The vast size of Russia can make it feel like a daunting place to visit, but the beauty of cities such as Moscow show that there is art and civilization in amongst the wide open spaces. It's a country tied up in its own history but striving for relevance in the modern world and for first time visitors it will offer a wonderful mixture of all your preconceptions as well as something entirely fresh.
Travellers to Russia should exercise caution and be aware of the travel advice provided by the Foreign Office, as travel is not advisable for certain part of the country at this time.
A flight to Russia can take upwards of four hours, depending on your destination city. Most Moscow flights will be destined for Domodedovo International Airport, although there are two other major airports also nearby. A flight to St. Petersburg will drop you at Pulkovo Airport which is 25 minutes outside of the city.
Flights to Russia are offered by a number of airlines, including easyJet, Iberia and Air Malta. Many routes are made up of a combination of flights and airlines, as direct flights are not common.
The cheapest way to travel around Russia is by bus, but given the size of the country, this may be best limited to shorter trips between major cities. With a few cities, arriving by bus is the only real option available.
Trains are a more comfortable and faster method of getting around Russia. The country is serviced by an extensive rail network that connects most cities. It's a good idea to book your tickets in advance for all your train travel; give yourself plenty of time if you are picking up your tickets from the station before departure.
The other main travel method is travelling by plane. This will be suitable if you are visiting areas that are quite spread out as travelling by train for more than one night may not be everyone's cup of tea, especially if you are time-constricted.
Capital city Moscow has many sights to see and things to do. The cobbled Red Square is at the heart of the city and is surrounded by the iconic St Basil's Cathedral, the Kremlin and Lenin's Tomb. St Basil's Cathedral is a 16th century, highly colourful church that is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site; the church also contains a museum. Within walking distance is the Kremlin, a historic fortified complex that contains churches, amories, towers and gardens within its walls. The Kremlin is also heavily associated with the Russian government and is indeed the home of the Russian president. Also nearby is Lenin's Tomb, where you can view the embalmed body of the founder of the Soviet Union; you will not be able to take in any cameras or phones.
Russia's second largest city is St Petersburg, located in the north-west of the country. Here you can see the Bronze Horseman, a huge statue immortalising Peter the Great, the city's founder. You will also be able to get a feel for St Petersburg's culture and history at its many art galleries and museums, such as the impressive State Hermitage Museum. This palace museum houses many art treasures, including works by Rembrandt, Leonardo and Michelangelo. The Russian Museum also has many paintings and sculptures on display, while literary buffs will enjoy a trip to the Nabokov Museum, which is located in the childhood home of Vladimir Nabokov, the author most famous for writing 'Lolita'.