Russia has become the tourist hotspot from the past few decades. It is the largest country in the world and widely popular for its idyllic countryside, historic cities, and artistic riches.
There are endless possibilities when it comes to adventures which will make your head spin. The historical villages and towns such as Suzdal, Pskov and Veliky Novgorod are sure to mesmerise every visitor here.
The western-style hotels and hostels around Russia have also made the lives of travellers simpler and more convenient. Booking flights and trains online is so easy that you can plan a trip yourself.
Besides its endless attractions, Russia offers many great things to do for people. If you wish to bring out the explorer in you, then Russia is a paradise and indeed worth exploring. If you are planning an adventurous holiday and unsure of things to do, there are endless options for you, which I will share more below.
Why Is Russia Considered a Popular Adventure Destination?
For the majority of tourists, travelling to Russia is an adventure in itself, considering the challenges that come with getting a visa and the Russian language.
Some people don’t travel beyond St. Petersburg and Moscow, but there is nothing more exciting than to go off the beaten track. Why not explore some of the other amazing places in Russia to find an ideal adventure destination for you?
We’ve put together some of the best destinations offering great adventure activities. If you love being outdoors, you are sure to enjoy some of these places listed below.
So, get yourself geared up with your backpacks and don’t forget to include the best camping knives along with other essentials to make your trip a safe and enjoyable one.
Top Destinations in Russia For Adventure Activities
1. Mount Elbrus
Nothing is more adventurous than climbing Mount Elbrus which is situated in the Southwest of Russia. It is towards the border near Georgia, located in the Caucasus Mountains.
There is a greater excitement for an adventure enthusiast to climb the highest peak which is at 5640m. What if you were to climb this European peak for free? Yes, you heard it right. It costs nothing, unlike the Seven Summits. No additional fee is required to climb Mt Elbrus.
There is a greater demand to climb this mountain mainly due to its weather conditions. Even during summer, the weather is quite cold and windy and hence appropriate clothing and gears are a must.
There is no special permission required to climb this mountain and you can do it by yourself only if you are a skilled hiker. Alternatively, you can explore this place with a group of people to add to the fun and excitement.
Climbing the mountain is not too technical. However, you need rope, crampons and ice axe in certain places. You can seek training here once you are up on the mountain; a rescue office here does provide basic training.
Hikers can begin climbing mostly when it’s cold and in the dark at around 1 or 2 am. The duration is around 8 to 10 hours to reach the summit.
The best part of the hike is going down the mountain. It is a lot quicker as most people can easily run down within 2 hours.
If you wish to begin your career in climbing and want to learn all about ice climbing, then Mount Elbrus is the ideal destination for you.
2. Ruskeala Marble Quarry
This is yet another exciting adventure activity for adventure lovers out there. Marble Quarry is a 5-hour drive from St. Petersburg towards the border of Finland.
Many palaces and cathedrals in the city were constructed using the marble from this very quarry.
It is indeed a famous attraction for many tourists and has now turned into a renowned destination for local diving. The water is turquoise-green in colour and is very clear. On a normal day, its visibility is over 18m. When you dive, it gives you a feeling like you’re in the cenotes of Mexico.
The only difference is the water is relatively colder here. The depth in certain places goes up to 72m.
You will find distinct levels and many chambers through which you get access to the main pool, making it a very fun place to explore in! There are chambers wherein one can see the hammers, trolleys and other machines that were used previously for extracting marble from the quarry.
A dry suit is all you need to dive here as the temperature of the water fluctuates between 4 and 7°C. If you love the idea of ice diving, this is the ideal place. However, keep in mind the temperature during cold days comes down to -25°C.
Also, the thickness of the ice layer can go up to 25m. If diving is not something you enjoy, there are many other activities such as rowing, hiking or a walk through the caves.
Hiking in the Altai region is a different feeling altogether. Russia being a huge country is also popular for hiking. With distinct spots, mountains and nature reserves, one can do both long and short hikes.
Altai is a huge area which is divided between China, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Russia. The region also has some amazing spots for rafting, horseback riding besides hiking.
The serene turquoise lakes, dense forests, mountain rivers, waterfalls, caves, glaciers and more are some of the main attractions. Out of many multi-day hiking activities, the popular one is the hike for 7 to 10 days to Mountain which is 4506m high. This is the region’s highest mountain.
As far as the weather is concerned, it is difficult to predict. Therefore, hikers must be well-equipped with clothes and gears for all types of weather conditions.
The hike includes long walks and river crossings. When you decide to hike in Altai, you may find it a bit of a challenge, but it is worth it. Nature and the landscapes are beautiful and filled with surprises that make you want to come here over and over again.
A hike to the popular Multa lakes is a must. It is a set of seven lakes of distinct sizes and colours. The best part about this lake is that even after hikers have explored this region for days, there is always something more to discover.
4. Ural Region
If you love rafting, don’t miss the Ural mountain chain, which is a border between Asia and Europe.
It starts from the Arctic Ocean and goes up to the deserted regions in the southern part of Kazakhstan. This wild region has an array of activities to offer adventurers. Tourists can enjoy the local rivers as it’s always filled with water with different speed levels.
The best river for those looking for rafting is the river Vishera. This area involves a 7-day long trip wherein you can enjoy some beautiful spots. Don’t forget to capture the scenic beauty as it is one of its kind.
Many people prefer doing this trip with a group of people as it’s convenient to plan and organise things jointly. However, if you have prior experience in rafting, you can totally do it independently. The distance of this trip is around 130km.
If you are looking at some shorter routes for rafting here, you won’t be disappointed at all, as there are plenty of options.
Also, if you like kayaking more than rafting, you can simply explore the rivers by kayaking. Keep in mind that the mountain river water is quite cold regardless of the season.
5. Baikal Lake
Diving is more exciting when you are exploring the world’s deepest lake, which is known as the Baikal Lake. If you visit this place at the right time, you can enjoy ice diving too.
Baikal Lake is situated at the centre of Siberia and it’s needless to say how cold it can get during winters. The temperature ranges between -25°C and -30°C.
At this time of the season, the ice layer goes up to 1.5m to 2m. It thus becomes a a mission to form an ice hole. A dry suit is what you need to cope up with the coldest weather.
The diving duration entirely depends on the river, but it typically takes around 10 to 20 minutes.
It is a unique experience to ice dive in Baikal as the water is crystal clear, with average visibility close to 20m. The ice layer here looks like glass and its transparency helps the daylight to effortlessly go through the lake.
If you choose to visit the lake on a sunny day, there will be no sign of snow and you can glance through the ice from the depth of 40m to view people and moving vehicles.
Ice diving does require you to obtain a qualification and the course can be done in Irkutsk, a town that is the closest city to the lake.
The ideal time for ice diving is between February and March as the ice layer is thick and you will get to enjoy sunny days.
With so many such destinations for adventure activities in Russia, it’s time to plan your trip now!