This Russia Travel Guide aims to provide you with simple and stress-free travel planning information and inspiration for planning a trip to Russia.
On this regularly updated page you will find links to useful posts on The Trusted Traveller, budget information, details on types of accommodation available, information on getting around the country and more useful links to resources around the web.
Currency: ₽ Rouble which is made up of 100 kopeks. Coins come in 1 kopeks, 5 kopeks, 10 kopeks, 50 kopeks, ₽1, ₽2, ₽5 and ₽10 denominations and notes in ₽5, ₽10, ₽50, ₽100, ₽500, ₽1000 and ₽5000 denominations.
Electricity: 230 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs with two round pins are standard. Outlets for 110 volts for small appliances can be found in most hotels.
To give you an idea of the sheer size of Russia, it is approximately twice the size of the USA. Reaching from Eastern Europe, across Central Asia and Siberia, and all the way east to the Sea of Okhotsk, Russia has some 16 bordering countries.
As you would expect because of its size, the landscape is diverse ranging from the polar north that is covered in snow year round, to the Black Sea beaches, the plains of the west to the high peaks of the Ural mountains and the Siberian tundra.
Again, Russia size makes its climate dependent on where you are in the country and at what time of year. Temperatures at various times throughout the year and range from a chilly -30°c in the depths of winter to a boiling 40°c at the height of summer.
Best Time to Visit
Russia is a year-round destination and you should plan your visit based on the types of activities you wish to enjoy.
The most popular time of year to visit Russia’s major cities of Moscow and St Petersburg is in the summer months of June, July and August. This also means crowds but the weather is great, with lots of sunshine.
Should season (April, May, September and October) may be a better choice if you want to avoid the crowds but still make the most of the warm and sunny weather.
To enjoy the Baltic Sea beaches, you will need to brave the crowds and visit from June to August to get the best water temperatures.
If you are wanting participate in winter sports such as skiing, then you will want to visit from November to March when it is cold and there are frequent snow falls in the mountains.
It is always recommend to have a mixture of cash and bank/credit card with you when you travel anywhere in the world and this is no exception in Russia.
ATM’s are found in all major towns and cities across the country. As well, credit cards are widely accepted (except AMEX) although some establishments such as small hotels and shops may only accept cash.
Russia is well-connected by air with flights arriving in cities like Moscow and St Petersburg and other cities from all across Europe and the UK, Asia and parts of the US and Middle East. A flight from London to Moscow will take around three hours 45 minutes and a flight from New York to Moscow about nine hours.
Getting to Russia from surrounding European and Asian countries is also possible by bus or train. You can find out more about rail travel in Europe, including purchasing tickets, on the Rail Europe website; and about bus travel on the Eurolines website.
I use and recommend Expedia for researching and booking flights all around the world.
Russia size means that getting around might take a little more time than what you’d be use to.
Unlike other countries where you usually only have a handful of carriers to choose from, in Russia you can pick from over 100 regional airlines to get you around the country. The hub for most of these is Moscow’s three airports, Domodedovo, Vnukovo and Sheremetyevo.
All major and smaller cities as well as regional centres are covered by this extensive flight network. Prices can vary greatly from carrier to carrier.
It is also good to note that Russia does not have the best aircraft safety records. While improvements have been made over recent years, some carriers are still operating out dated aircraft, so crashes are still too frequent. Do your research on the carriers safety records and aircraft before booking your ticket.
If you are travelling shorter distances then travelling by train around Russia is by far the best option. The rail network is a vital part of infrastructure in Russia with congestion on the roads.
The most popular route is between Moscow and St Petersburg which takes around eight hours and travels both during the day and overnight.
Tickets can be purchased at stations around the country, or online on the State Railway website.
As well as regular trains, Russia is also the start and end of the Trans Siberian Railway heading each to Mongolia and China. This journey can be done independently, however many choose to do it as part of a tour which allows stops along the way at some of the most remote and interesting places on earth.
Intrepid Travel offer a great range of Trans Siberian tours to suit all budgets.
Eurolines operates services bus services around the country and they are a cheaper alternative to train travel but will take longer to get from a to b.
Russia roads are underdeveloped and overcrowded making this the least desirable way to see the country. However, they are improving, slowly.
If you do decide to drive, don’t underestimate just how big Russia is, as distances between towns, cities and services can be great.
Roads in the east are generally closed in winter because of heavy snow fall blocking the way. And it is advisable that you avoid driving at night if possible.
I use and recommend Expedia for researching and booking car hire all around the world.
Where to Stay
Russia caters for everyone when it comes to accommodation. Here is a list of the types of accommodation you’ll find:
- Camping/Cabins – Russia has its fair share of camping and cabin parks around the country. Quality and services offered vary greatly from place to place, so do your research first.
- Hostels – You’ll find hostels in abundance in the Russia’s bigger cities and one or two in most other regional areas as well. Again, quality can vary so do your research.
- B&B’s/Pensions – Small family run style accommodation like B&B’s or pensions can be found all over the country in big cities, small towns and popular rural locations. Accommodation is simple yet comfortable and the experience usually comes with friendly hosts and a home cooked breakfast each morning.
Get up to $45.00 AUD credit when you join Airbnb using this link.
- Hotels/Apartments – You will find both chain hotel/apartments brands and independent hotel/apartments to be in abundance in cities across the country. The good thing about this type of accommodation is in most cases you know what you are going to get, a clean, comfortable and modern room with a decent array of facilities in the room and on the property. Apartments are great for longer stays as they allow you a bit more space and the option to self cater.
I use and recommend Booking.com for researching and booking hostel, motel, hotel, apartment and resort accommodation around the world.
- Luxury Hotels & Resorts – Russia has more than its fair share of 5 star properties, some of which have been named in top lists of accommodation around the world. These will offer you brilliant service and a top location, sometime with incredible views of the surrounding area.
Russia has a variety of eating options that will suit all budgets and tastes. While you will find the majority of its restaurants and cafes serve local and Eastern European dishes, the country is expanding and becoming more multicultural with its cuisine offerings, however, like everything else in the country, this is a slow change.
- Supermarkets/Markets – Save money and shop in supermarkets and local markets for snacks, picnic lunches and even ingredients to make a whole meal in your self catering accommodation.
- Fast Food / Take-away – Chain fast food stores are in all major centres of the country and along highways as well. If you’re looking for a cheap and tasty fast food meal, look to where the locals are, usually getting snacks and light meals from food trucks and stands on the side of the street.
- Cafes – Coffee, delicious sweets and tasty sandwiches will be on offer for sit down or takeaway.
- Restaurants – Portion sizes tend to be on the larger side in Russia so eating out in restaurants can be really good value. Consider sharing a meal with a travel companion if you’re not too hungry to save money or sticking to one course.
- Fine Dining – Russian fine dining experiences are growing more common. Some of the worlds best restaurants can now be found around the country.
Useful Russia Posts
Things to Do
Getting Around Guides
Other Russia Travel Planning Resources
Here is a constantly growing collection of resources from around the web to help you plan you dream trip to Russia.
- The official Russia Tourism website is a great place to start planning your trip.
- The authority in all things travel, Lonely Planet has an extensive section all about Russia. Or why not buy the Russia Lonely Planet Guidebook in hard copy or as an eBook.
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