Travel to Russia


Russia, officially the Russian Federation, is an immense country that straddles Eastern Europe and North Asia. The nation is home to vast natural resources and is a major global power. It is a highly diverse country with many ethnic and religious groups, although Orthodoxy remains the largest religion.

The Russian economy is growing, but international sanctions and the conflict in Ukraine continue to limit economic and cultural ties with the West. Travel to Russia is still possible, but visitors should be aware of increased security measures.

Terrorist threats are likely to continue in parts of the country, particularly around seasonal, festive or religious events. Visitors should take precautions, including avoiding public places, especially near landmarks and carrying identification at all times, as terrorists may attempt attacks with little warning.

Type D climates dominate much of the country, with large areas far from the moderating effects of oceans prone to hot summers and frigid winters. Mountains, birch forests and steppes are common in northern regions while central and southern parts of the country have rolling plains and fertile fields.

Before the start of World War II, Russia was a backward agricultural nation with only a handful of factories. Industrialization began with the freeing of serfs in 1861, but many landowners were concerned that factory workers would undermine their power and chose to invest their money in land and livestock instead. The Allied victory in 1945 allowed the Soviet Union to expand its sphere of influence and set in motion decades of Cold War rivalry with the West. The death of dictator Joseph Stalin in 1953 led to less repressive rule but Communist Party political dominance remained strong.

The current government is under the direction of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who is seeking to re-establish Russia’s great power status and has shifted away from democracy and cooperation with the West. He is backed by a majority of the Russian parliament and the State Duma, as well as the powerful Federation Council.

Most foreign visitors need a visa to enter Russia. The good news is that it’s easy to obtain a tourist or business visa, even for short stays of up to 30 days.

You can apply for an electronic (e-visa) or regular (paper) visa. The e-visa is available to nationals of 55 countries, but you’ll need to fulfill a few conditions before you can use it. You’ll also need to get travel insurance to cover your stay in case you need to cancel or change your plans. You’ll find more information about getting an e-visa here, including how to do it step by step and what coverage you need. Paper visas are available for a wider range of nationalities, and they allow longer stays than the e-visa. You’ll find more information about obtaining a paper visa here, including how to do it step by stage and what coverage you need. Both visa types require a passport and proof of accommodation. Whether you choose an e-visa or a traditional visa, apply early!