Part fantasy, part historical drama, Russia reads as though it were a work of seminal fiction. A storybook landscape of castles, palaces and cathedrals, this romantic place sets the scene for a famous narrative of valiant champions, incredible riches, celebrated royalty and great tyrants. Yet the real magic of this dramatic country is its wonderfully resilient people and distinctive culture, which are a constant source of warmth in Russia’s massive backyard.
Russia Tours & Travel
All our Russia trips
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Travel along the Silk Road from Uzbekistan to Russia via Kazakhstan. Visit the trading towns of yesteryear, including...View trip details
Articles on Russia
Suzdal is frozen in time
Posted on Mon, 13 Jan 2014 by Bob Golodets
As Russia prepares to host the Winter Olympics in February, we hear from Intrepid Group Leader Boris ‘Bob’ Golodets about why he loves this time of year in his homeland… [...]Read more
Clues to communicating in Russia
Posted on Mon, 16 Sep 2013 by Sue Elliot
How do you start to wrap your tongue and mind around a language as challenging as Russian? Intrepid Group Leader, ‘Bob’ Golodets, gives us some great tips to help you [...]Read more
At a glance
- Trips Available:
- Capital city:
- 138.7 million
- Time zone:
- (GMT+03:00) Moscow, St. Petersburg, Volgograd
- Type C (European 2-pin) Type F (German 2-pin, side clip earth)
- Dialing code:
Best time to visit Russia
The open plains stretching across Siberia in the east through to the Arctic in the north determine the Russian climate. Moscow and its milder cousin St Petersburg are prone to temperatures below 0°C (30°F) from November through to March, with few daylight hours and snow. One of the best times to visit Russia is in June, July and August, which are the warmest months (these months are also the wettest so be prepared for a little rain). June is also one of the best times to head north and see the incredible 'White Nights'. Being such a large country, one of Russia’s great joys is its diversity of climatic conditions - poor weather in one location doesn’t necessarily mean poor weather for the entire country.
Geography and environment
Top 5 Soviet Surprises of Russia
Ever wonder where all those nasty Cold War nuclear leftovers ended up? At least some of them can be found in Sarov, a town converted into a nuclear facility and hidden from the world until the collapse of the USSR. Nowadays, the town is keen to show off its collection of 30 kiloton bombs, as well as a scale model of the ‘Tsar Bomba’, the largest bomb ever detonated.
2. Stalin’s Bunker
Almost too good to be true, Stalin’s elaborate bunker sits 60 metres below an athletic field in the middle of suburban Moscow. Only recently discovered and refurbished, the bunker is now open to visitors, and is complete with annotated war maps, a pool table and Stalin’s famous pipe.
3. Star City
Once the highly secret and closely guarded base of the Soviet space program, this fully functioning city northeast of Moscow now serves as a training centre for current and aspiring cosmonauts. You can even be a cosmonaut for a day yourself, if you're willing to pay a price that is out of this world.
Not for the fainthearted, Perm 36 is one of the best-preserved Soviet gulag camps, and a relic of Siberia’s tragic past. While difficult to reach, the site is a worthy memorial to the millions of people who were once forced to live there.
5. Vladivostok Fortress
The largest port city in the Pacific has a wealth of abandoned military bunkers, tunnels and even a fortress to explore, all with a colourful Soviet history. Vladivostok's wide array of dark tunnels, decommissioned guns, old battle stations and antiquated bombs will definitely get historians and army nuts excited.
FAQs on Russia
Internet access = 100 RUB per hour
Bottle of beer = 35-50 RUB
Snack at a cafe = 200 RUB
Dinner at a restaurant = 800-1,500 RUB
For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
Jan 7 Russian Orthodox Christmas Day
Feb 23 Day of the Defenders of the Fatherland
Mar 8 International Women's Day
May 1 Spring and Labour Day
May 9 Victory in Europe Day
Jun 12 Russia Day
Nov 4 National Unity Day
Dec 12 Constitution Day
Please note these dates are for 2013. For a current list of public holidays in the Russia go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/russia/public-holidays
Australia: Yes - in advance
Belgium: Yes - in advance
Canada: Yes - in advance
Germany: Yes - in advance
Ireland: Yes - in advance
Netherlands: Yes - in advance
New Zealand: Yes - in advance
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: Yes - in advance
United Kingdom: Yes - in advance
USA: Yes - in advance
LETTERS OF INVITATION (LOI)
Most nationalities require a visa for Russia. You will need a Letter of Invitation (LOI), sometimes called a Voucher or Visa Support Letter in order to apply for your visa.
You can obtain your LOI online through our local partners in Russia. Instructions and a link to the website will be sent to you at the time of booking. Read the instructions carefully and fill in the online application form. You will then be able to download your LOI instantly. Please note that we will add 3 days to the LOI duration before and after your trip dates for your convenience. If you are planning to stay longer than these dates please let us know as we will need to manually request a LOI to fit your specific travel plans.
The LOI included in the cost of your tour is for a Single Entry Tourist Visa. LOIs for other types of visas may be organised at your own expense and paid directly to our local partners, Parallel 60 (www.parallelsixty.com)
INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
You must apply for your Russian visa in advance. Visas are not available on arrival or en-route. Once you have received your LOI it is your responsibility to apply for your own visa either directly at an embassy or by using a visa agent. We do not recommend trying to obtain your Russian visa outside of your home country or place of residence as your application may be refused.
Use ONLY the information and dates on your LOI when filling in your visa application. There is no need to reference Intrepid Travel or include a copy of your itinerary as Parallel 60 is the official inviting organisation, not Intrepid. Do not be concerned if the destinations and accommodation listed do not match your Intrepid trip exactly. This information is for the purposes of obtaining the visa only, not an indication of where you must travel and stay in Russia.
DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
* Letter of Invitation (LOI)
* Photocopy of your passport
* Passport size photo (up to 4)
* Flight or other transport details - if required
* Please check with the embassy for any other specific requirements
Please be aware that visa extensions are NOT possible in Russia.
INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR TRAIN TICKET BOOKINGS:
Train tickets in Russia are booked with passport numbers. Please make sure you provide us with your correct passport number. If you have to renew your passport after booking please notify us as soon as you have a new passport number and bring your old passport with you on your trip. If we receive changes to passport numbers less than 30 days prior to departure we cannot guarantee purchase of train tickets.
We do NOT recommend travelling on multiple passports for trips that involve border crossings by train. This can cause difficulties with train ticket bookings and cause significant issues delays at Immigration.
WARNING – MIGRATION CARDS
All foreign citizens entering Russia are required to fill in a migration card. The entry portion of the card will be retained by Immigration upon arrival. The stamped exit portion of the card must be kept with your passport during your stay in Russia and submitted to Immigration upon departure. If you are not given a migration card at Immigration on arrival you must request one, even if the immigration official says that you do not need one. Loss or failure to receive the exit portion of the card will result in you not being able to travel on our trip as all hotels require this card for registration and may result in significant delays or fines upon departure. RUSSIAN VISA
It is your responsibility to obtain a double entry Russian visa for this voyage.
We require a colour scanned copy of your passport to apply for the Russian visa letter of invitation. This will get you a double entry visa. Once you have departed Murmansk for Helsinki, no further entries into Russia are permitted on this visa.
Health and Safety
Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:
From New Zealand?
Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/
Go to: http://travel.state.gov/
Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/
The World Health Organisation
also provides useful health information:
Go to: http://www.who.int/en/
Russia Travel Tips
Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.
Top responsible travel tips for Russia
1. Be considerate of Russia’s customs, traditions, religion and culture.
2. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Instead, fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water.
3. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.
4. Learn some local language and don't be afraid to use it - simple greetings will help break the ice.
5. Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.
6. Refrain from supporting businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals.
7. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.
8. Please refrain from drinking alcohol in public or on trains.
The Intrepid Foundation
The Intrepid Foundation provides travellers with an opportunity to give something back to the many wonderful communities we travel to. By donating to The Intrepid Foundation you can make a difference in local communities - in health care, education, human rights, child welfare and the protection of wildlife and the environment.
In Russia, The Intrepid Foundation proudly supports:
This Russian NGO helps the homeless people of St Petersburg with a night bus service that provides mobile care to this disadvantaged and marginalised population group. Tea, coffee, food, blankets, health care, warm clothing and links to social services help to alleviate the social disconnection and poverty these people face daily.
Image supplied by Nochlezhka.
To learn more or donate, go to: www.theintrepidfoundation.org
|Letters from St Petersburg||Victoria Hammond|
|Speak, Memory||Vladimir Nabokov|
|Russian Winter||Daphne Kalotay|
|Gorky Park||Martin Cruz Smith|
|Natasha's Dance: A Cultural History of Russia||Orlando Figes|
|A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution||Orlando Figes|
|The Brothers Karamazov||Fyodor Dostoevsky|