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Russia Holidays

There is still a grittiness and unpredictability to Russia that makes every visit a new adventure. The sheer size and variety of locations ensures that one visit is not enough. While Moscow and St Petersburg have become showcases of western opulence, move even a short distance outside of the cities and you enter a world which has, through force of circumstance, retained its traditional ways, where idyllic villages sit nestled in forests of silver birch.

What to expect on your Russian holiday

Russia is vast. Lake Baikal, which is only two thirds the way across the country, lies east of Bangkok. 

Traffic can be hellish, particularly at rush hour, so consider travelling by metro which is efficient and clean and, particularly in Moscow, has the most beautiful art-deco stations.

Right across Russia you can expect a fairly high standard of hotel to be available in the cities, but move outside and standards drop dramatically. Do remember that most Russians, including your guide, will never be able to afford to eat in the expensive restaurants. It remains a very two tiered society of the haves and have not.s

Some ideas for a Russian holiday

  • St Petersburg, arguably one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
  • Moscow - a very modern city but look behind the façade to find the treasures of traditional Russian architecture which can still be found.
  • Lake Baikal and the surrounding areas - the cities of Irkutsk and Ulan Ude in particular are fascinating with the remnants of ethnic culture which escaped Sovietisation.
  • The Trans Mongolian express from Moscow through to Beijing with breaks at all the interesting places en-route.
  • The Golden Ring, the collection of ancient towns lying to the north of Moscow which are neither circular nor golden but steeped in history nonetheless.
  • Along the Mongolian border, in the rich green valleys of the classically beautiful Altai region, 250 varieties of peony grow wild while, in the far east, you will find the last refuge of the Siberian tiger.
  • If you've seen the films Interstellar or The Martian, it may now be time to experience the real thing. Walk in the 'space boot' footsteps of Yuri Gagarin and rub shoulders with current cosmonauts. If, after lunch, your stomach is up to it try a spin in the centrifuge machine. All this is possible by travelling to Moscow with us and visiting Star City, home to the Soviet space programme. 

Beyond the ordinary

Over the 25 years we have been arranging trip to Russia we have:

  • Organised a wedding weekend for 300 people.
  • Found a particular porcelain soup tureen in the vaults of the Hermitage.
  • Organised for a private carriage to be attached to the Trans-Siberian Express.
  • Helped find details of relatives in the Moscow archives.

OUR RUSSIA HOLIDAY EXPERTS

Our Russia experts, Paul and Katie, have both visited on numerous occasions. Nick, our chairman, has spent a great deal of  time in Russia since 1989 including travelling across it by motorbike in 2005. We also have our own subsidiary offers over there. In short, there is no one to touch us in expertise at organising trips to Russia.  

Due to our great relationships with the hotels, a handful of them work with us in Roubles. This enables us to offer savings of up to £100 per night, taking advantage of the fluctuating exchange rate. It is well worth getting in touch to talk through some of the possibilities at the Astoria and the Angleterre in St Petersburg or the Marriott Aurora and Baltschug Kempinski in Moscow. 

Russia FAQs

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Is Russia safe at the moment particularly given the problems in Ukraine?

While there was generally huge support for the annexation of Crimea, the current Ukraine situation is less popular. That aside, the issue rarely surfaces unless you start the conversation. Travelling around is as safe now as it always was. Like with any destination we always advise keeping an eye on your belongings, especially when out in busy, crowded areas and it is sensible to leave any valuables at home.

Should I ask before photographing people?
In any country you visit, we always advise obtaining permission before photographing the locals out of courtesy. Photography of the Metro, train stations, airports, government and Military buildings and instillations is prohibited, and no doubt it is a particularly sensitive subject right now so be aware.
Are there any Russian customs that I should know?

Russia has a rich heritage of traditions, so it can be hard to remember everything.

  • Russians love flowers, so if you are going to dinner in a private apartment flowers are a perfect present - always take an odd number as even numbers are for funerals!
  • Never give a gift of soap, it implies the person smells. Next best to flowers are chocolates.
  • Never show your back to someone, for example when entering a row of theatre seats, it is appropriate to enter facing the people already seated.
  • Always take your shoes off when you enter someone's apartment or house, there are usually slippers to wear.
  • Don't jay walk, the police will fine you.
Is there a dress code I should follow?

Russian women particularly take huge pride in their appearance and visitors should pack something clean and tidy if visiting the theatre, ballet or high end restaurants. When visiting churches, women must remember to cover their heads, so pack a scarf. Men should never put their hands in their pockets in church.

Can I hire a car in Russia?

Yes, but driving in Russia is not easy, particularly if you cannot read Cyrillic. Additionally Russian drivers do not always adhere to rules making driving quite problematic. It is easier to hire a car and driver.

Can I use credit cards?

In the main cities most shops, restaurants and hotels accept credit cards. Additionally there are ATM machines everywhere. Move out of the cities or main tourist centres and life is very different and you should ensure you have sufficient Roubles.

Can I pay using Euros?

Generally no. Market traders will probably accept foreign currency, but restaurants, shops etc. will only accept Roubles.

Will my mobile phone work?

Russia has an excellent mobile network, but be warned, it is very expensive to use a foreign mobile phone for calls and data. You will however find free Wifi available all over the place. 

Do I have to carry my passport with me when I am out and about?

All Russians are required to carry official identification at all times. The rules also apply to foreigners, so you should, technically, carry your passport when you are out and about.

Are taxis safe and okay to use in Russia?

Perfectly so but they tend not to bother with a meter and charge extortionate amounts. Better to get one of the smart phone apps such as  "Get Taxi" or "Uber", which work a treat in both Moscow and St Petersburg and are considerably cheaper.

Holidays

Russia - A Short Break to St Petersburg

A Short Break to St Petersburg

Over five days explore Russia’s beautiful imperial capital and some of the wonderful palaces and ...

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Russia - Lake Baikal Adventure

Lake Baikal Adventure

A seven day holiday based in Eastern Siberia on and around the shores of Lake Baikal, the oldest ...

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Russia - Jewels of St Petersburg

expert led group tour

Russia - Jewels of St Petersburg

Absorb the splendour of the Tsars in St Petersburg with a focus on some of the jewels and treasur...

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Russia: Arctic Explorer: Quest for the Northern Lights

Arctic Explorer - Quest for the Northern Lights

This 12 day compelling rail adventure takes in the beautiful cities of St Petersburg and Moscow&n...

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Russia - Golden Eagle Trans Siberian Railway

Golden Eagle Trans Siberian Railway

This is undoubtedly one of the greatest railway journeys in the world and one of the best ways to...

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Russia - Moscow & St Petersburg Highlights

Moscow & St Petersburg Highlights

A visit to both Moscow and St Petersburg gives a greater insight into this fascinating country. W...

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Moscow: War & Peace

Moscow: War & Peace

Visit St Petersburg to see the golden ballrooms of War and Peace but visit Moscow to understand i...

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Russia - The Golden Ring

Russia - The Golden Ring

Amid plains, lakes and marshes are scattered these old Russian towns. Known collectively as the&n...

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Inspiration

Vostok Soviet Rocket, Star City, Moscow, Russia

Anniversary of the first human flight into space

On April 12, 2016 Russia celebrated 55 years since the Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to fly into outer space. 
Lasting 1 hour and 48 minutes this first journey into space completing an orbit of the earth was a historical flight making space travel a reality and no longer just a fantasy. If the cosmic world interests you why not include a visit to the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in a holiday to Moscow. During a fascinating day at this research and test centre it is possible to quiz a real life cosmonaut or even try out some cosmonaut training!
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St Basils Cathedral, Moscow, Russia

Russia and the Arts exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery will exhibit masterpieces from Moscow's State Tretyakov Gallery between 17 March and 26 June 2016.

The Tretyakov gallery houses the greatest collection of Russian art in the world and this exhibition marks the 160 anniversary of the foundation of both galleries. A return exchange will see portraits from the National Portrait gallery exhibited in Moscow's Tretyakov gallery between 21 April to 24 July 2016. 
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St Petersburg View, Russia

News: A Night in the Museum

The Hermitage and Russian Museums now open until 9pm. 
Visit these stunning museums when the crowds have left for the day. Perfect to include on a short break to St Petersburg
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Matrioshka Babushka Nesting Dolls, Russia

Blog: Why now is the time to travel to Russia

"A country that was once considered one of the most expensive in the world, has become one of the most affordable."

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Client Reviews

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''Wonderful service. I must especially comment on the visa application information - invaluable. I dealt with Katie Benden and found her service incredibly efficient and charming. She really went the extra mile at all times.''

Carol Dunning

Russia
Traditional Wooden House, Russia
''Katie was always cheerful and helpful - in fact the "oldest carpet" exhibit was one of the highlights and also turned out to be Alexei's favourite item in the Hermitage!''

John Jones

Russia
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Holiday Ideas in Russia

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