A country so vast it's the biggest in the world, rubbing shoulders with the Eastern block, stretching its wings across glorious cities, awe-inspiring mountains, rivers and streams, tranquil lakes and rather dense, yet magnificent plains, there's a whole lot to discover, regardless of what you're into. If it's Russia's history, culture and architecture that tempt you, you'll be in for a treat in picturesque St Petersburg
and the capital city, Moscow
. If you're up for trekking, you'll enjoy the mountainous regions across the Southern border. Siberia is a sight to behold, with its have-to-be-seen-to-be-believed wild and untainted natural landscapes. You might want to board the Siberian Express to witness these, as well as the grassy plains, and jump off to explore unchartered territory...
10 things I wish I'd known before leaving for Russia
St. Petersburg: Read in-depth case studies
and top tips written by previous students
Rob's Russian Blog
Find out about Petrozavodsk
The Mole Diaries: Moscow
Why should I choose Russia for my year abroad?
Whatever attracts you, one thing is a given: you'll need a sense of humour to keep you company in the bitter cold; but this just adds to this exceptional country. Invest in some (fake) furs, bring a camera, start counting the mullets, shake a limb or two to Russian pop (questionable at the best of times) and enjoy Tsarist buildings, wooden architecture, a rich political history, snow, more snow and hundreds of miles of unspoilt rural scenery. Go out and explore the real Russia, the one that isn't all to do with Eurovision song contests and tricky politics, and you'll never look back...
[Photo of Matryoshka dolls in Moscow by neiljs]