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Our Insider's Articles about Russia
Irkutsk makes a pretty nice exile. When Russian army officers rose up against Tsar Nicholas I in 1825, they hoped for... [Read the full story]
Between Moscow and Lake Baikal lie over 3,000 miles of track. The Trans-Siberian railroad winds through lowland plains... [Read the full story]
Steaming red brick; gold-leafed towers; thumping nightclubs; shady parks: it’s hard to pin down Russia’s capital. ... [Read the full story]
The Trans-Siberian Railway is one of the world’s epic train journeys. Stretching across two continents, the railway links... [Read the full story]
Russia’s Caucasian region is a beautiful, sweeping landscape where you can scale Europe’s highest peak, enjoy restorative... [Read the full story]
When planning a trip to Russia, it’s good to know where to start. Russia is the largest country (land mass) on earth after all. Russia is divided in two by the Ural Mountain range, which runs north and south, and the western portion of the country is where you’ll find such cities as Moscow and St. Petersburg. You can, of course, travel east of the Urals, into the arctic plains and forests of Siberia or the mountains and volcanic soils of the Russian Far East. If you do, prepare for frigid air, rustic villages, mountainous landscapes, and wild adventure in one of the least explored regions in the world. Here are tips to help guide you on your trip to Russia.
Russia borders 14 countries, from Finland and Norway in the west to China, Mongolia, and North Korea in the east. Thanks to Kaliningrad Oblast, an isolated portion of Russia roughly the size of Connecticut, Russia also borders Poland and Lithuania. Moscow is home to many of Russia’s most important tourist attractions, including the Kremlin and the Red Square, and the famous domed cathedral, St. Basil's. St. Petersburg is another must-see city. It is home to the State Heritage Museum, which holds one of the most famous art collections on earth. Another of St. Petersburg’s main draws is the wooden Winter Palace, which allows visitors to walk into the lives of Russia’s tsars.
Russia touts a beautiful coastline, too, and sun bathing and swimming are popular activities during the summer. Sochi, located on the Black Sea, is one of its most popular resort locations.
Two of Russia’s most fascinating activities are taking a river boat cruise between St. Petersburg and Moscow or taking a ride on the Trans-Siberian Railway. The latter options will take you to the city of Irkutsk, the largest city in Siberia. You’ll see the brilliant colors of Siberian architecture and be surrounded by wilderness. Lake Baikal, the deepest lake in the world, is 44 miles away.
The official currency of Russia is the Ruble, and the official language is Russian. English-language signs are uncommon; if you see any, they will be in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Though Russia is a safe country for the most part, the North Caucasus region has a history of violence and the U.S. Government advises travelers to avoid it.
Visa rules are strict and can be complicated, and it is very important to double check that you've fulfilled all of the requirements. A visa can only be acquired by applying for one before your visit. As of writing this in September 2011, you cannot get a visa upon arrival. If your visa has expired, Russia will not allow you to leave the country until a new one has been issued. Visas usually allow visitors to stay within Russia 90 days or less within a 180-day time period.