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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 March 2019

To Russia with love: 10 cities you can get to direct from the UAE

Emirati citizens can now travel visa-free to the world's largest country

Moscow's Red Square is one of Russia's most-visited landmarks. Getty Images
Moscow's Red Square is one of Russia's most-visited landmarks. Getty Images

Russia, the largest country to grant visa-free travel to Emiratis, is certainly not short of destinations fit for an forthcoming holiday. Fly from one capital to another with direct flights departing Abu Dhabi bound for Moscow or go from Dubai, where there's a plethora of cities served by direct flights. With journey times ranging from just over three hours to less than six, Russia is ideal for a long weekend escape. If you do have longer to play with, the country’s rich history, intriguing past and cultural distinction offer enough to keep you busy for weeks or even months. Here's where you can get to direct from the emirates.

Moscow

Fly with Etihad direct from Abu Dhabi to Moscow. With a five-hour-and-25-minute flight time, reaching the Russian capital is easy and what awaits will both inspire and confound. Head to the Kremlin to discover the seat of Russian power, then wander the city’s most famous landmark, Red Square. Take in a ballet performance at the renowned Bolshoi Theatre and stop to take a selfie outside the candy-coloured dome-topped St Basil’s cathedral.

The Winter Palace in St. Petersburg
The Winter Palace in St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg is one of Europe’s largest cities and has a history that could keep you busy exploring for weeks. The Hermitage – home to the Winter Palace – is the city’s most famous attraction. Take a boat cruise along the city’s central rivers and canals for a relaxing way to take in St. Petersburg’s most famous palaces, beautiful bridges and postcard-perfect landscapes. Direct flights with Emirates take just over six hours.

Ekaterinburg

Fly Emirates on a five-hour direct flight from Dubai to Ekaterinburg (also written Yekaterinburg) and allow yourself to be transported to the gateway of Siberia. It was here that the last royal family of Russia, the Romanovs, met their deathly end at the hands of Bolshevik revolutionaries. Today, it’s great place for foodies, thanks to an impressive restaurant scene and is also a good jumping off point for exploring the Ulas Mountains.

Samara

Samara is the sixth-largest city in Russia and is located in the country’s southwest, less than a five-hour trip from Dubai with flydubai and an ideal place to visit in summer thanks to its sloping sandy beaches that border the Volga River. Elsewhere, descend into Stalin’s Bunker or discover history at The Alabin Museum. Hikers and hillwalkers can head to Samarskaya Luka National Park for a plethora of trails and treks.

A beach in Makhachkala in the Dagestan Republic 
A beach in Makhachkala in the Dagestan Republic

Makhachkala

Fly with flydubai to Makhachkala, the capital of the Dagestan Republic, which is just over three hours from Dubai. This ethnically diverse region is home to more than 30 different groups of people, each with their own language. The city often gets a bad reputation for being the most dangerous in Russia, so you need to have your wits about you, but if you do decide to visit then you’ll be rewarded with clean beaches on the banks of the Caspian Sea and Russia’s largest mosque, the Grand Mosque of Makhachkala.

Krasnodar

The southern capital of Russia, Krasnodar, is a favourite with locals seeking sunshine getaways as summer temperatures here average a pleasant 24 degrees. With a name that translates to ‘beautiful gift’, the city is filled with green spaces, parks and European-esque buildings that have earned it the moniker, Little Paris. Small, but perfectly formed, it’s just over four hours from Dubai and flydubai will get you there on a direct flight.

Mineralnye Vody is known for its natural mineral springs
Mineralnye Vody is known for its natural mineral springs

Mineralnye Vody

With a name that translates to 'Mineral Waters', this region sits on the northern slopes of the Greater Caucasus Mountains and is known for its spa towns. It’s one of the best skiing destinations in the country and the site of Russia’s highest peak, Mount Elbrus. A journey with flydubai takes less than four hours.

Novosibirsk

Novosibirsk is the unofficial capital of Siberia and is a stopping point on the renowned Trans-Siberian express. It has a five-and-a-half-hour flight time from Dubai travelling with S7 Airlines. This is a walking city –– don’t miss the 19th-century Byzantine-style Alexander Nevsky Cathedral right in the centre. If you visit in winter, check out the incredible Ice Town that comes to life along the Ob River, the world’s seventh-longest river.

The Don River. Courtesy Alex 
The Don River

Rostov-on-Don

Flydubai offers a four-and-a-half-hour flight to Rostov on the banks of the River Don, approximately 20 miles to the east of the Sea of Azov. This trading port has a bustling riverside scene with cafes, restaurants, fountains and shops lining its banks. Sightseeing musts include Pushkin Street and October Revolution Park.

Kul Sharif Mosque in Kazan. Courtesy Krasnoyarsk National and Cultural Autonomy of the Chuvash People. 
Kul Sharif Mosque in Kazan. Courtesy Krasnoyarsk National and Cultural Autonomy of the Chuvash People.

Kazan

It's the capital of Tatarstan, so only partly Russian, and Kazan has a prominent Muslim population. This means it’s easy to find halal food and places to pray as you travel. Even the Kazan Kremlin – a Unesco World Heritage Site – has a decidedly Islamic character to it. Just outside the city centre, the aptly-named Temple of All Religions features multiple architectural styles designed to reflect the harmony that exists between Kazan’s locals. Flydubai will get you there in less than five-and-a-half hours.

Updated: February 20, 2019 09:28 AM

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