I have just returned from a week in Russia. 3 days in Moscow and 3 in Saint Petersburg. I was hesitant at first because I don’t speak a word of Russian and it was 15 hours of flying.
First, you need to book your flights and hotels, then you can apply for a Russian Visa. It’s going to run you about $300. You also need to contact your hotels for a special visitor’s visa, which they will send you in an email link. The tourist visa is about $5.
So to be clear, first you book your trip, then you find out if Russia will allow your Visa. Give this at least 6 weeks or panic might set in.
I learned a couple of words in Russian, because it’s the polite thing to do and it ingratiates you to the locals. I learned, ‘hello’, ‘goodbye’, ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. You can find the words online and usually there is a spoken pronunciation. Practice these words.
My reasons for Russia were
- It was cheap. 6 days with air, hotels and breakfast was $1036.
- I got tickets for the Bolshoi Ballet online before I went. Making my trip extra-spectacular.
- It was safer than the other locations that I wanted to go to in Scandinavia.
- Because it helps me learn more about the world.
I book almost all my trips via http://www.europeandestinations.com. I am not paid by them, I just want to know how I am able to book my trips so inexpensively.
Moscow and St Petersburg have Uber and wifi is everywhere. I was able to use Uber from the airports for around 1000 rubles ( $15) when the taxis were asking 8000 rubles ($120).
I found both cities to be very walkable, safe and friendly. I did try the subway, but I kept getting lost because I don’t know Russian.
I suggest you do some research before you go. I watched quite a few YouTube videos on the cities and was able to get a feeling of what I was getting myself into and what I wanted to see.
The tourist or old section of Moscow is quite compact around Red Square and the Kremlin. Pick a hotel within walking distance and you shall be fine. I stayed at the Arbat House Hotel in a very quiet section of the city. It was an easy walk to Red Square and the adjoining restaurant had excellent food which they brought up to my room.
In St Petersburg I stayed at the Nevisky Aster Hotel. It is close to The Hermitage on a lovely street just off of the main street of Nevsky Prospect. I was within walking distance of everything I wanted to see, near great and inexpensive restaurants and just a couple of feet from Dior, Louis Vuitton and Prada.
Russia, and interesting location which you may think is out of your comfort zone, but is actually very European.