Looming above Europe, the Middle East and Asia, Russia is a sprawling destination whose frenzy of development over the last 15 years is unmatched by any other region. Russia is so many different cultures, customs and traditions tied up into one patchwork identity, it is sometimes hard to separate myth and stereotype from reality.

The only true way to realize the blinding glitter of imperial Russia, is to drink it in first-hand. It’s only natural that such a gargantuan land-mass would be home to diverse landscapes and cultural identities: Russia is no exception.

The ancient beauty of St.Petersburg has made it a favourite among architectural and historical connoisseurs for hundreds of years. Evolved from a backwater swamp into a chic European metropolis, this is Russia’s ‘window to the west’.

Enjoying a delicious mixture of wending canals and delicate baroque edifices, this is a destination of serious beauty with an indulgent vein of luxury and sophistication. Gorgeous beneath the bloom of a vivid spring, St.Petersburg is a true Russian city and, as such, is at its most luminous beneath the snow.

When one speaks of Russia, Moscow can not be avoided. It was the heartbeat of the country for many years, home of the Kremlin and a dichotomous metropolis where ancient monasteries vie for attention beside avant-garde monoliths of new industry.

Magnificent in spring, when the parks overflow with bright flowers and the trees drip with vibrant leaves, Moscow is just as beautiful when the snow muffles the sounds of the city and travellers are left with a complex landscape of hushed urbanity.

Lake Baikal
Lake Baikal is the world’s deepest lake, housing one-fifth of the planet unfrozen water: this glittering expanse of cobalt blue is encircled by a rugged coastline dotted with scrub and forest. Chartering a yacht to cruise this incredible global treasure is worth the effort, and will prove to be an indulgent experience of complete relaxation.

Kamchatka Peninsula
Known as the ‘land of fire and ice’, the Kamchatka Peninsula is one of the most beautiful areas on earth. Located beside Alaska, this rugged area boasts lush forests, crystalline rivers teeming with salmon, immense herds of wild reindeer and, above all, volcanoes.

Over 200 exist in this area and intrepid outdoor enthusiasts can hike up to witness their primeval bubbling and spurting. Most areas require a helicopter or a 6 wheel-drive vehicle, so come prepared for the experience of a lifetime in this compelling region of feral beauty.

Vladivostok is one of Russia’s furthest outposts and until a few years ago, off limits to all travellers, even Russians. Home to the Russian Pacific Fleet, it was a high-security area reserved for the navy and select icebreakers, but now the ports have been opened to the public and this Asian trading post has boomed into a hyper-chic destination indulging in excess of every kind.

Whether travellers want to surround themselves in the cosmopolitan amenities of this city itself, or take off to a near-by island beach, secluded and formerly navy-only, Vladivostok is the perfect place to dig in.