Russia travel advice
Not so long ago the monolithic Soviet state controlled visitors from the moment of arrival to departure. With the freeing of the markets new, privately run enterprises have sprung up offering the attention to detail and first class customer service demanded by Audley clients.
Whether visiting the palaces and galleries of St Petersburg or hiking by the shore of Lake Baikal we will choose the most appropriate means of transport to get you to your destinations in the maximum comfort and convenience, and provide expert guides to bring your experience to life.
Planning your visit
The short summer months between May and July are the peak travel periods and destinations can be crowded and accommodation availability scarce.
Timing your visits to avoid this period means lower prices and the chance to enjoy Russia’s magnificent cultural and scenic treasures in a more relaxed and civilised manner.
The official language is Russian. In hotels and tourist places, English should be spoken. Elsewhere do not expect English to be widely spoken, though young people increasingly will speak some.
Food and Drink
Russian food has a reputation for blandness but can, in fact, be extremely tasty. Russians are particularly adept at making soups as well as pelmini (meat in pasta like parcels). Caviar is also popular (available in red variety - from salmon, or the most expensive, black variety from sturgeon), along with shaslick (grilled meat) and blini (pancakes). Vodka is the national drink, usually drunk neat. Beer is also widely available. Russian wine can be rather too sweet for Western taste buds, though Georgian wine can be good. Shampanskaya (Russian champagne) is a lot sweeter than the French variety, but very cheap.
Russians are slowly awakening to the idea of tipping, though it is still not widely expected except in Western style hotels and more upmarket restaurants. It is accepted practice to tip local guides though this is, of course, at your discretion.
The currency of Russia is the Russian Rouble, which can be purchased outside Russia. Most towns and cities now have ATMs which can be used to withdraw roubles from. Currency exchanges are also common place, where you will need your passport to exchange money.
Photography is not allowed in airports, or on the metro. Do not take photos of military installations either. You should ask permission before taking photos of people - older people in particular retain a suspicion of having their photograph taken. Russians' attitude to race is not as developed as in the Western world. Respect for elderly people is deeply ingrained and it is expected that younger people give up their seats on a crowded metro, train, or bus. In working churches and religious places, men should take off their hats, women may be expected to cover their heads.
Our country specialists can advise on any safety concerns you may have. For current information, please refer to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office website.
When to go to Russia
You'll find temperature and rainfall information, together with a month-by-month guide on visiting, on our guide for when to go to Russia.
4 hours (Moscow)
UTC +3 to UTC +12