Russia, the world’s largest country. From off-the-beaten path destinations, like Irkutsk, to idyllic countryside to glittering palaces and ancient fortresses to vodka induced parties that last until the wee hours of the morning, Russia definitely has it all. This Russia travel guide will help you plan your next vacation.
Russia Travel Guide: Fast Facts
- Russian power voltage is 220V 50Hz; Plug C
- The Russian currency is the Russian ruble and is around 69 RUB to 1 USD
- Get your visa well in advance. North Americans and most Europeans will need visas to enter Russia. The official invitation option has been dropped, however people still need to show certain documents, such as hotel confirmation letters, bank/income statements or a travel insurance policy.
- Upon arrival you will be handed a migration card that is either filled out or blank (which you will need to fill out yourself!) You will need this card to register at hotels and to leave the country so make sure you don’t lose it!
- Be extremely careful at zebra crossing / crosswalks. There are times when cars will not slow down and will fail to give way. Never assume that a driver will stop for you when you cross the street.
- When buying art you need the piece certified as being culturally insignificant to have it pass through customs. It can take time to get the proper documents, so it is advisable to avoid buying art if you are visiting Russia for a short time.
- Women should cover their heads with a scarf in Orthodox churches, if it is an active church.
- Travelers are advised against all travel to Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan, as well as all but essential travel to North Ossetia, Karachai-Cherkessia and Kabardino-Balkaria.
- Avoid drinking water from the faucet, especially in St. Petersburg. The water leaving the purification plant is fine but the water pipe system is woefully outdated and the purified water is often contaminated with city ground water.
Top Packing Tips for Russia Travel
Russia has a largely continental climate because of its sheer size with warm to hot dry summers and cold winters with temperatures of -30°C and lower and sometimes heavy snowfall. In Moscow and St. Petersburg the first snow usually falls in late November and stays till early April. The average winter temperature is about -10°C. Much of the country experiences only two main seasons: summer and winter.
- Layers – You could possibly be sweating all afternoon and then be freezing by nightfall! Make sure to stock up on the layers. If you plan on heading to Russia during the winter make sure to pack the winter essentials: Warm, waterproof, fleece-lined boots big enough to wear with heavy wool socks, hat, waterproof gloves and thermal long underwear!
- Classic Basic items – You do not need to be a fashionista to blend in. The key is in embracing neutral toned items that can be mixed and matched easily. Avoid logos, baseball caps, shorts, hoodies, flip-flops and running shoes as these items scream tourist!
- Rain Essentials – the weather can be a little unpredictable so make sure to pack a lightweight easily compacted waterproof/windproof jacket and a pair of waterproof boots.
- Personal Safety products – Certain areas in Moscow and St. Petersburg are known as pickpocket hotspots. Before leaving for your trip, make sure to pack some personal safety products, like money belts and locks, so that you can keep your valuables safe on your trip.
Top Things to do in Russia
- The Magnificent Moscow Metro – the metro system is more of an art deco design project than a transport hub.
- The Astrakhan Kremlin – Located on the banks of the Volga River ever so close to the Caspian Sea, this pleasant waterfront city boasts a bustling boardwalk complete with jugglers, rollerbladers, performers and vendors.