One of the most multi-faceted nations on the planet in terms of history, culture and geography, modern Russia is becoming less of an enigma and more of a tourist hot-spot. Since the break-up of the former Soviet Union, Russia has tried hard to do away with its iron curtain persona and encourage visitors from all four corners of the world to visit and explore its hidden treasures. There's so much history here, from Lenin and Leo Tolstoy to Tchaikovsky and Gorbachev, the moment you touch down in Russia you get an immediate sense of pride in the country from the locals. Exploring Russia to some is like migrating to a completely different world. Certainly its temperatures, particularly in the winter, would lead you to thinking that way, with temperatures comfortably dropping below -20ºC and snow ploughs working overtime to keep the snow banked up along the sides of the roads. The most popular tourist locations in Russia are the capital, Moscow and St Petersburg. Despite its Soviet past, Moscow has evolved into a vibrant modern day city that is now the most heavily populated in Europe. The city's history is what really sets it apart however, with Red Square, St Basil's Cathedral, the Kremlin and Lenin's Mausoleum just some of the must-see attractions on the list. Further east, St Petersburg is rather more cultured, with a reputation as the home to the Russian arts, featuring everything from literature and street theatre to painting and ballet. Its grandeur is unparalleled, with plush palaces and classic cathedrals demonstrating urban Russia at its brilliant best.