southern Siberian towns of Kyzyl, Chita and Ulan Ude.
Moscow is changing fast, but its heart beats in the Ancient Rus' – the ancient cities of the Golden Ring. Tatarstan's capital Kazan has a Kremlin to match Moscow's. Uncover the history of the Tsars among the canals of pre-revolutionary capital Saint Petersburg. Or find an ice-carved city at New Year in the Urals' capital of Yekaterinburg.
Take the Trans Siberian Express through the industrial heartland of the Urals to the crystal waters of Siberia's Lake Baikal. Discover Buddhist temples hidden among the alpine peaks of Southern Siberia's Altai Mountains. Adventurous types will love the live volcanoes of Kamchatka. While hedonists may prefer 2014 winter Olympic city Sochi's year-round sun-kissed beaches and skiing.
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