Not Obvious Summer Vacation Options in Russia

“A difficult year” is how tour operators characterize this holiday season: many popular European resorts have closed or become uncomfortable in terms of logistics and currency due to the special operation in Ukraine. Those who are not short of money can now fly to the Seychelles, the Maldives, Thailand. The middle class will usually choose Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, those who are not attracted to foreign countries will choose Sochi and Abkhazia. It will be necessary to travel by train or bus to other Russian seaside towns because of the closure of airports. As Realnoe Vremya was informed by tour operators, this summer many residents of Tatarstan choose not very obvious summer vacation destinations, for example, Primorye or Sakhalin.

Welcome to the Caspian

Our people associate their holidays with the sea, especially those who travel with children, thinks Liliya Savelyeva, general director of the travel agency Inteltour Kazan. She assumes that “a difficult year” awaits the tourism sector due to the closure of most of the usual destinations, both inside the country and abroad.

“Those with money can fly to the Seychelles, the Maldives, Thailand. They are all open, but the flight is very expensive. For the middle class there is Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, Sochi and its neighbor Abkhazia in Russia, but there too the prices of everything have gone up. In general, there are not really many places to go, there are not many choices”, is pessimistic the director of Inteltour Kazan.

Travel and Work director Yulia Talanova, on the other hand, assumes that Russia has a lot of interesting places to travel if we challenge the stereotype that only a trip to the sea can be considered a real vacation. Reviewing the offers of travel agencies, Realnoe Vremya and experts compiled a list of unpopular places offered by tour operators and in which tourists from Tatarstan became interested.

The Caspian Sea remains underestimated. Although there have been plenty of beach vacation options lately. Regular flights from Kazan to Baku resumed on June 15. The capital of Azerbaijan has more than 800 hotels, so tourists can easily choose the one that suits their taste and pocket. Bathing and sunbathing can be combined with excursions to historical sights of one of the ancient eastern cities and shopping in huge shopping malls comparable to shopping malls in major European cities. The price is 105,000 rubles for two people for six nights.

A beach vacation in Dagestan can be diversified with an excursion to the deepest Sulak Canyon in Europe. Photo: sevkavportal.ru

You can swim in the Caspian Sea while staying in Russia – welcome to the resorts of Dagestan. There are direct flights from Kazan to Makhachkala, it is also possible to get there by train. Travel agencies also offer charter flights from Moscow. A beach vacation in Dagestan can be diversified with an excursion to the deepest canyon in Europe Sulak – a real gem of Dagestan. The average price of the trip for seven nights is 41-45 thousand rubles.

Baltic Sea and Primorye

If Kaliningrad has become a very popular site for travel, a Baltic Sea vacation in the Curonian Spit or Svetlogorsk is always exotic. Yes, the temperature for swimming only becomes suitable at the end of June, but the fresh water in the Curonian Bay warms up already at the end of May. The beaches of the Curonian Spit are considered the best in Russia due to its fine white sand along the peninsula, while Svetlogorsk became the first city in Russia included in the Cittaslow association, which means a high standard of living thanks to a slow pace and an atmosphere of calm and tranquility. . Residents start work at 10-11 a.m., and the city quiets down by 8 p.m.

A holiday in the Baltic Sea in the Curonian Spit or in Svetlogorsk is always exotic. Photo: aquatoriahotel.com/kosa

A flight to Kaliningrad with accommodation in a three-star hotel starts from 23,500 rubles per person.

There is also a sea in the other part of the country. As Yulia Talanova told Realnoe Vremya, tours in Vladivostok, Sakhalin and Kamchatka are gaining “very good speed.” “Here there is everything for a bright and unforgettable vacation: wide beaches and warm sea, secluded islands, picturesque landscape, different seafood, rare animals and excellent infrastructure for daily impressions”, c This is how the company Anex Tour describes a trip to Vladivostok. A flight from Moscow takes just over 8 hours. The price for a week-long excursion is 43,500 rubles.

A trip to Kamchatka, to volcanoes, the Pacific, geysers and waterfalls with the minimum excursion program will be 36,800, with the maximum – 54,900.

Circuits in Vladivostok, Sakhalin and Kamchatka gain “very good speed”. Photo: ilovekamchatka.ru

To the homeland of the shamans

Buryatia is another region that has not been discovered by tourists. It can be reached by charter plane from Moscow to Ulan-Ude, which stops in Kazan.

“This route is subsidized by the Federal Tourism Agency. The advantage of Buryatia is that you can go on vacation to Baikal. This is the southern shore of the lake, a natural landmark, Baikal is completely different where a unique seal lives. There are many tourist camps there where one can stay. Buryatia has a lot of interesting places, it’s interesting culture and local cuisine. As people say themselves, they are Buddhists in the morning, Christians or Islamists in the afternoon and shamanists in the evening.

“Once I found myself in Mongolia without a visa. It’s an 8-hour trip,” Talanova said and added that travel agencies offer travelers ready-made tourist packages.

Many compatriots have already managed to discover Altai on their own. But as Talanova said, those who went there and fell in love with the beauties of the Siberian taiga in combination with mountainous rivers and the famous Belukha return there but alone. In May, the airline UVT Aero resumed direct flights from Kazan to Gorno-Altaysk in the summer, which are operated twice a week, on Mondays and Fridays. Also, you can go by trail and by bus. Package trips from tour operators are diverse: these are different hiking and horse riding tours in Altai, the cheapest is from 34,500 rubles off-road.

“Altay is very beautiful. But it’s a very special party, I think, it’s not for everyone. Not all families with children will dare to go there. If you get good accommodation, it’s also expensive there. Of course, there are a lot of tourist camps, but not everyone will want to stay there, people know what good service is anyway, ”thinks Liliya Savelyeva.

Many compatriots have already managed to discover Altai on their own. Photo: realnoevremya.ru

Sol-Iletsk instead of Israel

It’s hard not to call Sol-Iletsk a tourist spot – hundreds of thousands of people come to a small town in Orenburg Oblast on the border with Kazakhstan every year to spend a vacation or improve their health. However, we added it to our review because last year the resort was closed due to a risk of a karst landslide in the bathing area. The 2022 tourist season was also in question, but it still opened on June 1.

The resort is famous for its salt lakes, mud with healing properties and mineral waters. The salt concentration here is similar to that of the Dead Sea. Watermelons that ripen at the end of July are another landmark of the city. A variety of this melon grows here, and thanks to a unique chemical composition of the soil, it becomes very beneficial.

Last year the resort was closed due to a risk of karst landslide in the bathing area. Photo: kurortbest.ru

A trip to Sol-Iletsk turns out to be very inexpensive. There are regular buses from Kazan, a return ticket costs 3,500 rubles. The journey takes 12 hours and you will have to book your accommodation on your own. But this is not a problem, the city has enough accommodation, including rental apartments. If people do not want to worry about booking, agencies offer 7-day tours with hotel accommodation from 7,900 rubles per person. There is a separate entrance fee for the lakes. This year the price is 300 rubles per person per day.

Eleonora Rylova

Analytics Tatarstan