Russia is truly one of the world's most diverse and fascinating countries. Art lovers; patrons of ballet, opera and classical music; savvy travelers and shoppers; and all first-timers will find Russia an exciting and rewarding destination. No longer an antonym of luxury, the country today boasts some of the most lavish hotels in the world, including Moscow's opulent hot-spot, the Ritz Carlton. Throughout Russia, deluxe historic hotels that have been restored to their original glory and updated with the finest of today's amenities and comforts.
Russia is abundantly populated with spectacular and unmatched architectural monuments; its palaces and world-class museums are on a par with Paris, Rome and Madrid. In addition to sophisticated St. Petersburg -- the legendary "Venice of the North" as it is built on 140 islands -- and vibrant Moscow, which celebrated its 860th anniversary in 2007, Russia boasts a myriad of enchanting UNESCO World Heritage sites: Vladimir, Suzdal, Sergiev Posad and Novgorod. Most importantly, however, it is a friendly and welcoming nation of warm, convivial and interesting people. Hospitality to visitors has always been and remains an inherent feature of Russian culture.
As the largest country in the world, exploring beyond the major cities provides endless opportunities and allows travelers to better comprehend the incredible geographic and cultural diversity that is Russia. Board a private Trans-Siberian express train and experience the grandeur of the Siberian taiga and serene beauty of remote villages on the shores of Lake Baikal, the deepest and largest freshwater lake in the world. For those who dislike the packing and unpacking associated with an extensive overland journey, the convenience of a Baltic Sea cruise or a Volga River cruise offers excellent insight into Russia's past and present development.