Russia

Looming over the rest of Europe with its immense, inhuman size and dark, brutal history, Russia is an essential and fascinating destination, the flipside of modern Europe and still an unknown quantity to most travellers. Somehow Russia manages to pull off the truly impressive feat of being both a really exciting place to travel while never relenting on its tediously bureaucratic approach to life. Stay in the EU if you want things easy and hassle-free, but venture east for one of the last truly adventurous and unpredictable destinations on the continent.

Moscow’s rich history, amazing Kremlin, startling architecture and frenzied pace of development makes it a must on any trip to Eastern Europe, while with its colourful, crumbling Italianate mansions, beautifully wending canals and mind-blowing cultural treasures, St Petersburg is one of the incontestable highlights of the continent. For something totally different, drop into ignored little Kaliningrad, an enclave of Russia wedged between Poland and Lithuania, or to the famed outpost of Siberia.