Where does someone begin with a country as large as Russia, especially if you want to see its hidden gems? Because I prefer seeing the lesser-known, off-the-beaten-track places of a culture rather than ONLY the top-ranked on TripAdvisor, I've asked travel bloggers, Campbell and Alya of StingyNomads.com, to assist. They will highlight three hidden gems in Russia.
Let's adventure to Russia with Campbell and Alya!
Russia is a massive country with many off-the-beaten-track places even for Russians, nevermind foreigners. Here are three hidden gems in Russia that are well worthy of visiting.
A small place with a big history, Novgorod is considered to be the oldest Russian city. It’s easy to fit Novgorod in your St.Petersburg itinerary, it takes 2 hours to get here by train. But if you have more time it can be nice to stay here overnight. Novgorod is located at Volkhov river which divides the historical center of the city. There is even a small beach right at the walls of Novgorod Kremlin where locals come for tanning and swimming on weekends. The city is an interesting mix of historical heritage sites and rural lifestyle. It’s a great place to try traditional Russian cuisine far from fancy restaurants of both capitals. If you arrive here from Moscow or St.Petersburg you will be nicely surprised by local prices, everything from accommodation and transport to food and souvenirs is cheaper here.
Highlights of Novgorod;
- Novgorod Kremlin (Detinets) - the oldest Kremlin in Russia.
- Sophia Cathedral.
- Yuriev Monastery.
- The Millenium of Russia monument.
- Vitoslavlitsy museum of wooden architecture.
Marble Quarry, Ruskeala
A beautiful place is hidden in the forest in Ruskeala National park on the border with Finland, 300 km north from St.Petersburg. Marble in this area was discovered in 1765, most of it was used for building palaces and cathedrals in St.Petersburg. Exploration in the main quarry stopped in 1998, in 2005 after a long time of renovation the park was opened for tourists.
Ruskeala looks stunning in any season, in summer it’s great for doing some outdoor activities, in the winter park looks like a photo from a Christmas postcard, all covered in snow. On weekend nights during winter there is a laser-light show when the main quarry gets a real magic touch. Many locals from both countries (Russia and Finland) come here to spend a weekend or holiday. There are many guest houses and cottages around the park where you can enjoy the tranquility and beauty of the place.
Things to do at Ruskeala
- Rowing in the quarry.
- Zip lining over the quarry.
- Diving in the quarry.
- Exploring tunnels and caves.
- Dog-sledding (only in winter).
- Fishing in one of the nearby lakes or rivers.
Altai is a real hidden gem, a mountainous region in Eastern Russia, 4000 km from Moscow. The area is famous for its stunning scenery and beautiful mountains; high snow peaks, fast mountains rivers, turquoise color lakes and fields of flowers. Altai is one of the best places in Russia for hiking and water activities; rafting and kayaking. It’s a perfect place for adventure seekers and wildlife enthusiasts. Facilities here are between limited to non-existent if you venture on a hike make sure you have everything you may need to survive for days far from civilization. There are companies that do guided hikes for inexperienced hikers it’s a better option.
**Post contributed by Campbell & Alya of Stingy Nomads, which focuses on budget travel and adventure activities all over the world; Africa, Latin America, Asia and Europe.**