First Time to Visit Russia? Here’s What You Need to Know

Russia is the world’s largest country and offers up a huge number of tourist opportunities. From fine art to gorgeous landscapes and a diverse society. Here are some of the most common issues travels find as a first time Russia tourist and how to avoid them.

Get your Visa early
Russia has specific rules for travelers entering the country and you need to start your visa process as early as possible. We can expedite your visa if you need it on a rush basis, but here are rush fees for doing so.

Once in Russia, You need to Register
Once you enter Russia, you need to register your visa within seven days of your arrival this excludes weekends and public holidays. Many hotels will offer this service, just ask. Even families must register if you’re staying in a private residence.

Best Times to Visit
During major holidays, museums and other institutions in St. Petersburg or Moscow may have shortened hours or closed. The best times to visit Russia are between May through September with mid-June being one of the best times as it’s the peak of the White Times.

Dress to Impress When You Go Out
No guarantee you’ll make it past the doorkeepers in some of the top clubs, but dressing your best will give you a good shot at it.

Learn the Cyrillic Alphabet
It will pay off for you big time. You will be able to decipher street signs, time tables for public transportation, and menus.

Make Sure You Have Access to Extra Money
Moscow is easily one of the most expensive cities in the world and other major cities are equally expensive destinations. You may feel your wallet thinning with every restaurant meal.
Students can sometimes get discounts if they have an I.D. card to flash at museums and save on the entrance fee. A big fad in the cities is the anti-cafe where patrons pay by the minute and can enjoy snacks, coffees, Wi-Fi, and video games.

Keep Your Vodka Plain
Russians don’t add mixers to vodka. If a straight vodka shot is a rough ride for you, ask for a chaser. No one sips their vodka in Russia. It’s also tradition to consume snacks between shots.

If You Visit a Church…
Most churches in Russia are open to everyone but you need to know the basics in order not to offend. Be quiet and speak in a whisper. Women should cover their heads and bare shoulders, some monasteries and churches require women to wear skirts. Wraps are available at the door of many churches for women to use. Men should not wear hats or shorts inside of a church.

Skip the Photos of Government Buildings
You can fined or even arrested for photographing stations, official-looking buildings or military or security buildings. If you aren’t sure, don’t photograph it.

If You are Stopped by Police
It is a good idea to carry a photocopy of your passport, visa, registration on you at all times when you’re out and about. If a police officer asks to see your documents, you will have them on hand. If you are asked for an unofficial payment to expedite the service of looking over your documents, ask for an official receipt.

Russia can be a wonderful place to visit. Like all countries, it has different customs. Learn the basics and have a blast exploring this beautiful country.

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