While most tourists only know about icy Moscow
and gorgeous St. Petersburg
, Russia is also home to a host of popular resort cities. From the beach-lined shores and subtropical climate of the Black Sea, to the ski-havens of the Northern Caucasus Mountains, Russia resort towns have plenty to offer any adventurous traveler.
Just north of Russia’s border with Abkhazia on the Black Sea coast, Russia’s most popular resort city of Sochi boasts miles upon miles of excellent beaches and incredible views of the Caucasus Mountains. With its humid, subtropical climate and mild winters, this town has been a popular sea resort since the early 20th century. Even icy Stalin liked to relax among its pebble and sandy beaches, which draw more than two million visitors a year today.
This charming town in Krasnodar Krai is situated on the north coast of the Black Sea, and like Sochi boasts a humid subtropical climate, and excellent mild winters. Anapa’s well known for its sandy beaches, making it a popular draw for Russians on a budget, and an inexpensive alternative to Sochi.
Just 48 miles east of Sochi, the ski haven of Krasnaya Polyana is renowned for the length of its seasons. Dubbed the “wettest point in Europe”, the region can get over 23 feet of snow annually. Skiers flock to the northern slopes of Aibga Ridge for the best runs, while more adventurous types (with deep pockets) can always opt for some heli-skiing.
Situated in Karachay-Cherkessia at the North Caucasus Mountains, and not far from Sochi, the town of Dombai one of the top ski resorts of the Caucasus mountains, and one of the most popular skiing destinations in Russia. With long seasons fueled by massive snowfalls, Dombai also boasts amazing panoramas of the Caucasus.
The highest mountain in Europe, Mt. Elbrus also has the distinction of being the traditional ski retreat of the Soviet elite. These days it draws more of a nouveau riche and international crowd of advanced skiers to incredible runs in the Baksan Valley. One of the largest holiday destinations in southern Russia, Mt. Elbrus complements its fantastic skiing with incredible mountain views.
Dubbed -”The Blue Eye of Siberia”, Lake Baikal is the oldest, deepest and most voluminous lake freshwater lake in the world. Surrounded by taiga-covered mountains, the Lake is also bordered by small resort towns like Listvyanka, home to the charming Hotel Mayak.
This popular and sunny “healing” resort in the North Caucasus region may be remote, but remains a popular vacation destination for its supposed 300 cloud-free days a year. Situated between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, Kislovodsk is the southermost and largest of the Caucus Mineral Springs Resorts, where visitors take the curative “Narzan” mineral waters, while enjoying incredible views of the surrounding mountains and meadows. Kislovodsk is one of Russia’s oldest resort destinations as well, boasting famous fans like Tolstoy and Pushkin.
Along with Pyatigorsk, Yessentuki, Kislovodsk, and Mineralyne Vody, Zheleznovodsk is a member of the Caucasus Mineral Waters, the string of renowned Russian resorts where visitors can relax, taking in the (supposedly) curative, iron-rich spring waters among the incredible vistas of the surrounding mountains.
Yet another resort renowned for its mineral springs spouting natural “healing” waters, Staraya Russa also features an abundance of medicinal mud treatments from the silt mud of Lake Verkhneye, and Lake Sredeneye.
Home to a host of mineral springs (around 20 of medicinal value), Yessentuki is a favorite destination for taking in the therapeutic spring waters. Known for their salt-alkaline content, springs number four and seventeen are particularly popular, boasting steady temperatures up to 113 degrees Fahrenheit.