If you are thinking about traveling in Russia, it’s a good idea to find a website that is geared specifically for Russia. Even though the country has changed a lot in the last 20 years, traveling here still can be a challenge. There are many things you need to know about visas, train and airline tickets, adoption travel, fiancee visas and much more. By visiting a site that focuses just on Russia, you will be much better prepared for what awaits you when you touch down in Moscow or St. Petersburg.
Below are our best sites for traveling in Russia. Please note that it is very important that your visa and passport be in order when traveling to Russia. Be sure to read the visa and passport instructions on these sites very carefully.
Setting the Standard for Years
GotoRussia.com has been at the top of the search engines for more years than we can recall. And for good reason. This site has sections for the most important things you need to know about – Visa Services, Tour Services, Hotels and Apartments, Adoption Travel, Airline Tickets and a lot more.
The Visa Services section gives you all the details on how you need to complete your visa application online (the rules have changed in recent years – all apps must be done online). You can have the Website do all of the visa legwork for you, or you can apply for the visa yourself at the Russian consulate (this is not recommended if you are an American accustomed to Western levels of service!).
The Lodging section is nice because it gives you access to a lot of apartments for rent in Moscow and other cities. You also can reserve a room in a Russian’s apartment. Many tourists enjoy this, rather than staying at a Western-style hotel. It gives you the opportunity to meet real Russians and see how they live.
We also like the details in the Travel for Marriage section. Marrying Russian brides has become very common in the last decade. There are many scammers out there, though. GotoRussia.com provides you with many helpful tips on how to avoid being scammed. If the lady tells you she wants to come to the US on a tourist visa, have you pay for her airline ticket and not have you come to Russia, for example, watch out!
ExpresstoRussia.com markets itself as the leading provider of tours to Russia, and that is not an understatement. On the homepage, they offer tourist packages to St. Petersburg, Moscow, the Golden Ring, Trans-Siberian Express, Lake Baikal/Siberia, and you can even create your own tour. Also, they offer river cruises in Moscow, St. Petersburg, the Volga River, and also cruises in Ukraine and on the Black Sea.
We like the extensive details they provide of their tourist packages to various places in Russia. For example, they explain to you some of the history of St. Petersburg – how it was founded by Peter the Great in 1703, and the role the city played in the Revolution of 1917. The package they offer in St. Petersburg is four days and three nights for only $443, and includes a complete city tour, excursions to the Imperial suburbs of Pushkin and the Catherine Palace, and a visit to the famous Hermitage Museum. They also offer several different tours at different price points for St. Petersburg and the other major Russian destinations.
This is another site that offers many different Russian tour packages. We like this site because it has a very simple, appealing design. It is pleasing to the eye and easy for us to navigate.
One thing that is different on this site is that they offer many different tours to the nearby Baltic states of Estonia and Latvia. For example, their main Baltic tour is a 7 day trip. You take a train to the Baltic region from Moscow, and spend 2 days in Vilnius, 2 days in Riga, and 2 days in Tallinn. The Baltic regions are definitely worth a visit, because they are an interesting intersection between Western and Eastern European cultures.
This site also offers tours exclusively geared towards high school students, which is quite different.
All of these sites offer Russian tours, of course. But what stuck out to us at Russia-Travel.com was the very interesting winter tour of St. Petersburg. Most people would want to avoid the winter in Russia like the Black Death. However, the experienced Russian traveler knows that the heart of winter is in some ways the most beautiful time of year here. The air is clear and cold, the sun is low on the horizon all day long, snow is sprinkled on the buildings and trees….it is a magical time of year in Russia.
The tour on offer here includes a tour of all the usual St. Petersburg sites, but in December when it is very cold. Of course, you will spend much of your day in a heated bus and will be kept very warm! It is nice, though, to see Russia at its harshest and coldest time of year.
TravelAllRussia.com seems to focus a lot on river cruises, and we can understand why. Getting around in Russia from city to city can be challenging, given the poor roads and aggressive driving habits of many of the natives. Getting to many cities in 7-10 days is best accomplished by river.
The popular Moscow-St. Petersburg river cruise offers travelers a full day in Moscow and a city tour, including the Kremlin, a stop in the villages of Uglich, Yaroslavl, Goritsy, Kizhi Island, Mandrogi, and finally a day in St. Petersburg. You also get to spend several hours at Peterhof, Peter the Great’s very famous summer palace.
Many sailing dates are available from spring to fall in 2012. The most popular cruises are Moscow-St. Petersburg, Moscow-Astrakhan and Moscow-Rostov-on-Don.
So we know there are many sites that offer all sorts of tour options around Moscow and St. Petersburg. But as we know, there is a bit more to Russia than that. The entire western half of Russia is as large as the continental US, and then there is all of Siberia on top of that!
WaytoRussia offers cool trips to Baikal, Ekateringburg, Irkutsk, and even Vladivostok.
Lake Baikal is one of the most popular Siberian destinations, and one we highly recommend. It is good to get far out of Moscow sometimes and see the rest of Russia. Lake Baikal is the deepest freshwater lake on earth. It is actually growing in size by 3 inches per year. In a few million years, Baikal will probably be another ocean.
It is located near the city of Irkutsk in the middle of Siberia, and is a must-visit place. If you are doing a 5-6 day train ride to Moscow, it’s a great break to take a day in Irkutsk and visit Baikal. You will love the fresh air, clear water, rocky mountains and lovely forests. You can enjoy biking, camping, kayaking, and fishing and more.