In 1939, Winston Churchill famously described Russia as “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” And in that sense, not much has changed in the world’s largest country. Occupying one-tenth of all land on Earth, Russia spans 11 time zones across two continents (Europe and Asia), with coasts on the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic oceans. Approximately 120 ethnic groups reside in Russia, speaking more than a hundred languages.
About 80 percent of Russia’s population can trace their ancestry to the Slavs who settled here some 1,500 years ago. The Mongol invasion of Kiev in the 13th century brought about the emergence of Moscow, which until then had been a small trading post. In the 1550s, Ivan IV (known as “the Terrible”) became the first in a long succession of “Tsar of All the Russias.” The Russian Revolution of 1917 brought the Tsarist monarchy to an end. The USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) was formed in 1920, and lasted until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1991 when the Soviet flag with its hammer and sickle was taken down from the Kremlin flagpole and the Russian Federation was born.
From its spectacular cities and vast landscapes to its world-class art treasures and mighty fortresses, Russia is truly a land of superlatives. No less enigmatic now than in Churchill’s day, Russia remains one of the most exciting destinations for the serious adventure traveler.
Most Popular Films
Films featuring Russia from international, independent filmmakers
My City: St. Petersburg
Enjoy a local’s perspective of St. Petersburg—our pre-trip extension—a city that is still establishing its identity.This film was produced by the BBC and was first published on BBC.com Travel
Journey through Mongolia and its surrounding countries on the legendary Trans-Siberian Railway.
Produced by Stanislas Giroux
100 Wonders: Star City
Enter Star City to see Soviet Russia’s advanced space program, hidden from the world for decades.Produced by Dylan Thuras
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Immerse yourself in Russia with this selection of articles, recipes, and more
Venture off the beaten path of dumplings and try a new recipe for Russia’s pelmeni, or meat dumplings.
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6 NIGHTS FROM $2,895
POST-TRIP EXTENSIONSiberian Odyssey: Lake Baikal & Irkutsk
Days in Russia
- Discover the geological wonders of Lake Baikal
- Explore the Decembrist's House Museum
- Visit the Exaltation of the Cross Church
- Witness Lake Baikal's wildlife and the Baikal Limnological Museum's aquarium
- Spend 15 days in Mongolia
Siberian Odyssey: Lake Baikal & Irkutsk
Small Group Adventure
Small Ship Adventure
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Our Activity Level rating system ranks adventures on a scale of 1 to 5 to help you determine if a trip is right for you. See the descriptions below for more information about the physical requirements associated with each rating.
Activity Level 1:
Travelers should be able to climb 25 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 1-2 miles over some uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last at least 1-2 hours at a time. Altitude can range from zero to 5,000 feet.
Activity Level 2:
Travelers should be able to climb 40 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 2-3 miles over some uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for at least 2-3 hours at a time. Altitude can range from zero to 5,000 feet.
Activity Level 3:
Travelers should be able to climb 60 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 3 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 3 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 5,000 to 7,000 feet.
Activity Level 4:
Travelers should be able to climb 80 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 4 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 4 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 7,000 to 9,000 feet.
Activity Level 5:
Travelers should be able to climb 100 or more stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 8 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 4 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 10,000 feet or more.
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Savory Russian Dumplings
Beef & Pork Pelmeni
from Harriet's Corner
Every culture has its own version of dumplings. China claims pot stickers, pierogies can call Poland home, and Italy boasts its famous gnocchi. Russia’s are pelmeni, meat dumplings found easily across the country—although most Russians believe they originate from Siberia because they are most often purchased frozen. Lore has it that Siberians made them by the hundreds and froze and stored them outside throughout harsh winters, but they are tasty no matter what the season. Pelmeni can have any number of fillings. This recipe uses pork and beef, but you can make them with chicken or turkey if you’d like. Serve alone or with dipping sauces, such as sour cream or balsamic vinegar.
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1/2 tsp black pepper
Garlic to taste
- Combine the flour, eggs, water, and 1/2 tsp salt to make the dough.
- Knead them until well mixed, then leave aside for 30 minutes.
- Mix the ground beef, ground pork, onions, 1 tsp salt, pepper, and garlic to make the filling.
- Cut the dough into three equal portions. Roll each one into a cylinder the diameter of a finger.
- Cut the dough cylinders into pieces the size of a walnut, then roll until very flat and thin, a disc about 2 inches across.
- Put some of the filling into the center of each disc. Fold the dough in half and pinch the edges to seal them.
- Boil the pelmeni in salted water for seven minutes, or until they float to the surface.