This post will be all about Russia travel tips and all the cool facts about Russia and things to know before visiting Russia. From first timers to seasoned travelers, this post will be your go-to guide to get to know more of Russia and what awaits you from amazing hikes, mountains, cities, learn about the culture and even a new language to delicious food to try in Russia.
I traveled for a month around Russia and it was not possible to cover a lot of the places in the country, because of lack of time. I heard a thousand stereotypes about Russian people. I can say that most of them aren’t real. It’s really better if you discover Russia and meet Russian people by yourself.
Russia Travel Tips And Things To Know Before Visiting Russia
1. Is It Safe to Travel To Russia?
Is if safe traveling to Russia? If you travel to Russia, you will feel safe. Just try to take your usual precautions, especially in big cities and crowded places. There are a few pickpockets but that’s it. I consider Russia a safe country to travel for sure!
2. VISA IS COMPLICATED
This is the trickiest part to travel Russia. Most of the countries need visa to travel Russia. In my case, I had to pay for a travel agency in my country to complete the visa process. This is due to no available appointments for tourist visas in the Russian embassy (Madrid). The Visa for Russia costed me €58 (€35 for the government and €23 the agency).
For your visa to Russia you need to show documents (passport), travel insurance, invitation letter and a detailed itinerary for your trip in Russia. As I always travel with insurance, it didn’t cost me anything extra. You need an invitation letter from friends, from accommodation places (hotel or hostels) or from tour companies. Sometimes hotels and hostels can arrange. If not, you can get the invitation letter online by paying around €10-15.
Russia is very strict with your entry dates. The visa will start counting from the first date that you entered in your itinerary. You will need to make sure that you have planned your whole trip properly and in advance so you wouldn’t miss any days when traveling in Russia.
3. CURRENCY AND EXCHANGE RATE IN RUSSIA AND ATMS
In Russia you can use cash but also credit cards are accepted easily. The currency is the Russian Ruble which is very weak compared to the USD. At that time the exchange was $1 USD=95 RUB. If you are bringing card, there are hundred of ATMs in Russia where you can withdraw your money. If you bring cash as I did, there are many exchange offices and banks to exchange your money.
4. BEST TIME TO VISIT RUSSIA
I would say summer is the best time to visit Russia. The weather is warm and it’s perfect for outdoor activities. Summer lasts from the end of May until mid-September. If you want to experience the winter in Russia, visit here in November until the end of April. But we are warning you of the strong cold air that can be up to -50 °C!
You can also visit during spring (from mid-April to end of May) and autumn which is also a short season in Russia (from end of September to beginning of November).
5. HEALTH TRAVEL INSURANCE
Things to know before visiting Russia we always recommend bringing a travel insurance (mandatory in this case) when traveling abroad just in case you have any problems. You can always have food Poisson, fever or any other kind of disease.
BOOK YOUR TRAVEL INSURANCE
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FACTS ABOUT RUSSIA
6. RUSSIA IS CHEAP
Facts about Russia if you are thinking of Asia and Central Asia is cheap for traveling you are right. Russia is as cheap in small village, transportation and food. Russia can be so expensive for nightlife and if you are looking for luxury. We will tell you below accommodation, food budget and general entrance fees and tour prices in Russia.
7. ACCOMMODATION BUDGET IN RUSSIA
A lot of budget option is available for accommodation in Russia. Where you can sleep in a dorm room or a room for less than $10 USD while you can stay in a budget hotel for as low as $30-40 USD. There are so many to choose from depending on what type and how luxurious you want your stay to be starting from $80 USD.
If you are traveling in Russia outside the peak season prices will be much cheaper. Places like Moscow and Sant Petersburg will be the most expensive and you will find great deals in not so touristic cities. There are AirBnB options in Russia where you can have budget accommodation and a local experience at the same time.
8. FOOD BUDGET TRAVEL RUSSIA
For food budget travel in Russia we have to say that’s affordable. You can get snack meals in local places for €1-2 per person trying different choices with bread mostly. For decent meals expect to pay €4-5 per person in a restaurant. Your food budget travel in Russia could be €10.
9. WI-FI AND INTERNET CONNECTION IN RUSSIA
Internet in Russia works great in big cities and even small villages. You can access free WiFi at hostels and hotels and there are lots of restaurant that are offering free WiFi. In a few rural areas can be hard to find Wi-Fi and data connection. We advise that you get a sim card in Russia if you need to catch up with some work online.
Read here best Russia eSim
Russia travel tips you can get two different sim cards companies in Russia if you travel as a couple since the coverage can change depending on the company that you choose. It will be challenging to find Wi-Fi while traveling in a few small cities, and mountains and will be hard to get great connections.
You can find the cheapest Russian eSim with Airalo Russia eSim prepaid for $8 USD with 1 GB data valid for 7 days (USING DISCOUNT CODE GAMINTRAVELER 10%). And for $16 USD with 3 GB data and for $24 USD with 5 GB data valid for 30 days. For $36 USD with 10 GB data valid for 30 days.
Ubigi Russia eSim has data packages for $8 USD with 1 GB data valid for 30 days and for $14 USD with 3 GB data valid for 30 days USING DISCOUNT CODE GAMINTRAVELER 10%.
If you need more data packages in Russia MTX Connect eSim Jersey for €24 with 4 GB data valid for 14 days. Holafly eSim Russia for $19 USD with 3 GB data valid for 7 days and for $34 USD with 5 GB data valid for 10 days.
10. ADAPTER IN RUSSIA
In our Russia travel tips you should know they use the European adapter. A few places make it possible to fit your American adapter in the plug. If you are coming from American countries, we recommend you to bring a European adapter to be able to charge everywhere.
11. TRANSPORTATION IN RUSSIA
Since Russia is the largest country in the world, there are many ways for transportation inside the country. If you are traveling in another country, 300-400 kilometers is already big distance but not for Russia.
TRAVELING BY BUS
There are buses that connect every city during the day and at night. Prices are cheap if you use local transportation. Buses around the city are working great and you don’t need to wait for them long time. Prices are around half dollar for a journey inside the cities.
TRAVELING BY METRO
I really loved metro in Russia. In every big city you can travel by metro so cheap (half dollar), efficient and well indicated. The metro decoration was great in Moscow. There are some Russian metro stations that you can visit just to take pictures. Or just walking around like if you were in a museum.
One of the most popular destinations is traveling Russia with the Trans-Siberian Railway which will let you cross Russia in less than a week. I didn’t take the Trans Siberian this time. But I would love to do in the future and visit the other parts of Russia I missed from this trip.
12. TAXIS VS YANDEX
For short distance to move around the city you can use taxi. Russia travel tips you can download Yandex app like Uber in Russia since prices are affordable. You can pay around $3-5 USD for short distance and $10 USD if you go longer.
13. HITCHHIKING IN RUSSIA
I chose hitchhiking in Russia for transportation and my experience was great. I could cover 300-400 kilometers distances in 5-6 hours without any problem. Russia travel tips taking local buses to leave the city or asking locals to drive me to the road and making a sign and just ask for a ride. Check, if you want more detailed information to hitchhike Russia.
14. BORDER CROSSING IN RUSSIA
Border crossings in Russia are opened. As Russia is a huge country has borders with North Korea, China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus, Latvia, Estonia, Finland and Norway. All of them are opened I came hitchhiking from Estonia in Narva and I didn’t find any problem in the border it was fast and easy.
15. MEETING LOCALS IN RUSSIA (ENJOY THEIR HOSPITALITY)
Meeting locals is something you shouldn’t miss when visiting Russia. You should definitely meet and make friends with locals as they are nice and friendly and you will have amazing time. Russian people are so hospitable!
Don´t be surprised if locals invite you for tea, lunch, dinner and even staying at their home. They will be surprise of meeting you and they are so hospitable people. Just relax and have fun with them. I had the opportunity to meet locals and they invited me for tea, vodka and I could try so many local dishes in Russia.
16. Shoes Off When Going Inside Home
You have to remove your shoes in Russia when going inside a home. What locals do just follow them and you will see they will have a space to put their shoes and will give you sleepers to walk inside their home.
17. Download A Translator App
Russia travel tips Download a translator app is so useful to communicate with locals. I used myself Google Translator and it was enough for a few situations when asking for a local restaurant or address especially in small villages in Russia.
18. HISTORY AND RELIGION IN RUSSIA
If you love history as I do you can’t miss traveling to Russia. Since Russia is the largest country in the world, it is also full of so much history. One detail which attracted my attention a lot was the Lenin statue. It is everywhere in Russia, even in small villages. The religion in Russia is very diverse including Christianity, Islam, Buddhist and Judaism.
19. Nightlife in Russia
The nightlife in Russia is great! If you go out in big cities like Moscow and St Petersburg you can go to fancy clubs opened until very late. You will have to dress up and maybe to pay an entrance fee. There are smaller bars that they close earlier and will not be so demanding with your clothes.
In small villages, people will organize dinner and drinks in a private home and you will be lucky if they invite you to enjoy the experience.
20. DRINKING TEA WITH LOCALS
Russian people love drinking tea all the time. I didn’t know about this before going to Russia. Russian people love drinking tea and eating sweets, bread, salad, fruits and cookies at the same time. Russian people love enjoying tea with good conversation.
21. LEARNING RUSSIAN LANGUAGE
Russian people don’t usually speak English. The challenge is learning Russian language at least the essentials to move around. It’s very useful since Russia is such a big country and many countries around speak Russian language too.
There are some basics that you need to learn to communicate with them, for example numbers, asking daily questions like, “How much is this?” and “Where is it?” – various basic statements you need to know to communicate in some way with the locals. It was a little bit of a stretch since it was hard to learn and speak the Russian language. But it will be very helpful for meeting locals.
22. Learning Cyrillic Alphabet In Russia
Learning Cyrillic Alphabet in Russia is so useful especially when traveling by metro or looking for a direction. I didn’t find hard to differentiate but it’s difficult to manage for reading and writing. There are a few local restaurants in small villages where the menu will be in Cyrillic language.
23. METRO IN RUSSIA
Metro in Russia could be like a museum sometimes because of history and decoration. In big cities in Russia, you need to spend hours in local transportation. The metro in Moscow big and efficient. You can see paintings and sculptures about their history. Prices were very cheap and you can find wifi.
24. Time Zones in Russia
Time Zones in Russia can be different depending in the area that you are visiting. There are 11 different time zones in Russia depending in Moscow area, UFA or Vladivostok can have so many differences. So make sure you check them out before going to a new place in Russia.
25. TRANS-SIBERIAN TRAIN
The Trans-Siberian train is one of the most popular transportation in Russia. You can cross Russia with the longest train in the world in 7 days. From Moscow (East part of Russia) to the West. There are different routes going Russia to China, Mongolia or Vladivostok.
The Trans-Siberian train is the perfect scenery to mix with local people. It’s an amazing opportunity to learn things about their culture and why not learn new Russian words. Sharing food and drinks with Russian people and making new friends.
26. A RUSSIAN VILLAGE EXPERIENCE
One of the most authentic experiences was staying in a Russian village. I really enjoyed those days! People having their little garden at home, a little farm it makes a different atmosphere to the big cities. It´s interesting how to get the village, there isn´t so much public transportation.
There are many shared taxis to move around. Local people exchange things from their garden or animals or just selling direct to their neighbors.
27. BEAUTIFUL ARCHITECTURE IN RUSSIA
I really loved the beautiful architecture in Russia following the Slavic style. In every big city you can find the Kremlin where people visit to walk around. It’s located in old town and I really enjoyed the architecture visiting them. Around the Kremlins you will also find churches. Sometimes you couldn’t even capture in photos what you can really see with your eyes.
FACTS ABOUT RUSSIAN FOOD
Facts about Russian food is really good. I was surprised how good is Russian gastronomy. I got surprised with Russian people, I realized that they drink more tea than vodka. Delicious salad, tasty snacks and so much variety for food to try in Russia. Prices are so affordable if you eat in Stolovaya which is a canteen.
Pelmeni is one of my favorite local dishes in Russia. Those Russian dumplings can be filled with pork, beef, lamb or vegetables. They are mixed with black pepper, onions and garlic. The dough is made of water and flour with eggs. In our Russia travel tips about food pelmeni is our favorite dish.
Borscht is one of the most famous dishes in Russia and countries around. Borscht is a very delicious soup. It’s a vegetable soup with potatoes, cabbage and the special ingredient beetroot which give the color to the soup.
Grechka (buckwheat) is the most popular breakfast in Russia. Grechka is usually served for breakfast, easy to prepare, just boiling (with water in a pot) and mixed with butter. Having this for breakfast you will feel full of energy.
31. TATARSTAN FOOD
Tatarstan food was my favorite meal in Russia. I tried delicious soups, baked bread filled with meat and cheese. Tatarstan food has a very typical tea with cookies and sweets. Locals love eating tea with snack.
Kvass is a traditional beverage made from black bread. Kvass is also popular in the Baltic countries, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. You can find kvass everywhere in Russia as street food and prices are very cheap.
33. HORSE MILK (KUMIS)
Horse milk or Kumis is one of the strangest things that I tried during my travels. It’s a fermented milk coming from the mare and it’s very full in protein. Horse milk tastes good and it’s very healthy. It was the first time that I tried horse milk in my whole life.
More Russia Travel Tips And Things To Know Before Visiting Russia
Places To Visit in Russia
I’m not a fan of big cities but I have to recognize that I enjoyed in Moscow the capital of Russia. If you want to go for sightseeing in the tourist places, even though is full of people is great. Moving around with local transportation metro and buses was great. Metro was greatly decorated and it´s worth visiting around.
There are many interesting museums in Moscow, churches and beautiful parks in Moscow. If you want to hang out in Moscow you will find many bars and restaurants for your choice.
35. SAINT PETERSBURG
Saint Petersburg is even more tourist city than Moscow since many cruises are stopping for a few days from Western Europe. I loved walking around Saint Petersburg and is more quiet than Moscow. The distances in St Petersburg are shorter than in Moscow and you will find many interesting museums and churches.
I really liked the canals in Saint Petersburg. If you like hanging out, you will find may bars and restaurants. I enjoyed a lot since it was my first stop in Russia. Everything was new for me language, architecture and gastronomy.
Sochi in the Black Sea is a favorite resort destination in Russia. Sochi is the most popular place for skiing in winter. Sochi is a relax beach in the summer. Sochi’s beach has been drawing Russians to the city with its clear waters and miles of coastline.
Kazan is big city but if we compare to Moscow and St Petersburg is quiet. You will find different culture since the main religion in Kazan is Muslim. You will find more mosques than churches. The Kremlin during the day and even more special at night time with the lights is so beautiful in Kazan. The mosque inside the Kremlin with the lights is great and the most popular spot to visit!
38. Lake Baikal
Lake Baikal is the largest and deepest lake by in the world. There are animals around the lake and tribes. The temperatures are really cold in winter and it can be frozen. In the summer is warmer. Lake Baikal was named UNESCO Site in 1996 and is one of the most popular places to visit in Russia for locals and foreigners.
39. Altai Region
Altai Region is located in Southern Siberia. Altai region is so popular region for different ethnics apart from Russian, Turkish and Kazakhs. Altai Region is a great place if you love hiking. If you meet locals they will guide you thru the mountains and you will find guides to spend a few days in the mountains.
The Kamchatka Peninsula is the perfect place to visit in Russia if you love adventure. There are a few volcanos to hike, rivers and beaches. There are a few indigenous living in this area where you can learn about their culture. The most popular activity is dog sled racing in winter at Kamchatka Peninsula.
Hope you liked our Russia travel tips. Let us know if we missed things to know before visiting Russia and facts about Russia in the comments below.
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