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11 Things You Need To Know Before Traveling To Russia

11 Things You Need To Know Before Traveling To Russia

Although it may seem crazy to travel to Russia, even though Russia has had a closed-door policy for nearly a century now, it isn’t that frightening. There are some details you should consider before you travel to tourist cities. Take your time and read carefully before you pack!

Travel Plan To Russia

  • Find out if you require a visa

Citizens from most countries other than the former Soviet Union must apply for a visa prior to arrival. It is easy to apply for a visa, but you will need an invitation from either a licensed tour operator or a Russian citizen. 

The only exception is the possibility of arriving on a cruise ship. If they make arrangements with a travel agent, visitors arriving by sea can enter Russia for 72 hours without requiring a visa. Although it is not much freedom, it will allow you to travel freely and save some time on visa processing. You can easily generate various Russian names using an online russian name generator

  • Download or pack a phrasebook

While this can vary from one destination to the next, Russians generally don’t speak English well. Many have an excellent understanding of the language, but they are shy to speak. English is the most common language used in restaurants. 

However, many people who work in tourism speak English. Your stranger might not be able to understand your situation. You should have some maps and guidebooks to help you. It may be useful to know some basic phrases and words to aid in emergencies, as well as to please the occasional local by saying ‘spasibo (thank you)).

  • Find out more about public transportation

Most cities have a subway system, so public transport is the best option to travel around. Although the underground is more accessible because maps are in English, staff won’t usually be able to help you with directions or purchase tickets. You will need to know where to purchase tickets and how to use your subway map. Pay attention to the station names when you travel by bus or underground. It’s usually in Russian. However, English maps provide a phonetic transcription so pay close attention.

  • Wear appropriate clothing

Anyone who arrives in Russia believing it is freezing all year will be very disappointed. While Russia is known for its cold winters, the summers can be extremely hot and humid in places like St Petersburg. Although the weather can’t be predicted, a basic understanding of the climate can help you plan your activities. 

It’s important to be prepared for the rain and cold when you travel in winter. If you plan on walking a lot, make sure to pack the appropriate footwear. Layers are fine and necessary, along with warm coats for outdoor activities. But don’t go overboard with furry hats as your identity as a tourist will be easily recognized.

  • Get to know the food

Russian cuisine is diverse and can be quite challenging. Do your research about the seasonal food so that you don’t end up eating the same boring borscht every day. You will find English-speaking staff at most centrally located restaurants. However, it is a good idea to have a plan in case you are looking for a more local experience. Even though that is possible, it can still be a difficult taste to master.

  • Do not drink tap water

Russians don’t drink tap water, unlike Western countries that are used to ordering it at restaurants. Even opening the tap, you might see some brown water leaking out. We won’t get into the chemistry of water or get too concerned about the quality. However, bottled water is safe to drink. You can still brush your teeth with water from the tap. Boiling water from the tap, even if it tastes a bit heavier, is an option if you don’t wish to spend money on bottled water.

  • Respect local customs

When you arrive in a country, there are some things that you should do and not do. While Russia has become more relaxed in recent years, there are still some rules and expectations people must follow. Russians expect guests to bring small gifts and follow proper protocol when they are invited. 

In theaters and restaurants, the dress code is very important. Although nobody will prevent you from entering, it is better to be prepared than wear jeans amongst formal-dressed people. Russian Orthodox churches require that you cover your head and wear long skirts. Trousers are not allowed. Men should also wear long pants and take off any headwear.

  • Russia is safe, believe it

It is as safe to travel to Russia as any other European country. While pickpocketing and other minor crimes are still common in Russia, they are not as prevalent as any other tourist destination. However, there is no violence in broad daylight. It is important to exercise caution when walking in large crowds and to be careful not to fall for tourist traps. Hotels will help you reach out to the police and embassies if something happens. These are rare events.

  • Prepaid exchange of money

It is best to not venture into the city without cash. Russia is slowly moving from cash to credit. Cards are accepted in Russia, but it’s impossible to know the exchange rate and whether Russian banks will accept your card. Taxis and public transport are usually paid in cash. Restaurants expect to tip. This is done after you have paid the bill. Avoid any difficulties by exchanging your local currency for Russian rubles in advance. This will ensure that you get a good exchange rate and be ready to go when you travel.

  • Make a plan for your itinerary

Planning is important when visiting Russia. There is so much to do and see in Moscow and St Petersburg. It’s important to plan in advance, especially if you have limited time or alternative museum closing days. You will also need to factor in travel time for some attractions that are located outside the city. Although spontaneous trips are possible, it is better to arrive with an understanding of your interests and the best times to visit them. You won’t see everything unless you stay for a long time so be selective.

  • Pay attention to the prices

You will spend more like a tourist than the average person. Museum tickets for foreigners are generally more expensive in Russia and they will request your passport. Nevertheless, Russia isn’t the most expensive country in Europe and the prices are usually quite reasonable. When you are looking for a restaurant or a taxi, be aware of the price. Asking locals for recommendations is the best, but even a quick search on the internet can help you avoid any financial disappointments.


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