Fifteen independent states were created when the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. Russia became its successor state. Fourteen other countries—spread between the Baltics, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia—regained their independence. Some, like Lithuania, were quick to separate itself from its communist past. Others are still trying to find their footing on the world stage. While travelers are just beginning to explore places that were long hidden by a secretive regime. Here are three places—in three very different countries—to start, plus one that’s still inaccessible.
Mtskheta: Find a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s filled with churches and monasteries, ancient ruins and tombs, plus vineyards outside of the Holy City in Georgia.
Ile-Alatau National Park: Explore heavenly mountains and a breathtaking national park in Kazakhstan, the world’s largest landlocked country.
Ashgabat: Discover a pristine capital with gold-domed marble, manicured parks, lots of new high-rise buildings, and one of the tallest flagpoles in the world in Turkmenistan.
Yantarny: Or dream of a place that’s still ruled by the Kremlin, even though it’s part of the Baltics, in Kaliningrad Oblast.