How to travel Russia during difficult times (2024)

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How to travel Russia during difficult times (2024)

Russia is the largest country in the world, covering more than one-eighth of the Earth’s inhabited land area, stretching from Eastern Europe to Northern Asia.

Because of this, Russia has a lot to offer. From beautiful and rich cities, to small picturesque villages where time has literally stopped, to beautiful raw untouched nature where not many people set their foot.

Combine all this with different seasons and you’ll need more than a lifetime to see and explore all it has to offer.

In this article, I’m going to cover everything you need to travel safely and easily in Russia today.

Can anyone travel to Russia today ?

The answer depends on your passport, of course, but the truth is that most nations can, and I even have the impression that the Russian government is taking steps to welcome foreign tourists. A proof of this are the new e-visa, which are only valid for several eligible countries, but it’s still a step forward.

travel Russia taiga tundra cold
Traveling around Russia can bring spectacular views. This is the frozen Jakutian tundra. I took this photo at -54 °C.

How to get a visa to travel to Russia 🛂

You can apply for two types of visa:

1. Russian tourist visa travel requirements

You’ll likely need something from this list, or, all of it

  • Letter of invitation
  • Proof of booked (sometimes paid) accommodation
  • 2x passport size photos
  • Valid insurance in Russia for the entire duration of your stay
  • A completed form from the Department of Foreign Affairs

Once you have collected everything, go to the nearest Embassy that is available (or has been assigned) for your country and apply there.

Good luck!

2. Russian e-visa travel requirements

List of designated border crossing points for e-visa
  • air checkpoints «Vladivostok (Knevichy Airport)», «Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk (Khomutovo Airport)», «Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky (Yelizovo Airport)», «Khabarovsk (Novy Airport)», «Anadyr (Ugolny Airport)», «Kaliningrad (Khrabrovo)», «Ulan-Ude (Muhino)», «Chita (Kadala)», «Pulkovo», «Belgorod», «Volgograd (Gumrak)», «Ekaterinburg (Koltsovo)», «Kazan», «Krasnodar (Pashkovsky)», «Krasnoyarsk (Yemelyanovo)», «Moscow (Vnukovo)», «Moscow (Domodedovo)», «Moscow (Sheremetyevo)», «Nizhny Novgorod (Strigino)», «Novosibirsk (Tolmachevo)», «Rostov-on-Don (Platov)», «Samara (Kurumoch)», «Sochi», «Irkutsk», «Chelyabinsk (Balandino)», «Arkhangelsk (Talagi)», «Astrakhan (Narimanovo)», «Bryansk», «Vladikavkaz (Beslan)», «Grozny (North)», «Zhukovskiy», «Kaluga (Grabtsevo)», «Lipetsk», «Makhachkala (Uytash)», «Mineralnye Vody», «Murmansk», «Nalchik», «Saratov (Gagarin)», «Syktyvkar», «Tomsk (Bogashevo)», «Yaroslavl (Tunoshna)», «Abakan», «Barnaul», «Kemerovo», «Omsk (Tsentral’nyy)», «Orenburg (Tsentral’nyy)», «Perm (Bol’shoe Savino)», «Tyumen (Roshchino)», «Ulyanovsk (Vostochny)», «Ufa», «Cheboksary»;
  • naval checkpoints «Vladivostok», «Zarubino», «Posiet», «Korsakov», «Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky», «Kaliningrad (checkpoints in the cities of Kaliningrad and Svetly)», «Vysotsk», «Big port Saint Petersburg (Marine Station, Fort Constantin, English Embankment and Lieutenant Schmidt Embankment)», «Passenger port Saint Petersburg», «Sochi (International Center for Sea Passenger and Cruise Transportation)», «Magadan», «Nikolayevsk-on-Amur»;
  • railroad checkpoints «Pogranichny», «Khasan», «Makhalino», «Mamonovo», «Sovetsk», «Saint Petersburg – Finlyandskiy», «Zabaikal’sk», «Naushki»;
  • automobile checkpoints «Poltavka», «Turiy Rog», «Bagrationovsk», «Gusev», «Mamonovo (Grzechotki)», «Mamonovo (Gronowo)», «Morskoje», «Pogranichny», «Sovetsk», «Chernyshevskoye», «Ivangorod», «Torfjanovka», «Brusnitchnoe», «Svetogorsk», «Kyakhta», «Ubylinka», «Burachki», «Vyartsilya», «Kunichina Gora», «Shumilkino», «Verkhny Lars», «Lyuttya», «Solov’evsk», «Starotsurukhaitui»;
  • pedestrian checkpoint «Ivangorod»;
  • river checkpoint «Khabarovsk»;
  • mixed checkpoints «Blagoveshchensk», «Amurzet», «Pokrovka».
List of countries that are eligible for the Russian e-visa
  • Andorra
  • Austria
  • Bahrain
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Cambodia
  • China
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Iran, Islamic Republic of
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of
  • Kuwait
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malaysia
  • Malta
  • Mexico
  • Monaco
  • Myanmar
  • Netherlands
  • North Macedonia
  • Norway
  • Oman
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • San Marino
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Serbia
  • Singapore
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan, China
  • Turkey
  • Vatican
  • Viet Nam

With Russian e-visa, you can stay in the country for maximum duration of 16 days and visa are valid for 2 months.

Is it safe to travel Russia right now ?

It is hard to answer this question without going deeper into the politics, but one thing is clear – as we have some kind of media massage in our country, they have it too.

I’m quite sure that government officials in big cities and (sort of) tourist places will be professional towards tourists and visitors, you can’t be sure about everyone in the whole country.

Remember that pretty much the whole western world is against Russia now, whether they are right or not is not the point of this article, but to understand what’s going on on the other side is.

Some local people may have a different perception of what is right, so if any advice can be given on this subject – don’t discuss politics with anyone.

travel Russia frozen lake baikal with shama ntres
The island of Lake Baikal called Olkhon is the center of local shamanism.

✈️ How to get to Russia

Because of the sanctions, it can be difficult to enter Russia directly from Western countries. Flying is not possible, and traveling by land can result in a lot of wasted time at the borders. However, there are ways and we will look at them now.

How to travel to Russia by air

If you are flying from Europe, consider a layover in Istanbul or Yerevan. These airports are easy to reach from major European cities, even with low-cost airlines, and they have several flights a day to different places in Russia.

Among the most popular Russian airlines are S7 and Pobeda. The latter is a low-cost airline.

How to travel to Russia by land

Russia has a common border with the following countries

Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia – Land borders are open, but official public transportation is not working. Use your own transportation or hitchhike.

Belarus – Land borders are open. In fact, there are no borders, so be careful because if you enter Russia from Belarus without a valid Russian visa or Russian stamp, you may get into big trouble.

Ukraine – Borders are closed

Abhazia – Land borders are open, but only from the Russian side. It is not possible to enter Georgia from Abkhazia or vice versa.

Georgia, Azerbaijan – Caucasus land borders are open

Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China – The borders are completely open. You can use land borders or fly directly into Russia.

How to get to Kaliningrad by land

Both neighboring countries – Poland and Lithuania have open borders with Kaliningrad, however Lithuanian officers tend to be more professional, so if you want to go to Kaliningrad with your own transportation, use “Chernyshevskoye” or other Lithuanian border crossing.

🎒 Independent travel in Russia

Traveling independently in Russia is very easy. There are practically no obstacles except one – the language.

Nowadays it’s much better than it was just a few years ago, but still many signs are only in Russian, and the further you get from the main city, the less English-speaking people you’ll find.

However, Russians tend to be very helpful and friendly, so despite your possible language barrier, it can be a nice experience for you.

⛅ Best time to visit Russia

Considering the size of the country, Russia can easily be seen as a year-round country. Nevertheless, some regions are better to visit in certain seasons.

Lake Baikal, Irkutsk

Lake Baikal can be visited at any time of the year and will always provide a different experience.

In spring, when the snow melts and nature wakes up, you will see a lot of beautiful flowers and many places are just starting to open after winter.

Summer is an ideal time to swim and relax around the lake. You can hike and trek around the lake. Swimming is also possible, but don’t expect to stay in the water for more than 20 minutes.

Autumn with it’s beautiful colors will be a photographer’s paradise.

During the winter time, Lake Baikal shows it’s strength while being cold but incredibly beautiful with infinite ice over it.

Yakutsk, Oymiakon, Murmansk, Vorkuta and the regions to the north

These are the places I recommend to visit in winter, and you’ll get the most out of them if you go at the beginning of February, when winter is in full force.

Why not in summer?


Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan and other large cities

Of course, you can visit them all year round, but I think it’s better to visit them in the warmer season, as during the heavy winter there’s just too much snow on the streets to fully enjoy the city. However, if you like the Christmas atmosphere, come in December!

My Top 5 experiences in Russia

1. Lake Baikal

Travel russia lake baikal shamanka
The most picturesque place on Lake Baikal. The Shaman Rock on Olkhon Island

2. Yakutsk, Oymiakon

Russia Oymiakon Jozef travel
Me in the coldest inhabited place on earth

3. Kola peninsula, Vorkuta, Salehard

Travel Russia Murmansk Aurora
Aurora Borealis just behind the Murmansk

4. Moscow, St. Petersbug

Russia Moscow bazilika in winter
St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow

5. A vibe of small villages

travel russia hospotality food
This is how I was treated in a small Russian village. No guesthouse, no restaurant. Only hospitable people.

💰 Prices, budget and costs in Russia

As a foreigner, due to sanctions, you will need to bring cash to Russia. You can exchange it later into RUBEL (RUB) – the local currency of Russia.

$1 is approximately 95 RUB

Where to exchange money

The safest way to exchange money will be in Russian bank – Sberbank. You will need a passport to change money there

ATMs in Russia

As a foreigner, you will not be able to use your credit and debit cards in Russia.

However, Russia uses its own system called MIR, which you can also use.

Open a bank account in a Russian bank

As a foreigner, you can open a bank account in Russia to deposit money and travel safely around the country. This measure was taken for the convenience and safety of foreign visitors.

Once you have a bank account, you will receive a card that you can also use for online payments and hotel reservations.

As far as I know, the only bank that allows you to open an account is Russian National Sberbank, but there may be more.
Your experiences are as always welcome in the comments section.

How much does it cost to travel around Russia?

In general, Russia is a cheap country, but there are a few places that are super expensive.

Especially Salekhard, Yakutsk, but also Moscow and St. Petersburg are not in the cheap category, but if you go to villages and even obvious tourist places, they can still be very affordable.

travel russia Moscow metro station
The metro stations in Russia are very beautiful.

How much does it cost to eat and drink in Russia?

  • Dinner in small local restaurant 400 rubles for a good meal

What are the transportation costs in Russia?

  • Marhutka, Russian shared taxi, usually costs up to 90 rubles for a ride
  • Taxi prices usually start from 150 rubles
  • The prices of trains and airplanes are almost the same, considering the distances. You can travel from Moscow to Irkutsk for less than 7000 rubles.

What is the cost of accommodation in Russia?

  • Price of a dormitory room is usually between 250 rubles and 500 rubles
  • Single or double room from 600 to 2000 rubles
  • A better hotel can cost about 5000 rubles

🚌 Getting around in Russia: transportation

Transportation in Russia is surprisingly well organized and inexpensive. It’s no problem to go almost anywhere by minibus, called a marshutka, and if the minibus doesn’t go there, taxis are cheap and often used by locals. The biggest attraction, of course, is rail transportation, especially the famous Trans-Siberian Railway.

travel russia railway station busy
Railway station in Russia when traveling on Transsiberian trains

How to get around Russia by train

Read my full guide to traveling around Russia by train

How to travel around Russia by plane

The most popular airlines are S7 and Pobeda.

Tickets can be purchased on their respective websites

How to travel with a marshutka, a Russian shared taxi

Marshutkas are small minibuses and traveling by them is considered a real local experience. They are very cheap, usually cost less than $1, for which you can ride with the driver until he decides to stop.

Yes, the driver decides when the marhutka leaves and that’s usually when it’s full.
On the bright side is that marshutka will stop you anywhere, whether you want to hop in or get out.

Russian Marshutka
Russian Marshutka

How to hitchhike in Russia

Hitchhiking has a long tradition in Russia, and you can see locals doing it as well.

While in the city you may be asked to pay the driver, in the countryside the ride is usually free, especially if you’re a foreigner.

In some cities you can see an interesting way of hitchhiking. People stand on the side of the road and wait. Car stops, hitchhiker says the destination and the price he is willing to offer.
Then the driver either tells him to get in or drives away – without saying anything.

Travel to a remote areas of Russia

There are some areas that can only be visited with special permission from a Russian government or local municipality.

Ordinary tourists will not get there anyway, but if you are planning an expedition, you should be aware of this.

travel Russia frozen baikal lake
Infinite view of frozen Lake Baikal. Outside temperature below -30 °C

ℹ Information about the country, the Russians and their culture

Russians, like any other Slavic nation, are very hospitable people. Nevertheless, they way of acting, interacting with people can sometimes be misinterpreted by foreigners who are used to a softer tone of voice and not so direct approach.

Also, the further north you go, the less people speak, but I think this is quite common in other northern nations as well.

It is important to understand the culture a bit, especially if you decide to hitchhike or have other intensive interactions with locals. Knowledge of the Russian language would be very useful, but in most cases you can get along with just a simple smile.

In Russian eyes, foreigners always smile, so if you stop doing that, it will surely be something suspicious – just as suspicious as when Russians suddenly start smiling out of nothing! 🙂

You may also notice that Russians have a lot of respect for the elderly and women. It is common for a bus driver to stop and call out to a teenager who has forgotten to give up his seat to an elderly lady.

Also, in the usual Russian family, the wife’s money is the wife’s money and the husband’s money is the family’s money. Family roles are very strictly set and generally Russian nation is very conservative which they are proud of.

🍲 Russian Kitchen

Russian cuisine is like any other Slavic cuisine full of heavy food. Potatoes, bread and meat are common. Still, vegetarians can easily survive there, even in the countryside, although they may face some strange looks.

Also be aware that chicken or fish is usually not considered meat, so if you get lost in translation, you may end up with something on your plate that you don’t really want.

Still, Russian cuisine is very delicious and food in Russia is literally on every step, so sometimes it is hard to resist the sweet voices of old babushkas and not buy something from them, even if you are not hungry.

travel russia frozen fish in yakutsk
In Yakutsk, the capital of Yakutia, fish and other meats are sold on the street without refrigerators. Interesting fact is that they still use refrigerators at home, because defrosting from -20 °C is easier and faster than defrosting from -50 °C, which is the usual temperature outside.

Popular dishes are:


Although originally from the Ukraine, it was quickly adopted in Russia. A red cabbage soup, can be made with or without meat, so suitable for a vegetarian too.


These are small puff pastries that are baked or fried and filled with potatoes, meat, cabbage, or cheese.


Pelmeni is considered to be the national dish of Russia. Typically filled with ground meat and wrapped in a thin, noodle-like dough.


A blini is a wheat pancake rolled up with a variety of fillings: jam, cheese, sour cream, caviar, onions, or even chocolate syrup.

Alcohol in Russia

Contrary to popular opinion, there are many Russians who don’t touch alcohol and their decision is well respected.

I must say that among the people I know from Russia, only a small percentage of people drink alcohol.
I also never saw any bottles or any kind of alcohol fun among locals in the train or other public places.

Felt to mention this here

💻 Internet in Russia

Internet is fast and cheap in Russia. 4G coverage is usually very good and Wifi is excellent.

Public wifi in Russia

I would not be afraid to use hotel wifi, but public wifi is a risk. There are a lot of scammers, so be careful.
Internet is not limited and you can surf almost without restrictions.

SIM card in Russia

SIM cards are available for travelers with unlimited bundles at an affordable price. Considering that you get a SIM card that works all over Russia is incredible. Coverage is good, speed detto.

Expect to show passport when you buy as SIM card.

travel Russia baikal shaman
The border of the shaman territory at Lake Baikal

Learn more 💬

Visit Countries page for more information about each country

All my travel guides and articles for Russia

My travel guides for other neighboring countries







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