So you’re making plans a visit to my Motherland? This truely makes me glad. As someone who became born in Russia and is aware of approximately its splendor, historic and cultural historical past, and heat hospitality, I frequently feel frustrated by using the shortage of interest to my domestic united states of america round the arena. Ok, I’ll rephrase that. There’s a great deal of hobby and curiosity, but very few people turn out to be satisfying that hobby on the source. I don’t imply you. You are already planning a trip… until you are a few form of weirdo who reads suggestions for journeying to overseas nations on your spare time.
What I am attempting to say is kudos to you for choosing my home as your subsequent vacation spot! I wish you may have a outstanding experience, and I am right here to help with a few journey hints for Russia. Being Russian is both a bonus and a disadvantage in writing this submit. On the one hand, I know my usa higher and on a deeper stage that tourists who come for a few weeks. On the other hand, I can not revel in Russia as a overseas traveller who can’t talk the language, doesn’t realize Cyrillic alphabet, and has in no way eaten kholodets.
To bring the nice of the 2 worlds, I asked my overseas buddies who had been to Russia what they wish they knew earlier than the trip. Below is a mixture of Russia journey suggestions from me and my buddies.
Disclosure: this post carries associate hyperlinks which means if you purchase something through clicking the hyperlink I will earn a small commission at truely no greater value to you.
50 Tips for Traveling in Russia
What to See in Russia
I am going to sound banal, but start with Moscow and Saint Petersburg. First, you cannot visit Russia and now not see the ones towns, it simply doesn’t make any sense. The quantity of historic and cultural web sites in Moscow is thoughts-blowing. And Saint Petersburg with its stunning church buildings, hidden courtyards, and majestic palaces is one of the maximum romantic cities in Europe. You can spend a month in each metropolis and nonetheless not cover all the points of interest. And second, those are the two cities easiest to discover if you don’t communicate Russian. Street signs, metro map and stations names, menus in restaurants are all translated into English.
Don’t restrict yourself with Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Just consider it: Russia is THE largest u . s . within the global and takes up 1/6 of the land mass. There is innumerable quantity of stunning cities and villages, forests and mountains, lakes and rivers to discover. Some of the places on my non-public desire listing are the Golden Ring of Russia, Sochi, Kazan, Lake Baikal, Altai region, and Kamchatka. Also, don’t forget visiting my home of Yekaterinburg.
If you’re doing the entire length of Trans-Siberian train journey, make breaks and exit to discover towns at the manner. I realize it’s a dream for plenty people journeying to Russia, however I have to say, no Russian ever dreamed of visiting by using teach for seven days (that’s how long it takes from cease to end) just for the sake of it. When a foreigner requested me for the primary time if I had done the entire duration of Trans-Siberian, my solution was proper “why could I do that?” That isn’t always to discourage you, I simply find it humorous.
Weather, Time Zones, and the Best Time to Visit
Russia is divided into eleven time zones which means that whilst you travel from area to region it’s critical to test in which period area you are. Daylight saving time isn’t discovered.
Contrary to what you might have heard, there is such a issue as summer in Russia. And no, it doesn’t snow in summer. Russia is a huge united states of america, so weather changes from location to vicinity. But, general, the weather is heat and fun from May to September that is while you must go to. On average, the temperature in summer time is round 20-25°C (68-seventy seven°F).
If you’re looking for adventurous and memorable vacation, go to Russia in wintry weather. As Siberians say, “A Siberian isn’t always the one who isn’t fearful of bloodless, however the one that clothes up well”. Yes, it will be cold and also you’ll have to wear layers and layers of garments, but you’ll get to do all of the fun winter activities: ice skating, skiing, creating a snowman, tobogganing, and so forth. And you can’t imagine what a satisfying feeling it’s miles to have a cup of hot tea with varenie (jam) after an extended day outdoor.
The one season I wouldn’t suggest for a experience is early spring (March-April). This is the time when snow starts offevolved melting, growing massive dirty puddles on the road. Overall, it’s grey, dirty, and depressing.
Plan you journey around holidays if you want to have a good time with Russians. The two vacations we adore and have a good time big are New Year (thirty first of December) and Victory Day (9th of May). Spending New Year in Moscow is one the coolest matters you may do (and you may as properly stay for Russian Orthodox Christmas at the seventh of January).
Packing, of course, relies upon at the season. I assume, you’ll figure out what to take for summer season? For wintry weather, p.c. layers. Make positive to take tights, a hat, a scarf, mittens (no leather-based gloves!), sweaters, a honestly right warm jacket. As for iciness footwear, Russians opt for boots manufactured from real leather with actual fur inner (faux leather and fur are considered very low pleasant and will not keep you heat). Next one is funny, however I have to say it. Russians are very elegant, in particular girls. So even in winter, with all the layers, people nonetheless think about how it’ll all appearance together.
The single most crucial clothing object on your baggage should be comfortable footwear. Moscow and Saint Petersburg are made to be explored strolling. You’ll emerge as strolling for six-8 hours an afternoon on common. Pack something comfortable, that received’t make a stroll across the city a warfare.
Pack a scarf and a skirt for those days when you are making plans to go to churches. Women need to put on skirts below the knee and put on shawls on their heads whilst getting into a church, guys must cast off any hats/caps. Some of the maximum touristy church buildings and temples have skirts and shawls you can borrow at the doorway.
If you’re planning to exit inside the nighttime, p.c. some thing excellent. As I noted above, Russians want to dress up. You gained’t see a woman carrying tights and a hoodie, with out a make up on going out and approximately. Special events, like a theatre play, a dinner at a fancy eating place, or a night out in a membership require a few dressing up.
Local foreign money is Russian Ruble. It’s first-class to alternate money in banks. The maximum famous and trustworthy financial institution in Russia is Sberbank. Other famous banks include VTB, Alfa-financial institution, Bank of Moscow, VUZ financial institution. They every now and then have a barely higher exchange price than Sberbank.
Take the most ideal latest banknotes to your experience. Make sure there are no torn parts and no marks. Don’t fold them. A lot of banks in Russia fee a fee to trade US dollars or Euros into Rubles if the banknotes are not “photo-ideal”. Sometimes even the tiniest crease may be a cause to fee you greater. This is infuriating, but is a commonplace exercise. I noticed that banks in Moscow and Saint Petersburg try this much less often than banks in smaller towns.
Credit cards are usual quite tons everywhere: in resorts, restaurants, and supermarkets (even in smaller towns). However, you would possibly come upon problems with paying with the aid of credit score card on-line, for example, for inner air tickets or inns. I individually had trouble booking flights from Moscow to Ekaterinburg and shopping for tickets to Bolshoi Theatre with a card issued by way of a US bank. It’s constantly well worth trying to book your tickets directly first, but if the charge doesn’t go through, the pleasant way is to e book through a third celebration. I used Expedia to ebook my inner flights. If you have a chum in Russia you could ask them to e-book tickets for you and refund the cash later.
In comparison with USA, in which recommendations usually constitute a primary a part of a waiter’s income, in Russia, suggestions are seen only as a manner to expose appreciation. Generally, we leave 10% tip in eating places. We don’t commonly tip taxi drivers, hair dressers, nail specialists.
Unless you’re at a Chinese marketplace (you’ll be surprised, however we’ve got one in nearly each huge Russian city), bargaining isn’t always a issue. Probably, some other exception could be memento companies close to all primary attractions in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, but I wouldn’t suggest buying from them in any case.
If you are touring from USA, carry an adapter. The power sockets in Russia are of kind C and F. The preferred voltage is 220 V; wellknown frequency is 50 Hz.
If your cellphone is unlocked, get a neighborhood sim-card — it’ll prevent quite a few money. The principal companies in Russia are Megafon, MTS, Beeline and Tele2. In Russia, you get a sim card for a particular place. If you’re touring outdoor of your vicinity, you’ll be in roaming mode. If you are planning to visit several regions of Russia, give an explanation for it to the salesperson while shopping for a sim card. A passport is needed to get a sim card.
The easiest way to top off your cellphone balance is through using a Qiwi system. These machines are truly like ATMs, handiest they’re supposed for bills. You can pay with cash or credit card. The machines are spread out across towns. Usually, you may find one in supermarkets.
Wi-Fi is anywhere: in restaurants, cafes, lodges, even in Moscow metro and buses.
Transport Between Cities
To get from one metropolis to every other inside Russia, you can use one of the nearby airways. Some of the maximum popular ones include Aeroflot, Rossiya, S7 airlines, Ural Airlines, Utair. Pobeda is a local low-coster. Make positive to study all the rules cautiously to avoid being charged at the airport for baggage or different extra services.
Train is any other very popular manner of traveling. Trains are normally comfortable and smooth. Kupe, or a closed compartment for 4 human beings, is the satisfactory way to move. Platskart, an open dormitory-fashion carriage, is a inexpensive choice, but will offer no privateness in any respect. Russian Railways (Российские Железные Дороги) is the official site for all data on teach schedules and tickets.
A train-tour hack: display your train price tag at the teach station restrooms, in any other case you’ll have to pay.
The most comfortable choice to tour between Moscow and Saint Petersburg is a new speedy educate known as Sapsan which takes you from one metropolis to any other in best 4 hours. The rate depends at the day and time of your journey, but if you are flexible you can buy a price tag for as little as $30. There are also ordinary overnight trains that are inexpensive.
Public Transport in Cities
Public transportation machine is properly advanced all round Russia and in particular in huge towns. You can get round with out a automobile without problems. Some of the principle kinds of public delivery include metro, buses, street automobiles, trams, and marshrutka (a privately owned van for approximately 12-15 people).
In Moscow, purchase a card referred to as Troika so that it will will let you automatically pay for metro, bus, and avenue vehicle. Not handiest is it cushty, but it’ll prevent cash too. You should purchase it at any metro station or in unique kiosks close to bus stops. You can fill up the card while the balance is low.
In Saint Petersburg, the identical type of card is known as Podorozhnik. It will allow you to use three sorts of public delivery while not having to address cash and tickets on every occasion.
If you need taxi, use Uber app or a nearby app known as Yandex.Taxi
I recall Russia a secure u . s . to tour, however I advocate to take the same precautions as you will in any other united states. Don’t hang out overdue at night in some shady little streets, don’t stroll around together with your bag wide open, don’t flash cash, be especially careful round train stations and touristy points of interest. I always recommend to get a journey coverage, specially if you are visiting to a new and unknown u . s .. I always use World Nomads in my travels. Give it a strive!
Hate to mention it, but if your skin shade isn’t white, you’ll have some greater interest in Russia. That doesn’t always imply anything horrific, but human beings are curious about what they haven’t encountered and they will stare. You gained’t experience it tons in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, wherein locals are used to vacationers from everywhere in the international. But the further away you journey from massive cities, the greater attention you’ll draw.
Politics is politics, and those are humans. Despite the whole lot this is occurring in the global proper now, regardless of the tensions among Russia and the Western global, Russian people are normally nice, pleasant, and alluring. That isn’t me praising my kingdom, that is what my overseas pals who’ve been to Russia shared with me.
The infamous “no smiling rule” in Russia. I can’t provide an explanation for it, however it’s actual that Russians don’t smile a good deal in the streets. We joke and snicker lots in a enterprise of pals, but smiling at strangers is regarded a bit weird. I’ve even examine somewhere that looking at a person for greater than seconds is considered impolite, that is bs. You can smile all you want — finding out human beings’s reaction is valuable.
We don’t do small communicate. It makes us sense awkward.
Because Russians don’t smile and don’t do small speak, we frequently come off as aloof and bloodless. In reality, Russians are a number of the most kind and generous people when you get to recognise us. We don’t pretend to love all people, we don’t smile at strangers, we may be blunt to the point of being rude, however in case you make a Russian buddy, he’ll “supply his ultimate blouse away” that will help you. One factor I surely love about my people: we don’t fake. If someone genuinely smiles at you, they imply it.
Russians have a loooot of superstitions. Don’t whistle in the house — you’ll have no cash. Don’t hold a handbag on the ground — again, no cash. Don’t sit at the corner of the table — you won’t get married. Don’t hold an empty bottle on the table — no idea what will appear, just don’t. Sit down earlier than going on an extended adventure — it will convey luck.
Russian guys are galant and courteous around women. Opening a door, giving up a seat in public shipping (this one is becoming less commonplace nowadays), and supporting with a heavy bag are fairly common. A guy commonly will pay the invoice if he invited a female out, although it’s not a date.
We have a pronouncing in Russia “Theatre starts with a cloakroom”. Walking into a theatre wearing an overcoat is impolite. Leave it at the cloakroom wherein a enormously speedy babushka will take it from you. Similarly, there are cloakrooms in art galleries, museums, cinemas, and eating places in Russia.
If you’re planning a night time out in a club, get dressed up! Apart from “dress code”, there’s additionally so called “face manipulate” in Russian clubs. I understand how ridiculous it sounds. The bouncers don’t virtually check whether your face is pretty sufficient, they estimate whether you’re able to spend money inside. So in case you need to get in, you need to look fancy AF.
If you’re invited into a person’s residence, bring some thing “okay chayu” — goodies to have with tea. Usually whilst Russians invite you home, it means a large meal, so the least you could do is bring a dessert or a bottle of wine.
Remove footwear at the doorway while getting into someone’s home. It’s taken into consideration rude to go away the footwear on.
English is not very substantial in Russia. Nevertheless, younger era can typically communicate on a basic level. If you’re seeking out assist, stop someone of their twenties. Language-clever, Moscow and Saint Petersburg are the very best towns in Russia to go to. All of the road names, metro maps, the names of the stations, menus in restaurants are translated into English.
The further faraway from massive cities you journey, the less humans will realize English. Use Google Translate or Yandex.Translate that will help you communicate. The latter is developed in Russia and tends to do a better process.
Majority of my overseas buddies who have been to Russia said that knowing Cyrillic alphabet allows a ton when touring around the united states. It’s well worth making an investment some time in learning the alphabet before the trip so that it will sense greater assured once you are in Russia.
Some useful words in Russian encompass: privyet – hiya, paka – bye, spasiba – thanks, pazhalusta – please, izvinite – excuse me, pryama – instantly, naprava – to the proper, nalyeva – to the left. Counting shape one to 5: odin, dva, tree, chetirye, pyat’. Ya ne piyu – I don’t drink. The ultimate one is a comic story, you acquire that, right?
Food and Drink
In Russia, eat what Russians do: lots of soups, mayo filled salads, potato and cabbage in all possible bureaucracy, add a slice of bread to everything, and don’t forget about about baked goods and pastries. Also, drink plenty of tea. By masses I mean six cups a day. If you need to study greater approximately the way Russians drink tea, examine this text. And to learn how to consume like a Russian — examine this.
Apart from Russian meals attempt Georgian, Armenian, and Uzbek cuisines. Food of the previous Soviet republics may be very famous in Russia and is so extraordinarily suitable! Also — but don’t laugh adequate? — attempt Japanese rolls. They are in all likelihood nothing like what you’d locate in Japan, but so delicious! Philadelphia roll is a must.
If you are seeking out a reasonably-priced meal, take a look at for stolovaya — canteen. Canteens had been a famous dining choice in Soviet instances and are nonetheless a exceptional way to have an excellent lower priced meal. If you want a pleasing placing, look for a eating place that offers “commercial enterprise lunch”. Many restaurants and cafes offer lunch at lower costs than their ordinary menu.
Not all Russians drink vodka. We don’t begin our day through having a shot. We don’t drink each unmarried day. We don’t drink to warm up in winter. We do drink when there’s a special event. If you want to drink vodka like the Russians, have a shot and observe it up with a pickle or through sniffing on a slice of rye bread.
There’s no “Cheers!” in Russian language. Instead, we are saying a toast earlier than every drink. It can be some thing as easy as “Let’s drink to like/friendship/your health!” or an difficult tale with a ethical lesson. Whatever you assert, do not say “na zdorovie!” I’ve no idea how this stereotype spread out, however a lot of foreigners suppose “na zdorovie!” is Russian for “cheers!” It is not. You can say “za zdorovie!” because of this “in your health!”, but Russians wouldn’t say the equal toast time and again once more. Be creative!
Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!
I can’t emphasize sufficient how vital tour insurance is while you are making plans a experience to a overseas usa! So many things can move not exactly as planned (like that time I were given food poisoning and were given robbed of all my bags in San Francisco).
I use World Nomads in my travels. You can buy and declare coverage online (even in case your ride has already started). And their service is impeccable: fast and polite. You can get a custom designed quote in your trip below!
Hope these Russia journey hints were useful! If you are a first-time traveler, try to neglect all the stereotypes you have got heard and keep an open mind. If you have got any questions, comment below!
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