Russia is enigmatic to many American travelers: visions of this expansive country are hazy, yet vivid at the same time. People might think of the following things when thinking of Russia: literary and poetic giants, remnants of the Soviet Union, the land of the lavish czars and czarinas, jovial and heady nightlife complete with shots of vodka, and ornate cathedrals with colorful domes and sky-high crosses, just to name a few. It`s also known for its booming folk arts and crafts industry, an industry that is key to Russia`s many ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples. Visiting many of these semi-autonomous republics are unique and exciting off-the-beaten-path vacation possibilities.
Most visitors to Russia flock to the country`s two largest cities, Moscow and St. Petersburg. Other popular tourist destinations include the Golden Ring of Russia, important to the country`s history; and the ski resort of Sochi, host of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. The largest city in Pacific Russia is Vladivostok, which is closer physically to Tokyo and Seoul than Moscow.
The best times to visit Russia vary by region. For St. Petersburg, it is better to visit from late April to early June, when crowds at tourist attractions are smaller but temperatures aren`t too cold. In Moscow, for many of the same reasons, the best time to visit are early April to late May. In other parts of the country, including Siberia, the best times to visit are July and August, because the temperatures are warmest then and there are more hours of daylight.
We recommend approximately 7-10 days based on what you want to see and do. We offer flexible vacation packages so you can select your number of nights in each city, desired hotel and activities. We suggest a minimum of 3 nights in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Russia is a very large country, so we recommend seeing it by air. Most international travelers will arrive in Russia via Moscow and St. Petersburg in European Russia, with visa in hand from the Russian Embassy or Consulate local to you; there are no visas issued on arrival for Americans visiting Russia. Most tourist visas for U.S. citizens are valid for 30 days.
The currency of Russia is the ruble (₽). U.S. dollars are not accepted. Have the correct currency on hand or be prepared to exchange your dollars for rubles upon arrival. Currency exchange desks are available at the airport, most high-end hotels and resorts, and many other places around the country.
Only about one in ten Russians speak conversational English or better. You will find the highest concentrations of English speakers and English-language signage in Moscow, followed closely by St. Petersburg. It will be difficult to converse with people outside these two cities and some additional tourist areas. Be prepared to learn basic Russian phrases like hello/goodbye, please/thank you, how much is it?, where is the bathroom?, and the numbers from 1-10. To say `Does anyone speak English?`, say `Kto-nibud' govorit' po-angliyski?`