Lake Baikal, Siberia

Hidden among the mountains of Siberia, Lake Baikal, the world’s deepest and oldest lake, reaches a whole ’nother level of beauty once it completely freezes over by late January. Crystal blue, up-to-1.5-meter-thick, and adorned with lightning cracks and frozen methane bubbles, the ice transforms the whole area into a frozen wonderland as if an ice queen has cast her spell. Covered in ice, Lake Baikal turns into a hotspot for ice skating and sailing, fishing, dogsled and hovercraft touring, snowmobile riding, and so on. 

Swan Lake, Altai 

The people of the Altai Region celebrate the onset of winter with the arrival of swans that choose non-freezing lakes to survive the cold. One such refuge favored by swans and ducks is Svetloe Lake, also known as Swan Lake. Despite the bitter cold, hot springs in the lake prevent its transparent waters – hence, the lake’s first name (“svetloe” means “clear” in Russian – Ed.) – from freezing, making it a perfect temporary home for birds that seek warmer climates. Hundreds of these beautiful birds can be observed on the lake from December to March.

Kungur Ice Cave, the Urals

The Ural region is rich with diverse natural attractions, one of them being the Kungur Ice Cave near Kungur, a town in Perm Oblast. The surreal-looking cave, with a total length of 5,700 meters, is a popular tourist destination. It is one of the largest karst caves in Russia and the seventh-largest gypsum cave in the world. Over 10,000-12,000 years old, the Kungur Ice Cave features 58 grottoes and 70 lakes, as well as incredible ice formations and stalagmites. 

Northern Lights, Murmansk

Nothing screams magic more than the Northern Lights. This is a truly awe-inspiring natural phenomenon that can be observed nearly all year round in areas beyond the Polar Circle. But it is most mesmerizing in winter when the sky grows dark and clear. With the coming of the Northern Lights season – between September and April – the Russian port-city of Murmansk starts to brim with tourists eager to experience this once-in-a-lifetime moment: the starry night lights up with a surreal dance of vibrant colors right above their heads.

Explore the must-dos and lesser-known destinations in Russia with our gripping takes on both architectural and natural wonders, as well as join us on a virtual journey to the extreme north of our beloved country!