Real Russia Blog

The Most Popular Museums in Europe, According to Instagram
17
February
2019

The Most Popular Museums in Europe, According to Instagram

Four Russian museums in the top 50!

Here at Real Russia we pride ourselves on being experts in travel specialising in Russia and the Trans-Siberian railway, with our knowledgeable and experienced travel team always on hand to provide assistance, travel advice and recommendations to travellers.

We do this by travelling extensively ourselves, as well as listening to feedback from fellow travellers, and checking out new research and travel trends.

We know that one of the most popular activities for travellers when visiting a European country such as Russia is checking out the vast array of museums the continent offers; covering everything from art to history, science to music, and everything in-between! And, of course, Russia is renowned for having some of the best museums in the world!

On this basis, we decided to research the most ‘Instagrammed’ museums in Europe, to find out which museums are the most popular, and maybe even get a better understanding of what travellers are looking for when trying to find that perfect trip.

Our research

As Instagram is one of the most popular ways to document travel experiences in the current age, this platform offered us an excellent and in-depth insight into the most popular European museums.

Having brought together a list of over 100 major European museums from various sources (see ‘Methodology’ below), we tracked all Instagram posts tagged at each of them. From this we were able to create our ranking of the most popular museums in Europe.

We had a feeling that Russia, with its incredible number of world-famous museums would feature highly, and we were right.

The results

The Louvre took the number one spot with an astonishing 4.3 million posts, taking the crown as Europe’s most Instagrammed museum by a substantial amount.

Coming in at second place is the equally iconic Vatican Museum in Italy, which has been tagged an impressive 1.8 million times on Instagram.

We were thrilled to see one of Russia’s best museums taking the third position, with the Moscow Kremlin proving to be one of the top three most popular museums in Europe with a massive 920k posts.

It was interesting to look at the spread of cities and countries which appeared most commonly within the top 50 results.

It was no surprise to us was the fact that Russia was a repeat performer with four Russian museums featured in the top 50; split evenly between Moscow and St Petersburg. As well as the Moscow Kremlin, the other Russian museums featured are the State Hermitage Museum ranking ninth with 490k posts, The Tretyakov Gallery with 59k posts and the Kunstkamera with 36k posts.

Other countries coming out on top for museum-goers include Germany with eight museums in the top 50, France with seven museums featured, and Italy who also feature eight times. The UK also appears to have a great reputation for museums with eight museums included within the top 50.

EN:We're kicking off a new hashtag, #VaticaninFocus, to share the best glimpses of this sacred place that's so full of history. Use it as well when you share your own pics of the Vatican! We'll publish the best on our @VaticanNews account. ES: Hemos pensando este nuevo hashtag para compartir con ustedes imágenes de lugares bellos y significativos del Vaticano: #VaticanInFocus. Úsenlo también ustedes para compartir sus fotos del Vaticano; publicaremos las mejores en nuestra cuenta @VaticanNews. PT: Pensamos numa nova hashtag, #VaticanInFocus, para contar os ângulos mais belos e densos de história e sacralidade do Vaticano. Use você também para compartilhar suas fotos do Vaticano, publicaremos as melhores na conta do @VaticanNews IT: Abbiamo pensato a un nuovo hashtag, #VaticanInFocus, per raccontare gli scorci più belli e densi di storia e sacralità di questi luoghi. Usatelo anche voi per condividere i vostri scatti in Vaticano, pubblicheremo i migliori sull'account di @VaticanNews

A post shared by Vatican News (@vaticannews) on

Methodology

To compile our research, we first looked at a number of resources including visitor numbers, TripAdvisor reviews, museum size, and trusted expert travel recommendations, to compile a list of over 100 of Europe’s major museums.

We then used the Instagram location function to track all posts tagged at each museum’s location, before crawling this data to find how many posts were tagged per location.

Using this information, we ranked our list by popularity and cut the results down to the final top 50 most popular museums in Europe.

The top Russian museums

If you are interested in visiting some of Russia’s most Instagrammed museums you can find out more about each of the museums featured, below.

Moscow Kremlin, Moscow (3rd – 920,280 posts)

The Moscow Kremlin is one of the most recognised museum complexes not only in Russia or in Europe, but in the entire world.

The fortified complex in the heart of Moscow is an iconic symbol of Russia, and along with the adjacent Red Square is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As stated by UNESCO themselves, the Kremlin is, “inextricably linked to all the most important historical and political events in Russia since the 13th century”.

The Kremlin itself actually contains a number of different museums and cathedrals that together offer a fantastic overview of Russia and Russian history. From the Diamond Fund to the Armoury Chamber, and from the Patriarchs Palace to the Museum of History of the Kremlin Architectural Ensemble, there is an exhibit for every interest.

Simply put, the Kremlin is one of the most important social, historical and cultural experiences to enjoy when visiting Moscow.

State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg (9th – 490,326 posts)

The State Hermitage Museum located in St Petersburg is the second largest art museum in the world (based on gallery space) but claims to hold the largest collection of paintings, and we don’t doubt it.

The Hermitage itself comprises a number of historic buildings, with the most famous being the Winter Palace, the former residence of the Russian monarchs. All the buildings fall within the UNESCO World Heritage Site, ‘Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg’, and are as beautiful on the outside, as the artwork is on the inside.

Although it was founded it 1764 by Catherine the Great in what is now known as the ‘Small Hermitage’, it was not opened to the public until 1852, and has gone from strength to strength ever since, with more than 3 million pieces in its collection. In fact, it is said that if you spent one minute looking at each piece, for eight hours per day, it would take 15 years to see everything!

Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow (36th – 59,287 posts)

The Tretyakov Gallery is among the the most iconic art museums in the world and is, in fact, known as home to the best collection of Russian fine art in the world.

The layout of the museum is unique in that you are led through the evolution of Russian art from the 11th to the 20th century, with each painting acting as a window to a specific time and place. We would highly recommend booking an expert guide for this journey through Russian history to really help understand and appreciate how Russia has grown, changed and been shaped over the last 1000 years.

Kunstkamera, St Petersburg (46th – 36,180)

The Kunstkamera (derived from the German for ‘art chamber’) was the first museum opened in Russia; born of the innate curiosity of Peter the Great.

Created as a ‘cabinet of curiosities’, the better description for its modern incarnation also happens to be its full name, the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography.

With exhibitions covering North and Latin America, as well as much of Asia and the Middle East, there is sure to be something of interest to everyone. Be warned, though, as many of the items within its ‘First Scientific Collection’ are not for the squeamish, containing as they do a number of natural ‘oddities’ related to Peter the Great’s interest in human anatomy.


If you would like to check out any, or all, of these museums, get in touch with our travel team who can tailor any one of our Moscow and Saint Petersburg tours to your needs.

For more inspiration, follow us on Instagram for some incredible images of Russia and the Trans-Siberian railway.

Real Russia Blog

Why you should go to St Petersburg this summer!
7
February
2018

Why you should go to St Petersburg this summer!

Is St. Petersburg on your bucket list yet?

No secret that White nights season in May-June is the perfect time to visit St. Petersburg. Be captivated by the lavish palaces and fountains and enjoy the scenic panoramas whilst strolling around the city. Study the majestic surroundings or take a trip on a river boat to admire the city from its waterways at night underneath the stars. But there’s so much more to do!

Russians highly appreciate culture, arts and traditions, and the beginning of the summer season is the best time to immerse yourself in a constant flow of cultural events and celebrations alongside the locals.

Here are the special events taking place in St Petersburg between May and June worth seeing!

Victory Day on 9 May

Victory day has always been a great celebration in Saint Petersburg, as the city survived an 872 day siege during WWII. The traditional Victory Day parade which consists of a concert, tulips for the veterans, joyful tears, and, of course, grand fireworks; all of these make this holiday very special. Read more about Victory Day in Russia.

Peterhof Fountains opening on 19 May

Every year the park of Peterhof hosts a special event, when its famous fountains are turned on after a long winter break. An all-day festival is held with a fanfare, classical music performance, fireworks and many other thrilling events.

The Museum night on 19 May

Straight after a busy day at Peterhof embark on a museum tour at night. Every year the Petersburg museums, libraries, Zoo, Planetarium and other venues join this international event and prepare many surprises, master classes, special exhibitions and original excursions. Take this great opportunity to take part in the special night programme of the Hermitage, explore the collection of the Russian Museum or set off to Pushkin to enjoy the midnight stroll in Ekaterina Park. The museums event programmes will be available later.


Peter and Paul Fortress at white night

City Day on 27 May

A tradition of Russian cities is to celebrate the day of the city’s founding. On 27 May 1703 Peter I founded a fortress on the Neva river, the Peter and Paul Fortress, that laid the foundation for the splendid city of Saint Petersburg.

The programme of the festive events is very intense: exhibitions, concerts, folk festivals, and, of course, the opening of the city fountains as a symbol of summer and new life. The celebration of St Petersburg 315th anniversary ends with a huge multi-colored burst of fireworks in the night sky.

Summer Garden – the most famous garden in St.Petersburg

‘The White Nights Stars’ Cultural Festival in May – July

The International Ballet and Opera Festival with over 20-year history takes place annually at the acclaimed Mariinsky theatre. It is one of the most interesting and largest musical events in the world. Every year, the Mariinsky Theatre delights lovers of opera, ballet and classical music with the best performances, great symphonic works, masterpieces of chamber music and theatrical premieres performed by the world stars.

Day of Russia on 12 June

St. Petersburg will celebrate this great holiday on a large scale – there will be many special events, various concerts, interesting exhibits and fireworks to complete the celebrations.

The annual festival “Scarlet Sails” on 23 June

​ A ship with scarlet sails on the Neva river

This celebration, organised in honour of alumnus and graduates, attracts up to 3.5 million viewers annually! Wonderful ships with scarlet sails, the symbol of hope and faith in the future, will sail on the Neva river accompanied by music, light show and fireworks, all making an incredible spectacle!

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Contact our friendly team to find out more about any of these events and get a true insight into St. Petersburg history and everyday Russian life. Start planning your dream tour today with a range of excursions we offer in St. Petersburg!

Real Russia Blog

World Travel Awards 2017 - we did it!
13
October
2017

World Travel Awards 2017 – we did it!

For the fifth consecutive year we are the best in travel to Russia!

Russia’s leading travel agency for the last five years!

We are delighted to say that with your incredible support, we have been named Russia’s Leading Travel Agency 2017. This is the fifth year in succession we have had the honour of being voted ‘Russia’s Leading Travel Agency’, which is unprecedented. Impressive? Indeed!

Considering that the World Travel Awards are the travel industry’s equivalent of the Oscars, winning an award at the World Travel Awards means so much to everyone here at Real Russia. It provides international recognition for our team of dedicated specialists, without whom Real Russia would not be where it is today. And winning this prestigious award for the fifth time in a row demonstrates that our team are consistently, year on year, exceeding our customers' expectations.

Now the glare of the splendid ceremony has faded, we would like to send huge thanks to our fantastic customers for taking the time to vote for us; also to our partners and affiliates for spreading the word about the nomination and encouraging their customers to speak up. We are privileged to have had your support for the last five years, and we feel it is a big responsibility keeping our services to the highest standard.

In celebration, Real Russia are delighted to make a contribution to our chosen charity, The Life Route. The donation will help the charity to continue their excellent work.

The Gala Ceremony

Talking about the award ceremony, our team, including the Operations Director Eugene Kharisov, Sales Supervisor Alla Menshikova and our Account Manager Natasha Zhukova, attended the prestigious ceremony in St Petersburg on 30th September 2017, with hundreds of giants from the travel industry from across the region in attendance.

The venue was absolutely gorgeous – the Marble Hall of the Russian Museum of Ethnography situated in the neighbourhood of the Mikhailovsky Palace. The Marble Hall is one of the most remarkable rooms of this museum, made in the Greco-Roman peristyle. The cladding is completely made of Karelian pink marble. The inner room is enclosed in numerous columns supporting the ceiling vaults.

The Marble Hall- the venue of the Gala ceremony

The official after party was held in the ballroom at the luxurious five-star Hotel Astoria, one of the most attractive venues, where the national Russian character matches with the luxury of the high-class hotel. The Astoria was where Hitler planned to hold a victory ball after taking Leningrad, as the city was called during World War Two. Needless to say, this never happened.


The guests enjoing the performance on the stage

We asked Alla about the highlights of the event, ‘The venue impressed me the most. The Marble Hall and the lighting that they created looked fabulous. We all enjoyed a terrific performance of the professional artists (musicians, singers), who were very warmly and sincerely taken by the guests.’


​The artists in the traditional Russian costumes

As Eugene Kharisov explained to us, ‘This event was attended by the most successful tourism industry leaders who, through their dedication, got this longed-for reward. Attending there was a good opportunity for us to acquire new contacts and meet the existing partners. The event was organized at the highest level with the participation of local authorities. Guests were invited to a magnificent show with Russian artists and a sumptuous dinner. We hope that our participation in this event will be permanent.’

The interview with Eugene Kharisov

We are especially pleased that the event took place in Russia, for the first time in World Travel Awards history, and that the host city, St Petersburg, in the centenary of the October Revolution, received the award for Europe’s Leading Destination. Famed for its endless canals, baroque palaces and legendary historical figures who called the city home, this eternal city of luxury palaces and fountains, has been the quintessence of Russian history and culture over the last three centuries.

As World Travel Awards Founder and President Graham Cooke said, ‘St Petersburg proved a wonderful host for our Europe Gala Ceremony, and I am sure the city will go on to take its rightful place as a top ranking tourism destination.’

The State Hermitage and St. Isaak Cathedral

If you would like spend a few days exploring the stunning city of St. Petersburg, the imperial and cultural capital of Russia with a rich and dramatic history, let us assist you. Famed around the world as a city of museums and galleries, this 'Venice of the North' can boast over 100 museums, ranging from the State Hermitage, one of the world's most famous galleries, to small museums honoring some of Russia's greatest writers. Step back in time with our St.Petersburg excursions or tours to discover the world-famous sights, including the Peter and Paul Fortress, Church of the Savior on the Blood and other stunning cathedrals, many magnificent palaces around St.Petersburg, or enjoy a boat tour with incredible views of this unique city.

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Once again we are proud to be a World Travel Awards winner and would like to thank you all who sent us congratulations on the victory.

Our colleagues, Alla, Eugene and Natasha with the 2017 trophy

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Real Russia Blog

Crossing the Russian Border via Finland
8
December
2014

Crossing the Russian Border via Finland

Easy, or a nightmare of checks and paperwork?

It is a popular (mis)conception that border guards the world over can be officious, cold and unfeeling. This is particularly true of Russia and other states who have, historically, been quite closed off to the rest of the world. No doubt this has left more than one traveller a little concerned when the time came to interact with these guards. I certainly felt this way; particularly as I always seem to be the passenger who is randomly searched/checked!

So, how was my experience?

Remarkably good is the answer. Completely painless.

The ticket check shortly after leaving Helsinki was quick, easy and hassle free. I simply remained at my seat as a gentleman came and scanned my passport before offering me my migration card to fill in while we travelled.

The migration card, for those who do not know, comes in two parts. One that you offer to the Russian border guards on entering the country, and one that you will hand to the border guards when leaving. Both parts require your personal details, your passport number and who your sponsor is (the company from whom you received your invitation).

At Kouvola customs officials boarded the train and a black dog surprised me by running past my seat! While I am not 100% sure on why it was present – it could have been taking a short journey home – I imagine it was there to sniff out any illegal substances. The officials then proceeded to check everyone’s passport at their seats.

There is a customs declaration form that must be filled in while en-route if you have anything to declare. These are available in Finnish, Russian, Swedish and English from a leaflet rack within the carriage. A helpful guide as to what must be declared is also provided, and while the English translation was not perfect in places, it is very clear as to what items must be declared.

The Customs Declaration information and forms

At Vainikkala, the Finnish border station, the train stopped for around five minutes allowing the Finnish border guards to disembark. The train then got underway for the Russian border!

Next came the process I feared most, the Russian border guards.

After crossing the border, the train stops at a small town called Vyborg where the Russian passport and customs officers are collected. From Vyborg to Saint Petersburg, the train is in a ‘customs control zone’. After a few minutes the officials started their checks along the train, with some checking what luggage passengers were transporting and the others checking passports, visas and the migration card that was issued earlier in the trip. The officials take the entry section of the migration card and then move on.

This whole process was much easier than I had expected. I did not have to leave my seat, or even open my bags. It was quick and very efficient. I feel slightly silly for being worried about the process.

At the beginning, I mentioned that I had concerns about this process. Many based on preconceived ideas (and some prior experience) of border guards. I am pleased to say I could not have been more wrong. I also saw no other passenger searched. Questions were asked of a few people, but nothing more involved or complicated than that.

So when crossing the border from Finland, sit back, relax, and take in the view!

Entering Vyborg by Train

P.S. One more thing, something I noticed while travelling through the Finnish countryside; there is a distinct lack of fences anywhere! I do not remember seeing any. In place of fences there just seemed to be ditches. Lots of ditches. It gave the small villages along the route a much more pleasant, open-plan feel than you would find many settlements in Europe!

Have you crossed the border on the Allegro? Have you crossed going in the other direction? Have you entered Russia via any other land border? Share your experience below or on Facebook.

Real Russia Blog

St Petersburg International Economic Forum 2013
20
June
2013

St Petersburg International Economic Forum 2013

The St Petersburg International Economic Forum started this morning, in an attempt to find a common purpose and establish frameworks to forge solutions for emerging markets and growing economies. Established in 1997, the motto of this year’s forum is ‘Finding Resolve to Build the New Global Economy’. The official programme and activities are moulded by input from a global community of major business leaders; and, over the past five years the Forum has transformed into a leading global business event.
There have been over 1,300 confirmed guests for participation in SPIEF 2013, including chief executives of more than 158 major international companies and 325 Russian companies. Overall, SPIEF 2013 expects around 4,000 participants and 1,000 journalists in attendance.

This is the final year that the forum will take place at the Lenexpo exhibition on Vasilyevsky Island, due to an issue with lack of space. In 2014, it will move to a new, billion-dollar exhibition center in the Pushkin suburb of St. Petersburg.

In addition to a rigorous programme, with 74 sessions; the forum has planned an intense cultural program, with a classical music concert being hosted as well as events at major theatres and concert halls. The attendees of SPEIF 2013 will also arrive in the city in time to experience St Petersburg’s famous white nights – a festive period in the city where daylight stays and people from miles away come to savour the ambience.

If you have planned, or are planning, a visit to St Petersburg or other areas of Russia and would like any further information or guidance, then do not hesitate to contact a member of our travel team who will be pleased to help.

You can rest assured that all of your travel plans will be taken care of efficiently by our dedicated team of experts. If you require visa services, train tickets, accommodation, a professional guide or internal transfers then look no further.

Real Russia Blog

Easyjet flights to Russia - soon to include Manchester to St Petersburg
1
May
2013

Easyjet flights to Russia – soon to include Manchester to St Petersburg

Customers living in the north of England will soon have easier access to Russia, as Easyjet recently gained approval to operate a service between Manchester and St Petersburg.

There are hopes the service could start as early as summer 2013, although a spokes person for Easyjet commented there are no current plans for when the flights will commence; “We have started this process to enable us to fly there at some point, but this is a longer-term ambition.” This announcement follows the opening of the March 2013 routes from Manchester and London to Moscow, and will be welcomed by a large number of people. Easyjet have estimated that the existing service from Manchester to Moscow will carry over 60,000 customers within the first year alone, and so it is hoped the St Petersburg link will be just as popular.

Known as the Venice of the North, due to its network of canals and bridges, St Petersburg is a must see destination. Steeped in history and rich culture, why not take one of our to fully appreciate their splendour. Appreciate the breathtaking architecture of both cities while enjoying unique excursions such as; the vodka factory and the Ballet in St Petersburg; and the Kremlin, St Basils cathedral or KGB museum in Moscow – to name just a few!

We also have a great range of Trans-Siberian train tours for you to venture deep into the heart of Russia, Mongolia and China. As the dedicated experts, allow us to take care of all your travel needs including: all for Russia and neighbouring countries; rail tickets to, from and within Russia and neighbouring countries; accommodation; transfers and guides; tour extensions to visit other amazing locations. All services are flexible to meet your needs and can be tailored to your individual requirements, using our up/downgrade service; ensuring you have an enjoyable and stress free experience.

If you have planned, or are planning, a visit to Russia and beyond and would like any further information or guidance, then do not hesitate to contact a member of our travel team who are happy to help.