Extravagant architecture? Check. World-class culture? Check. Vodka named after a notorious President? Check. (It’s called Putinka. Try it.)

Everything in Russia is over-the-top: the opulent churches, fairy tale castles, lavish stores and ritzy nightlife. Sprinkled with world-renowned ballet performances, classical music and literary greats – you’ll find there’s no better place to get your culture on. Whether you want to browse masterpieces by van Gogh at the Hermitage, marvel at the colours of St Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square or share a vodka toast with some locals at a hip St Petersburg bar, Russia is calling.

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Travel lightly with Intrepid. We’ve offset the main sources of carbon emissions from this trip on your behalf, including transport, accommodation & waste. Read more

Russia tour reviews

Articles on Russia

Russia travel highlights

Russia holiday information

At a glance

Best time to visit Russia

Culture and customs

Eating and drinking

Geography and environment

Top 5 Soviet Surprises of Russia

Shopping

Festivals and events

Health and Safety

Further reading

Russia travel FAQs

Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Check the Essential Trip Information section of the itinerary for more information. 

LETTERS OF INVITATION (LOI):

Most visitors require a tourist visa to enter 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.visain.ru) 

INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:

You must apply for your Russian visa in advance from your home country or your application may be refused. 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. 

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 

VISA EXTENSIONS:

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.

It is customary to leave a tip between 10% to 15% in restaurants and cafes.

Travellers will be able to find internet cafes in Russia's large cities like Moscow and St Petersburg, but less so in rural and remote areas. Internet access is available on the Trans-Siberian Railway for certain legs of the journey. This requires purchase of a local connection (around US$40), which will work with some laptops and certain 3G devices.

Mobile phone coverage is generally good in the cities and regional centres of Russia, although coverage may not be available in remote areas. Remember to activate global roaming before leaving home if you wish to use your phone while in Russia.

Travellers can expect to encounter both squat toilets and modern flushable toilets while travelling through Russia. Be prepared by carrying your own soap and toilet paper (as these aren't always provided). Additionally, some public toilets may require a small fee payment before access.

Trip on the metro = 25 RUB
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

Drinking tap water isn't recommended in Russia. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Ask your leader or hotel where filtered water can be found and don't forget to avoid ice in drinks and peel fruit before eating.

Credit cards are usually accepted by hotels, large retailers and shops but may not be accepted by smaller vendors. Always carry enough cash for smaller purchases in case credit cards are not an option. 

Travellers will be able to find ATMs in Russia's large cities and regional centres. Remote and rural areas will have less ATM availability, so prepare accordingly before venturing out of metropolitan areas.

Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance

  • 1 Jan: New Year’s Day
  • 7 Jan: Russian Orthodox Christmas Day
  • 23 Feb: Defender of the Fatherland Day
  • 8 Mar: International Women’s Day
  • 1 May: International Labour Day/Spring Festival
  • 9 May: Victory Day
  • 12 Jun: Russian Independence Day
  • 4 Nov: Unity Day
  • 6 Nov: National Unity Day Holiday

Note: Businesses may also close between New Year’s Day and Russian Orthodox Christmas in January and on Easter Monday. Many of these public holidays are religious holidays and change each year as they are celebrated on a lunar cycle. For a current list of public holidays in Russia go to: https://www.worldtravelguide.net/guides/europe/russia/public-holidays/  

 

Russia is a conservative country and being gay is generally frowned upon. LGBTQI people face stigma, harassment and violence in their everyday lives. Homosexuality isn't illegal, but promoting it (and other LGBTQI lifestyles) is. What constitutes promotion is at the discretion of the authorities. There are active and relatively open gay and lesbian scenes in both Moscow and St Petersburg. Elsewhere, the gay scene tends to be underground.

For more detailed and up-to-date advice, we recommend visiting Equaldex or ILGA before you travel.

Responsible Travel

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.

Vast collection of handpainted Russian Babushka dolls on display at market

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:

Intrepid foundation project in Nochlezhka, Russia

Nochlezhka

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