It used to be super expensive, especially travel to Moscow. Moscow was among the most expensive cities in the world for expats for several years in the row. Ruble collapse made travel abroad more expensive for locals and made travel to Russia actually quite cheap for tourists. If you compare Moscow to London, New York or Paris now – everything will seem to be very affordable in Moscow.
That really depends on how much vacation time you have and what would you like to see. Russia is a huge country, indeed. Unless you take a 6 month sabbatical from work – you will not be able to visit everything.
But you do not need to see the entire country in one go. For most tourists – Moscow and St.Petersburg are the main attractions.
And – believe it or not – you need just one week to see both capitals. If you are lucky and have more time you should experience Trans-Siberian journey - the longest railway route in the world, passing through the territory of one country from Moscow till Vladivostok.
The distance from Vladivostok to Moscow by train is 9259 km. If you go without long stops in the cities along the route, the whole journey will take 6 days 9 hours
All prices in Russia are given in roubles, and it is prohibited by law for any outfit to accept any other currency except the national one. It would be worth exchanging your cash into roubles upon arrival in Russia. The best is to bring USD or Euro. It’s also not recommended to bring traveller’s cheques to Russia. Try not to run out of cash, although major credit and debit cards are accepted in Russia.
Changing money is not a problem in Russia. Almost every place, even the smallest town, has a bank or a currency exchange office. This is not always the case in the tiniest remote Siberian or mountain villages, but, generally, if the town has more than 1000 inhabitants, legally exchanging money will not be a problem.
Get your SIM card at kiosks in airports and railway stations. When you buy your SIM card, you will be asked for proof of identity – national ID or passport – such is the law in Russia, both for tourists and locals. The most popular operators are Beeline, Megafon and MTC (pronounced MTS), offering similar packages.
Visitors will be glad to hear that free WiFi is available in Russia, especially in bigger cities that are popular with tourists, like St Petersburg, and Moscow (discover all abou how to travel to St. Petersburg).
Free WiFi in Russia can be usually found at airports, metro, and big chain restaurants.
Public parks and squares also often offer free WiFi In order to connect to the WiFi, you will be asked to provide a mobile phone number. You will then receive a confirmation code via text.
Remember to have your phone with you when you connect to a public WiFi.
Smaller restaurants and hotels are likely to protect their WiFi with a password but visitors should be able to gain access by simply asking a staff member for the password.
Russia’s railway network connects many lesser-explored destinations.
To travel between cities and villages, we recommend taking a journey by train.
This is a convenient and inexpensive way to see Russia’s diversity and local character.
As an option, you can use Moscow or St Petersburg as your base, from where it’s easy to access other parts of the country by multiple transport connections.
The public transport system in Moscow and St Petersburg, Russia’s largest cities is efficient and well-developed. To travel to nearby small towns, use a local bus. St Petersburg and Moscow are about 700 kilometers or 435 miles apart.
We suggest choosing a regular night train or a high-speed Sapsan train for maximum value and convenience.
If you are foreigner, we advise against renting a car, especially in the big cities.
Russian drivers are a bit crazy and the traffic is dense. Do not pick unofficial cabs if you are a foreigner, you will be charged much more than a local and might have hard time explaining where you want to go.
In general – avoid taking taxi during during rush hours especially in Moscow ( 8am-11am and 5 pm – 8pm in Moscow) if you do not want to spend hours in the traffic jam.
The most convenient way to order a taxi in Russia is to use Uber or Yandex taxi. It is better to download the application on your phone and store a credit card for payment.If you want to hire a taxi in the street, it is preferable to use official taxis, which are usually yellow in color and have a “TAXI” sign on the top of the car.
The metro is the easiest and quickest way to get around in big cities in Russia. All metro stations are easily found by the “M” signs. Generally the metro system is very logical and easy to use.
There are also information points at most of the stations with intercom connection to the station controller which can be used for assistance (however do not expect everyone understands English).
Please note, most signboards are in Russian, however the maps of the metro system have Latin transcription.
Please find below some useful translations:
• Exit –Выход (Vikhod)
• Interchange – Переход (Perekhod)
• Ticket office – Касса (Kassa)
• Ticket – Билет (Bilet) Metro stations are normally open for passengers daily from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Passengers must pay the fare every time they enter the metro.
Tickets can be purchased at the ticket office at any station entrance and are available for 1 or more rides. Once you have validated your travel card at the station entrance, you can use the whole metro system without any restrictions or extra charges for distances or time spent travelling (there are no travel zones).
In Moscow and St. Petersburg locals and tourists like to use entire top-up electronic tickets (Troika card in Moscow and Podorozhnik in St. Petersburg), which can be used on all public transport, including bike rental.
There cards are the best choice for travelers for flexibility and cheaper fares. You can buy your Troika or Podorozhnik cards at every underground station’s ticket sales desk or ticket selling machines.
Top-up the card at the underground ticket sales desks or automated kiosks. You will be asked for a little deposit which will be refunded to you upon return of your card.
Of course, you can keep the card and use it during your next trip to Russia.
There are different levels of accommodations when staying in large Russian cities, each with its own characteristics and prices.
The three main types of options, depending on your budget and the amenities you desire, are: hotels, tourist apartments and hostels.
Hotels In Russia you can find both internationally renowned hotel chains, such as high- quality international chains as well as excellent local hotels that do not belong to any chain. Alongside these large hotel chains, there are a number of local 3-5 star hotels that do not belong to any hotel chain, or so-called mini hotels.
Tourist Apartments This is a good way to travel if you go with family or a group of friends or if you’re going to Russia for a more extended stay. They are located near the city center and are usually very well equipped. In many cases these are apartments that have been renovated in old, Soviet-era buildings and are managed as tourist accommodations.
Hostels For younger people, such as students, or for people traveling alone, hostels are a good option. Hostels usually offer bunk beds and shared bathrooms. This is a form of cheaper housing, designed as a place to meet people from around the world. They are usually very well located and some of them are very highly rated by their guests.
You can usually stay in these types of accommodations for very affordable prices Note! Smoking in the hotels, close to entrances of governmental, health and cultural buildings is forbidden. Smoking inside bars and restaurants also prohibited. You cannot smoke on playgrounds or in parks.
It is safe and you do not need a bodyguard. You need to take the minimum precautions against the pickpockets.
Also – in any big cities it is not wise to walk around deserted neighborhoods at 3 am in the morning.
But in general Moscow is more safe than Chicago, New York, London or Paris. It is especially more safe than US cities due to two reasons – it is illegal to carry guns here and we do not have “bad streets or neighborhoods”. Some really remote areas at the outskirts of the city may be less safe, but there is nothing there that may attract a tourist.
Downtowns of all major Russian cities during the day are completely safe.
If you haven't learned to speak Russian yet and find yourself in a difficult situation, you can ask hotel receptionists, guides, translators or any English-speaking people to help you get around and find your way back to the hotel or train station.
In Russia’s big cities, you can buy a map or travel-guide in English with sightseeing locations.
English transcription is found in most subways. If you get lost, you can turn to any policeman or passer-by for help. More and more people speak English in Russia and especially younger generation with each passing year.
There are also tourist offices in the center near the big metro stations.
The best time to visit Russia is from May to September. Temperatures range from 10C-32C in the day to 0C-22C at night depending on the region.
Be aware that spring and autumn are unpredictable with snow flurries showing up in May and September, and mud ensuing. Take along with you waterproof shoes and a jacket.
Russia itself is an enormous landscape with a variety of climates, cultures and peoples. As a result of this, the cuisine is dependent on the region. The staples of the diet are root vegetables like turnips, beets, and cabbage, along with meat and potatoes. Traditionally, Russia is known for its remarkable variety of soups.
Borsch, of course, remains a perennial favorite, but you might like to try Solyanka, as well.
Classic main dishes include beef Stroganoff (invented in Russia, as was chicken Kiev), pelmeni (Siberian-style dumplings) and spicy Georgian cuisine such as shashlyk. Russian rye bread is flavorsome and most often eaten without butter. Fish varieties including omul (similar to salmon and from Lake Baikal) and sturgeon, which is often poached and served with a sauce or mushrooms.
The most famous Russian salad is called “Oliver” and is offered in many restaurants and bars. As for dessert, the Russians make excellent ice cream. If you are in St. Petersburg, you should not miss the opportunity to try the ices. Tea with lemon is the traditional Russian beverage.
The traditional Russian diet is based on meat, chicken, and potatoes.
Today, more establishments are becoming alert to the concept of vegetarianism. A variety of salads and vegetable-based dishes are always available, but expect that you will need to be flexible. Please note that whilst we offer a vegetarian option and every effort is made to accommodate your request, the choice and variety of dishes cannot always be guaranteed.
Please advise at time of booking and on our Booking Form if you are a vegetarian.
It is not advisable to drink the water in Russia unless it has been boiled or purified.
You can buy bottled drinking and sparkling water at any supermarket or street kiosk in all cities and villages.
Tipping is quite common at all destinations where we operate our tours.
Please find below some guidance.
• Restaurants - although you normally will not find any service charge in your restaurant bill, many visitors do leave tips to show appreciation for a job well done and this is certainly acceptable. Such gestures are voluntary and at the sole discretion of the visitor.
• Excursions - tipping a guide and a driver is completely at your discretion. If you really liked the service and guide’s knowledge we recommend EUR 5 per person per day.
Please note, this figure is just a guidance, the final amount is entirely up to you.
The standard voltage is 220V, 50Hz AC. Sockets require a Continental or European plug with two round pins. Pack a travel adaptor.
In an emergency, one of our specialists will help you 24/7. So always contact your tour leader (guide) first.
In case of medical emergency it is possible to call for an ambulance (phone number 03 from any local phone, or alternatively dial 112). First aid is provided free of charge if the tourist does not require a doctor or hospitalization. Citizens of most countries need a medical health insurance for Russia valid for the duration of their trip in order to be able to get a Russian visa.
Russian souvenirs are authentic, inexpensive and usually well-made.
The most recognizable Russian souvenir is, without a doubt, the matryoshka doll: multiple dolls, one inside another, like the layers of an onion. Small black boxes painted with traditional scenes, called palekh, are also very popular. A rather curious leftover from Soviet times is the amount of surplus Red Army and military gear that can be found and which makes great souvenirs, including clothing, badges, and exotic looking hats.
You can get a furry hat with ear flaps, just like the Russians wear! Grocery stores are usually open from 8 or 9 AM until 10 or 11 PM, some work 24 hours.
Department stores are open from 10 AM until 9 or 10 PM.
You can send us an email with all your details (tour name, dates of travel, hotel category, number of people, your passport details, guide’s language and any optional extras) and we will reserve places for you on your chosen tour. Alternatively you can book online from the tour description page.
Please make sure, you enter all your personal details. Please check that all your details are entered correctly and match your passport data.
You can make your payment by bank transfer or credit card.
Please note, there are surcharges for card payments. No debit cards are accepted when using overseas cards.
You will find all relevant payment details in your invoice.
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