Istra Travel Guide

Discover the best attractions, activities, food, and cultural insights in Istra, Russia with this comprehensive travel guide.

If you’re looking for a hidden gem in Russia, Istra is the hidden jewel you’ve been searching for. Located in West Moscow Oblast, in Moscow Oblast, in Central Russia, Istra is a charming town that offers a wide range of cultural, natural, and recreational activities. This comprehensive travel guide will help you plan your trip by highlighting the best attractions, activities, food, and cultural insights.

Introduction to Istra

Istra is a small town located just 40 km west of Moscow. It is known for its rich cultural heritage, beautiful nature, and quaint old town. If you are looking for a peaceful escape from the hectic city life, Istra is a perfect destination. The town is easily accessible from Moscow via train or bus, and it offers a range of accommodation options, from budget-friendly hostels to luxury hotels.

List of Places to Visit in Istra

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

Istra is full of historical landmarks and museums that showcase the town’s rich cultural heritage. The Istra Kremlin is a must-visit attraction and is the oldest surviving kremlin in Russia. The Kremlin was founded in the 14th century and features beautiful churches, towers, and walls. The Holy Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius is another culturally important attraction, and it is located just five kilometers from Istra. The monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is known for its stunning architecture and religious significance.

Natural Attractions of Istra: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

If you are a nature lover, Istra won’t disappoint you. There are plenty of outdoor activities that can be done in and around Istra. The Istra Reservoir is a popular spot for swimming, fishing, and boat trips. The town is also surrounded by dense forests and numerous hiking trails. The most popular hiking/biking route is the Istra River Valley, which offers stunning views of the river and the surrounding forests.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Istra

As mentioned above, the Istra River Valley is the most popular hiking and biking route in Istra. The route is 55 km long and takes you through the beautiful forests and valleys surrounding the town. There are also many other hiking trails in the region, including the Prokshino Nature Reserve and the Volen-Struve Park.

Best Things to Do in Istra: Activities and Tours

Apart from hiking and biking, there are many other things to do in Istra. One of the most popular activities is visiting the local spas, which offer various treatments and massages. The town also has a range of entertainment options, including cinema, bowling, and billiards. Additionally, there are many guided tours available, including the Historic Istra Tour and the Istra River Tour.

Week-Long Itinerary for Istra

Day 1: Visit the Istra Kremlin and explore the old town Day 2: Take a guided tour of the Holy Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius Day 3: Go hiking or biking in the Istra River Valley Day 4: Relax at the local spa and try some traditional Russian treatments Day 5: Visit the Istra Reservoir for some swimming and fishing Day 6: Take a guided tour of the local museums and art galleries Day 7: Enjoy some local food and drink at one of Istra’s many restaurants and bars

Food and Drink Scene of Istra

When it comes to food, Istra offers a range of traditional Russian dishes, from borscht to pelmeni. There are also many local cafes and bakeries that serve delicious pastries and cakes. In terms of local beverages, Istra is known for its beer and mead. There are many small breweries and meaderies in the region that offer tastings and tours.

Where to Stay in Istra: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

Istra has a range of accommodation options, from budget-friendly hostels to luxury hotels. Some popular hotel options include the Istra Resort & Spa and the Boutique Hotel Seneshal. If you are looking for a more authentic Russian experience, you can stay at one of the many local guesthouses or bed and breakfasts.

What to Buy in Istra: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

There are plenty of souvenirs and local products to bring home from Istra. Some popular options include local honey, mead, and beer. There are also many local artisan shops that sell traditional Russian crafts, such as pottery and textiles.

Local Culture and Customs of Istra

Russian culture is rich and diverse, and Istra is no exception. The locals in Istra are friendly and welcoming, and they often celebrate local festivals and traditions. Some important cultural events in Istra include the Day of the Town in May and the Honey Festival in August.

Best Time to Visit Istra

The best time to visit Istra is during the summer months (June-August), when the weather is warm and sunny. However, the town is also beautiful during the winter months, with the snow-covered landscape offering a magical atmosphere.

Do’s and Don’ts of Istra


  • Try some traditional Russian food and drink
  • Respect the local customs and traditions
  • Book your accommodation in advance during the peak season


  • Photograph people without their permission
  • Wear revealing clothing in religious sites
  • Ignore the safety rules when doing outdoor activities

Safety and Health

Safety in Istra

Istra is a safe place for tourists, with a low crime rate. However, it is always a good idea to take basic safety precautions, such as not leaving your belongings unattended and being aware of your surroundings.

Health in Istra

There are several medical facilities in Istra that offer basic medical services. However, travelers should have comprehensive travel insurance that covers medical emergencies and repatriation.

Getting to Istra: Transportation Options and Logistics

Airports Near Istra

The closest airport to Istra is Sheremetyevo International Airport (SVO), which is located about 35 km from the town. From the airport, you can take a taxi or a shuttle bus to Istra.

Bus Stations Near Istra

Istra is well-connected by bus to Moscow and other nearby towns. The main bus station in Istra is Istra Bus Station.

Other Options

There are also trains available from Moscow to Istra. The journey takes about 45 minutes and offers beautiful views of the countryside.

How to Get Around in Istra

The best way to get around in Istra is on foot or by bicycle. The town is small, and most of the attractions are within walking distance. There are also many bike rental shops in the town that offer affordable rates.

Where to Go Next from Istra: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

If you want to continue exploring the Moscow Oblast region, some popular destinations include Zvenigorod, Klin, and Sergiev Posad. All of these towns offer a range of cultural and natural attractions and are easily accessible from Istra.


Istra is a beautiful and charming town that offers a range of attractions for tourists. Whether you are interested in history, nature, or enjoying the local food and drink scene, Istra won’t disappoint you. Use this comprehensive guide to plan your trip, and you’ll be sure to have an unforgettable experience.