The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against all travel to Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan, as well as all but essential travel to North Ossetia, Karachai-Cherkessia and Kabardino-Balkaria. Please check with your relevant national government.
For most Russians, the word Caucasus (Кавказ) summons up images of fiery mountain folk, the high-tempo lezginka dance and volatile regions such as Chechnya. But there's more to this ethnically diverse part of Russia than the stereotypes and the horror stories. Visitors to this area come to experience relaxing spa towns, breathtaking scenery and world-class ski resorts.
On top of that, there's superb trekking and horse riding amid soaring peaks, white-water rafting and paragliding, as well as the chance to climb Mt Elbrus, Europe’s highest mountain. Black Sea resort towns offer sun and sea, and festive nightlife, while the Caucasus also boasts its own regional cuisines.
For anyone looking to get off the tourist trail, the Caucasus offers wide-open spaces, bustling markets and rugged mountain roads with stunning views around every corner.
These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Russian Caucasus.
The two peaks of Mt Elbrus – the western at 5642m and eastern at 5621m – bulge nearly 1000m above anything else in the vicinity. This volcanic cone has upper slopes reputedly coated in ice up to 200m thick; numerous glaciers grind down its flanks and several rivers start here. Although many come to climb or ski the mountain, cable cars carrying passengers as high as 3847m make it easy going for those who just wish to admire the view.
Founded in 1823 and covering 1340 hectares, this hillside park is among the largest in Europe. It's riddled with walking trails past rivers, ponds, forests and formal gardens. The park ascends southeast from a plaza behind the semicircular Colonnade to the peak of Mt Maloe Sedlo (Little Saddle; 1306m). There are several other entrances including the grand Cascade Stairs.
Stalin's dacha, Zelenaya Roscha, is a fascinating place, built specifically to accommodate a small, private and paranoid man. Tours are in Russian but some of the patriotic guides speak a little English. From Sochi take any Adler-bound bus and get off at the Zelenaya Roscha stop. Enter through the gates of the sanitorium and walk about 1km uphill to the dacha.
East of Voroshilovskiy pr, this idyllic promenade is blissfully free of traffic and sprinkled with fountains, sculptures, cafes and restaurants, with outdoor seating and music-playing buskers during the summer. It's particularly enticing at its eastern end, between the university and the October Revolution Park.
How about this sparkling, red, 8m-high head shot of Ilyich as a backdrop for your holiday photos? This beauty was unveiled in 1980 to mark the 110th anniversary of the birth of the father of the Bolshevik Revolution.
This lovely wooded park with many architectural and monumental features forms a 1km-long arc around the eastern end of pr Kirova on the lower slopes of Mt Mashuk. Walk through the ornate entrance gate and around the right side of the Lermontov Gallery and ascend to the park via Diana's Grotto, a favourite picnic spot in Lermontov.
The northeastern reaches of the Ancient Greek Empire extended to the Don River delta, which was then at the mouth of the Sea of Azov. The sea has receded, but the evidence of Greek trading cities remain at archaeological sites such as Tanais, about 30km west of Rostov. The 26-hectare site features the remaining walls of the fortified citadel, as well as a museum packed with artefacts and a few reconstructions of ancient structures.
The large Central Park of Culture and Recreation (to give it its full name) offers forest lushness, small green lakes with paddle boats, an amusement park and the scenic Nalchik River, where locals take a dip to cool off on hot days. To get there, walk or jump on marshrutka 1 or 17 heading west along pr Shogentsukova.
Popular with day trippers, this 30m-high lookout tower offers great views of the Caucasus Mountains. From the entrance of Sochi National Park, follow the main trail along the Agura River. After one hour the trail forks. The right (southeast) fork leads up to Mt Bolshoy Akhun (662m), topped by a lookout tower from where you can gain commanding views of Sochi, Adler and Mt Fisht. Locals say you can see the Turkish coastline from here on a clear day.