When should I go?
Yes, it is wiser to start with “when” rather than with “where to” if you do not have any specific tourist sites in mind. Russian tourist destinations are spread over two continents, nine time zones and many climates; some are weather dependent. Once you decide when you want to go and what you would like to do, we will be able to advise you on destinations in Russia that will most suit your interests.
Weather and climate
Remember, winter in Russia lasts from December to February. And in some remote northern locations winter almost never ends! It can be extremely cold on the continent but mild at the seaside, even in the north. Summer is short and lasts for the three months of June to August. You can contact us if you have any questions, or find more information about specific locations here:
You should be aware of important national holidays: New Year 1-10 January, our unique Old New Year on 13 January, May 1-9 (Victory Day), 12 June (Russia Day), 4-8 November (National Union Day). It can be crowded sometimes, but you will have a chance to participate in some great events with the locals.
What is there to see and do in Russia?
Classic “Russia travel includes sightseeing in and around Moscow and St. Petersburg, visiting tourist sites of the Golden Ring with many UNESCO Heritage sites, and of course, river cruises or epic Trans-Siberian rail journeys.
We invite you to go beyond those limits and explore our other exciting tours right across Russia, the largest country in the world! Here you will find the world’s biggest lake (Lake Baikal); wildlife and volcanoes at Kamchatka Peninsula; the unique traditions of the Russian North; fascinating tours to see the different cultures of Yakutia, Siberia, Kamchatka and Chukotka; the ancient heritage of Novgorod and Pskov; the rich history of the Tsar era, and USSR heritage in Ekaterinburg; lakes and seas; volunteer programs in the national parks and small towns; fabulous cruises on Siberia’s mighty rivers; Polar and North Pole tours and cruises for the hard-core adventurer; specially-designed snow tours; cultural tours to picturesque regions abounding with ancient traditions; Nizhnyi Novgorod and cultural objects over one thousand years old!
Or why not take it one step further? You could try yachting, winter surfing, sailing, trekking, hiking, numerous and excellent sport-fishing opportunities at many rivers; or adventures like a ride in a tank? Each traveler has his or her own top list of places to visit in Russia! Use our smart tool Russia Trip Finder—to get great travel ideas, and to choose places to visit.
Most international travelers visiting Russia need a Russian tourist visa. A visa must be obtained before your trip to Russia commences. If you do not have a visa, you will not be allowed to board your planeto Russia. When entering Russia, you may be asked to present your return ticket and tourist confirmation. This, however, does not mean you must strictly follow the list of hotels and cities indicated in the itinerary. Being a licensed operator, Discovery Russia can always arrange changes to your travel plans.
Discovery Russia will provide you with two special documents. One is often referred to as a “letter of invitation” or “visa supporting letter”, which confirms your travel itinerary; another document is the official travel voucher. In some countries, you might need to come personally for fingerptints (once). More detailed information will be provided by your Discovery Russia Travel agent. You will also receive detailed visa manuals to facilitate the visa application process.Visa validity, requirements, processing time and fees vary from country to country. Please refer to our visa manuals or consult your nearest Discovery Russian Travel Planner.
Can I visit St Petersburg visa-free?
Yes, it is true. If you cruise on the Baltic Sea, and St. Petersburg is one of the ports of your itinerary, you do not need a Russian visa. However, this only applies to stays under 72 hours and for those travelling strictly with the cruise ship group. Please consult your cruise agent about the details.
What is the local currency, the Ruble, worth?
US$ The only offficial currenty in Russia is Russian ruble, credit cards are widely accepted in big cities, but you will most certainly need cash in small cities and in rural areas. Please note, that you can not pay in foreight currency - officially. Here are the currency exchange rates as of 15th Nov 2018: 1 AUD = 48 RUB, 1 USD = 66 RUB, 1 EUR = 75 RUB, 1 CAD = 50 RUB, 1 NZD= 45 RUB.
We advise all travelers do NOT change money at the airports as the exchange rate there is not good. Always check international resourses for the actual rate before you fly to Russia as currency fluctuations may happen anytime and this page is not constantly updated.
Is the metric system or Imperial system used in Russia?
Russians use the metric system: kilometres, not miles; and Celsius, rather than Fahrenheit.
What are the time zones in Russia?
Russia is the largest country in the world. You can find yourself anywhere between UTC (+2) in the West to UTC (+12) in the Far East.
Check the time zones of your intended locations here:
Will I have Wi-Fi and mobile coverage in Russia?
It is important to know how you will be connected to the rest of the world while travelling in Russia. Mobile coverage is very good in the cities and good along the main highways, though it can be unstable on board trains. Coverage is very limited in the hard-to-access places in Siberia and the Far East.
Wi-Fi is becoming more freely available not only in the major Russia tourist attractions, but also on different modes of transport. For instance, Wi-Fi is stable and free in the Moscow metro, Moscow and St Petersburg airports, as well as on board high-speed trains. Many local restaurants and cafes offer free Wi-Fi, while in hotels, charges may apply.
Is it safe to travel to Russia?
Discovery Russia operates via its own licensed local Russian tour operator with a head office in Moscow that handles all operations in Russia. The company is registered by the Ministry of Tourism in Russia and has all the necessary licenses. Only companies with such licenses are permitted to be registered in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia and are authorized to issue visa-supporting documents. If you travel with Discovery Russia, you are travelling with an official Russian travel agent.
There are many options for holidays in Russia that are suitable for families and solo travellers: from cultural sightseeing in cities to Trans-Siberian journeys, and a great selection of river cruises.
Is it difficult to understand and read the Russian language?
The Cyrillic alphabet can be difficult to read. For instance, “restaurant” in Russian looks like P-E-C-T-O-P-A-H. Sounds funny? Indeed! But apart from the two capitals of Moscow and St. Petersburg, you will rarely find street signs in English or people speaking English. Even in Moscow it is still not common to find written information in English in the museums, even the top ones (although museums and tourist buses often have English audio-guides).
Language should be taken into consideration when you choose between hiring a personal English-speaking local guide, when you are joining a guided tour or when you are travelling on your own. Note that only licensed guides are permitted to lead excursions in the top museums such as the Moscow Kremlin or the St. Petersburg Hermitage. Also, only the guides have fast-track entrance tickets and off-working-hours right of admission into the top attractions such as Hermitage.
A Russia guided tour with a certified guide will allow you to get the most out of your itinerary, and maximum flexibility during your stay in Russia.
Should I go on a small group tour or travel independently?
Many Russia tour packages seem to include the same Russian destinations and attractions, with departure dates that are fixed and not always convenient for you. Independent travel allows you more flexibility. On the other hand, travelling with a group means you’ll always have someone to talk to about what you’ve seen and experienced during your Russian vacation; as well as company for dinner! That is why we are offering optional new Advanced Travel Experiences for all of our tours—the widest collection of its kind—to all of our Russian travel destinations.
Many travelers, however, prefer private tours that allow them to completely relax and embrace their new surroundings. Your Discovery Russia tailor-made independent holiday package is all inclusive and customised to suit your—and only your—interests. From the moment you choose Russia as your next destination till we say “Have a safe flight back home!” you will enjoy an unforgettable travel experience—your way!
What’s up in Moscow?
No trip to Russia is complete without a visit to our vibrant capital of Moscow. Moscow has everything to offer, from art, culture and world-class museums to night life, and open-air and sports activities. Feel free to ask for what appeals to you most, and we shall try to work out the perfect itinerary for your Russian adventure.
Moscow now has an underground map in English, as well as street names, and important street signs in English. There is even a travel police force! These are specially-trained, English-speaking police officers who patrol the city centre, and who aim to answer your questions -in English! – and help you navigate around.
For discerning travelers, Moscow offers a great choice of high-end hotels, including world-famous international brands, and local historic hotels downtown. We have selected the top locations for you that offer the highest level of service. We shall recommend great destinations and hotels to stay in based on your preferences and expectations.
Mid-range and budget hotels are also available, but we advise that you book in advance during peak season, which is 20 December—10 January, 1—10 May, June—August and the beginning of November. Moscow is the top destination for Russians themselves, travelling on vacations and school holidays.
The Golden Ring tours and Trans-Siberian tours normally start and end in Moscow.
What is the famous Trans-Siberian rail journey?
This is a classic way to explore the largest, yet for the most part uninhabited part of the world. You will see exactly what you expect: endless landscapes with almost no people in sight, remarkable highlights and world class attractions. Trans-Siberian trains go in both directions, from East to West and from West to East. Allow at least two weeks for a one-way train journey. Trains may start or end in China or Mongolia; the Trans-Siberian is a part of the Russian railway network that connects Europe to Asia. Apparently, you will need extra visas to enter China or Mongolia (this will be arranged for you by your Discovery Russia travel specialist).
If you end your Trans-Siberian rail trip in Vladivostok, Russia, why not consider a ferry to Japan? The Trans-Siberian is indeed one of the oldest products of globalisation! By land, you can travel from London to Singapore and from Beijing to Oslo.
Allow from six to fifteen days for different types and styles of Trans-Siberian journeys. Luxury and budget trains are available, and many types of cabins exist—be assured we will find the best option for you! Trains operate throughout the year, but summer is the most popular time; the days are longer and you will see a lot more from your window. On the other hand, nothing beats the Winter Experience in Russia, the Snow Empire—a daring quest for adventurous travelers!
What is the ‘kid-friendly’ travel concept?
We know how hard it can be to leave the little ones at home and to travel for more than a few days. And what if you planned a trip for two or three weeks? Nightmare! So many things to think about. Even finding a relative or a nanny to take care of the kids for a few days can be a great problem, especially if your relatives live in another city.
We have a solution: our unique, Kid-Friendly selection of smart tours for families with kids; Take them in all the top cities and attractions, with short daily tours that won’t wear them out. Each tour has been specifically designed to keep kids entertained and allow the grownups to discover Russia. Kid-Friendly tour to Russia is an ideal balance between your parental responsibilities and your desire to explore the world!
How to choose between Russian holidays and Russian adventures?
Discovery Russia has it all. Being a local tour operator, we carefully explore all our destinations before we include them in our constantly growing portfolio. That is why we can offer you anything from a classic Moscow-St. Petersburg cruise to travel further out in the Russian North, discovering things rarely seen by Australian travellers; we can arrange a perfectly-planned, sophisticated tour around the Golden Ring; or take you rafting in the Siberian mountains.
For adventurous travelers, Russian possibilities are endless—all types of sports and experiences are available here, on one-seventh of the planet’s surface!
Be ready for anything: from the modest living conditions of camping at the remotest locations rarely visited by ordinary tourists to last-minute changes to your itinerary due to bad weather. Many fantastic locations are only accessible by air and flights are weather dependent. Satellite phone (provided to you by Discovery Russia) can be required at some destinations as the mobile coverage might be uncertain.
Russia has not typically been seen as a holiday destination, because Soviet infrastructure always lacked luxurious, classy accommodation. However, this is changing. Thanks to the Sochi Olympics, there are now world class resorts and beach hotels at the Black Sea with lots of sightseeing nearby.
From space launch tours to an off-working hours visit to the Hermitage—with Discovery Russia you have it all covered.
On what side of the road do Russians drive?
Electricity and fuel tips?
In Russia, the standard voltage is 220 V, with a standard frequency of 50 Hz. You can use an ordinary world travel adaptor, or most hotels allow you to rent one.
If you are renting a car, you will find many types of fuel at petrol stations. We recommend you buy 92 or 95 octane unleaded petrol. Diesel is also available. Electric/hybrid vehicles are not yet common in Russia, and charge stations are limited and we do not advise this option. While in the cities, petrol stations are abundant; however, in rural areas, our recommendation is that if you see a fuel station, then use it! Distances between opportunities to fill up your car can be great outside the cities.
How do I enter Russia?
To visit Russia, you must fill in a migration card, which will be handed out during your flight. The card consists of two identical parts printed either side-to-side or top-to-bottom. You need to fill out both parts, in either English or Russian. It is important that you do not lose your migration card. If you do lose or damage your migration card, you must report it to the nearest migration office within three working days of your arrival. Your Discovery Russia travel specialist will assist you.
Items that must be declared on entry to Russia:
• Amounts of cash exceeding USD 10,000, if you plan to leave the country with the money
• Items of significant value, including jewels, artwork, or antiques
• Musical instruments
• Goods with a value exceeding EUR 2,000 and weighing over 35 kg
• Weapons and drugs
• Alcohol in excess of 2 liters per adult.
• Tobacco, more than 50 cigars, 100 cigarillos, 200 cigarettes, or 250 g of pipe tobacco.
What does “visa registration” mean?
At the present time, all foreign citizens are required to register their Russian visas within seven working days of arrival. To register your visa, a copy of your passport, visa, migration card and special registration form will be taken to the local branch of the Federal Migration Service. This will be done by your Discovery Russia Travel Specialist. No action is required from your side.
The authorities will accept the paperwork and return a tear-off coupon that you must keep with you until your departure from the country, to facilitate the departure process at the airport.
Am I able to access local medical care?
We strongly recommend that all travelers who visit Russia purchase comprehensive travel medical insurance. While Russian hospitals do offer quality services, many of them restrict services to within normal business hours and/or to people willing to pay for services in advance. Furthermore, it is rare for Russian hospitals to accept insurance without payment in advance. Most patients must pay in cash and receive reimbursement from their insurance companies upon their return to Australia.
How do I make phone calls to and from Russia?
To make a call to Russia, dial: 7 + city code + phone number.
To make a call from Russia, dial: 8 10 + country code + city/area code + phone number.
To make a call within Russia between cities, dial: city code + 7 or 8 + phone / mobile number.
Public transportation in Moscow
Metro: The Metro train is the fastest way to get around the city; the Metro stations are as beautiful as museums. A single-trip ticket can be purchased for 50R ($1), which allows you to spend as much time inside the Metro network as you like. You can also save money by buying 5, 10 or 20-trip tickets—they are less expensive.
Taxi: You can use a taxi app on your phone (such as GETT Taxi or Yandex Taxi) to find the nearest available driver. Prices start from 500R ($10) for a 20-minute ride. You can also use any car on the street as a taxi. To call a street taxi, just wave one down, but be sure to negotiate the price before starting your trip.