RUSSIA

RUSSIA

RUSSIA

SELECT YOUR NATIONALITY

– No current scheduled consular closures.
CONSULAR CLOSURES
TBC.
TOP ATTRACTIONS
PLEASE CLICK / HOVER ON THE IMAGES BELOW FOR MORE INFORMATION.
Name: Red Square
Location: Moscow, Russia
Red Square is a city square in Moscow, Russia. It separates the Kremlin, the former royal citadel and now the official residence of the President of Russia, from a historic merchant quarter known as Kitai-gorod. Red Square is often considered to be the central square of Moscow since the city's major streets, which connect to Russia's major highways, originate in the square.

The buildings surrounding the Square are all significant in some respect. Lenin's Mausoleum, for example, contains the embalmed body of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, the founder of the Soviet Union. Nearby to the South is the elaborate brightly domed Kremlin and the palaces and cathedrals of the Saint Basil's Cathedral. On the Eastern side of the square is the GUM department store, and next to it the restored Kazan Cathedral. The Northern side is occupied by the State Historical Museum, whose outlines echo those of Kremlin towers. The Iberian Gate and Chapel have been rebuilt to the Northwest.

The only sculptured monument on the square is a bronze statue of Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky, who helped to clear Moscow from the Polish invaders in 1612, during the Time of Troubles.

SOURCE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Square
Name: State Hermitage Museum
Location: Saint Petersburg, Russia
The State Hermitage Museum is a museum of art and culture in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The second-largest art museum in the world, it was founded in 1764 when Empress Catherine the Great acquired an impressive collection of paintings from the Berlin merchant Johann Ernst Gotzkowsky. The museum celebrates the anniversary of its founding each year on 7 December, Saint Catherine's Day. It has been open to the public since 1852.

Its collections, of which only a small part is on permanent display, comprise over three million items (the numismatic collection accounts for about one-third of them), including the largest collection of paintings in the world. The collections occupy a large complex of six historic buildings along Palace Embankment, including the Winter Palace, a former residence of Russian emperors. Apart from them, the Menshikov Palace, Museum of Porcelain, Storage Facility at Staraya Derevnya, and the eastern wing of the General Staff Building are also part of the museum. The museum has several exhibition centers abroad. The Hermitage is a federal state property. Since July 1992, the director of the museum has been Mikhail Piotrovsky.

SOURCE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermitage_Museum
Name: Peterhof Palace
Location: Saint Petersburg, Russia
The Peterhof Palace is a series of palaces and gardens located in Petergof, Saint Petersburg, Russia, commissioned by Peter the Great as a direct response to the Palace of Versailles by Louis XIV of France. Originally intended in 1709 for country habitation, Peter the Great sought to expand the property as a result of his visit to the French royal court in 1717, inspiring the nickname used by tourists "The Russian Versailles". In the period between 1714 and 1728, the architecture was designed by Domenico Trezzini, and the style he employed became the foundation for the Petrine Baroque style favored throughout Saint Petersburg. Also in 1714, Jean-Baptiste Alexandre Le Blond designed the gardens, likely chosen due to his previous collaborations with Versailles landscaper André Le Nôtre. Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli completed an expansion from 1747 to 1756 for Elizabeth of Russia. The palace-ensemble along with the city center is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Peterhof originally in the early 1700s appeared quite different from today. Many of the fountains had not yet been installed. The entire Alexandrine Park and Upper Gardens didn't exist.

SOURCE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peterhof_Palace
FLIGHT TIMES / MAJOR CITIES
PLEASE SEE BELOW MAJOR CITIES IN RUSSIA / CLICK OR TOGGLE BELOW FOR FASTEST AVERAGE FLIGHT TIMES FROM USA.

New York: TBC
Washington DC: TBC

New York: TBC
Washington DC: TBC

New York: TBC
Washington DC: TBC

New York: TBC
Washington DC: TBC

New York: TBC
Washington DC: TBC

COUNTRY INFORMATION GUIDE
PLEASE SEE BELOW FACTS, USEFUL US GOVERNMENT TRAVEL LINKS AND BUSINESS VISITOR ACTIVITIES, FOR TRAVEL TO RUSSIA.
FACTS:
Official Languages: Russian
Currency: Russian Ruble (RUB)
Time zones: Various. For a specific city / region – please see the following timeanddate.com Russia weblink here
Drives on the right
Calling code: +7
Local / up-to-date weather in Moscow (and other regions): BBC global weather – click here
US GOVT TRAVEL LINKS:

For more useful information on safety & security, local laws / customs, health and more, please see the below official US travel.state.gov web link for Russia travel advice. NB: Entry requirements herein listed are for US nationals only, unless stated otherwise.

You can also find recommended information on vaccinations, malaria and other more detailed health considerations for travel to Russia, at the below official US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) weblink.

BUSINESS VISITOR ACTIVITIES*:
Activities you may undertake on a business visa / as a business visitor:
PERMISSIBLE
ATTENDING MEETINGS / DISCUSSIONS: TBC
ATTENDING A CONFERENCE: TBC
RECEIVING TRAINING (CLASSROOM-BASED): TBC
NON-PERMISSIBLE
AUDIT WORK: TBC
PROVIDING TRAINING: TBC
PROJECT WORK: TBC
*This information does not constitute legal advice and is not an exhaustive list. For a full legal assessment on business visitor activities, please revert to your internal company legal team / counsel.
TRAVEL INFORMATION**
It is highly recommenced that you access the above official US travel.state.gov web link and read all safety & security information prior to making your travel arrangements / planning your trip.
PLEASE CLICK / TOGGLE BELOW FOR USEFUL TRAVEL INFORMATION TO RUSSIA.

Throughout its history Russia has had various versions of the ruble (рубль), which is divided into 100 kopeks (копеек). The latest manifestation, whose ISO code is RUB (replacing the RUR), was introduced in 1998 (although all notes and first issues of coins bear the year 1997). All pre-1998 currency is obsolete. The ruble is sometimes symbolised using ₽, but Wikivoyage will use руб to denote the currency.

Coins are issued in 1, 5, 10, and 50 kopek and 1, 2, 5 and 10 руб denominations. Banknotes come in 10, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000, 2000 and 5000 руб banknotes. The 5-ruble note is no longer issued or found in general circulation. The 10-ruble note ceased being printed in 2010 and will suffer the same fate, but as of 2018 is still found in circulation. Both remain legal tender. Kopeks are generally useless, with most prices given to the nearest ruble. The 1- and 5-kopek coins are especially useless: even places that quote prices in non -whole rubles will round to the nearest 10 kopeks or ruble.

All banknotes have special marks (dots and lines in relief) to aid the blind in distinguishing values.

Russian law forbids payments other than in rubles.

Travellers cheques are generally inconvenient (only some banks, such as Sberbank, will cash even American Express – though they do it without commission). So bring enough cash to last you for a few days, or rely on ATMs and credit card transactions.

Currency exchange offices (called bureaus in Saint Petersburg) are common throughout Russia in banks and, in the larger cities, small currency exchange bureaus. Banks tend to offer slightly worse rates but are more trustworthy. Hotels generally offer much worse rates but could be useful in an emergency. You need to show your passport to change money at a bank and fill in copious amounts of time wasting forms.

Be sure to take your time to count how much money you got — different ways are sometimes used to trick the customer, including better rates, prominently displayed, for large transactions and worse rates, difficult to find, for small transactions.

Branches of large banks can be found in any major city. Sberbank has a presence even in unexpectedly small villages.

Dollars and euros are generally better bought outside Russia and then swapped to rubles once in Russia as changing other currencies, while possible, will not attract great rates. You can check the rates that are being traded in Moscow online.

You will have an easier time changing clean, new banknotes. US dollars should be the current issues, although changing older versions shouldn’t be impossible.

Don’t change money on the street. Unlike during Soviet times, there is no advantage to dealing with an unofficial vendor. There are several advanced street exchange scams — better not to give them a chance.

ATMs, called bankomats, are common in large cities and can generally be found in smaller cities and towns. Though some may not accept foreign cards. English language interface is available. Some may also dispense US dollars. Russian ATMs will often limit withdrawals to about UScalled bankomats,000 per day. Big hotels are good places to find them.

In Moscow and Saint Petersburg almost all shops, restaurants, and services take credit cards. Visa/MasterCard are more accepted than American Express; Discover, Diners Club and other cards are rarely accepted.

Museums and sightseeing places take cash and credit cards, with rare exceptions.

Train stations may accept plastic, even outside the big cities, be sure to ask as it won’t always be obvious. Otherwise take plenty of cash. ATM machines at train station are popular and often out of cash, so stock up before going to the train station.

Taxis rarely accept credit cards even in large cities. This needs to be checked before boarding. Emphasize that you need a card-accepting cab accepting when ordering it through hotel concierge or a bell-boy. However in big cities there are a number of taxi services (such as Uber, Yandex Taxi or Gett) that accept online payments by cards and can be called by iOS or Android applications.

Like anywhere in the world, it’s better to avoid street ATMs (or at least to be very careful), as sometimes swindlers attach spy devices to them, to get your PIN and card details; the safest option is the ATMs in hotels, banks or big shopping centres.

BY TRAIN:

Due to the immense size of the country, and the poor road safety, the best way to get around through the entire country quickly is by train. Russia has an extensive rail network linking nearly every city and town. For intercity travel, the train is generally the most convenient option for trips that can be covered overnight. Although accommodations may not be the best, Russian trains have efficient and courteous staff as well as timely departures and arrivals that would impress even a German. The train is an option for longer trips (many Russians continue to use it for trips of 2 days or more), but mainly if you appreciate the nuances and experience of train travel in Russia. For the complete Russian rail experience, the one-week Trans-Siberian Railway has no equal.

Russian trains are divided into types: Long-distance (дальнего следования DAHL’nyehvuh SLEHduhvahnyah) trains generally cover trips more than about 4 hours or 200 km (120 miles). Take a look at the Russian long-distance rail timetable. Shorter distances are covered by the commuter trains (пригородные PREEguhruhdnyyeh), which are popularly called электрички ehlehkTREECHkee. Most train stations (железнодорожный вокзал zhehlyehznohdohROHZHny vohgZAHL) have separate areas for selling tickets for these types.

Transportation of bicycles:

Transportation of a bicycle in a carriage is permissible for one ticket under condition of being compactly folded/dismantled and clean. Usually the bike is taken off its wheels and pedals, put into a bag and stored on the upmost shelf in the Platzkart carriage. The other class carriages have less space or shelves and the bike should be more compact.

Sleeper cars:

Almost all long-distance trains are set up for overnight travel. There are several classes of accommodation:

  • Deluxe – myagkiy (мягкий) – with private compartments for two adults and a child, with a private toilet and shower. Few trains have this posh class.
  • 1st class – spalnyy/lyuks (спальный/люкс) – with private compartments for two people. Most trains connecting major cities have a car of this class; tickets are quite expensive in comparison with European standards. Colloquially this class is commonly referred to as SV (es-veh, СВ). Frequently these compartments are the same as in kupe with the two upper beds stowed away.
  • 2nd class – kupe (купе) – with private compartments of four people. On some trains, compartments may be marked as male, female, or mixed-sex by the ticketing system.
  • 3rd class – platskart (плацкарт) – with unwalled compartments of fourfold out beds opposite two beds on the window wall. There is controversy on safety of these compartments. For some these compartments are generally less safe than other classes as they allow uncontrolled access. Others point out that in an open car full of witnesses the chances of becoming a victim of a crime or harassment are less. Anyway, they provide for a much more immersive experience. Nevertheless, they will be abolished slowly.
  • Sitting class – sidyachiy (сидячий) – sitting cars for shorter distance, with seat reservation. These are mostly met on slower regional trains.

Every car has its own attendant/conductor (provodnik or provodnitsa), which check your tickets at your boarding, provides you bedding, sells you tea or snacks and can lend you a mug and spoon for about 10 руб. The conductor will usually take your tickets shortly after boarding, they are returned shortly before you arrive at your destination. At the end of each carriage you will find a samovar with free hot water for making tea or soup. Most long-distance trains have dining cars.

Bottom-bunk berths (nizhnie – нижние) are slightly more comfortable than top-bunk berths (verhnie – верхние), because they have more place for baggage under them. There are also discounts sometime for top-bunk berths only (usually not in the tourist season and not in popular directions, which are from largest towns on Friday nights, and back on Sunday nights).

Train classes:

Trains are classified according to their average speed:

  • skorostnoy (скоростной, numbered 151 to 178) – the fastest trains (seating only). Sapsan, Allegro and Lastochka trains fall here;
  • skoryy (скорый, numbered 1 to 148 all-year and 181 to 298 seasonal) – rapid trains with overnight accommodation;
  • passazhirskiy (пассажирский, numbered 301 to 399 all-year, 400 to 499 seasonal and 500 to 598 on specific dates only) – slower trains with more frequent stops;
  • mestnyy (местный, numbered 601 to 698) – the slowest trains serving most of the localities along the railways. Typically this kind of trains run shorter routes, often just overnight, for example between adjacent or next to adjacent regional centers, or sideline dead-end branches. A somewhat rough upper limit for route length is about 700 km. Colloquially sometimes called shestisotye or shest’sot-veselye trains, based on their numeration (6XX or 600-happy trains);
  • pochtovo-bagazhnyy/gruzopassazhyrskiy (почтово-багажный/грузопассажирский, numbered 901 to 998) – mainly used to deliver post and bulky baggage or goods. By railway regulation, depending on location and typically further from major centers, it may be possible to buy tickers on those trains. Where there is a choice of trains, they are inpractical, as they tend to have long stops on all major stations and thus being slower even comparing to 6XX trains. Expect a lot of police, when boarding and unboarding this kind of trains;
  • prigorodnyy express (numbered 800 to 899 and 7000 to 7999) – local express trains, both suburban, such as REXes and Sputniks and interregional, including even trains from Moscow to Saint-Petersburg. Colloquially can be called popugai (parrots) for their bright colors, though further from Moscow regular local trains can be used as expresses;
  • prigorodnyy/elektropoyezd (пригородный/электропоезд, numbered 6001 to 6998) – local or suburban trains mostly serving commuters in cities. Typically named elektrichka, or sometimes more informally sobaka (dogs). Although sometimes any kind of local trains are called elektrichka, even erroneously, their types are diverse, especially where rails are not electrified, including diesel-trains and railbuses, or short trains pulled by (usually) diesel or electric locomotive. Local trains, pulled by locomotives, also may be called kukushka (cuckoos).

Generally correspondence between numeration, speed and train types may be somewhat skewed, and trains from ‘slower’ category may actually be faster than trains from ‘faster’ category. Typically this occurs for various categories of rapid and express trains.

Service quality usually correspond to the class of train, but besides that, all-year trains usually have better service than seasonal trains, which are usually better than special dates only trains. Also according to their standards of service, some trains are promoted to firmennyy (фирменный) and given a proper brand and higher ticket price. The most distinguished trains use their special liveries.

Since 2011, dozens of local (prigorodny) trains are canceled each year due to lack of financing, and situation worsens each year. Cancellations occur everywhere over the country, except commuter zones of largest cities, such as Moscow, Saint-Petersburg, Ekaterinburg and Irkutsk. Having latest news on cancellations may be essential for trip planning. Typical cancellation traits: most cancellations occur in the start of the year, sometimes some trains are returned into timetable, if local budgets find funds to sponsor them; some trains are cut at region borders, even when there are no roads over the border to the previous train destination; other local trains got cut to 1 a day or several a week, often with timetable, not convenient for tourists.

Tickets:

Reservations are compulsory on long-distance trains, so you need to plan specifically for each leg of your journey, you can’t hop on and off. Previously, all Russian railways used only Moscow time in their schedules, which was very inconvenient and misleading, especially for traveling to the Far East, where the difference between the departure time indicated on the ticket and the actual departure time could be 7-8 hours.

On August 1, 2018, the Russian railways finally began indicating local time in their schedules.

Ticket price depends on train class and car class, as well as on season (off-peak day tickets can cost 2/3 of peak day tickets). You can check the ticket price at Russian Railways e-shop.

The best way to buy your ticket is online from Russian Railways website. Where the online system shows the train as ЭР (with a little train symbol), you should print this ticket at home, and it doesn’t need validating before boarding. For trains without ЭP you’ll need to take your receipt to a counter to pick up your ticket, and this can only be done within Russia – so you can’t use those trains for journeys that begin outside Russia.

Alternatively, buy at the station: Kassovyi Zal (кассовый зал) means ticket hall. Lines vary widely – some stations are much better organized than others, and it also depends on the season. If you find the lines unbearably long, it’s usually not hard to find an agency that sells train tickets. Commission rates are generally not prohibitive. For instance, buying your ticket to Saint Petersburg from Moscow, it is much better to walk a flight of steps from the ordinary ticketing office – there are no queues upstairs and R140 is a small premium to pay for this service.

There are many agencies selling Russian train tickets abroad – RusTrains.com, TuTu.travel, Real Russia, Russian Trains, and RussianTrain. They have foreign-language (English, Spanish etc) websites, can post paper tickets to your home address, provide customer support and offer larger number of payment methods, but prices are 30-50% higher.

Travel tips:

Travel time can vary from several hours to several days. There are more types of train between the two capitals than between any other two cities in Russia. Apart from ordinary trains, there are rapid trains (Sapsan) that run by day only and cover the 650 km between Moscow and Saint Petersburg in 4 hours. Some of the overnight trains are quite luxurious — these include the traditional The Red Arrow service and the newer, fake-Czarist-era Nikolaevsky Express, complete with attendants in 19-century uniforms. Sheets, towels and prepacked breakfasts are included in all the better trains. Shared bathroom facilities are located at the end of the train car. There are special hatches that one may use to secure the door of the compartment from the inside during the night.

Moscow-Saint Petersburg Express Train takes 5 hours of travel and costs min. 2400 руб. Trains are only slightly air conditioned. No one in the Moscow train station speaks any English, so if you are not familiar enough with Russian to purchase your train ticket in person, it is suggested that you purchase online or through your hotel concierge or travel agent before you depart. Main signages inside the train station is in Russian and English. The dining car of the express train is nicely appointed with real table linens, and an impressive menu and wine list, but is 3 to 4 times more expensive than eating in the city before and after you travel.

Stop duration may be very different, from as quick as one minute (barely enough for passengers to leave and board the train) to as long as 30 minutes. Check the timetable placed on door at the end of corridor. During stop you can buy various meals and drinks at platform from locals for pretty reasonable prices. Frequently, traders will walk through the cars between stops and sell everything from crockery to clothes to Lay’s chips.

The commuter trains are mostly hard-seat train cars. You don’t get a designated seat number — you just find space on a bench. These trains have a notorious reputation for being overcrowded, though this has declined somewhat. The trains make very frequent stops and are rather slow. For example, a 200 km trip to Vladimir takes about 3 h 30 min . They do (!) have toilets in the first and the last cars but it is going to be an unforgettable experience (use them in “emergency” cases only).

Tickets for commuter trains are sold in a separate room from the long-distance trains, and are sometimes sold from stalls located outside.

A few very popular routes, mostly between Moscow and nearby cities such as Vladimir, Yaroslavl, Tula, and others have an express commuter train that is considerably more comfortable. Your ticket will have a designated seat number and the seats are reasonably comfortable. The trains travel to their destination directly and are thus considerably faster.

Which time zone? Until August 2018, all trains in Russia ran on Moscow time, as much as 7 hours off local time in the Far East. This could be surreal, as you stumbled out of a train, platform and station hall all showing 10:00, to emerge into the gloom of a Siberian evening. But at least it was consistent, a boon for long-distance planning. Nowadays however the timetable uses local time, ever shifting as you journey east. Check tickets and timetables carefully to see which time is being used in a particular city.

BY BUS:

Most Russian cities have bus links to cities as far as 5–6 hours away or further. Though generally less comfortable than the train, buses sometimes are a better option time-wise and are worth looking into if the train timetables don’t suit you. A small number of cities, notably Suzdal, are not served by train, and thus bus is the only option besides a car.

The Russian word for bus station is Avtovokzal (Ahv-tuh-vahg-ZAHL). Most cities have just one for long distance buses and the state buses depart from there. However, in Moscow and in some other Russian cities, a number of commercial buses are available, and they generally don’t depart from the bus station. Quite often, you’ll see commercial buses near train stations. Sometimes they run on schedules, though for popular routes (such as Moscow-Vladimir, Moscow/Yaroslavl, etc.) the buses simply wait to fill up. On these buses payment is usually to the driver.

Russian buses have luggage storage, but if it’s an old Eastern-bloc bus, you may find your luggage wet at the end of the trip. You normally have to pay a “bagage” ticket for luggage.

Marshrutka:

Apart from regular buses there are private minibuses called marshrutka (маршрутка). These emerged after the fall of the Soviet Union as an alternative to the moribund public transport system. Legally, they may be licensed as either taxis or buses. They have fixed routes, but usually no timetables and no regular stations. The official designation for them is Route Taxi, (Russian: marshrutnoye taxi, Ukrainian: marshrutne taxi), hence the colloquial marshrutka).

To board one of these, stop at the roadside and wave a hand, if you are lucky and the minibus isn’t full, it will stop. In a city, it will stop anyway and offer you an option to stand in the aisle or even stand in some corner bending over sitting passengers. This is neither legal nor convenient, but very common and acceptable. You can arrange with the driver to stop at your destination. If you need to get off, you have to shout: “Остановите здесь!” (Astanaviti zdes, meaning “Stop here!”) as loudly as possible so that the driver can hear. Marshrutka will stop pretty much anywhere, even in the middle of the traffic without moving to the side of the road. At main stops the driver may wait and collect more passengers. The waiting time is unpredictable and depends on the schedule, number of passengers, competing buses, etc. There are no tickets, you pay the driver directly. He may give you a receipt, but you have to ask for it explicitly.

Marshrutkas ride both in the countryside (in this case they are more likely to have timetables) and as city transport. Sometimes they look like regular buses, which makes them hardly distinguishable from official buses. Moreover, on long-distance routes you have an option of reserving a place by phone and even buying a ticket in advance. The system is very haphazard and organized in the most odd manner. It is highly advisable to check details about particular route with drivers or at least with locals who should know the current situation in their city. In cities, never rely on the route numbers. Sometimes they match those of the official public transport, but sometimes they don’t.

BY CAR:

While trains, planes and buses will get you between big Russian cities and many of the smaller places as well, car travel can be a good way for going off the beaten path and travel at your own pace. Nevertheless if you’re not used to local road conditions and driving culture and don’t understand Russian, independent car travel can be challenging and even dangerous. Roads may be poorly marked, if marked at all, and poorly maintained, especially outside the cities and towns. Road numbers are not well marked, and direction signs are normally in Russian only.

Most federal highways (marked as M-1, M-2 and so on) are surveilled by automated systems, but minor roads are patrolled by State Auto Inspection (ГИБДД or GIBDD, though also known by its former name GAI). GIBDD roadblocks are inside every federal district border (about every 200 km). It’s very useful to have a detector for radar speed traps and a video recorder. A video record is your ultimate defence in all problem cases with GIBDD.

If you’re involved in a collision as the driver, the main rule is not to move your car and don’t leave the scene of the accident until a GIBDD inspector draws an accident plan and you sign it. Any violation of this rule may cost you 15 days of freedom. All other questions should be directed to your insurance company.

Not all highways in Russia are free: on some highways, toll gates block the way, so the traveller may need 20-60 руб per toll (may be paid by a credit card).

Petrol in some regions may be extremely bad; it’s always better to find any branded filling station.

Car rental services are expensive. If you don’t understand Russian, one option is using a private licensed guide. Guides generally provide their own cars or vans and know the roads, the customs and the countryside, making it possible to see small towns and historic sites.

BY PLANE:

The tremendous distances of Russia make plane travel highly desirable if you plan to travel to some of Russia’s more far-flung attractions. It’s worth considering for any destination that is farther than an overnight train ride. Travelling across Russia by train can sound awfully romantic, but it’s also time-consuming and rather monotonous. Nearly every major destination of interest has an airport nearby. The great majority of domestic flights are to/from Moscow, but other services exist.

The Russian domestic airline industry had an abominable reputation in the 1990s due to uncertain safety records, unreliable timetables, terrible service, old airplanes, and substandard airports. Due to substantial improvements the airline market has now mostly caught up to international standards. Aside of a very few exemptions on niche flights, all flights are nowadays operated with state-of-the-art equipment with excellent safety records. The on-time performance is very good as well nowadays with delays usually only happen in case of adverse weather conditions. On the other side, most Russian carriers have also copied carriers around the world regarding additional fees for refreshments, meals, luggage and seat selection.

Most Russian airports as well have international standards now. Lines at security and check-in are usually short but do not expect the staff to speak English. If you have done online or mobile check-in (available for almost every airline) you need to have a printed boarding pass. For those passengers doing mobile check-in, there is a small self-service kiosk at many airports that allows you to print a kind of boarding pass sticker.

Given the many different airlines operating domestic services, it is a good idea to use multi-airline flight search pages or (online) travel agencies. However, sites common in your home country does not know all carriers or do not show the lowest fares available. Therefore, use Russian sites like Biletyplus and Agent.ru.

  • Aeroflot based at Sheremetyevo airport, Moscow, is Russia’s national airline for local Russian and CIS flights and international flights to worldwide cities (Germany, South Korea, US, etc.) Prices for flights from St. Petersburg back into Moscow vary, but you can get them for about US$32 (Feb 2016) and makes this less expensive and less time consuming than taking the train. Aeroflot operates both domestic and international flights from Terminal D next to the old international terminal (now Terminal F) serving non-Aeroflot international departures. Many international flights and most internal ones are operated by Boeing and Airbus aircraft, only a few Soviet-era aircraft are left.
  • S7 airlines (ex-Siberia or Sibir Airlines) Russia’s largest domestic carrier with international service to many cities in Germany, China and ex-Soviet republics.
  • Rossiya Airlines has a substantial network based at St Petersburg Pulkovo airport to both major cities in Russia, and to western Europe.
  • UTair operates the largest aircraft fleet in Russia and ranks among the top five largest Russian carriers by passenger volume.
  • Yakutia Airlines is Siberian/Far Eastern air carrier having extensive flight network around Siberia and abroad.
  • Rusline
  • Red Wings
  • Ural Airlines
  • Nordwind
  • Nordavia operates domestic and regional services mainly in Northwest region
  • Aurora Far East regional air carrier, also serves international flights to Japan and South Korea
  • Pobeda Airlines low-cost carrier operates both domestic and international flights from Vnukovo airport
  • Nordstar (Taimyr Air Company) domestic and international air carrier
  • Azimuth domestic and international low-cost carrier based in Rostov-on-Don and, for some of its flights, in Moscow

Many of these airlines were formed out of the onetime-Aeroflot operation at their home city from Soviet times when the old Aeroflot was broken up.

For remote locations, general aviation can be the fastest option.

BY BOAT:

In the summer cruise boats are frequent on the rivers in European Russia. Most frequent cruise lines is:

Weekend cruises, from Friday to Sunday

  • Moscow – Uglich – Moscow
  • Saint-Petersburg – Valaam – Saint-Petersburg.
  • Moscow – Konstantinovo – Moscow via Moskva river

Long distance cruises:

  • Moscow – Saint-Petersburg via Lakes Ladoga and Onega, 6 nights.
  • Moscow – Yaroslavl – Astrakhan with stops in different cities
  • Moscow – Yaroslavl – Rostov-on-Don with stops in different cities.
  • Moscow – Nizniy Novgorod via Oka river.

These are the main lines, as well as other, more rare routes. Some cruise lines, like Moscow – Saint-Petersburg sold for foreign tourists. Most cruises are roundtrip, but you can use cruise ships to travel between some cities too, if you search for rare one-way routes, like Nizniy Novgorod – Moscow.

EAT:

The foundations of the Russian cuisine was laid by the peasant food in an often harsh climate, with a combination of fish, poultry, game, mushrooms, berries, and honey. Crops of rye, wheat, buckwheat, barley, and millet provided the ingredients for a plethora of breads, pancakes, cereals, kvass, beer, and vodka. Flavourful soups and stews centred on seasonal or storable produce, fish, and meats. Russia’s renowned caviar is easily obtained, however prices can exceed the expenses of your entire trip. Dishes such as beef Stroganov and chicken kiev, from the pre-revolutionary era are available but mainly aimed at tourists as they lost their status and visibility during Soviet times.

Russia has for many decades suffered a negative reputation for its food, and Russian cuisine was known for being bland and overly stodgy. However, the food scene has improved in the past years and Russia has also been known and famous for delicacies like caviar.

Russian specialities include:

  • Ikra (sturgeon or salmon caviar)
  • Pelmeni (meat-filled dumplings, similar to pot-stickers, especially popular in Ural and Siberian regions)
  • Blini (thin white flour or buckwheat pancakes, similar to French crepes)
  • Black bread (rye bread, somewhat similar to one used by North American delis and not as dense as German variety)
  • Piroshki (aka Belyashi – small pies or buns with sweet or savoury filling)
  • Golubtsy (Cabbage rolls)
  • Ikra Baklazhanaya (aubergine spread)
  • Okroshka (Cold soups based on kvass or sour milk)
  • Schi (cabbage soup) and Green schi (sorrel soup, may be served cold)
  • Borsch (Ukrainian beet and cabbage soup)
  • Vinegret (salad of boiled beets, eggs, potato, carrots, pickles and other vegetables with vinegar, mustard, vegetable oil and/or mayonnaise)
  • Olivier (Russian version of potato salad with peas, meat, eggs, carrots, and pickles)
  • Shashlyk (various kebabs from the Caucasus republics of the former Soviet Union)
  • Seledka pod shuboy (fresh salted herring with “vinegret”)
  • Kholodets (aka Studen’ – meat, garlic and carrots in meat aspic)
  • Kvass (a fermented thirst-quenching beverage made from rye bread, sugar and yeast, similar to young low-alcohol beer)
  • Limonad (various soft drinks)

Both Saint Petersburg and Moscow offer sophisticated, world class dining and a wide variety of cuisines including Japanese, Tibetan and Italian. They are also excellent cities to sample some of the best cuisines of the former Soviet Union (e.g., Georgian and Uzbek). It is also possible to eat well and cheaply there without resorting to the many western fast food chains that have opened up. Russians have their own versions of fast food restaurants which range from cafeteria style serving comfort foods to streetside kiosks cooking up blinis, shawerma/gyros, piroshki/belyashi, stuffed potatoes, etc. Although their menus may not be in English, it is fairly easy to point to what is wanted — or at a picture of it, not unlike at western fast food restaurants. A small Russian dictionary will be useful at non- touristy restaurants offering table service where staff members will not speak English and the menus will be entirely in Cyrillic, but prices are very reasonable. Russian meat soups and meat pies are excellent.

It is better not to drink the tap water in Russia and to avoid using ice in drinks, however bottled water, kvass, limonad, and Coca Cola are available everywhere food is served.

Stylish cafes serving cappuccino, espresso, toasted sandwiches, rich cakes and pastries are popping up all over Saint Petersburg and Moscow. Some do double duty as wine bars, others are also internet cafes.

Unlike the United States, cafes in Russia (кафе) serve not only drinks, but also a full range of meals (typically cooked in advance—unlike restaurants where part or whole cooking cycle is performed after you make an order).

DRINK:

Vodka, imported liquors (rum, gin, etc.), international soft-drinks (Pepsi, Coca- Cola, Fanta, etc.), local soft drinks (Tarhun, Buratino, Baikal, etc.), distilled water, kvas (sour-sweet non-alcoholic naturally carbonized drink made from fermented dark bread) and mors (traditional wild berry drink).

Beer (пиво) is cheap in Russia and the varieties are endless of both Russian and international brands. It is found for sale at any street vendor (warm) or stall (varies) in the centre of any city and costs (costs double and triple the closer you are to the centre) from about 17 руб to 130 руб for a 0.5 liters (0.11 imp gal; 0.13 U.S. gal) bottle or can. “Small” bottles and cans (0.33 liters (0.073 imp gal; 0.087 U.S. gal) and thereabouts) are also widely sold, and there are also plastic bottles of 1, 1.5, 2 litres (0.22, 0.33, 0.44 imp gal; 0.26, 0.40, 0.53 US gal) or even more, similar to those in which soft carbonated drinks are usually sold — many cheaper beers are sold that way and, being even cheaper due to large volume, are quite popular, despite some people say it can have a “plastic” taste. Corner stores/cafés, selling draft beer (highly recommended) also exist, but you have to seek them out. The highest prices (especially in the bars and restaurants) are traditionally in Moscow; Saint-Petersburg, on the other hand, is known for the cheaper and often better beers. Smaller cities and towns generally have similar prices if bought in the shop, but significantly lower ones in the bars and street cafes. Popular local brands of beer are Baltika, Stary Mel’nik, Bochkareff, Zolotaya Bochka, Tin’koff and many others. Locally made (mainly except some Czech and possibly some other European beers — you won’t miss these, the price of a “local” Czech beer from the same shelf will be quite different) international trademarks like Holsten, Carlsberg, etc. are also widely available, but their quality doesn’t differ so much from local beers. Soft drinks usually start from 20-30 руб (yes, same or even more expensive than an average local beer in a same shop) and can cost up to 60 руб or more in the Moscow center for a 0.5 liters (0.11 imp gal; 0.13 U.S. gal) plastic bottle or 0.33 liters (0.073 imp gal; 0.087 U.S. gal) can.

Cheap beer (less than 50 руб per 0.5 liters (0.11 imp gal; 0.13 U.S. gal)) may not contain natural ingredients at all and can cause an allergic reaction.

Street vendors usually operate mainly in tourist- and local-frequented areas, and many of them (especially those who walk around without a stall) are working without a license, usually paying some kind of a bribe to local police. Their beer, however, is usually okay, as it was just bought in a nearby shop. In the less weekend-oriented locations, large booths (“lar’ki” or “palatki”, singular: “laryok” (“stall”) or “palatka” (literally, “tent”)) can be found everywhere, especially near metro stations and bus stops. They sell soft drinks, beer, and “cocktails” (basically a cheap soft drink mixed with alcohol, a bad hangover is guaranteed from the cheaper ones. Many of these alcohol cocktails contain taurine and large doses of caffeine and are popular with the nightlife fans) and their prices, while still not high, are often 20-40% more than those in supermarkets. The chain supermarkets (excluding some “elite” ones) and malls (mostly on bigger cities’ outskirts) are usually the cheapest option for buying drinks (for food, the local markets in the smaller cities, but not in Moscow, are often cheaper). Staff of all of these (maybe except in some supermarkets, if you’re lucky) do not speak or, at the best, speak very basic English even in Moscow. And furthermore, staff of many markets in Moscow and other large cities speak very basic Russian (its mainly migrants from Middle Asia).

Mixed alcoholic beverages as well as beers at nightclubs and bars are extremely expensive and are served without ice, with the mix (for example, coke) and alcohol charged for separately. Bringing your own is neither encouraged nor allowed, and some (usually dance-all-night venues oriented to the young crowd) places in Moscow even can take some measures to prevent customers from drinking outside (like a face-control who may refuse an entry on return, or the need to pay entry fee again after going out), or even from drinking the tap water instead of overpriced soft drinks by leaving only hot water available in the lavatories. Any illegal drugs are best avoided by the people not accustomed to the country — the enforcement is, in practice, focused on collecting more bribes from those buying and taking, rather than on busting drug-dealers, the people selling recreational illegal drugs in the clubs are too often linked with (or watched by) police; plain-clothes policemen know and frequently visit the venues where drugs are popular, and you will likely end up in a lot of problems with notoriously corrupt Russian police and probably paying multi-thousand-dollar (if not worse) bribe to get out, if you’ll get caught. It really doesn’t worth the risk here.

Wines (вино) from Georgia, Crimea and Moldova are quite popular (although all products from Georgia are illegal). In Moscow and Saint Petersburg, most restaurants have a selection of European wines—generally at a high price. Russians prefer sweet wine rather than dry. French Chablis is widely available at restaurants and is of good quality. The Chablis runs about 240 руб per glass. All white wines are served room temperature unless you are at an international hotel that caters to Westerners.

Soviet champagne (Советское Шампанское, Sovetskoye Shampanskoye) or, more politically correctly, just sparkling wine (Игристые вина, Igristie vina) is also served everywhere in the former Soviet Union at a reasonable price. The quality can be quite good but syrupy-sweet to Western tastes, as by far the most common variety is polusladkoye (semi-sweet), similar to Asti Spumanti, but the better brands also come in polusukhoe (semi-dry) and sukhoe (dry) varieties. Brut also exists but is rare. The original producer was Abrau-Dyurso, but Ukrainian brands like Odessa and Krymskoe, are also very popular. Among quality Russian brands, the best brands originate from the southern regions where grapes are widely grown. One of a quality Russian brands is the historic Abrau-Dyurso (200-700 руб for a bottle in the supermarket depending on variety); Tsimlyanskoe (150-250 руб) is also popular. The quality of the cheapest ones (from 85-120 руб, depending on where you buy) varies, with some local Moscow and St. Petersburg brands (produced out of Crimean and southern Russian grapes) being quite good. You can buy if you do want to have a try while not paying much, but it’s wiser to stick to something better.

Good genuine kvass (квас) is non-trivial to buy. Non-refrigirated PET bottles typically contain an imitation of varying quality. A reasonably close to genuine product can be found in some supermarkets in refrigerators. The key difference is that it is specifically marked to store in a refrigerator or the bottle may explode.

In warm periods, genuine kvass can be bought from huge metal barrels on trailers (bochkas). Originally a symbol of soviet summertime, bochkas became rare after 1991. Soviet nostalgia and these trailers’ no-nonsense good functionality have given them a revival. There are also modern, plastic, stationary, upright barrel-like dispensers but these may not sell the genuine article. Towards the end of an especially hot day, avoid genuine kvass from bochkas as it may have soured.

Medovukha (медовуха) aka mead, the ancient drink brewed from many a century ago by most Europeans was widespread among ancient Russians. It has semi-sweet taste based on fermented honey and contains 10-16% alcohol. You may see it sold in bottles or poured in cups in fast-food outlets and shops.

Tea (чай) is drunk widely in Russia. Most Russians drink black tea with either sugar, lemon, honey or jam.

In most cities, quality hotels are really scarce: most were built in Soviet times decades ago and have been renovated in decor, but rarely in service and attitude. Even for a local, it’s quite a problem to find a good hotel without a recommendation from a trusted person. For the same reason, it may be really hard to find a hotel during mass tourist-oriented events like St. Petersburg’s anniversary.

Hotels in Russia may be quite expensive in metropolises and touristy areas. If you do speak a bit of Russian and are not entirely culture shocked, it is much smarter to seek out and rent a room in a private residence. Most Russians are looking to make extra money and, having space to spare, will rent it out to a tourist gladly. Native Moscovites or residents of Saint Petersburg would rather rent out to tourists than their own countrymen: foreigners are considered more trustworthy and orderly. Expect to pay US$60-70 a night (usually with breakfast prepared by your host), and the accommodations will certainly be very clean and proper if not modern. When it comes to home/family life, Russian culture is very warm and inviting.

Another useful option is short-term apartment rental offered by small companies or individuals. This means that certain flats in regular living buildings are permanently rented out on a daily basis. The flats may differ in their location and quality (from old-fashioned to renovated), but in any case you get a one- or two-room apartment with own kitchen, toilet, and bath. Additionally, the hosts provide bed linen as well as cups, plates, and other kitchen equipment. The apartment rental provides great autonomy and flexibility (e.g., there is no strict check-out time). On the other hand, you do not get certain hotel facilities, such as breakfast, laundry service, etc. The price for the daily apartment rental normally does not exceed the price for the hotel of similar quality, so it is a very useful options, especially in large cities. The negotiations are usually quite official: the host collects the data from your ID, while you get a bill and a rental agreement.

A new phenomenon has been the development of “mini-hotels” in large Russian cities. Such hotels usually (but not necessarily!) provide clean modern rooms with private baths at far lower costs than conventional large hotels, approximately US$60 vs. well over US$150. These small hotels are located within existing apartment buildings and include one, two, or more floors located a story or two above street level. They also often serve breakfast. Saint Petersburg has quite a few with more opening all of the time and some are appearing in Moscow.

Couchsurfing is very popular in Russian cities.

Food:

  • Chocolate (шоколад) — Russian chocolate is very good
  • Ice-cream (мороженое) – Russian ice-cream also especially good. In general check dairy products, you may like them.
  • Halva (халва) — it’s different from the Turkish kind (in that it’s made of sunflower seeds, rather than sesame), but Rot-Front products are really good
  • Honey (мёд) — produced around the country; sorts and quality vary dramatically, but the higher-quality are worth seeking. Moscow hosts a honey market in Kolomenskoe some part of the year. A number of honey shops working all the year round can be found on VDNKh/VVTs grounds.
  • Red caviar (красная икра) — Before buying, examine or ask if it’s “salmon caviar”, because there is a risk of “knock-off” due to about 30 species of fish which give a caviar of red colour. And this knock-off caviar often tastes bad.
  • Black caviar (черная икра) — is still possible to buy. High risk of knock-off. But it is considered a delicacy and it is expensive.
  • Sturgeon meat (осетр, белуга) and meat of other fish of the sturgeon family. Considered one of the top delicacies in Russia. Very expensive but very tasty.
  • Hard cheese — mostly produced in Altai; occasionally available from there in large stores in Moscow
  • Sparkling wine (шампанское) — Sparkling wine, “Russian Champagne” is surprisingly good (Abrau-Durso is believed to be the best brand, yet there are other good ones, too). Make sure you order it “suKHOye” (dry) or Brut. Many restaurants serve it at room temperature, but if you request it “cold” they can usually find a semi-chilled bottle. The cost is surprisingly low also, about US$10

Other:

  • Matryoshka (матрёшка) — a collection of traditionally painted wooden dolls, each one stacking neatly within another
  • Ushanka (ушанка) — a warm hat with ears (ushi)
  • Samovar (самовар) — an indigenous design for brewing tea. If you are buying samovars of value (historical, precious gems or metal, etc.), it is wise to check with customs before attempting to take it out of the country
  • Winter coats in department stores are well made, stylish and excellent values
  • Military greatcoats (sheeNEL) available in hard-to-find stores of military equipment
  • Down pillows of very high quality are to be found
  • Skin-care products. While when it comes to make up, you’ll find all the same products, that are popular on the West, a lot of people prefer locally produced skin-care products because of their superior price/quality combination. Brands to check: Nevskaya cosmetica (Невская косметика) and Greenmama
  • Gjel’ (Гжель) — porcelain with cool authentic Russian ornaments.
  • Khokhloma (Хохлома) — wooden tableware with flower-like paintings, red,gold,black colors.
  • Luxury products— Russia has become the go-to place for people seeking luxury goods. For example you can buy limited edition IPhones made with rare materials. You can buy Faberge eggs.
**All travel information has been sourced from wikivoyage. However like wikipedia, wikivoyage is an open platform editable by any member of the public. Therefore, although very useful, all above information IS INDICATIVE ONLY and must be verified prior to personal use. Moreover, if you wish to see more information please visit: https://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Russia
TOP ATTRACTIONS
PLEASE CLICK / HOVER ON THE IMAGES BELOW FOR MORE INFORMATION.
Name: Red Square
Location: Moscow, Russia
Red Square is a city square in Moscow, Russia. It separates the Kremlin, the former royal citadel and now the official residence of the President of Russia, from a historic merchant quarter known as Kitai-gorod. Red Square is often considered to be the central square of Moscow since the city's major streets, which connect to Russia's major highways, originate in the square.

The buildings surrounding the Square are all significant in some respect. Lenin's Mausoleum, for example, contains the embalmed body of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, the founder of the Soviet Union. Nearby to the South is the elaborate brightly domed Kremlin and the palaces and cathedrals of the Saint Basil's Cathedral. On the Eastern side of the square is the GUM department store, and next to it the restored Kazan Cathedral. The Northern side is occupied by the State Historical Museum, whose outlines echo those of Kremlin towers. The Iberian Gate and Chapel have been rebuilt to the Northwest.

The only sculptured monument on the square is a bronze statue of Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky, who helped to clear Moscow from the Polish invaders in 1612, during the Time of Troubles.

SOURCE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Square
Name: State Hermitage Museum
Location: Saint Petersburg, Russia
The State Hermitage Museum is a museum of art and culture in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The second-largest art museum in the world, it was founded in 1764 when Empress Catherine the Great acquired an impressive collection of paintings from the Berlin merchant Johann Ernst Gotzkowsky. The museum celebrates the anniversary of its founding each year on 7 December, Saint Catherine's Day. It has been open to the public since 1852.

Its collections, of which only a small part is on permanent display, comprise over three million items (the numismatic collection accounts for about one-third of them), including the largest collection of paintings in the world. The collections occupy a large complex of six historic buildings along Palace Embankment, including the Winter Palace, a former residence of Russian emperors. Apart from them, the Menshikov Palace, Museum of Porcelain, Storage Facility at Staraya Derevnya, and the eastern wing of the General Staff Building are also part of the museum. The museum has several exhibition centers abroad. The Hermitage is a federal state property. Since July 1992, the director of the museum has been Mikhail Piotrovsky.

SOURCE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermitage_Museum
Name: Peterhof Palace
Location: Saint Petersburg, Russia
The Peterhof Palace is a series of palaces and gardens located in Petergof, Saint Petersburg, Russia, commissioned by Peter the Great as a direct response to the Palace of Versailles by Louis XIV of France. Originally intended in 1709 for country habitation, Peter the Great sought to expand the property as a result of his visit to the French royal court in 1717, inspiring the nickname used by tourists "The Russian Versailles". In the period between 1714 and 1728, the architecture was designed by Domenico Trezzini, and the style he employed became the foundation for the Petrine Baroque style favored throughout Saint Petersburg. Also in 1714, Jean-Baptiste Alexandre Le Blond designed the gardens, likely chosen due to his previous collaborations with Versailles landscaper André Le Nôtre. Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli completed an expansion from 1747 to 1756 for Elizabeth of Russia. The palace-ensemble along with the city center is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Peterhof originally in the early 1700s appeared quite different from today. Many of the fountains had not yet been installed. The entire Alexandrine Park and Upper Gardens didn't exist.

SOURCE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peterhof_Palace
FLIGHT TIMES / MAJOR CITIES
PLEASE SEE BELOW MAJOR CITIES IN RUSSIA / CLICK OR TOGGLE BELOW FOR FASTEST AVERAGE FLIGHT TIMES FROM USA.

New York: TBC
Washington DC: TBC

New York: TBC
Washington DC: TBC

New York: TBC
Washington DC: TBC

New York: TBC
Washington DC: TBC

New York: TBC
Washington DC: TBC

...WHO ARE WE?

...WHO ARE WE?

…WHO ARE WE?
…WHO ARE WE?

My name is Manny and I would like to personally welcome you to Global Visas.

Our team is dedicated to providing a consular service which focuses on attention to detail, delivering a personal approach and with a high focus on compliance. Feedback is very important to us, therefore any comments you provide about our service are invaluable.

Our team is dedicated to providing a consular service which focuses on attention to detail, delivering a personal approach and with a high focus on compliance. Feedback is very important to us, therefore any comments you provide about our service are invaluableI have provided some of my own personal testimonials over my years in immigration below; working and leading on very large projects...

I have provided some of my own personal testimonials over my years in immigration below; working and leading on very large projects.

Please do also view our introductory video at the following web link:

https://usglobalvisas.com/personal/more/about-us

We look forward to working with you and meeting all your expectations.

Global Immigration Leader, Big 4

“Manny. You have really gone the extra mile in supporting the US Business Visitor Service. You have demonstrated real commitment and energy, working a late shift night while we try and find others to fill the position. I know that the other night you stayed until 4am. You are always so positive and your cheerful disposition and attention to detail has resulted in excellent client feedback. On Monday the key client came to London and she was effusive about the service. This is largely due the cover you provide.”

Internal stakeholder, Big 4

“Manny is a big reason why the move from (external provider) to the UK firm’s passport and visa provision has been so smooth. He’s an extremely likeable honest hard working guy who takes his role very seriously. We’re very fortunate to have him leading our dedicated team”

External client, Private practice

“Most of my contact was with Manpreet Singh Johal. He did the best job someone could imagine. Extraordinary service from his side.”

Team member, Big 4

“Working on two priority accounts is naturally pressurised especially where he has also been responsible for billing on both accounts; yet Manny delivers every time and this I believe is an exceptional quality.”

Please think before printing – click here for more info

WEB LINKS

LOCATIONS