Travelling around Russia by car. Where to go? Routes and places

Traveling with the whole family: top 7 best routes in Russia by car in 2022

Motorists are a special caste of people who prefer their iron horse to all forms of transport. And even on vacation, they choose to travel not by plane or train, but by their favorite car. And they do it correctly, by the way! Because travel by car in Russia in 2022 has an undeniable number of advantages. Well, first of all, there are economic benefits. If you add up the cost of air or rail tickets for the whole family, and compare that to the cost of gasoline, you get a significant benefit. In addition, if you have a car, there is no need to settle in the city center or on the first line of the resort – all the sights or the sea can easily be reached in half an hour from the suburbs. Secondly, it is possible to build a route of your choice and not to be guided by the preferences of the tour operator or group, and look exactly what is interesting to you personally. And finally, traveling by car is a real adventure, and nothing so unites the family as a spirit of adventure!

The car gives you the opportunity to build a route of your choice. Photo: unsplash.com

So, let’s go! As an experienced motorist, you have already built a route and uploaded it to your phone, grabbed paper maps just in case, looked at all the gas stations along the way, selected hotels where you will stay overnight and made a list of attractions. And also packed all the necessary things, snacks, water and medicines. Take into account all the nuances and ready for a pleasant pastime. It seems like everything is fine, but there is one small, but so important “but”. Children on the road often get motion sickness. And this – stops, deviation from the route and generally unpleasant.

What to do?

  • Take motion sickness medication such as Dramamine, or put a special bracelet on your child before the trip.
  • Turn on the air conditioner or keep the windows open, the car should be fresh and not smell like gasoline.
  • For the same reason, throw out all air fresheners – no matter how much you like the scent, it is a significant irritant to the child. Only fresh air.
  • Take away from children phones and iPads – they should look at the road, not the screen: this makes them sicker.
  • And finally, remember the Soviet pioneer counselors’ tiphack – to sing while driving. Fun and effective!

And now – let’s go!

Top 7 Best Routes for a Family Road Trip in 2022

1. Seliger and Upper Volga Lakes

Moscow – Ostashkov. 370 km, 4-5 hours drive

Lake Seliger is a unique system of pristine lakes, it includes in addition to the Seliger lake Sig, Peno, Sabro, Glubokoe, etc. Here are excellent conditions for fishing, swimming, diving, canoeing, jet-skiing, trekking in the woods, picking mushrooms and berries, or sightseeing.

Nilov Desert is a men’s monastery on Stolobny Island, which attracts many pilgrims and tourists. Photo: Victor Guseinov

There are two ways to get to Seliger from Moscow – by Leningrad highway through Tver and Torzhok or by Novorizhskoe highway through Rzhev. The second option is preferable: there are few traffic lights and you spend about an hour less on the road. But if you want to have an interesting and eventful trip, it’s better to go through Tver. You should stop there at least for a day to get acquainted with the city, which is mentioned in chronicles since 1135, and at the beginning of the 14th century, even claimed to be the capital of Russia. And, of course, to visit Torzhok – to see the famous Boris and Gleb monastery (founded in 1036), Alexander Pushkin’s museum, picturesque footbridges over the river Tvertsa.

And drive on – to the lakes. In summer, if you have not bought a ticket to the recreation center, it is difficult to find a place to pitch a tent – there are so many tourists. Therefore, experienced travelers advise to go straight to the Kravotynskiy splash, lakes Volgo, Sterzh and Peno.

What to see :

  • The source of the Volga is a sacred key, where the great Russian river originates. There is a chapel and a wooden church here.
  • Nil’s Hermitage, a monastery on Stolobny Island, is named after the hermit Nil, who healed fishermen’s ailments. The monastery was founded in the 16th century, and to this day remain the Epiphany Cathedral with the relics of Nil Stolobensky, the Peter and Paul Fortress, All-Holy Church and the monastic cells. This is a working monastery, which takes pilgrims.
  • Dormition Church of the 18th century in the village Nikolo-Rozhok. This is the only building left from the once rich St. Nicholas Monastery.
  • The 18th-century Church of the Entry of the Theotokos into Kravotyni, built to commemorate the victims of the Tatar yoke.
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Ivanovo: a trip to the youngest city of the Golden Ring

Everyone remembers that “Ivanovo is the city of brides,” but it had no less striking characteristics. Russian Manchester, the city of chintz kings, the birthplace of the first council – this is all about it. Here you can see the most unusual in the country houses of the era of constructivism, see a unique collection of avant-garde and contemporary art. And just stroll along the streets and art spaces of the brightest city of the Golden Ring.

2. St. Petersburg. “The Road of the Sovereign.

Moscow – St. Petersburg. 709 km. M11 highway – 7 hours on the road, M10 highway – 10 hours on the road

There is no need to explain why drive to the most beautiful city in Russia. St. Petersburg has an amazing atmosphere of white nights, canals and palaces, cultural life, trips to museums and luxurious surroundings. But the road to the beautiful can be just as beautiful and fulfilling.

Be sure to visit Veliky Novgorod along the way and see the heart of the city – the Novgorod Detinets. Photo: commons.wikimedia.org

In 2020, tourist sites around the M10 and M11 highways were combined into the “Gosudareva Road,” a historical route used by Russian emperors since the late 18th century. Unique traveling palaces and estates have been preserved here. But they are not the only ones of interest. Klin, Solnechnogorsk, Tver, Torzhok, Vyshny Volochek, Valdai, Kresttsy, Veliky Novgorod – places known for their unique architecture and nature are a must visit.

What to see:

  • Klin is interesting, first of all, the museum of Pyotr Tchaikovsky. Here the composer spent the last eight years of his life and wrote the operas “The Queen of Spades” and “Iolanta”, the ballets “The Sleeping Beauty” and “The Nutcracker”, the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies, numerous piano pieces and romances.
  • In Solnechnogorsk there is the Travelling Palace, which became a part of the architectural ensemble of the St. Petersburg Highway, conceived back in the time of Catherine the Great.
  • Vyshny Volochek is an amazingly picturesque old town on the Tsna River. Here you should see the majestic Epiphany Cathedral with its white-stone walls and golden cupolas, the Kazan Women’s Monastery, built with money from Prince Putyatin, and the Church of Alexander Nevsky, the site of the assassination attempt on Emperor Alexander II. If you have time, check out the Russian Valenki Museum and the Museum of Glass.
  • Veliky Novgorod is a must-see! This city, whose history goes back more than 13 centuries, has preserved the atmosphere and spirit of ancient Russia. The historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The main attraction is the Novgorod Detinets, where in the Church of the Transfiguration are unique frescoes by Theophanes the Greek.

Where in fact was the first capital of Russia

In the Tver region developed a route “Monarch’s Road”, which includes several cities on the way from Moscow to St. Petersburg. Blogger-traveler Grigory Kubatyan drove along this ancient route and tells what you must see and where to stay.

3. Crimea

Moscow – Kerch. 1560 km, highway M4 “Don”. 24 hours on the road

The Crimea opens up new opportunities for travel by car. Photo: Andrey ABRAMOV

The Crimean auto is not the fastest way to the Crimea (you are to drive about 1,5 days), but the journey by car opens up such opportunities that you won’t regret it! Entering the Kerch Bridge – is already an event, and these will be very, very many. The most secluded and beautiful bays, the most dizzying views from the mountains to the coast – it will all be yours and yours alone!

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What to see:

  • We share the secret information, where in the Crimea the cleanest and least crowded beaches. Generalskie beaches are located near Kerch. And after seeing the unusually colorful port city and its attractions, you can go to the wild beach among the picturesque cliffs. Azure clean sea and the absence of crowds of tourists – attached.
  • Beaches Balaklava few people, even in high season. Golden beach stretches for 800 meters. Mostly adults have their rest here, so it’s quiet and calm. And it’s also beloved by divers – stony bottom provides excellent visibility at depth. By the way, here is their camp and instructors – if you want to scuba dive, you can take a few lessons.
  • A few minutes walk from the Golden Beach is Silver Beach. It too is wild, but umbrellas and sun loungers can be rented.
  • Tsar’s Beach in the village of Novy Svet is a must-see. Blue Bay is a dazzling azure of water. This mystical effect is created by the shale rocks lying at the bottom. Unfortunately, the beach is closed to swimming, but … this does not stop anyone.
  • And to swim to his heart’s content, you need to go to the village of Morskoye. Volcanic black sand – its calling card. Yes, there are once active volcanoes in the Crimea.
  • Still need to go to Koktebel, to visit the Cape Fiolent in Sevastopol, to test the white beaches of the village Olenevka. Well, we recommend you to visit the mysterious Meganom Cape. There are many legends connected with this place – for example, the ancient Greeks believed that the Styx River flows here and carries the souls of the dead to the realm of Hades.

The most interesting things in the Crimea

Balaklava

Koyash lake

Ghost Valley

4. Kola Peninsula

Moscow – Murmansk, 1900 km, rout M-10 and R-21 “Kola”, travel time 30-36 hours.

The Arctic Circle is an incredibly popular tourist destination in recent years. They come here for fantastic landscapes, wildlife, white nights in summer and northern lights in winter, for the power of the Arctic Ocean and the opportunity to see whales coming into the bay near the village of Teriberka.

Tourists come to the Kola Peninsula for fantastic landscapes. Photo: commons.wikimedia.org

If you build a car route correctly and deviate a little from the course, the road is even more interesting.

What to see:

  • Passing through Medvezhjegorsk on the way, it is worth stopping in Kem and Rabocheostrovsk to see the place where Pavel Lungin’s famous film “The Island” was filmed. And in Kandalaksha – visit the stone labyrinth “Babylon”, dated by the 2nd century B.C.
  • Near Vygostrov you can see the White Sea petroglyphs, the ancient petroglyphs. And, of course, the Karelian mountain park Ruskeala is a must-visit place, and not far from Kondopoga – Kivach waterfall.
  • But the Kola Peninsula itself is a place of great number of natural and man-made monuments. And it is not only widely advertised Teriberka. If you are the owner of 4×4 car with high clearance, go to incredibly picturesque cape Ahkioniemi with waterfalls and mountain lakes, which the German generals during the Great Patriotic War called “Kola Geneva”.
  • Visit the Sredny Peninsula with its rocks “Two brothers”, to which the Sámi legends are connected. Sacrifices were made near the 30-meter high stone remnants in ancient times, that is why you may pass between them only in one direction – from the sea to the mountain.
  • It is still worth to visit Rybachy peninsula – it is one of the 15 most beautiful places of Russia according to Google Maps service.

5. Kalmykia

Moscow – Elista. 1260 km. Routes E119, E119 and “Don” M-4. Travel time is 16-18 hours.

Golden Abode of Buddha Shakyamuni in Elista – the largest Buddhist temple in Kalmykia. Photo: commons.wikimedia.org

One should go to Kalmykia for the exotic. After all, it is the only republic in the European part of Russia where Buddhism is practiced. It has a different culture, different faces, different landscapes. You feel like you’ve been to another planet. Dunes, dunes, salt lakes, abandoned houses, animal bones – the picture is unreal, but no less beautiful. Getting off the federal highway, unless you are traveling in an SUV, is not recommended. These routes are more suitable for international rallies, which, incidentally, are held here. Otherwise, Kalmykia is beautiful and even delicate, because the symbol of this land is the lotus. And this is yet another reason to visit this land. In July and August the lotuses bloom in the Volga delta. Huge areas are covered with white-pink flowers – up to the horizon. The sight is fantastic! You can swim in a boat between the plants and inhale their fascinating aroma. But do not pick them, as the flower fades in a few minutes. It lives only 2-3 days on the stem… Water excursions are organized from Elista.

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What to see:

  • The Golden Abode of the Buddha Shakyamuni in Elista is the largest Buddhist temple in Kalmykia with a 10-meter Buddha statue. There are 108 white stupas and 17 pagodas around the temple. The main treasure kept here is the clothes of Dalai Lama XIV.
  • The golden gate “Altn Bosch” on red columns. There is a belief: the passage under the gate helps to purify spiritually.
  • The Stupa of Enlightenment is believed to “fulfill all prayers.” At the base of the stupa is a prayer drum with 50 million mantras.
  • The Black Earth Reserve, which is under UNESCO protection. Three climatic zones are represented here: steppe, desert and semi-desert. The saiga antelope and rare waterfowl are restored here.
  • The big Yashalta lake, only one and a half meters deep, is valuable for its healing muds.

6. Anapa

Moscow – Anapa. 1477 km, federal highway M4 “Don”, travel time 16-18 hours

One of the symbols of Anapa is a lighthouse. Photo: pixabay.com

This route will first of all be of interest to those who go with small children. After all, Anapa is the nearest seaside resort from Moscow. The road is not the longest, and the location is more than convenient – there is also the Black Sea, and only 45 km away is the Azov Sea. And since you are not limited in movement by car, there will be a chance to visit both. The Azov Sea, by the way, has another plus – as it is very shallow, the water is easily heated to +28 ° C, and the steppe zones near the Azov Sea, creating a dry comfortable climate, the humidity is very moderate here.

Best places to travel by car in Russia

Russia by car: Routes to travel by car

A list of the most interesting places to go in Russia by car. My experience and routes for future trips.

I am a big fan of road trips. It’s funny, but until I was 25 years old cars did not interest me at all. Even in driving school, I went to get a license solely for motorcycles, but how nice that they still persuaded me to learn how to drive a car. And one day I was inspired by the idea of traveling by car in the mountains, I bought a car for this trip, I felt the thrill – and here we go. Now every year I go on a car trip and have already traveled half the country. In this post, I will tell you about the best places to travel by car in Russia. Let’s go!

North Caucasus.

The Caucasus is my biggest love! I’ve been here twice now and have been to all the republics. The beauty and natural, historical and cultural attractions are unimaginable. The Bermamyt Plateau, the Elbrus Mountains, the surroundings of Arkhyz, Lago-Naki, the ancient fortresses of North Ossetia and Ingushetia, the incredible landscapes of Dagestan – you can’t list everything.

The region is quite densely populated, there are many cities and towns, so there is always civilization nearby. By the way, you can successfully combine a road trip across the North Caucasus with a trip to Georgia by car – people who have been there leave rave reviews.

Next time I plan to go by my car already in Transcaucasia: Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Photo from my first road trip through Russia. A trip to the Sofia Glaciers. Arkhyz, Karachay-Cherkessia. View of Elbrus from the Bermamyt plateau. View from the top of Mussa-Achitara mountain, which can be reached by elevators from Dombai.

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Gorny Altai

A trip by car to the Altai Mountains was my second trip by car in Russia. Within a month and a half our MAKE-TRIP.RU team drove along the famous Chuysky tract all the way to the Mongolian border.

The Altai Mountains landscapes are amazingly diverse: dense taiga, sun-burnt steppes, snow-covered mountains and even deserts that look more like Afghanistan than Russia. What else? Archaeological sites of ancient civilizations, cave paintings, shamanism culture, places of power, and even springs with radioactive water. Altai is considered the most sacred place in Russia. People who have been here believe that a trip to Altai can change a person’s life, strengthen morally, spiritually and physically.

Remember! There is Altai Krai (quite boring and overcrowded with tourists), and then there is the Republic of Altai. All the most interesting in the second region are the real mountains and majestic landscapes, not the rest with beer by the river. The most interesting part of Altai begins approximately after Ongudai village.

I am convinced that it is worth going to Gorny Altai at least once. You can also include Mongolia in your travel itinerary (visa-free entry for Russians). Our notes will help you plan your trip.

Our landing on Mars. Mountain Altai, near the village of Chagan-Uzun. On Achik Pass in Gorny Altai. Chuysky tract, Gorny Altai.

Such a small peninsula, but so many sights and beautiful places! To all other things – excellent climate, sea, good beaches for all tastes, many routes for hiking, fairly developed (if compared with the same Mountain Altai) infrastructure. Having a car allows you to save money on tours in the Crimea and relax in the nice wild places without the crowds of tourists.

In Crimea, I have been many times, and recently went there by car with friends. In two weeks we toured the entire peninsula – a very rich program turned out. Do you want the same? Read my reports and guides.

Went to the poppy fields in the Crimea. Serpentine on Ai-Petri in the Crimea. “Starfall of Memories. Koktebel, Crimea.

Krasnodar Region

The Black Sea coast is the most popular place in Russia where people go to vacation by car. I have traveled by car to 35 resorts in the Krasnodar region: I have passed them all from Yeisk to Sochi. And all in order to make the best guides to the resorts of our south. I was satisfied with my travels. Despite all the pops and stereotypes about our southern resorts, there are really many cool places. You just need to choose the right time and place, and then you like it.

Resorts in the Krasnodar region is very easy to get to: the proximity of the region to Moscow and most major cities, good roads, developed infrastructure, a huge selection of resorts for every taste. Except that the drivers in Kuban are reckless and poorly obey the traffic rules, but you can survive it.

I walk in fragrant pine forests on the shores of the Black Sea. Divnomorskoye, Krasnodar Territory.

Baikal

Interesting fact: I was born and grew up in Transbaikalia, but I still haven’t been to this lake! This is an unfortunate omission – one day I will definitely correct it.

Of course, a trip to Listvyanka camping site cannot be called a trip to Baikal. It’s necessary to see Baikal from all sides. You should visit Olkhon, Selenga estuary, nature reserves, mountains in the north and in the south. Your idea is to go to Baikal both in the summer and in the winter, because that way you will see two different lakes.

Driving to Baikal in Winter

Winter trip to Baikal by car. Photo: Philipp Trubchenko / unsplash.com.

Karelia

A land of lakes, dense forests, fairy tales and harsh northern nature. Kizhi, Valaam, Ladoga skerries, mystical mountain Vottovaara, thousands of rock paintings – there is a lot to see in Karelia. In addition, there is a rich program for lovers of outdoor activities: rafting, quad bikes, jeep tours, skiing, hunting, fishing, and much more. Going to Karelia is possible both in summer and in winter.

We went here last summer by car and visited all the most interesting places. Although Karelia is not as crazy beauty, as in the Caucasus or Altai, but this region is still nice and picturesque. You should go to the republic for peace – the local landscapes create just such a mood.

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Here are such fabulous dense forests in Karelia! At the top of Vottovaara Mountain.

Kola Peninsula

This is my fifth auto-expedition to Kola Peninsula, and I fell in love with this northern region. I fell in love with it for the beauty and tranquility of the White Sea, the Khibiny mountains covered with multicolored moss and moss-jungle, the incredible views in the Lovozero tundra, the endless fields of blueberries and cowberries, the bears, whose presence was felt at every step.

Our trip to Kola turned out to be very eventful. I finally reached the Arctic Ocean and swam in its cold waters (for nerds it was the Barents Sea, but for me it was the Arctic Ocean). I visited the northernmost point of European Russia (Cape Nemetsky on Rybachy Peninsula) and there, at the edge of the Earth, spent the night in a tent. I discovered for myself a region completely new in spirit – the Russian North. In general, I advise everyone to go here!

I stand on a coast of Arctic Ocean, Teriberka. At 1000 meters height. Geologists’ Pass, Lovozero Tundras, Kola Peninsula. Swimming with a friend in the Arctic Ocean. Rybachy peninsula.

Sayany .

Ridges in the south of Siberia (Krasnoyarsk region, Tyva, Khakassia, Buryatia, Irkutsk region). Mountain taiga, mountain tundra! The famous “Pillars”, almost untouched nature. I don’t know much about these places, but the pictures are impressive. However, how can the taiga and the mountains not impress you? I will definitely go there.

Driving in russia: Routes of travel by car in russia

The Sayan Mountains in the fall. Photo: Markus Siemens / unsplash.com.

It’s easy to travel by car in the Middle and Southern Urals. There are many routes for road trips in the Urals: from towns and attractions in the north of the Perm region (Cherdyn, the Vishera River, Solikamsk) to the southernmost outskirts of the ridge in Bashkiria and the Chelyabinsk region.

A couple of winters ago my friends and I had a nice ride in the Northern and Middle Urals: we were at Vetlan, climbed the Polyudov Stone, went to Cherdyn, Stone City, went to the Usva Pillars. It is not bad, but there are a lot of places left for future trips too.

Driving in Russia

The alternative to the auto.

Russia is a big country. There are many places where you can go on an exciting trip. But the size of the country also promises challenges. In the Far East, Lake Baikal and the Sayan Mountains are beautiful, but not everyone from Moscow wants to travel that far. And vice versa: how many will be willing to go to the Crimea or the Caucasus on their own car from Vladivostok, Irkutsk or Krasnoyarsk?

It is possible to find a way out. If you really want to visit a particular and very far place and ride there by car, but no desire to spend a week on the road, make it so – fly to the right place and take a car to rent. It will save you time, money, effort and you can pick up a car to any taste: even an SUV, even a convertible, even a minivan.

I often rent a car in other countries to see places most tourists can’t see. I already have trips to Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Martinique, Guadeloupe and the Azores in my piggy bank of road trips. Road trips are an amazing experience! I choose and book cars on these sites:

    – The world leader in online car reservations. – rentals in the Crimea, Georgia, Greece, Montenegro, Bulgaria, UAE, Czech Republic and Cyprus.

But still travel in your own car – it’s the buzz!

Altai

Driving along the Chuisky highway in Altai.

Conclusion

In this review, I’ve listed only the top places of national and world level. Of course, there are an inconceivable number of other local attractions in Russia – every region has dozens, if not hundreds, of such places. Find out where you can go by car in your region – for sure, you will find a lot of interesting places.

Share your ideas, routes and tips about Russian road trips in the comments – we’ll make a list of the best places to visit together!

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