Planning a Trip to Russia


Planning a trip to one of the largest and most fascinating countries in the world can be an overwhelming experience. Especially since Russia is so extreme, epic, diverse, and whimsical.

The Russian Federation has a vast territory that covers all the major climatic zones of the world. From the Black Sea to the Arctic Ocean, it is a land of contrasts with flatlands and hilly regions on the European part of its territory, and extensive mountain ranges in the Asian portion.

Despite being such a huge country, Russia is surprisingly compact, and it’s easy to navigate by train, bus, or car. In the cities, most of the main attractions are within walking distance. The metro is a good option, as it’s clean, efficient and very safe. Buses and trams are also an inexpensive way to get around, although you may need some patience as their announcements are made only in Russian and there’s no guarantee the bus will stop where you want it to. For a quicker and more comfortable ride you can take a ‘marshrutka’, a commercial minibus that goes the same routes as the buses but is usually faster and costs a bit more. However, if you don’t speak Russian you might be in for a shock as the drivers often don’t understand what you’re saying and will drive like they are in a Formula 1 race.

For more comfort, it is possible to charter a flight, but you will need to book well in advance (at least 3 weeks) and be flexible as flights can be canceled. For a more affordable option, it is also possible to book a “seat fare” on an already scheduled charter flight on a space-available basis. Just let Bering Air know that you’re interested in doing this, and they will provide details.

When visiting the capital, it’s worth spending some time exploring its many architectural ensembles including the Peter and Paul Fortress, the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the Winter Palace, St. Isaac’s Cathedral, the Decembrists’ Square and other historic buildings from the era of revolutions that began here in 1905-1907 and again in February and October 1917.

In addition to the great museums of Moscow, there are plenty of clubs and bars with live performances by balalaika players or DJs spinning EDM music that keep partying until dawn. Then there are the countless theaters that showcase traditional folkloric performances and Chekhov’s classic plays.

Russia is a highly ethnically diverse nation, with the Russians making up the majority (81.5%). Other significant ethnic groups include Tatars, Ukrainians, Chuvash, Bashkirs, and other Caucasian peoples. The Russian language is the official language, but English is widely spoken in tourist destinations and around large business centers. It is important to learn the Cyrillic alphabet and some basic Russian phrases before your trip, as most signs, menus, and timetables are written in it. For those who want to learn the language, local tutors are available for private lessons.