Russia is the world's largest nation with borders reaching both Europe and Asia. Moscow, the capital city, is the most heavily populated city in the country yet you would never know. If you are deciding to visit Russia here are some things to know before you travel.
Before you Arrive
Most countries are required to obtain a visa to visit Russia.
* The grey is all the countries that require a visa. If you are Canadian, read how to obtain a visa here.
Population: 12.2 million
Climate: Humid continental climate (hot or humid summers, long cold winters)
Currency: Rubles (RUB)
Official Language(s): Russian
Moscow actually has 4 airports; Sheremetyevo (31 km away), Domodedovo (45 km away), Zhukovsky (36 km away) and Vnukovo (28 km away). Vnukovo is the oldest operating airport, it dates back to the WWII. Although it is an international airport, people from countries closely only seem to fly in and out of there. Most people from USA and eastern Europe, even Asia fly into Sheremetyevo international airport. To fly to other cities in Russia you will most likely fly from Domodedovo, so those are the two that I will highlight.
Moscow has so many options to get you to the city centre from the airport and vice versa. From Sheremetyevo you can easily use the Uber Russia app to get a car. It will cost you about 1000RUB ($20CAD) but is a very safe and reliable option, especially if you arrive late. This trip will take you about 45mins to an hour, as the airport is far from the city centre. The Aeroexpress train takes about 35 minutes and takes you to Belorusski train station, from there you can take the subway to your destination. The Aeroexpress will cost you 400RUB ($8CAD) and the subway costs only 55RUB ($1CAD). There are obviously taxis as well, however there are many illegal taxis as well. Be aware that they might try to scam you and you will end up paying twice!
The options from Domodedovo Airport are the same as Sheremetyevo Int'l Airport, however the stop for Aeroexpress is different. From Domodedovo take the Aeroexpress to Paveletskaya metro station in about 45 mins. The fare will cost 500RUB ($10CAD). From there you can take the Metro to wherever you need to go.
Once in Moscow, pretty much everywhere is easily accessible by Metro.Pick yourself up a map with the stops in Cyrillic and well as English so you will know where you are going. The Metro does have the stops in English as well as Russian but it is easy to get lost your first time. Walking is always a great option but attractions are a lot further apart than they may look on a map. Uber or Gett is very useful, but you might run into traffic.
If you are travelling to Russia, it's important to know some basic Russian phrases because English is not widely spoken. Although it may not be possible to learn sentences here are some very basic phrases you might use often.
No~ Net (pronounced Nee-yet)
Hello~ Privet (pronounced Pree- vee-yet)
Thank you~ Spasibo (pronounced spy-si-ba)
What to See
When you think of Moscow, you probably think of the action movie, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. In this movie Tom Cruise went to the Kremlin in an attempt to gain information on an operation, then barely makes it out as someone bombs the fortress. Moscow is so mysterious, most of us in the Western world do not want to visit. However, if you are feeling adventurous enough to venture off to Moscow, Russia here are some attractions you will want to see. The most popular attractions are; The Moscow Kremlin, Red Square, St. Basil's Cathedral, State Historical Museum, and Bolshoi Theatre. There are tons of other attractions that aren't as popular but are just as interesting than the ones mentioned above.
The attractions are quite expensive and there are so many of them so, prioritize the places you really want to see. Visit as many free places as possible to give your wallet a break. Izmailovo Kremlin is a great place to start. It is a cultural centre and flea market. You do not have to pay to visit, only if you want to shop! Gorky Park or the Muzeon Park of Arts are both in the great outdoors. They both are beautiful green spaces with art installations and sculptures for you to see. The Triumphal Arch is a beautiful monument to commemorate the Russian victory over Napoleon With a bit of travel you can stroll around Novodivincy Convent as see where some of Russia's finest creators in the arts were buried.
What to Eat & Drink
I'm ashamed to admit, whilst living in Korea I've had this Russia restaurant on my food bucket list for about 5 years and have not gone! So, the first time I'm actually eat Russian food is actually in Russia, which is a first! Russian food consists of various meats, soups and cabbage. I actually found that the restaurants I went to served rabbit and bear, as well as, duck, lamb, beef, pork, chicken.
Must try Dishes:
Where to Stay
There are many different neighbourhoods in Moscow, each with distinct characteristics. I stayed in the Basmanny neighbourhood but didn't explore the area. Apparently the area has the more art galleries per square meter in the city. Kitay-Gorod is a famous neighbourhood. It is close to the major attractions like Red Square, Kremlin, etc. Arbat is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Moscow. It isn't crowded with tourists but still close to tourist attractions.
Welcome to Herxtravels!
I’m Hilda, the writer behind Herxtravels. Here you can find travel guides, reviews and tips whilst reading about my adventures abroad.