If you’re looking for adventure, history and entertainment, Russia is definitely the place to be!
Overview of Russian History
Under strict rule of Peter the Great, in 1721, Russia was declared an Empire and was quickly acknowledged as a world power. Russia, a country who defeated invading Nazi Germany in the 1940s, also lead the race to space; Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin, a pilot and cosmonaut, was the first human to travel to outer space, orbiting the earth in the Russian spacecraft Vostok.
In 1991, the infamous Soviet Union was dissolved and the Russian Federation was established.
Russia, known as a socialist union, is the largest country in the world stretching 6,592,800 square miles. In addition to the largest forest reserves in the world, Russia maintains the largest energy and mineral resources reserves in the world, and holds roughly one-quarter of the world’s fresh water.
Owing to the modest pressure of the Pacific and Atlantic, the majority of heavily populated regions of the nation in European Russia, in the Russian Far East; in the south of West Siberia, counting the city of Saint Petersburg and Moscow, encounter a moist and muggy continental climate.
The majority of Siberia and Northern European Russia flanked by the Pacific Ocean and the Scandinavian Peninsula has a sub-artctic climate; with tremendously harsh winters in the central provinces of Northeast Siberia, where the North Pole is located.
Minor fractions of the Black Sea coast, mainly in Sochi, hold a humid subtropical climate. Winter is arid in comparison to summer in numerous regions of Far East Russia, as other divisions of the country feel more balanced precipitation across seasons.
Your Visa to Russia
When traveling to Russia, visitors will need to secure a Visa. A foreign citizen can attain a visa to Russia only in the country of his/her citizenship. Exemptions to the rule are those who have a dwelling permit for a foreign country for over 90 days.
Be prepared to complete the following:
• Your passport should have at least 2 blank pages designated for visas. Plus, your passport has to be valid at least six months after your expected departure date
• You should have at least 2 copies of a Russian visa application, completed and signed.
• One passport-size photo which should be signed in the back
• If you are a passenger on a cruise or a part of a tour group, you should obtain a letter from the cruise line or tour group confirming your schedule, and a copy of your reference number and confirmation number for the visa, from an authorized Russian travel company
• If you are traveling solo, obtain a confirmed itinerary of hotel arrangements from an authorized Russian travel company, or from the hotel you’ll be staying at – the reference and confirmation numbers for your visa should be available
What Type of Currency Should You Use While Visiting Russia
The US dollar, British pounds, Travellers Cheques, and major credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, American Express) are commonly accepted in Russia, however, you should be prepared to bring cash, as British pounds and Travellers Cheques are not easily exchangeable and you may not be given a valuable rate of exchange.
Cash can be exchanged easily in Russia. In fact, you can find exchange booths on almost every corner of Russia, and they offer a much better rate than hotels or banks.
Keep in mind if you want to withdraw money using your credit card, utilizing a bank or ATM is always a better option. Most ATMs and banks will charge a fee which is usually around 1% – 1.5%.
If you are exchanging money at a bank, be prepared to present your passport and it may take upwards of 30 minutes.
When traveling to any foreign country it is advisable that you learn and understand a bit of the language. Understanding Russian can be a challenge so you might want to take a brief language tutorial prior to departing.
Traveling to Russia
There are many ways to reach Russia depending upon your current location. If you are already in Europe, perhaps the best way to reach Russia is by train; though there are now budget friendly alternatives via Airlines. If you are headed to Russia from the United States, the best way to get there is by plane. Be sure to shop around to secure the best rate.
Cities to Visit
Russia is a vast country which means there’s so much to see and do. To get the most out of your trip, be sure to visit these amazing cities:
• St. Petersburg, full of history
• Breathtaking Lake Baikal
• Beautiful sands of Zelenogradsk; far western region of Kaliningrad
• Wonderful, historic Yekaterinburg
• Sochi, a gorgeous Russian resort town
• Kazan, an attractive city with diverse culture and architecture
• Irkutsk, known as “The Paris of Siberia.”
• Nizhniy Novgorod, known as the most beautiful city in Russia
• Novosibirsk, known as the cultural center of Siberia