Real Russia Blog

Real Russia’s guide to exploring Russia on a budget

Real Russia’s guide to exploring Russia on a budget

Our top tips on how to explore Russia on a budget

Travel is a way of life for many of us from relaxing beach holidays to culture-rich city breaks. However, cost remains the main factor when deciding on a holiday and during these uncertain economic times will likely remain a crucial factor for some time to come. The fact is, travel doesn’t always have to be expensive, there are many ways to save money from booking in advance to buying city passes and shopping as the locals do. We have organised our top tips on how you can save money on your next trip to Russia.

Book trains in advance

Booking trains in advance is the easiest way to save money on travel. Not only does this guarantee you a way to your next destination it will also give you more seat or class options. Train ticket costs are often determined by availability, therefore travelling on off-peak trains is always recommend where possible, although you may find that during busy tourist seasons these seats are also hard to come by, especially on the most popular routes such as Moscow – St Petersburg. Take a look at our discounts and coefficients page for Russian trains to find out more about the best times to travel.

Use sleeper trains for longer journeys

Russian Train at Station Russian Train at Station

If you have plenty of time on your hands, choosing a sleeper train over high-speed options can be a great way to save money. Russian sleeper trains are fairly standard in what they offer and so you can be sure you will have a decent bed to sleep in, a place to get food and a place to wash. As you would already be paying for a train ticket, using a sleeper train saves you booking a hotel room for a night which can be expensive in cities such as Moscow and St Petersburg, particularly around the peak holiday season.

Take advantage of discounts and passes

You can get discounts for almost anything if you look hard enough, this is no exception for travel. Take advantage of seasonal promotions on tours where you can and consider travelling out of season to get the most of your money, especially if you don’t mind the weather! City attraction passes can be bought at information kiosks around major cities or online, so if you plan on sticking around, consider purchasing a city pass – these can give you free entry to many attractions but also come with additional benefits such as discounted bus or metro travel. For example, the Moscow city pass includes discounts on restaurants, bars and taxis as well as priority when queuing for major attractions. Many train companies offer a student or elderly pass that entitles you to discounts of around 30% on journeys that are taken off-peak.

Stock up on supplies at local supermarkets

A surprising amount of money is spent on food when travelling and it is often the easiest thing to exploit. Station platforms, airport lounges and transport will almost always have a place for you to buy food and drink – most trains, for example, include a restaurant carriage, although you can guarantee that you will be paying a premium on anything you buy. Taking a bit of time to stock up at a local supermarket or corner shop before getting to a station or airport will save you having to pay a premium on most items.

Don’t hang around the main tourist areas

Tourists in Red Square, Moscow Tourists in Red Square, Moscow

As tourists, attractions are what we come to see. Visiting Moscow without a trip to the Kremlin is unlikely right? Unfortunately, while places of great public interest, they are also hotspots for retailers wanting to make the most of passing trade. While you should never sacrifice enjoyment for expense (I mean you are on holiday after all!) a lot can be said for stepping away from the bustling tourist areas once in a while. You will often find great local restaurants, souvenir shops and bars just a few streets away and they are usually working at a fraction of the price. Student districts can be found in most major cities and are fully catered to travellers on a budget – we recommend taking a bit of time to check up on the student-friendly areas before you visit as this can be a fantastic way to not only meet like-minded explorers but also avoid the hefty charges on the tourist frontlines.

Use public transport or walk where possible

Moscow Station with Row of Taxis Moscow Station with Row of Taxis

Public transport is usually cheap, and most hotels and attractions should be within walking distance. Unlike train stations, airports are located a bit further out of the city centre and can be anything from 20 minutes to an hour away by car. Private taxi companies are reliable and easy to book in advance – especially for groups when you can split the cost, although this can prove expensive if you are a solo traveller. Taxi ranks are present at every airport although you MUST always agree on the fare before taking one of these taxis otherwise you may incur surprise charges, aside from this, these will usually work out cheaper. An alternative often cheaper option than a taxi is to use public services. Regular bus and train links go from airports to city centres although you can expect these to take slightly longer than other options because of stops along the way. This may also be a bit more uncomfortable during busy commuter times when stuck in traffic.

Buy a travel sim

Buying a travel sim is a great way to save money on network charges. Many networks will charge extortionate fees for international calls or data usage while away so this can be a great way of keeping roaming fees under control. You can find out more about the travel sim packages we have available on our website.


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