The image Russia brings is of an immense icy land full of vodka drinkers and some of the most unfair stereotypes given to a country. If you think it is lacking in color, remember the multi-colored domes of St Basil's Cathedral in Moscow or the religious icons of the Orthodox churches. Is it all so serious? Recall the ballet moves from Kirov and Bolshoi or the enchanting melodies produced by Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich or Stravinsky. From the tsars embedded in the Kremlin to some of the players on the international circuit, through geniuses of literature such as Pushkin, Dostoevsky, and Tolstoy or the creators of the addictive Tetris, much of Russia's charm comes from its people, complex, in their own way, and very humorous.
Getting to know the biggest country in the world is an odyssey full of obstacles, including the Cyrillic alphabet, a somewhat confused infrastructure, not always well-intentioned public servants, and the extent of Russia, stretching from Vladivostok to the Baltic Sea, to the Black Sea resorts.
For a week well spent on Russian holidays, divide it between St. Petersburg and Moscow, as attractive as they are distinct from each other. In both, there are palaces, churches, great restaurants and a busy cultural scene, full of theaters and concerts of the highest caliber. If you have the time and the time to spare, discover the lakes and churches of Karelia on the border with Finland. If asked for a journey of a lifetime, venture across the 10 thousand kilometers and eight time zones of the Trans-Siberian Railway, witnessing through the window of the train landscapes ranging from endless prairies to Lake Baikal.
Russia's climate is continental with two seasons (winter and summer). In the western part of Russia, the winters are long and icy; summers are very rainy, and short (from June to August) with mild temperatures (17 degrees Celsius). In the Moscow region, temperature variations can be significant from one day to another and on occasions on the same day. In the eastern part of Russia, winter extends from October to May, and summers are short and often cold. In April, the climate change between winter and summer melts snow and produces muddy terrain.
The greatest difficulty will be the language barrier on holidays in Russia. The Cyrillic alphabet is entirely different from ours. But trying to read daily (which we recommend) the everyday words on the signs, hotel, and restaurants, it slowly becomes clear. Do not expect, however, that it is common to find people speaking English in the street, even in a trade or shopping malls. Sometimes the basics they understand, but a small amount, if at all. The easiest way is to look for what you want, to laugh a little, or to choose restaurants with menus in English and with photos.
Take a city tour of Moscow with a double-decker bus on the first day when you travel to Russia. It passes the main points and greatly improves your notion of the city. The tour leaves from Red Square, and you will probably find tips in your hotel.
Use and abuse the subway. Although it seems complicated with the Cyrillic alphabet, a map in hand is very easy. There is also a color system that helps a lot. The stations are beautiful, especially in the circular line made in Stalin's time, and the trains come at intervals of less than a minute. So if you're lost do not be in a hurry to find yourself on the map. The cost of the metro in Moscow and 28 rubles (about $1.60) each time one enters, and one can do several different line changes.
In Red Square, visit St Basil's Cathedral, the Kremlin, the tomb of Lenin, the monument to the unknown soldier, the museum of natural history, the shops and - why not? - The GUM shopping mall to see what of communism is left over. There is another underground mall in front of the monument of the unknown soldier which has better prices for eating, with buffet services.
Tips in St Petersburg on holidays to Russia:
Also, do the city tour on the first day you get to the city.
The subway is also the best means of transport, being much smaller in lines than that of Moscow. It costs 25 rubles ($1.45) per entry.
It's easy enough to walk around the city with a map. Visit the Hermitage Museum. Walk along the banks of the river Neva. Nevsky Prospekt is where restaurants and shops are located and serves as a reference point among the sights. Visit the Church of the Spilled Blood. Make sure you enter and marvel at the images, all made of mosaics. See St Isaac's Cathedral, the Aurora ship and Peter and Paul Fort (located on one of the islands on the Neva).
Visit Peterhof – it is 25 kilometers from the city, on the shores of the Gulf of Finland. The outside gardens are fabulous.
Do not miss going to ballet, opera or concert performance at Mariinsky Palace, or more than one. Do not forget to enjoy the trip. A destination like Russia is worthy of being appreciated.
When searching for hotels in Moscow on Russian holidays, the reviews are unanimous: the closer to Red Square, the better, always within the so-called Garden Ring, and especially in the vicinity of Tverskaya Ulitsa. Just look at the location of the most expensive hotels in international networks to realize the great concentration of them in this region. This location is good because it allows walking to Red Square - the first tour everyone wants to do in the city - and being there so close, you can avoid the "confrontation" of the subway right away. Also, the amount of cafes and restaurants there is great (the Kamergersky Perelouk, on Tverskaya, for example, is a pedestrian street with many options). It is in this part of the city also that there are the luxurious stores.
Choose carefully the time of year you will travel to Russia. May is the ideal month. It has pleasant temperatures, prices are low, hotels and tourist attractions are newly opened and empty, and everything is flowery, preparing for the Russian summer. But spring over there can be cold, with temperatures ranging between 5 and 20 degrees Celsius.
Choosing any other time has high risks. From October to March, no way. Winter is hellish and unpredictable. Temperatures reach -20 degrees Celsius easily, with snow up to your neck. A lot of cool stuff closes, and people have a bad mood. Already in the summer, the temperatures reach 35, 40 degrees Celsius, it is very dry. Prices skyrocket, and tourist attractions are very crowded. It's difficult to get plane tickets or trains, so people generally have a poor mood.
So make an effort and choose April, August or September at the most. May is the perfect month. Anything beyond that, it gets complicated.
Almost a dozen airlines fly to Russia, with connections to several European cities. There are three international airports in Moscow and two that only operate domestic flights, the international ones are Sheremetyevo (Шереметьево), Domodedovo (Домодедово) and Vnukovo (Внуково).
If before you had no reason to know and visited Russia, now we believe that you will have plenty of reasons to want to explore this land even more!
Being mostly Orthodox, Russia is a cradle to very different cathedrals to those we are accustomed to here. Also, the palaces built for the Tsars are simply breathtaking. That of Catherine the Great - which is near St Petersburg - is an example of this.
Visiting the country of renowned writers and being able to enter their homes is very exciting. No doubt Russian literature is one of the richest in the world, and it is very present in Russian culture. Many of the writers' houses have become museums, and the visitation is open.
If you are a fan of art, on holidays to Russia you will find various exponents of the fine arts and museums as good as those of Western Europe. An example of this is the incredible Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, which formerly housed the Tsars on its three floors, is now one of the largest museums in the world.
In the same way that we are good at football, the Russians are good at chess, ballet, and classical music; it is already in the culture. Now imagine watching the Bolshevik Ballet in Russia? It's a shiver of emotion!
Being a huge country, there is no way that all Russians are blue-eyed blondes. If you go further south, the people will look Asian, but they will speak Russian. Is not that great? And I do not even need to talk about the Trans-Siberian, right? It is a dream that we will someday realize!
If your dream is to experience a real winter, come here. During this time the Russians go to the field riding sleighs.
Although on paper Russia is no longer a socialist country, the regime is everywhere. There is still the famous symbol of the sickle and hammer in almost all places and also statues of Lenin and Stalin. There is even Lenin's body that can be visited.
Get ready to eat wonderful bread and sausages. The caviar here is sold at a banana prices and the vodka as well. Enjoy trying the 9% alcohol beer on holidays in Russia.
The Russian language is beautiful and very different from anything we are used to. Women are beautiful to envy and men are much more charming than beautiful.
Mainly through Moscow and St Petersburg is very easy to get around. There are subway stations, and buses to virtually everywhere. Also, several people use their personal cars as a taxi and at a higher rate.
Russia is one of the countries with the most tradition and history in the world. However, not everyone sees it as a good tourist option. Chief nation of the now defunct Soviet Union, the country stood for almost a century without being a viable travel option for many countries. Today, the Land of Tsars is a perfect choice for those who like to combine tradition and modernity, as well as enjoy a cooler climate.
Discover the best of Russia with booked.net.Here are some of our picks of where to stay on holidays in Russia: