Travel Guide Russia

European Russia stretches from the borders of Belarus and Ukraine to the Ural mountains, over 1000km east of Moscow; even without the rest of the vast Russian Federation, it constitutes by far the largest country in Europe. Formerly a powerful tsarist empire and a Communist superpower, Russia continues to be a source of fascination for travellers. While access is still made relatively difficult by lingering Soviet-style bureaucracy – visas are obligatory and accommodation usually has to be booked in advance – independent travel is increasing every year, and visitors are doubly rewarded by the cultural riches of the country and the warmth of the Russian people.

Where to go in Russia

Moscow, Russia’s bustling capital, combines the frenetic energy of an Eastern city with the cosmopolitan feel of a Western one. With its show-stopping architecture – from the tsarist palaces of the Kremlin and the onion domes of St Basil’s Cathedral, through the monumental relics of the Communist years, to the massive building projects of today – and the impersonal human tide that packs its streets and subways, the metropolis can feel rather overwhelming. By contrast, St Petersburg, Russia’s second city, is Europe at its most gracious, an attempt by the eighteenth-century tsar Peter the Great to emulate the best of Western European elegance in what was then a far-flung outpost. Its people are more relaxed and friendly, and its position in the delta of the River Neva is unparalleled, giving it endless watery vistas. Visible – often ostentatious – but uneven wealth creation in both cities has made them twin figureheads for Russia’s recent high-speed renaissance.

Top image © Grisha Bruev/Shutterstock

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Fact file

Population 142 million

Area 17,075,400 sq km (including six thousand islands)

Language Russian

Currency Ruble (R)

Capital Moscow (population: 10.5 million)

International phone codet 7

Russian for beginners

Russian

Russian

Pronunciation

Yes

да

Da

No

нет

Nyet

Please

пожалуйста

Pazháaloosta

Thank you

спасибо

Spaséeba

Hello/Good day

здравствуйте

Zdrávstweetye

Goodbye

до свидания

Da svidáaneya

Excuse me

извините

Izvinéetye

Sorry

простите

Prostitye

Where?

где?

Gdye?

Good/Bad

хороший/плохой

Khoróshee/Plokhóy

Near/Far

близко/далеко

Bléezki/Dalyekó

Cheap/Expensive

дешевый/дорогой

Deshóvy/Daragóy

Open/Closed

открыто/закрыто

Otkryto/Zakryto

Today

сегодня

Sevódnya

Yesterday

вчера

Vcherá

Tomorrow

завтра

Závtra

How much is…?

сколько стоит…?

Skólka stóyit…?

What time is it?

Который час?

Katóree chass?

I don’t understand

я не понимаю

Ya ne ponimáyou

Do you speak English?

вы говорите по-английски?

Vwee gavoréetye po angliyski?

Where are the toilets?

где туалет?

Gdye tualyét?

My name is…

меня зовут…

Menyá zavóot…

What is your name?

как вас зовут?

Kak vas zavóot?

I don’t speak Russian

я не говорю по-русски

Ya nye gavaryóo pa-róosski

Can I have…

.

можно…

Mózhna…

Tea

чай

Chay

Beer

пиво

Péeva

Juice

сок

Sok

I am a vegetarian

я вегетарианец

Ya vegetariyánets

The bill, please

счeт пожалуйста

Shchyot, pazhálooista

Men’s toilet (often seen as M)

мужчины

moózhshini

Women’s toilet (often seen as Z)

женщины

zhénshini

Breakfast

завтрак

Závtrak

One

один

Adéen

Two

два

Dva

Three

три

Tree

Four

четыре

Chetéeri

Five

пять

Pyat

Six

шесть

Shest

Seven

семь

Syeem

Eight

восемь

Vósyem

Nine

девять

Déyvyat

Ten

десять

Déysyat

Russian red tape

Almost all tourists travelling to Russia require a tourist visa, which entitles visitors to a 30-day stay in the country. In order to obtain a visa, travellers need to be “invited” by a hotel. If booking accommodation in advance, your hotel can easily provide this for you. Should you not wish to book accommodation ahead, you can easily obtain a letter of invitation through a visa agency for a fee, which states that you will be staying at a randomly selected hotel. There is no obligation to actually do so once in Russia. Once you arrive in the country, your hotel will register you. Note that it’s important to register your visa within seven working days of your arrival. The Russian government has outsourced the application process to ru.vfsglobal.co.uk in the UK and www.ils-usa.com in the US. Various agencies also offer specialist help with obtaining Russian visas.

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Rough Guides Editors
8/29/2020
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