Home >

Russia Travel Guide: All you need to know to visit Russia in 2023

Russia Travel Guide: All you need to know to visit Russia in 2023

Welcome to Russia

Ancient Russian cities Moscow and Saint Petersburg draw tourists in with their gorgeous architecture and old-world charm. However, there is much more to this massive country, which spans eleven time zones and sits just 85 km away from North America.

Russia is a must-visit destination with a unique culture and beautiful places, that go from towering mountains and gushing rivers to breathtaking forests and charming cities. This ultimate Russia travel guide covers everything you need to know, from travel advice, tips, and tricks, to travel information to make planning your trip a little less stressful.

Disclaimer: The US Travel Advisory declared Russia - Level 4: Do Not Travel for American citizens due to the ongoing invasion of Ukraine. The Embassy has a limited ability to assist U.S. citizens in Russia and therefore advises avoiding travel to the area currently.

Document checklist to travel to Russia

  • Tourist invitation letter
  • Valid Russian visa
  • Valid passport that will remain valid for at least six months beyond the time of your stay in Russia, with at least two blank pages
  • Bank statement showing sufficient funds for the trip (even if it is in a foreign currency)
  • Statement from your employer regarding your employment and wages
  • Medical insurance valid in the country and that covers your entire trip
  • Documents showing ownership of property in your country of citizenship
  • Your birth and/or marriage certificate
  • A return airline ticket

Essential Russia travel information

  • Currency - Russian ruble (₽). $1 is equivalent to approx. ₽62.07.

  • Daily budget for one person - $76 per day.

  • Languages - Russian.

  • Socket type - Types C and F. Russia operates on a 220V supply voltage and 50Hz.

  • Time zone - Russia has 11 time zones due to its vast size: Moscow Standard Time (GMT +3), Petropavlovsk-Kamchatka Standard Time (GMT+12), Magadan Standard Time (GMT+11), Yekaterinburg Standard Time (GMT+5), Vladivostok Standard Time (GMT+10), Yakutsk Standard Time (GMT+9), Irkutsk Standard Time (GMT+8), Krasnoyarsk Standard Time (GMT+7), Samara Standard Time (GMT+4), Kaliningrad Standard Time (GMT+2), Omsk Standard Time (GMT+6).

  • Top 3 cities to visit - Moscow, Saint Petersburg, and Kazan.

  • Top 3 landmarks/monuments - Moscow Kremlin, Red Square, and Saint Basil's Cathedral.

Visa information for Russia

Apart from the regular travel documents needed to enter Russia, local authorities also require all nationalities who need a Tourist or Business Visa to apply for an invitation letter first. You will also need to have health insurance before entering the Russian border.

The Russian Invitation Letter is an A4 document that indicates that you have been invited to Russia by an accredited Russian travel company or hotel. iVisa provides Russian Tourist and Business Invitation letters depending on the purpose of your trip.

Tourist Invitation Letter

There are two different types of tourist invitation letters available: single-entry or double-entry Both are valid for thirty days. Tourist invitation letters are only required for foreign citizens staying in hotels or holiday rentals. A formal tourist accommodation operator's address is required to process this document.

Those intending to stay with Russian nationals,such as friends or relatives, must seek consular assistance to apply for a private visa through the nearest Russian embassy or consulate.

Business Invitation Letter

Those traveling to Russia for business can apply for a one-year or three-year multi-entry business invitation letter.

You can apply for a tourist or business invitation letter online through iVisa. There are different processing times to choose from to get the document when you need it. However, a private or work visa invitation will take at least 30 to 50 days to process through the Russian embassy.

Typical costs and budget for Russia

Here is a basic guide on how to plan your day in Russia when traveling through the major cities on an average budget:

Daily spending per person - $76 a day

  • Meals - $17

  • Transport - $6

  • Entertainment - $18

  • Hotel - A hotel or hostel room for one person costs around $36; consequently, a hotel room for a couple costs around $71

One week per person costs an average of $535 and one week for a couple costs about $1,070.

Transport and ways to travel around Russia

Like in many developed countries, traveling around Russia is relatively easy, and there are many options. One of the most popular ways to navigate Russia is via train. Russia has a well-developed railway system that was started by Nicholas I in 1837.

Russia’s train system is one of the most extensive in the world, providing Moscow with nine railway stations. You can travel from Moscow to Saint Petersburg on the bullet train in less than 4 hours. Trains are the most convenient and cost-effective mode of transport in Russia.

Due to the vast expanse of the country, it may be easier to travel by plane; however, finding a flight to smaller cities may be difficult, especially in Siberia, the north Caucasus region, and the Far East.

Besides train and air travel, you can also opt for cruises, metro, bus, or hydrofoil. However, if public transport is not appealing, perhaps car rental is the way to go. You can rent a car at most airport terminals, just remember you will require an international driving permit to drive within the Russian Federation.

Safety in Russia

Russia tends to be relatively safe for tourists, but petty crime does happen. Travelers are advised to follow the same personal security procedures they would in any other country and stay alert. Russian officials and local authorities recommend taking these precautions:

  • Remain vigilant and do not leave bags unattended, as pickpockets and thieves are known for targeting tourist locations.

  • Avoid wearing flashy or expensive items, or any other items that easily identify you as a tourist.

  • Avoid walking around late at night alone.

  • Be wary of groups of begging women and children.

  • Do not accept to look after possessions for people you don’t know.

  • Do not agree to go to bars or clubs with someone you have just met.

  • Buy your own drinks and keep them in sight at all times. Drink spiking is a big concern.

  • Look after your passport at all times, especially in major transport hubs and busy areas.

  • Tell a friend or relative about your travel plans before you go and inform them about your itinerary. Make sure you have an emergency contact number.

  • Check with your mobile phone provider to make sure your phone will work in Russia. Store useful numbers like the nearest embassy and the local emergency services number.

  • Monitor local media to stay informed about the area and avoid political or social protests.

  • Adhere to all local laws.

Disclaimer: The US Travel Advisory declared Russia - Level 4: Do Not Travel for American citizens due to the ongoing invasion of Ukraine. The Embassy’s ability to assist U.S. citizens in Russia is severely limited and therefore advises avoiding travel to the area. Flights into and out of Russia are extremely limited currently; thus, US citizens in the country are advised to depart Russia immediately.

If you choose to travel to Russia during the current invasion of Ukraine, it is strongly advised to have plans in place to leave the country with little or no warning, should the situation escalate. Keep an eye on local news and updates from Russian airlines regarding the ongoing conflict so that you are prepared to take action.

Weather in Russia

The best time to visit Russia is during summer, from June to August, as the weather is relatively pleasant and not too cold, varying from 11°C/51,8°F to 23°C/73,4°F. On the other hand, the sub-zero temperatures of the cold season (December to February) turn Russia into a winter wonderland. Unfortunately, the extreme cold (-16°C/3,2°F to -5°C/ 23°F) keeps visitors away.

Popular cities and towns in Russia

  1. Moscow is the capital of Russia. Known for its grandeur and breathtaking architecture, Moscow is home to the Kremlin and the Red Square. Your trip is not complete without embracing the city's performing arts, including ballet, circus performances, and the opera.

  2. Saint Petersburg was once the capital of the USSR and played a key role for the Russian government. Now, it boasts elegant palaces and phenomenal cathedrals next to wonderful green parks. The city has many rivers and canals, with charming bridges to explore and photograph.

  3. Kazan lies on the Volga River and serves as the Tatars' capital (Turkic people). It is one of the most unique tourist sites in Russia. The city is truly a cultural melting pot where you can find everything, from tall minarets to intricate church spires and street signs printed in two languages. Indulge in the excellent local cuisine and explore sites like the stunning Kazan Kremlin.

  4. Sochi currently boasts a magnificent waterfront promenade with lively nightclubs and restaurants. Thus, it’s no surprise that it is home to some of Russia's most famous beach resorts. You can also go hiking or skiing in the nearby mountains, which hosted the Winter Olympics.

  5. Veliky Novgorod sits on the banks of the Volkhov River. It was Russia's first capital in the 9th century and still retains its ancient charm with numerous old churches and other historical landmarks like St. George's Cathedral, which is Russia's oldest monastery.

Must do and see in Russia

  1. Visit the Moscow Kremlin, which is the home to the Russian government offices, four cathedrals that were built in the 15th and 16th centuries, and several notable museums. Its whopping 250 acres of ground boast the Armoury and the Diamond Fund Exhibition.

  2. Take a canal tour in Saint Petersburg to explore its stunning waterways. With over 800 bridges and over 300 kilometers of artificial canals, there are tons to see and this is the perfect way to do it.

  3. Have a meal at Moscow’s Twin Stars Diner, a unique restaurant where the entire staff is made up of identical twins. Each pair of twins wear identical clothing and perform all the duties of their role. Alexei Khodorkovsky, who owns the restaurant, was inspired by a 1964 Soviet film.

  4. Visit Star City, a cosmonaut training center, and enjoy the unforgettable experience of being inside a simulated rocket launch or a zero-gravity flight.

  5. Go to the Moscow Cat Theatre which is a circus that revolves around felines. The show boasts more than a hundred cats “actors” and their human counterparts performing stunts like balancing on a ball or walking a tightrope.

Typical Russian foods to try

  1. Russia is renowned for its elite vodka, so it is only fitting that you make it a point to try some while visiting. There are many varieties to try, including Russian Standard Gold, Moskovskaya Osobaya, Kauffman, and Beluga Noble.

  2. Blini (Russian pancakes), which stem from the days of paganism, are very thin and unsweetened pancakes that can have any filling of your choice added to them. The traditional ones are pancakes with sour cream and salmon, caviar, or mushrooms, and if you want something sweet, you can try them with condensed milk or berries.

  3. Pelmeni is often referred to as a national dish, which is essentially traditional dumplings filled with minced meat, onion, and garlic, then boiled. The dish's origins are hotly debated as many other countries have their own versions. However, many believe that the recipe came to Russia from China through Siberia and Ural in the 15th century.

  4. Sirniki is another traditional must-have in Russia. These fried pancakes are made from a base of tvorog (quark), mixed with flour, eggs, and sugar, and flavored with vanilla extract. They are soft, creamy in the middle, and crisp on the outside and are usually served with jam, honey, sour cream, etc.

  5. Lastly, Beef Stroganoff is the ultimate Russian comfort food. During the reign of the Tsars, the Russian upper class was particularly fond of Paris. So in 1891, a French chef who worked for a wealthy Saint Petersburg family created the dish for a cooking contest, and it later became a signature dish for hostesses and upscale restaurants.

Vaccine information for Russia

Local authorities in Russia and the CDC advise all travelers to have up-to-date vaccinations, especially the following vaccines:

Chickenpox (Varicella) Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis Flu (influenza)
Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) Polio Shingles
COVID-19 Hepatitis A Hepatitis B
Japanese Encephalitis Rabies Tick-borne Encephalitis

Aside from vaccinations, Russian authorities and the CDC recommend taking extra precautions against illnesses that do not have vaccinations.

While private medical care in major metropolitan cities and tourism centers is usually well-equipped and equal to Western standards, medical care in rural areas is generally below said standards. Private medical facilities require cash or credit card payments before assisting you, unless your condition is life-threatening. Payment is expected at the time of service, and it is unlikely that U.S. insurance will be accepted as a guarantee of future payment.

Be aware that certain classes of over-the-counter cold medicines, including those with pseudoephedrine, are illegal in Russia, and you should not take them with you. If you are on specific chronic medication, carry a copy of valid prescriptions, including a notarized translation into Russian of each prescription. Prescription medication should be in its original packaging.

Russia has 12 active volcanoes

Russia’s vast landscape is home to 12 active volcanoes, which have had 18 significant eruptions over the past 1,800 years. The worst volcanic eruption happened in 1872 when "Sinarka" erupted.

Kamchatka is one of Russia's most commonly visited places with active volcanoes, as it is very accessible. The active volcanoes have over 1,000 different species of plants and are home to brown bears, sheep, and wolves. There are guided tours, but you can also explore these landscapes independently.

Fun facts about Russia

  1. The game Tetris was invented in Russia in 1984 by Alexey Pajitnov for the Electronika 60 computer.

  2. Russia is home to one of the world's most terrifying walkways: The Sochi Skybridge, which is a pedestrian suspension bridge that is 439 meters long.

  3. Europe’s longest river, the Volga, is located in Russia. The river is 3,690km (2,293 miles) long and has more than 200 tributaries.

1.2M Happy Customers 99% On Time Delivery 10 Years of Experience
Trustpilot recommended. We lead the industry in innovation and reputation

How it Works?

Fill out online application

Complete our easy online application and pay with credit card or PayPal

Fill out online application
Receive document via email

No need to deal with the embassy. We do it for you so you don't lose valuable time

Receive document via email
Enter destination

Present your Passport and the Document we provide upon entry to destination country

Enter destination

Our Customers Have Great Stories About Us