Top Travel Tips for Russia
Here you will find our top tips for travel in Russia from our own, numerous experiences. It is far from exhaustive though and if there some you think need to be added please let us know what they are!
Explore the Metro Systems
Moscow and St Petersburg have architecturally stunning metro systems that are actually one of the highlights of these cities, Moscow’s in particular. They are also possibly the cheapest tourist experience you can have in these cities!
Be Prepared for All Weather
In summer it can be very hot or surprisingly cold over much of Russia with large and swift swings in temperature being common so it pays to bring plenty of layers and be prepared for anything.
Bring Cash Euros or Us Dollars
We recommend using an ATM card in Russia for most of your money requirements. However, it is also useful to have cash US Dollar or Euros (less so UK Pounds) but the notes must be in good condition or they are unlikely to be accepted for exchange.
Learn the Cyrillic Alphabet
It always helps to learn a few words of Russian before your trip and will go a long way with communicating with local people. What also really helps and is often overlooked is to learn the cyrillic alphabet which will make reading and interpreting signs much easier and you will also find that many words once transliterated are actually quite similar to English.
Stick to Bottled Water
Although much of the water from the tap is quite safe to drink it is better to err on the side of caution and stick to bottled water – particularly in big cities.
Beware of Locals Offering Vodka!
Once the ice is broken local people are often very hospitable. However, some can take this too far and insist you join them in a mortal drinking of Vodka competition which you will lose. Any truly hospitable Russian will not pressure you to drink if you don’t wan to. Do note however that having a friendly toast or two with a meal is quite normal.
Advise Well in Advance About Any Dietary Requirements
We can cater for almost all dietary requirements but we must be notified of these well in advance and, ideally, at the time of booking.
Negotiate Taxi Fares
There are few licensed taxis in Russia and even fewer of them seem to want to use their meters. What is more normal is to flag down any vehicle willing to stop and negotiate a fare with the driver. This is quite normal practice in Russia although you should use your common sense and not try this if you are on your own.
Try and Get Off the Beaten Track
Some of the best of experiences in Russia can be found in remote villages deep in Siberia or towns where people do not usually think to visit. A trip to Russia that just visits Moscow and St Petersburg will not give you a very representative impression of this vast country. Of course, a Trans-Siberian railway tour is perhaps the best way to experience Russia.
Book Well in Advance
Hotels in the big cities fill up quickly during much of the year and train tickets can be hard to come by on the better trains so we recommend booking as far in advance as you can.