Why You Should Visit Russia’s Smaller Cities
When you think about visiting Russia, there are probably two places that come to mind: Moscow and St. Petersburg. But Russia is so much bigger than just Moscow and St. Petersburg. In the United States, we say that a person hasn’t seen the US if they’ve only been to New York or Los Angeles. The same is true for Russia. Russia’s smaller cities are where you can get a feel for “authentic” Russian life and learn how the average person lives.
It may be difficult to figure out what to do in these smaller cities, so I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite places to visit and things to see.
At the market, the food is fresh and you really get a feel for the culture. This makes it one of my favorite places to go for groceries, shopping, and just looking around. You will also find a wide variety of knock-off items, but, hey, that adds to the experience.
The Central Church:
Traditional Russian Orthodox is the most prominent religion in Russia which means you will probably find a beautiful Orthodox church in the city center. The exterior architecture itself is usually a reason to visit, but I highly recommend going inside. It’s free and you might just catch a service happening. Also, if present, don’t forget to visit the local shop before you leave. You can buy candles, pastries, icons, etc. and all the money goes to supporting the church.
The Old Soviet Remnants:
One of the coolest things about small cities is you can find old soviet buildings, statues, etc. that never got taken down or updated. I like to think of it as stepping back in time!
The Unique Architecture:
Small cities have some of the most unique architecture. Yes, the buildings weren’t designed by famous European architects, but the locals have created their own works of art. I especially love finding the very old wooden buildings that have survived the centuries.
The dacha, or summer home, is where locals do most of their gardening, but you can find small gardens right in the city. They are usually located right outside an apartment building or in the yard of a residential house. I enjoy seeing how the different plants grow and the gardening techniques used by the locals. If you’re lucky, they may even let you try their fruits and veggies!
The Parks and Playgrounds:
The hustle and bustle that you find in Moscow and St. Petersburg doesn’t exist in small cities. The pace of life is slower and people tend to be more relaxed and friendly. During the spring and summer months, the locals enjoy spending time outside at parks and playgrounds. This is a great place to stir up a conversation and maybe make a new friend!
I hope this has inspired you to add a stop in one of Russia’s smaller cities to your next trip!