5 Reasons to visit Russia with visa-free travel for South Africans

Earlier this year, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation officially announced that South Africans who wish to travel to Russia for leisure proposes would no longer be required to apply for a visa from the 1st of April, 2017. This followed discussions between the Department of Home Affairs and Russia that commenced last year.

Prior to this, the process of applying for a visa required that a request for an invitation be sent in Russian, which the traveller would need to present in person at the Russian embassy when applying for one.

The scrapping of the visa requirement has made travel easier for those looking to go on holiday for up to a period of 90 days with no intention of working, studying or living in the world’s largest nation.

Russia is growing in popularity as a travel destination among South Africans and with these top 10 activities and attractions, it certainly should be part of any travel bucket list:

1. Russia borders the 14 countries

Russia, being the largest nation on earth, stretches across eight time zones and borders the most number of countries, including Azerbaijan, Belarus, China, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Mongolia, North Korea, Norway, Poland and the Ukraine. This makes it a good springboard destination should you want to tour more countries.

2. See the world’s most acclaimed art establishments

Russia is home to a few of the world’s most renowned art establishments, making it an art-lovers paradise. These include The Bolshoi Theater, which is famous for its ballet and opera shows, Pushkin Art Gallery, known as the largest museum of European art in Moscow, the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, another one of its historic ballet and opera theaters, as well as the museum of art and culture, The Hermitage, also in St. Petersburg.

3. Explore the largest city in Europe, Moscow

Moscow, the bustling cosmopolitan capital of Russia is home to twelve million residents. It is also home to St. Basil’s Cathedral, Kremlin complex in the city centre, historic buildings from the Russian Empire and the famous Red Square. The city has a vibrant nightlife with an array of clubs, festivals, bars and more on par with other world-class cities.

4. Indulge in a taste of Russia, and a little vodka

Foodie or not, traditional Russian food will open you up to a new world of unforgettable flavours. There’s the Borsch or Borscht, which is a red soup made with beetroot and cabbage traditionally served to warm up to try, and Russian dumplings called pelmeni, filled perfectly herbed lamb, beef, or pork fillings wrapped in a thin dough.  It also goes without saying that if you’re a fan, an obvious must-try when in the Russia is the vodka!

5. The seven wonders of Russia

Russia also boasts some of the world’s most beautiful natural attractions, with the top seven declared in 2008 including, in order of ranking, Lake Baikal, Valley of Geysers, Mamayev Kurgan, Peterhof, the already mentioned Saint Basil’s Cathedral, the majestic Manpupuner rock formations and lastly, Mount Elbrus.

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