Russia is a large and very diverse country, both in terms of landscapes and the level of urbanization. In Russia you can find some pearls of nature beauty neighbouring with slums left from Soviet times.
Tourism is mainly developed in capital cities like Moscow and Saint Petersburg. However, there is a rise of tourism to small Russian cities too, especially the ones which have some historical significance for czar times of Russia (such as Kazan, Novgorod).
Depending on the climate zone and your desire to conquer the wild Russia, you can find Russia hostels in the former communal flats, "dacha"-style lodges in the middle of nowhere, or some unified hipster hostels in Russia that wouldn't look any different from what you can find in Europe and the USA.
For Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Kaliningrad, Kazan, cities of the Golden Ring of Russia, and southern cities by the sea such as Sochi and Adler, it is highly recommended to book a Russia hostel in advance, especially in touristically attractive places or at the time of public holidays (there are a lot of them in Russia!). The most popular holidays in Russia are New Year holidays during the first ten days of January, school holidays (the first week of November, the last week of March, and summer months from June to August), the weekend close to March Eighth (Women Day), and the first week of May which includes Labour Day and Victory Day holidays. At the time of public holidays, the prices can go up and you may experience crowds in museums and on the streets (some changes in the schedule for city transportation may also take place unexpectedly).
The western part of Russia borders with Europe, the CIS, and the Baltics, and includes the capital city of Moscow, Saint Petersburg (which is called the Venice of the north for its beautiful architecture and lots of channels), and industrial cities of Ural (Yekaterinburg, Samara, and Chelyabinsk, to name a few). The eastern part of Russia includes a large area of Siberia with dense forests of taiga, severe snowy winters, and hot summers, and Russian Far East with a picturesque Lake Baikal, Sakhalin island with its bald mountains, and Vladivostok bordering with China and the Pacific Ocean.
Russia is bounded on the north by Finland. The northern region of Karelia offers some bright examples of wooden architecture and some famous monasteries located on the islands Valaam and Solovki. In summer time, it is a popular place to go hiking, rafting, hunting, and fishing. In winter you can spot northern lights at Ladoga Lake. Unfortunately there are few Russia hostels in Karelia, all located in the capital city of this region Petrozavodsk.
South of Russia is known for its agricultural activities. Located by the Black Sea, it is a popular destination for tourists from all over Russia. The city of Sochi, home of the recent Winter Olympics, offers a good infrastructure for skiing and snowboarding. However, staying in a Russia hostel in Sochi may be a bit expensive.
You can get to Russia by plane, train, cruise ship, or bus (in this case, prepare to spend some time at customs). To enter the country, you need to have visa, though at a time of world events such as the recent FIFA World Cup, foreigners were allowed to enter Russia with a ticket to the football match.
In most of Russian cities you can take metro or go by bus. Some cities also have such means of public transportation as trolleybuses, trams, ferry boats, and small buses called marshrutkas. The cost of a ticket may vary, and the tickets usually can be purchases on board.
The easiest way to travel around Russia is to go by plane. However, the most romantic and extreme way to cross the country is to go by train following the Trans-Siberian railway and to see Russia from the train window of the third-class carriage.
Hi, I'm CaVa,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Russia hostels. Welcome.
They say that Moscow is the biggest village in the world -- a place you will love or hate, but one you must see in your lifetime to appreciate the gravity of history. Russians are intense people who don't mince words, which often rubs Anglo-Saxons the wrong way. I loved Moscow for the contradictions that it is; …
The city of Kazan is very nice and quiet in comparison with Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Two days are enough to visit this city, because the historical center is quite small, but it's worth it!