One of the largest countries in the world, Russia has a large selection of attractions for visitors and locals to explore. Steeped in history from ancient and recent times, Russia has an abundance of sites to see, but there’s much more to the country than its past. In recent years, Russia has become a popular tourist destination, and with good reason. You can travel on epic train rides, visit spectacular natural wonders, skate on scenic frozen ponds, view architectural marvels, and enjoy the liveliness of vodka-fueled nightlife.

01The Armoury

Kremlin in Moscow at Sunset Twilight Russia Mlenny / Getty Images

At the Kremlin, you will love exploring The Armoury, which dates to 1511. Vasily III founded the building to make and store weapons, regalia, and imperial arms for the royal court. In later times, The Armoury also manufactured jewelry, embroidery, and icon frames. Today, you can explore the dark nooks and crannies of this historic site and ogle dazzling treasures for yourself.

02Alexander Garden

view of green public Alexander Garden near Kremlin KrimKate / Getty Images

Situated next to Palace Square in St. Petersburg, this beautiful garden is a fantastic place to escape the city bustle. Designed in the 19th century to honor the 200th birthday anniversary of Peter the Great, Alexander Garden was the popular hangout for St. Petersburg’s aristocracy in the 1800s. You can see a large variety of plants while strolling through this peaceful slice of nature.

03Veliky Novogrod

Aerial view of Veliky Novgorod kremlin at dusk bbsferrari / Getty Images

The walled city of Veliky Novogrod dates from the 10th century, and it claims to be the birthplace of Russia. The early residents of this place invited the Scandinavian Prince Rurik to become the ruler of Russia. He subsequently created a dynasty that would last 750 years. Today, the city is a charming place to take a stroll and see its many sights. You won’t miss the impressive centerpiece, Saint Sophia Cathedral, and Bell Tower. Also, make sure you throw a coin into the Hanseatic Fountain, as legend says it returns 1,000 rubles for every ruble thrown into it.

04Gorky Park

Gorky park, bridge over the pond Elena Bezzubtseva / Getty Images

If you want to work up a sweat with fun activities while in Russia, head to the fabulous Gorky Park in Zamoskvorechie. You can enjoy things like volleyball, cycling, table tennis, and rollerblading. In the wintertime, you can ice skate, as the ponds become flooded and the park becomes a massive ice rink. You’ll also find various exhibitions and festivals at Gorky Park throughout the year.

05Kizhi Island

Church of The Transfiguration - Kizhi Island, Russia jejim / Getty Images

Sitting on Lake Onega, Kizhi Island is a gorgeous UNESCO World Heritage Site. Not only will you find breathtaking natural beauty, but you’ll also discover marvelous Russian wooden architecture. The island is one of only a few places in the country where you can view this incredible style. There are many spectacularly-crafted multi-domed wooden churches on Kizhi Island. In the wintertime, the island has a magical feel, but you may prefer the summertime when flowers and trees are in bloom, which makes for a genuinely captivating experience.

06The City of the Dead

Dargavs, the medieval city of the dead in the mountains of the Caucasus Lindrik / Getty Images

The City of the Dead is a cemetery in the Prigorodny District of the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania. The mysterious necropolis comprises of 99 tombs and crypts. Many of the latter have distinctive ridged curved roofs that meet at points at the top. No one knows precisely when this cemetery dates from, but it appears to be somewhere between the 12th and 16th century. This haunting site is a truly one-off experience. The City of the Dead isn’t an accessible destination to reach, but it’s most certainly worth your time and effort.

07The Kremlin

Cloudy sunrise over Kremlin wall and Moskva river Mordolff / Getty Images

The fortified complex overlooks Red Square in the east, the Alexander Garden in the west, and the Moskva River in the south. The Russian citadel includes an incredible four cathedrals, five palaces, and the old Kremlin walls and towers.  Visit the Archangel Cathedral, as it holds the tombs of Moscow’s grand princes.

08Lake Baikal

View of Lake Baikal avdeev007 / Getty Images

This lake is Russia’s most famous natural wonder. If you want to escape big city life for a while, head out to Lake Baikal in the Irkutsk Region. The lake is the largest one in the world and also the largest freshwater source on the planet. During wintertime, the lake freezes over and becomes a giant ice rink. If ice skating isn’t your thing, visit in the summer when the place has a magical and fresh feel. In the summertime, you can also travel to the island on the lake to spot local seals.

09Winter Palace

Saint-Petersburg. The Winter Palace TanyaSv / Getty Images

The Winter Palace is one of the most iconic buildings in Russia. It began as a Dutch-style wooden house in which Peter the Great and his family lived. In the subsequent years, the home transformed into the magnificent and ornate palace that it is today. Constructed on a monumental scale to reflect the power of Imperial Russia, the spectacular Winter Palace was the official residence of Russia’s emperors from 1732 up to 1917. Located in St. Petersburg, the palace is the dominant feature of Palace Square. Inside the palace, you can explore majestic staircases, ornamentation with gold-leaf trim, and intricate marble work.

10Saint Basil’s Cathedral

St. Basil`s Cathedral, Moscow, Russia scaliger / Getty Images

The striking and distinctive Saint Basil’s Cathedral is one of the most well-known buildings in Russia. Although it’s commonly known as Saint Basil’s, its official name is The Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed. Situated in Red Square in Moscow, the church’s colorful architecture almost looks like it belongs in Disneyland. With its bulbous domed towers, the church is said to resemble flames rising into the sky. Built in the 16th century on orders from Ivan the Terrible, the cathedral is a strange piece of architectural design to find in Russia, as there are no other similarly designed buildings anywhere else in the country. Saint Basil’s Cathedral should most definitely be on your checklist of places to visit in Russia.