5 years, 5 months ago
This report comes from Russia, with love… and Olympic fever, lots of Olympic fever.
As all eyes look east to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, I wanted to take a little time to consider Russia as a year-round holiday destination, and to explain why staying in a self-catering apartment during your visit to this vast, varied and fascinating country is really the best way to travel. I’ve also included some of my top picks from HouseTrip apartments in Russia.
Save on Money not Style or Space
There’s no denying that Russia is an expensive destination for many travellers. Accommodation and eating out are two of the key ways your rubles can quickly disappear when here. However, renting a holiday apartment for your stay saves not only on accommodation costs but also gives you the option to cook for yourself and eat at home. Apartments come in all shapes and sizes to suit all budgets and promise comfort as well as style. HouseTrip hosts are often very happy to leave directions to the nearest supermarket and will provide recommendations for local, affordable places to eat and drink, as well as a list of affordable things to do in the area.
Central Location, Neighbourhood Charm
If you’re hoping to visit one of Russia’s two largest cities, St Petersburg or Moscow, by staying in an apartment you’ll be able to balance seeing all the central sights with experiencing a little local life.
St Petersburg is very easy to navigate by public transport or on foot, so you shouldn’t be put off staying a little further away from the centre of the city. Moscow also has an extensive public transport network that runs well even in the deep of winter.
Furthermore, both cities’ Metro systems have some of the world’s most beautiful underground stations. In St. Petersburg there’s the marble work and chandeliers in Avtovo and the elaborate mosaics at Mayakovskaya, and in Moscow you can enjoy the 1930s Stalinist architecture on show at Ploschad Revolutsii or seek out the art covering the walls at Kievskaya, where you can find the Parisian style “Metropolitan” sign marking the Europe Square entrance.
Do Something Different
Did you know that nestled on the coast of the Baltic Sea between Poland and Lithuania is the small Russian exclave Kaliningrad Oblast? Don’t worry, you’re not alone as not many people are aware of this Russian oblast or that is a very interesting place to visit. Once an ancient Prussian settlement that was established by the Knights of the Teutonic Order, the administrative capital, Kaliningrad, was handed over to Russia after the Second World War. While much of the city was flattened by war-time bombings, there are historic sights to be seen, including a charming waterfront cathedral that sits close to the so-called “FishingVillage”, a collection of historic houses with red roofs that look more Western than Eastern European. You can experience this unusual and unique part of Russia from as little as 41 Euros a night.
Snow (and Summer Sunshine) in Sochi
As I mentioned in my recent round up of past Winter Olympics, Sochi is actually considered more a summer holiday destination than a winter wonderland, as the blue skies in the photos for this apartment suggest. However, if you’re thinking of a last minute trip to soak up some of the Olympic atmosphere you could stay close to the piste in nearby Krasnaya Polyana, Russia’s premier ski resort, where the Alpine skiing events will take place. Alternatively, head along the Black Sea’s coast to Adler, which is where the skating and other indoor events will be held during Sochi 2014.
Moving and shaking in Moscow
Russia’s capital city is also its number one tourist destination thanks to culture, history and a cosmopolitan feel. Whether you’re in Moscow to explore the Duma, admire St Basil’s Cathedral or to experience its growing foodie or nightlife scene, pick an apartment to suit your budget and save your rubles for what you really want to do in Moscow.
East meets West in St. Petersburg
An entry way to Russia from Europe in more ways than one – it’s considered the country’s most European city – St Petersburg is a destination full of historic buildings, world class museums and galleries, and plenty of romantic bridge scenes along the famous Griboyedov canal. It’s also packed full of stylish apartments that won’t cost anywhere near as much as one of the city’s beautiful Imperial Palaces.
So, before I settle down to watch the action in Sochi – on TV, unfortunately – have I done enough to tempt you with a stay in an apartment in Russia?