Set on a plateau on the northern slopes of the Caucasus Mountains and 330 mi/530 km southeast of Volgograd, Pyatigorsk is the center of the best-known spa area in Russia. It has some of the nation's finest and most spectacular scenery, which you can see best by taking the cable car to the top of nearby Mount Mashuk (3,250 ft/990 m). Local attractions focus almost exclusively on water or rest cures, including rain massages, hydrotherapy and mineral baths. The Lermontov Baths is the oldest bathhouse in Russia.

Other resort towns offering similar cures are Zheleznovodsk, Yessentuki (with mud baths) and Kislovodsk. Other area attractions include Sochi, a popular beach resort on the Black Sea, and the ski slopes on Mount Elbrus or in the Dombai Valley.

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