About

The Capital of Russian Federation, the political, scientific, historical, architectural and business center of Russia, Moscow displays the country’s contrasts at their most extreme. Since it was first mentioned in the chronicles of 1147, Moscow has played a vital role in Russian history. The new millennium has brought the town many transformational changes. Modern Moscow is the symbol of Russia combining the heroic past and the great future.

The city stands on the Moskva River in Central Russia, with a population estimated at 12.4 million residents within the city limits.

Moscow’s architecture is world-renowned. Moscow is the site of Saint Basil’s Cathedral, with its elegant onion domes, as well as the Cathedral of Christ the Savior and the Seven Sisters. The ensemble of the Moscow Kremlin and Red Square is a masterpiece of human creative genius and the main symbol of the country.

There is always something going on in Moscow: exhibitions, festivals, performances, excursions, concerts, quests, marathons… that attract tourists not only from Russia but also from all over the world.

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Russia

Winston Churchill once famously described Russia as “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma”. This monumental nation remains as elusive today as it ever was. With its vast landscapes as varied and mysterious as its history, visitors will be treated to towering volcanic peaks, frozen Siberian wastelands and some extraordinarily extravagant cities. While the majority of travellers beeline for the west to marvel at the cultural delights of Moscow and St Petersburg, there is plenty to be seen beyond these two central hubs. The Golden Ring is dotted with enchanting historical towns brimming with ancient architecture; the glorious River Volga will transport you south towards the beautiful Caspian Sea where you will witness Russia at its most traditional and authentic; and the famed Trans-Siberian Railway will take you through a land of sublime natural beauty. Whether you are seeking historic cities, idyllic countryside, artistic riches, or vodka-fuelled debauchery, Russia won’t leave you disappointed.

Currency

Rouble (RUB; symbol руб). Notes are in denominations of 5,000, 1,000, 500, 100 and 50. Coins are in denominations of 10, 5, 2 and 1.

Banking

Major European and international credit and debit cards, including Visa and MasterCard, are widely accepted. American Express cards are rarely accepted.

ATMs are widely available throughout Russia, although if you’re venturing into rural areas, they may be less widespread so carry a reserve amount of cash. Most ATMs will offer English as well as Cryllic translations.

Foreign currency should only be exchanged at official bureaux and authorised banks. You will usually need your passport to change money. It is wise to retain all exchange receipts. Bureaux de change are numerous and easy to locate. Large shops and hotels offer their own exchange facilities. All major currencies can be converted in big cities.

Distances in Russia should not be underestimated, as Russia is a vast country and travel by road takes considerably more time than by train or airplane.

Public transport in the cities is comprehensive and cheap. Many services are electric transport (metro, tramway, trolleybus). Stations on the Moscow and St Petersburg metros are always elegant and often palatial.

Taxis are available in most larger cities; they can be hailed in the street, hired at a rank or booked by telephone. It is safer but far more expensive to use officially marked taxis; they are yellow with chequered signs on the doors.

Russia’s reputation for poor food is now, like so much else in the country, a thing of the past. In the cities it is possible to feast on anything that can be found in Western Europe, restaurants and cafes catering for all tastes and all pockets. With a vast array of international produce and dining experience, from fast food to high end, the visitor is left with an overwhelming selection. Move into the countryside and choice and quality are less guaranteed, but there’s certainly no need to go hungry. It is worth noting that away from the big cities it is harder to find menus in English – so a splattering of Russian vocabulary is useful.

Hotels in Moscow and other large cities include a 10 to 15% service charge. Otherwise 10% is customary.

As you’d expect Russia’s climate is hugely dependent on where in the country you find yourself. With temperatures known to hit a tarmac-melting 37°C (99°F) in the cities and fall to -30°C (-22°F) and lower during the Siberian winter, there’s no point generalising about Russia’s weather except to say, be prepared.

While the notion of visiting a snow-blanketed Moscow or St Petersburg has a definite romance, most tourists prefer to come calling in the warm summer months of June, July and August. This means the shoulder seasons of April, May, September and October are good options for visitors keen to avoid the peak crowds – prices are generally lower from September to May, and tourist sites almost invariably less crowded.

Spring is often characterised by slushy roads. And if your heart’s set on that winter wonderland, December’s the best bet. Seasonal climates apply elsewhere in Russia – Siberia can have devastatingly cold winters, while its summers are generally fairly pleasant, if a little rainy. The region of Russia near the Black Sea has mild winters, but again attracts a fair amount of rain.

Those visiting over summer should pack a mixture of lightweight and mediumweight clothing – natural fibres such as cotton and linen are best. For the winter visitor, meanwhile – layers, layers, layers. Wools and cashmeres are great material for keeping in the warmth. Sturdy shoes are always a good idea, no matter what time of year.

Wi-Fi is available within most establishments in larger cities (although they may charge) and at internet cafes. Although Russia does not ostensibly censor the internet, there is an internet blacklist of sites which you will not be able to visit from inside Russia, which includes some independent news sites.

Electrical sockets in Russia are one of the two European standard electrical socket types: The “Type C” Europlug and the “Type E” and “Type F” Schuko. If your appliance’s plug doesn’t match the shape of these sockets, you will need a travel plug adapter in order to plug in.

Electrical sockets in Russia usually supply electricity at between 220 and 240 volts AC. If you’re plugging in an appliance that was built for 220-240 volt electrical input, or an appliance that is compatible with multiple voltages, then an adapter is all you need.  If your appliances are not compatible with 220-240 volt electrical output, a voltage converter will be necessary

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