Here at Real Russia, we are always looking to entice our visitors with a taste of Russian culture, and what better way to do that than by introducing you to some of the best Russian food enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. Ask any Russian, the way to get a true sense of what it means to be Russian is through food. While tastes may change over time, sometimes nothing can beat old traditional favourites.
In this post, we will discover some of Russia’s much-loved traditional food dishes from Pelmeni to Pirozhki.
The heart of Russian cuisine, Pelmeni are dumplings consisting of minced meat, fish or vegetables wrapped in a thin dough.
Pelmeni are not bound by a set recipe and their filling will typically vary depending on region and preference. For example, central Russian regions may include cabbage and horseradish in combination with minced meat, while others vary the meat used and so could include anything from pork and beef to fish and venison. Dough consistency and thickness is key to making a good Pelmeni, the dough needs to be stable enough to hold the structure after being filled and then boiled.
These delicious dumplings have a rich history that is still hotly debated today, with both the Ural and Siberian regions laying claim to its origins. It is also suggested that Pelmeni may derive from the Chinese jiaozi or, because of its ability to preserve meat in cold weather, carried over by the Mongols when they settled in Siberia and the Urals.
Sour cream is often preferred, although they can also be eaten simply with butter or with ketchup on the side.
To learn more about how to make Pelmeni, see our step-by-step guide to making authentic Russian Pelmeni. Alternatively, why not visit a local Siberian family and try Pelmeni yourself?
Similar to a small Cornish pasty, Posikunchiki are small fried pastries stuffed with spiced minced meat and onions.
Just like Pelmeni, the filling of Posikunchiki is not standardised and can include a variety of meat which will depend on the region of preference. Although, it is commonly expected that the filling will consist of some form of spiced meat and onions. This old Ural dish is said to originate around Perm Krai and makes for a perfect snack – we would recommend these to anyone with a heavy travel schedule, such as Trans-Siberian travellers since they can be easily packed and eaten on the go.
The best way to eat Posikunchiki is to bite a small amount off one end of the pastry and then tip either meat juice or sauce into the remaining pastry which will marinate the filling inside.
Although Ukrainian in origin, Borscht has become a firm favourite in Russian cuisine due to its versatility.
Traditional Borscht is essentially a soup that has a distinctive red colouring which is taken from its primary ingredient beetroot. There are variations on this that do not include beetroot including white or cabbage borscht, as well as consistency variations that include meat or fish or are strictly vegetarian. Traditional Borscht combines meat stock with vegetables including cabbage, onions, carrots and potatoes.
Borscht can be served hot or cold, although we would recommend combining this dish with a generous dollop of sour cream.
A well-known western favourite, Shashlik has enjoyed a surge in popularity over the last few decades as travel to the Caucasus and Central Asia have grown.
Shashlik has many variants and a long history, becoming a popular dish adopted in Russia from the 19th century. By the early 20th century, Shashlik had become the undisputed champion of urban Russian street food. The dish is made up of diced cubes of meat, traditionally lamb (although beef, pork and venison have become alternatives) which is then marinated in vegetable juices, skewered and then grilled. Similar to the UK, Shashlik is often cooked over a barbecue outdoors at social gatherings in Russia, although this can also be found at street vendors who roast the skewers on a mangal.
Shashlik is highly versatile and can be combined with a wide range of sauces and marinades. Ultimately, the best way to eat Shashlik is outdoors with a large group of friends or family.
Courtesy of Mizu Basyo [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]
A staple food of many countries in Siberia, Asia and the Middle East, Plov (also known as pilaf) is a rice-based dish that is cooked in a broth and comprises of meat, vegetables and spices.
Plov, like so many other rice-based dishes, has a long history and is believed to derive back to the Abbasid Caliphate established around the 6th century. This dish is highly adaptable and does not have any set rules about the type of rice or grain used; therefore it is common to find variations of this dish in long-grain or basmati rice, or bulgur wheat. In Russia, plov has been adopted as a staple of Russian cuisine due to its versatility in combining seasonal vegetables, fruits and meat into a dish that could then be easily shared.
A truly great Plov should always contain a mixture of sweet and savoury ingredients, so we recommend combining vegetables, nuts and dried fruits such as apricot or cranberries to produce a variety of textures and flavours.
A baked or fried bun stuffed with savoury or sweet fillings, Pirozhki are enjoyed in Russia at almost any time of day. The buns are made from yeast dough that is glazed with egg to produce a golden brown colour when baked. These small pies (a literal translation of the word ‘pirozhki’) are stuffed with vegetables or fruit. Savoury pirozhki often include mashed potato, onions or cabbage, while sweet pirozhki contain a mixture of apples, dried fruits or cherries. These pies can vary in size and so perfect for a snack or a full meal.
Pirozhki are best enjoyed when accompanied by soup in Russia, although they are often eaten on the go.
Courtesy of tOrange.biz [CC BY 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)]
One of the most popular Russian foods, Blinis are pancakes made from wheat flour (occasionally buckwheat flour) and served with a wide range of garnishes and toppings including butter, smetana and caviar.
Blinis have become an integral part of Russian culture and were considered by East Slavic people as symbolic of the sun. These pancakes were traditionally made for Maslenitsa (Pancake week), a tradition now adopted by the Orthodox church and still prevalent today.
In the West, blinis are often presented as canapés and formed from yeasted batter, eggs and milk (kefir is also be used in some regions) which is then pan-fried. In Russia, blinis were baked in a Russian oven, although are no often pan-fried in the same way as traditional pancakes.
Blinis can be eaten with a combination of flavours and toppings from caviar to jams and honey, although Smetana (a form of sour cream) is a popular choice.
See our step-by-step guide to making the ultimate Russian blini for more information.
In Russia, mealtimes remain much-loved and shared experiences that succeed in bringing families together. As a tourist in Russia, you will find that Russian hospitality is one feature that truly sets the Russian people apart from anywhere else in the world. This strong culinary heritage is prominent across Russian, particularly in Moscow and St. Petersburg, where top-class restaurants dazzle visitors with a modern take on many of these Russian and Siberian classics.
As a specialist Russian travel company with over 15 years’ experience, we pride ourselves on being able to deliver top-class excursions tailored to your needs. We work with local guides in Russia who bring with them a wealth of firsthand experience, and they are always happy to recommend places to stay, eat or explore.
Start your culinary journey today and browse our selection of Russian excursions.
You’ve planned your trip, booked your train tickets and hotels, but have you arranged your transfers? Often forgotten, transfers are crucial for getting you from A to B with minimal stress. While some travellers battle for taxis among the never-ending queues of tourists, wouldn’t it be much easier to just arrange your transport ahead of time? In this post we shall go through all you need to know when booking a transfer from the airport or train station in some of Russia’s busiest cities.
As a rule, we do not recommend using unofficial or “independent” taxi companies. While, you may find one you use regularly that you can trust, there are plenty out there that are unlicensed. Moreover, independents may charge you more since they are not confined by fixed city or company rates.
The reliability of Russian taxis can vary depending on the and whether you choose an independent taxi or go with an established taxi company. Usually taxi companies in Russia are pretty reliable, but we do recommend doing the usual checks such as checking company reviews online to make sure. Private taxi companies and companies specialising in airport and train station are often the most reliable albeit more expensive.
Important! If you do plan to use an independent taxi make sure that you agree a price before getting into the taxi as you may find that drivers’ inflate the price.
We would always recommend booking your transfers in advance to ensure that you can get a vehicle that meets your requirements, this is particularly the case for larger groups of travellers. It is often easier to do this once you have booked your flights and hotels.
The cost of hiring a private taxi in Russia will vary from company to company and will also depend on the type of vehicle you need and how far away your destination is from the airport or train station. Once you know your destination and number of people you should be able to obtain a quote to get a more accurate price.
Yes, it is possible to get a taxi from the airport or train station, but there are a couple of things to bear in mind when choosing this option:
We have negotiated “bulk rates” with many professional transfer companies and can offer you transfers from multiple cities and locations. We can also arrange private car transfers from Moscow airport for individuals and couples to city-liner buses for large groups of up to 50 people at discounted prices.
To learn more about the transfers and taxi services we offer, please see our designated transfers page, fill in the necessary details and click the request button.
Eurasia is a vast continent with a rich and vibrant history, a melting pot of cultures woven together by a system of arterial routes both old and new.
In this 6-part series, we share our thoughts on what makes the perfect Eurasian city-break from the places you stay and food you eat, to the things you experience. Our journey will take you through some of the most enigmatic cities across Northern Europe, Siberia and the northernmost parts of Asia, spanning the cultural capital of the Tsars, the land of blue skies, and the home of imperial China, Beijing. Today, we shall scratch the surface of Russia’s second largest city, St. Petersburg.
'I've been there about 20 times and it's never enough.' – Eugene, Operations Director
‘The overall experience is great; I can recommend it to all who wish to see Russia. It's a former capital of the country and there are many places to visit that are different from those you can see in Western and Eastern Europe.’ – Uliana, Bookkeeper
St. Petersburg is the former capital of the Russian federation and has stood as Russia’s cultural center for over a century. Founded in 1703 by Peter the Great, the city has enjoyed a tumultuous history as a rival capital to Moscow and has seen many name changes from Petrograd (during World War 1) to Leningrad (after the death of Lenin), and back to its original name of St. Petersburg. Aside from its rich history, the city has a vibrant energy and truly caters to all with its own architectural marvels, huge open markets, traditional local cuisine and thriving art scene.
‘Plan a minimum of three full days if you can and to stay in central hotels no more than 600m to the Palace Square as it is so nice to walk there, you get to see all the little bridges, people-watch and shop.’ – Natasha, Business Account Manager
Choosing the right hotel is an essential part of any city-break whether you are there for 2 weeks or two days, and we always recommend sitting down and weighing up your options before you begin your journey. St. Petersburg offers plenty of choice from functional hostels to 5-star luxury hotels, we have compiled a list of some of our top recommended places to stay St. Petersburg below – For a full list of hotels in St. Petersburg, please see our hotels and accomodations page.
Conveniently located on the bank of the Moyka River, the Pushka Inn is one of the best hotels in St. Petersburg if you plan to visit the many museums and art galleries the city has to offer. The hotel itself is housed in a mansion built in 1860 by the Pushchins, and old noble family dating back to the 15th century. While the hotel has evolved over the years to accommodate a more modern clientele, the property retains many of the period features within its décor.
A great value hostel situated in the very heart of St. Petersburg’s cultural district; the Cuba hostel is the perfect place to stay when travelling on a budget. The hostel offers a range of utilities and services including storage lockers, luggage stores, laundry areas, kitchen and common room. The front desk is open 24-hours 7 days a week.
A luxury 5-star hotel located within the prestigious Admiralteysky district, The Four Seasons Lion Palace is the epitome of Russian decadence and is well positioned to take in all St. Petersburg has to offer. The hotel rests within the walls of a 19th century royal palace and really brings the opulence of imperial Russia to the forefront. Aside from its enviable location in the heart of the city, the Lions Palace goes all out with an exceptional variety of features including several bars and lounges, a fitness centre and spa facilities.
‘The Peterhof is a must between May and October, Saint Isaac's Cathedral, during summer – opening bridges during white nights, the Winter Palace, Voronts’ – Uliana, Bookkeeper
When it comes to things to do, the Venice of the North never fails to disappoint. While St. Petersburg’s many canals and vibrant streets embellished with architectural flair are enough to charm most visitors, the city’s prominence as a place of rich history and artistic endeavour cannot be overstated. See our brief list of must-see attractions when visiting St. Petersburg below – To see all the tours we offer in St. Petersburg, please take a look at our St. Petersburg excursions for more information.
Ideal for Russian royal history buffs
The crown jewel of St. Petersburg, the Peterhof is an 18th century complex commissioned by Peter the Great with astounding gardens and a royal palace built in the Petrine Baroque style. The palace is heavily influenced by Louis XIV’s Palace of Versailles and is often referred to as ‘The Russian Versailles’. No trip to St. Petersburg is complete without a tour of this splendid household. Ideal for those wanting to know more about the history of Russian royalty.
Absorb the astonishing architectural visions of Peter the Great with one of our guided Peterhof tours.
Unmissable for lovers of ballet, opera and the arts
The centre of the arts in St. Petersburg, the 18th century Mirinski theatre has unveiled some of the world's top performers ranging from professional ballet dancers such as Anna Pavlova, Rudolf Nureyev and Matilda Kshesinskaya to outstanding singers including the likes of Fedor Chaliapin, Ivan Ershov and Medea. Sit back, relax and take in the ambience of this magnificent concert hall with its opulent interior and outstanding acoustics.
All-encompassing experience for music lovers, families and more!
Courtesy of Spbkinoforum CC BY 3.0
The White Nights Festival is an annual event that takes place in St. Petersburg to mark its near-midnight sun phenomena. Each year between the 21st April and 21st August, the skies above St. Petersburg only ever reach twilight and never go completely dark. To celebrate this natural phenomena, St. Petersburg erupts into a series of festivities starting with the ‘Stars of the White Nights’ ballet and opera performance, and the famous ‘Scarlet Sails’ (known as Alye Parusa in Russian).
Over the past few decades, this festival has evolved to include international music performances from The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and more as well as renowned carnivals; the best of which is in the Peterhof suburb where actors dressed in period costumes from the time of Peter and Catherine the Great give performances that reproduce past historic events. You can even take a ride in a period carriage around Catherine park.
The go-to place for Russian naval history
Kronshtadt is a Russian naval base located on Kotlin island, west of St. Petersburg. This little-visited location is teeming with military marvels including the offshore man-made island, Fort Alexander, Anchor Square with its numerous war memorials and the Kronstadt History Museum which houses a selection of regional artefacts. Most notably, the island is home to a 20th Byzantine-style orthodox naval cathedral, with its spectacular ornate interior. Boat trips run regularly to and from the Island and are a great way to get around.
Perfect for modern art enthusiasts
Courtesy of Erarta Museum and Galleries of Contemporary Art CC BY 3.0
Constructed in 2010, the Erarta museum is the first modern art museum in St. Petersburg and boasts that largest collection of private modern art in the whole of Russia. The museum’s aim is to locate, collect and popularise the work of talented modern artists in Russia and currently houses 2800 storage units of paintings, graphics, sculptures and installations.
It is no exaggeration when we say that you can get just about anything you want to eat in St. Petersburg. Its bustling streets are filled with tavernas where you can experience local cuisine as intended. While for more modern tastes, there is a plethora of Japanese restaurants, Pizzerias and innovative chefs experimenting with a new take on traditional Russian cuisine. We have cherry-picked a few restaurants we feel you simply must try:
Explore an authentic Caucasus cuisine in St. Petersburg
Mamaliga’s main aim is to introduce its guests to the wonders of authentic Caucasian cuisine, harmoniously blending Georgian, Imereti, Armenian, Svan, Adjarian, Gurian and Megrelian culinary traditions. The restaurant offers a regular menu where you can find dishes including phali, basturma, satsivi, dolma and more. House specials include stewed Canahi, chocolate Zgapari and spicy kuchmachi. Of course, no Caucasian restaurant would be complete without a barbecue!
Discover St. Petersburg’s finest Israeli and Mediterranean street food
Betkizer is well known in St. Petersburg as the go-to place for Israeli and Mediterranean street food. The bar area has been paired down to create a cosy and contemporary space for travellers that want to escape the tourist-packed areas and try something a bit different. Betkizer regularly hosts live music and offers an in-expensive alternative that is ideal for backpackers.
Experience the best of traditional Russian cuisine
Tsar is considered the epitome of traditional Russian cuisine in St. Petersburg. This high-class restaurant was designed by Sergei Tretyak with the intent of ‘reviving forgotten traditions’ and is host to an extensive collection of antiques and a royal throne. Aside from offering some of the best seafood and several varieties of caviar, the restaurant also compliments their main dishes with an extensive vodka menu.
Enjoy the best of contemporary Russian cuisine
KoKoKo has gained international acclaim as the brainchild of ballet patron and celebrity style icon, Matilda Shnurova. The restaurant offers a contemporary twist to classic Russian favourites experimenting with flavour and presentation to create bright, bold and exciting dishes that always tell a story.
‘Plan your time more realistically, it is like any major city, even if you are there for a week you can't see it all; use a city tour for your first day to orientate yourself then concentrate on two or three central experiences – you can always go back!’ – Chris, Managing Director
‘My advice is to bear in mind that from Dec to March it may be extremely cold there – so May-Oct season would be the best time to visit’ – Uliana, Bookkeeper
‘Take a city tour with an overview and by car as the city is very big’ – Natasha, Business Account Manager
‘Take a jacket whatever the season’ – Nastya, Travel Administrator
We really hope you enjoyed the first instalment of our Eurasian city-break series! If you have been to St. Petersburg and have any experiences of your own we would love to hear about them in the comments below. Alternatively, if you are yet to visit St. Petersburg and this post has inspired you, why not look at some of the tours we have to offer?
We separate our tours based on the level of involvement we would have with you, ranging from DIY to self-exploration to a fully guided, immersive experience with one of our expert tour guides. We can also create custom tours on request if there is something you wish to see that is not covered in one of our tour packages. Click the button below to learn more about our St. Petersburg excursions!
It’s coming up to that time of year when all parents and kids start getting ready to go back to school. With this in mind, we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to share one of our own ‘back-to-school' stories through the eyes of one of our team.
In Russia, the first day of school is called ‘Knowledge Day’ (День Знаний) and may simply be known as 1 September as that’s the day all kids in Russia, Soviet republics and former Eastern countries excluding Romania go back to school (even if this is a weekend!).
Knowledge day was established by the Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR in June 15, 1984. The 1st September also marks the end of summer and the beginning of autumn.
It has special significance for the incoming first graders who are starting school for the first time and the kids in their final school year, which is known as year 11 in Russia.
From what I can remember, 1st September was the time where all the children would come to school and get specially dressed up in their school uniform and then present gifts to teachers, such as cards and a bouquet of flowers. That day everyone would come to school including parents and have an outside morning assembly where all students are stood in groups in their form year and class. The headmistress or master would give a speech which would be followed by the First Bell (Первый Звонок ).
In Russia, the First bell is symbolic and signifies the beginning of the school year. Russian schools have a particular way of ringing the First Bell which is still continued today. One of the boys from year 11 lifts a schoolgirl from the first year onto his shoulders, the girl from the first year will then get given a big hand bell which they can either just ring or ring as they walk past the other students. After this assembly all the students go back to their classrooms where they start their new class in some cases with new teachers.
It’s difficult to say whether kids are exited for this celebration or apprehensive, since it’s the first day when they have a chance to meet up with their friends or make new friends and meet teachers after a 3-month summer holiday (we always want more holiday!).
Kids across Russia get the chance to hear the first bell at the beginning of September but there is also another event called ‘Last School-Bell Day”.
Do you have fond memories of your first day of school? We would love to hear about them in the comments below.
Russia is a huge country spanning 17,125,200 square miles and consisting of approximately 1/8 of the earth’s inhabited land. From vast freshwater lakes to huge rocky mountain ranges, Russia’s unprecedented size and dramatic landscapes cannot be understated. So, how do we even begin to think about exploring a country that is almost twice the size of the rest of Europe combined? Well, by train of course!
Travelling by train in Russia is not without its problems. For one, train stations, especially in larger cities such as Moscow or St. Petersburg, are notoriously crowded and deal with both domestic and international passengers. In rural areas, navigating trains can be difficult since timings, place names and information is mostly in Russian with very little English available. Aside from this, train travel across Russia will take you hours which is understandable for a country of its size.
Despite these difficulties, travelling Russia by train is an enriching and albeit rewarding experience for any traveller that wants to really see what Russia is about. While planes may take you across Russia in a fraction of the time, trains allow you plenty of opportunity to really immerse yourself in Russian culture from your seat. What’s more, travelling by train has less impact on the environment than other forms of transport, so what’s not to love?
Around 2680 miles long, the Baikal-Amur mainline was built as an alternative to the Trans-Siberian railway, officially starting from Tayshet (although western travellers often join at Irkutsk) and travelling east towards the Pacific Ocean. Much of the BAM is constructed over permafrost so highly durable materials that can withstand severe terrain and weather conditions have been used as part of the track design.
Lake Baikal – One of the most popular tourist spots in Russia, Lake Baikal is the largest and deepest freshwater lake in the world with a maximum depth of 1,632m and measuring 23,000 cubic km in size. Aside from spectacular views, the lake is home to the only freshwater seal in the world.
The Kirov railway is a Russian rail network linking Murmansk with St. Petersburg. Although a relatively short railway journey (around 900 miles) compared with the Trans-Siberian, the Kirov is still a popular journey for tourists wanting to explore The Northern-most parts of Russia. The line was originally known as the Murman railway and has been of strategic military importance since Murmansk is one of the few ice-free ports on the Arctic Sea.
The route (ARKTIKA):
Mumansk – Murmansk is a port city located in the northwestern part of Russia close to the Norweigian border, now home to numerous naval monuments and even a museum ship, Lenin. Aside from the city’s impressive military history, Mumansk and the Kola peninsula is one of the best destinations in Russia to see the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) with over 40 days of clear night skies.
As the longest railway in the world at around 5772 miles, the Trans-Siberian is without question one of the most extraordinary engineering achievements of recent times. Renowned for its ability to connect Western and Eastern Russia (Moscow to Vladivostok), the Trans-Siberian is an icon for train enthusiasts and travellers alike. This major route works as an artery for traversing Asia and splits into three main routes, the first, official route leading to Vladivostok, the second starting from Moscow and heading to Bejing, China (Trans-Manchurian), and the third starting from Moscow and heading to Bejing via Ulaan-Baatar (Trans-Mongolian).
The route (Trans-Siberian)
Kazan – A major tourist destination located on the banks of the Volga River, Kazan is known for its multi-ethnic history and was the capital of the Tatarstan Republic. This city boasts a multitude of cultural delights including the only surviving Tatar fortress in Russia, the Kazan Kremlin and the Qol Sharif Mosque.
Ulan Ude – Ulan Ude is a vibrant city close to the border of Mongolia, and home to the Buryats an indigenous people with a proud heritage spanning many generations. Today, the city is known for being the centre of Buddhism in Russia.
At Real Russia, we pride ourselves on being able to deliver a fast, stress-free service to our customers. Our live train schedules highlight any days that trains are departing between your selected cities and the scheduled trains section will list all trains running for your chosen month. We also offer a secure order tracking process so you can double-check your train tickets before you travel. Need help planning your journey? Our destinations page will go through some of the most popular Russian cities to visit. For more information on how to understand and book your Russian train tickets, please visit our dedicated Russian trains page or contact us directly.
If you are interested in booking any supplementary tours along the way, why not take a look at the Russian tours we have on offer? We have a range of excursions to suit any budget.
Applying for a Russian visa can be a daunting process. I’m sure many of you have thought to yourself: What type of visa do I need? How much will it cost? What documents should I use? Along with many more. The truth is that visa application processes are constantly reviewed, changed, edited . . . So, keeping up with the latest information can be tricky. With this, we always recommend keeping up to date with the process for your region if you are planning to travel.
In this post, we aim to dispel some of the pre-visa application angst and will go over what you need to know when applying for a Russian visa in 2019. To do this, we shall explore some of the most common questions concerning the visa application process.
In simple terms, a visa is a document that allows the holder to enter, leave or stay in a country for a specified time period. There are many types of visa available from standard tourist visas to professional business visas, the visa you need will depend on the purpose of your visit.
Visas are legal documents that permit a user to travel to a specified country. They essentially indicate that permission has been given from the government to legally enter and exit the country. They also act as proof of citizenship. Without a visa (or if you have the wrong type of visa), it is possible for border to control to deny entry into a country.
Russian visas are no more difficult to get than any other type of visa, although there are many factors to consider such as the country of origin, whether you have the right documents, whether you have a criminal record, and how long you have allowed yourself to get a visa.
Tourist visa – A standard tourist visa for Russia. This visa covers the user when traveling to Russia for holiday purposes. There are variations of Russian tourist visas such as, auto-tourist and business tourist which can be used for travelling Russia by vehicle, short business trips, exhibitions and meeting conferences. A business tourist visa is often used when you do not have enough time to acquire a full business visa as getting an official Russian letter of invitation can take time.
Business visa – A Russian business visa is designed for individuals looking to travel to Russia strictly for business purposes such as exhibitions, establishing business connections and negotiations.
There are many other types of visa, such as a visa for those wishing to compete in sporting competitions in Russia, but for most people a tourist or business visa will be the preferred choice.
This will largely depend on the type of visa you are requesting, which part of Russia you are travelling to and your nationality. It usually takes between 4 – 21 working days to get your visa depending upon the type that you need. We of course recommend allowing yourself enough time to not only receive the visa, but also to make any corrections or changes to the visa in case of a change in circumstances.
No, unfortunately it is not possible to obtain a visa at the Russian border, therefore it is important that you apply for your Russian visa ahead of time. There are certain exceptions however, for example, you can visit St. Petersburg visa free if you are on a boat for less than 3 days, therefore you would not need a visa in advance.
It is possible to purchase an E-Visa for Russia although this is only available for selected regions and nationalities. Unfortunately, it is not currently possible to buy an E-Visa for Russia if you are a UK national.
The price of a Russian visa will depend on several factors such as the type of visa you are looking to apply for, the duration of the visa (including whether you want a visa with single, double or multiple entry), consular processing time (standard or express), and the country you apply for your visa in. There may be other special conditions that impact the price you pay, including your chosen delivery service, whether you applied directly to the consulate, or whether the consulate outsourced services to a visa application centre (resulting in an additional service charge).
As one of the first companies to adopt online Russian visa applications, we are confident that we can help deliver a simple, straightforward and stress-free application process for visitors in the UK. We can obtain a tourist and business invitations almost for any nationality, yet some restrictions apply such as for those nationalities that are considered by Russian authorities to be of a high migration risk.
For more information on how to apply for a Russian visa and a breakdown of the types of visa available, please visit our dedicated Russian visas page.
Still unsure? Why not browse our many reviews on Trip Advisor!
Travel writer Jamie Tinkepaugh, and his father Peter Davies, decided to take the Trans-Siberian as countless travellers have before them. However, their trip was slightly different to the majority of travel experiences as Jamie is a wheelchair user.
We sat down with him to discuss his book about his Trans-Siberian adventure Wheeling East, his travel inspiration and advice for fellow travellers looking to see the world's grandest rail journey.
What inspired you to take the Tran-Siberian?
We've put together a few of our favourite facts we've learnt over the last few months as well as a few of the favourites that got us interested in the Trans-Siberian too.
A legendary lost city
Located just beyond Nizhny Novgorod, which gained recent exposure because of its role as a 2018 host city during the World Cup, is Svetloyar Lake. Some Russians believe that Svetloyar Lake holds a secret, and somewhere in its waters is Kitezh, a mysterious, sunken city. The city is said to have become invisible when it was attacked by Tatars, and there is even an opera partially based on its legend, Сказание о невидимом граде Китеже и деве Февронии, or The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maiden Fevroniya.
Stuck in the middle with Tayshet
The railway station of Tayshet, when you hit 4644.5km from Moscow, is the half-way point between Moscow and Vladivostok, which is 9,289km from Moscow. If you stop in Tayshet station, make sure to take a moment with a drink and admire just how far you've come, and just how far there is left to go! Think back to how many people have passed through this hallway point on one of the grandest journeys there is.
The Trans-Siberian wasn't always accessible to travellers
Vladivostok, the final stop of the original Trans-Siberian was off limits to foreigners until 1990, even Soviet Citizens needed a permit giving them permission to enter. There are, of course, exceptions to every rule and in 1974 the USA's President Ford was given permission to visit for an arms summit with Leonid Brezhnev.
There are also, urban legends that David Bowie spent time in Vladivostok taking a ferry from Japan at the end of his 1973 Japanese tour. He's said to have taken the train through Russia due to his dislike of flying.
A station of marble
Slydyanka station is the only railway station in the world to be built entirely of marble. The station is famously close to the beautiful Lake Baikal, a highlight for many taking the Trans-Siberian. There is an old story that when the train stopped for 15 minutes, travellers would dash down to the water to dip in a hand for good luck. It wasn't unusual for these travellers to not make it back to the train in time, but what a picturesque place to be left behind!
Nowadays, the train only stops for 2 minutes and many travellers will simply choose to book a later train so they have time to enjoy Lake Baikal.
Home of Dance
Famous Russian male ballerina Rudolf Nureyev was actually born onboard the Trans-Siberian, near Irkutsk. His mother was travelling to see Rudolf's father in Vladivostok where he was stationed as a commissar.
It's not a one-track experience
Russian and Mongolian railways use the same size gauge which makes travelling between countries very easy, the train only needs to stop for custom and border checks. Chinese railways, however, use a different size gauge for their wheels so when you cross from Mongolia to China, the bogies need to be changed on every single carriage, so it'll fit on Chinese rails!
The Trans-Siberian was originally planned as Moscow-Vladivostok, however, over time, that has evolved with the Trans-Mongolian which travels through Ulan Bator to Beijing and the Trans-Manchurian which travels through the Manchurian region to Beijing. This evolution has continued with the newest addition of the Baikal-Amur Mainline which runs parallel and northern to the Trans-Siberian railway route. It begins in Tayshet, the Trans-Siberian's midway point, and ends at Sovetskaya Gavan. It offers an alternative to the Trans-Siberian, showing off towns and cities that perhaps wouldn't be seen otherwise.
Leonid Brezhnev described the BAM route as the ‘construction project of the century’ as much of it was built over permafrost.
Here at Real Russia we pride ourselves on being experts in travel specialising in Russia and the Trans-Siberian railway, with our knowledgeable and experienced travel team always on hand to provide assistance, travel advice and recommendations to travellers.
We do this by travelling extensively ourselves, as well as listening to feedback from fellow travellers, and checking out new research and travel trends.
We know that one of the most popular activities for travellers when visiting a European country such as Russia is checking out the vast array of museums the continent offers; covering everything from art to history, science to music, and everything in-between! And, of course, Russia is renowned for having some of the best museums in the world!
On this basis, we decided to research the most ‘Instagrammed’ museums in Europe, to find out which museums are the most popular, and maybe even get a better understanding of what travellers are looking for when trying to find that perfect trip.
As Instagram is one of the most popular ways to document travel experiences in the current age, this platform offered us an excellent and in-depth insight into the most popular European museums.
Having brought together a list of over 100 major European museums from various sources (see ‘Methodology’ below), we tracked all Instagram posts tagged at each of them. From this we were able to create our ranking of the most popular museums in Europe.
We had a feeling that Russia, with its incredible number of world-famous museums would feature highly, and we were right.
The Louvre took the number one spot with an astonishing 4.3 million posts, taking the crown as Europe’s most Instagrammed museum by a substantial amount.
Coming in at second place is the equally iconic Vatican Museum in Italy, which has been tagged an impressive 1.8 million times on Instagram.
We were thrilled to see one of Russia’s best museums taking the third position, with the Moscow Kremlin proving to be one of the top three most popular museums in Europe with a massive 920k posts.
It was interesting to look at the spread of cities and countries which appeared most commonly within the top 50 results.
It was no surprise to us was the fact that Russia was a repeat performer with four Russian museums featured in the top 50; split evenly between Moscow and St Petersburg. As well as the Moscow Kremlin, the other Russian museums featured are the State Hermitage Museum ranking ninth with 490k posts, The Tretyakov Gallery with 59k posts and the Kunstkamera with 36k posts.
Other countries coming out on top for museum-goers include Germany with eight museums in the top 50, France with seven museums featured, and Italy who also feature eight times. The UK also appears to have a great reputation for museums with eight museums included within the top 50.
?? Le musée du Louvre est ouvert aujourd'hui ! Venez nous rendre visite pour bien commencer la semaine ? – ? The Louvre museum is open today! Come and visit us to start a new week! ? #MondayMotivation #lundidepentecote #jourferie #louvre #museedulouvre #louvremuseum #courcarree #courcarreedulouvre #bonlundi
EN:We're kicking off a new hashtag, #VaticaninFocus, to share the best glimpses of this sacred place that's so full of history. Use it as well when you share your own pics of the Vatican! We'll publish the best on our @VaticanNews account. ES: Hemos pensando este nuevo hashtag para compartir con ustedes imágenes de lugares bellos y significativos del Vaticano: #VaticanInFocus. Úsenlo también ustedes para compartir sus fotos del Vaticano; publicaremos las mejores en nuestra cuenta @VaticanNews. PT: Pensamos numa nova hashtag, #VaticanInFocus, para contar os ângulos mais belos e densos de história e sacralidade do Vaticano. Use você também para compartilhar suas fotos do Vaticano, publicaremos as melhores na conta do @VaticanNews IT: Abbiamo pensato a un nuovo hashtag, #VaticanInFocus, per raccontare gli scorci più belli e densi di storia e sacralità di questi luoghi. Usatelo anche voi per condividere i vostri scatti in Vaticano, pubblicheremo i migliori sull'account di @VaticanNews
To compile our research, we first looked at a number of resources including visitor numbers, TripAdvisor reviews, museum size, and trusted expert travel recommendations, to compile a list of over 100 of Europe’s major museums.
We then used the Instagram location function to track all posts tagged at each museum’s location, before crawling this data to find how many posts were tagged per location.
Using this information, we ranked our list by popularity and cut the results down to the final top 50 most popular museums in Europe.
If you are interested in visiting some of Russia’s most Instagrammed museums you can find out more about each of the museums featured, below.
The Moscow Kremlin is one of the most recognised museum complexes not only in Russia or in Europe, but in the entire world.
The fortified complex in the heart of Moscow is an iconic symbol of Russia, and along with the adjacent Red Square is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As stated by UNESCO themselves, the Kremlin is, “inextricably linked to all the most important historical and political events in Russia since the 13th century”.
The Kremlin itself actually contains a number of different museums and cathedrals that together offer a fantastic overview of Russia and Russian history. From the Diamond Fund to the Armoury Chamber, and from the Patriarchs Palace to the Museum of History of the Kremlin Architectural Ensemble, there is an exhibit for every interest.
Simply put, the Kremlin is one of the most important social, historical and cultural experiences to enjoy when visiting Moscow.
The State Hermitage Museum located in St Petersburg is the second largest art museum in the world (based on gallery space) but claims to hold the largest collection of paintings, and we don’t doubt it.
The Hermitage itself comprises a number of historic buildings, with the most famous being the Winter Palace, the former residence of the Russian monarchs. All the buildings fall within the UNESCO World Heritage Site, ‘Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg’, and are as beautiful on the outside, as the artwork is on the inside.
Although it was founded it 1764 by Catherine the Great in what is now known as the ‘Small Hermitage’, it was not opened to the public until 1852, and has gone from strength to strength ever since, with more than 3 million pieces in its collection. In fact, it is said that if you spent one minute looking at each piece, for eight hours per day, it would take 15 years to see everything!
The Tretyakov Gallery is among the the most iconic art museums in the world and is, in fact, known as home to the best collection of Russian fine art in the world.
The layout of the museum is unique in that you are led through the evolution of Russian art from the 11th to the 20th century, with each painting acting as a window to a specific time and place. We would highly recommend booking an expert guide for this journey through Russian history to really help understand and appreciate how Russia has grown, changed and been shaped over the last 1000 years.
The Kunstkamera (derived from the German for ‘art chamber’) was the first museum opened in Russia; born of the innate curiosity of Peter the Great.
Created as a ‘cabinet of curiosities’, the better description for its modern incarnation also happens to be its full name, the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography.
With exhibitions covering North and Latin America, as well as much of Asia and the Middle East, there is sure to be something of interest to everyone. Be warned, though, as many of the items within its ‘First Scientific Collection’ are not for the squeamish, containing as they do a number of natural ‘oddities’ related to Peter the Great’s interest in human anatomy.
For more inspiration, follow us on Instagram for some incredible images of Russia and the Trans-Siberian railway.
Vladivostok is the final destination of the classical Trans-Siberian route; beginning in Moscow, travelling through the previously inaccesible Sibera, all the way to the coastal city of Vladivostok. Despite Vladivostok's rich history, it's not as well-known a destination as its Trans-Mongolian and Trans-Manchurian counterparts. This is, in part, because Vladivostok was a closed city to foreigners until 1990.
Despite this, there are rumours of David Bowie making his way to Vladivostok in the 1970's after taking a ferry to Russia from Japan, at the end of his 1973 Japanese tour. We suppose though, if you're David Bowie, you get to go wherever you'd like.
Let Real Russia introduce you to some of Vladivostok's culture, history and fun facts to show you just what makes Vladivostok such an exciting destination.
Tiger Day has been held annualy in Vladivostok since 2000 and is an environmental march down the central city streets where people dress like tigers. The aim is to draw attention to the importance of preserving the habitat and dwindling population of the Amur tiger, also known as the Siberian tiger, that lives in the Primorsky and Khabarosk regions.
The Russky bridge connects Russky island with continental Vladivostok. It spans an impressive 3,100 metres, of 10,200 feet, and is a comparible size to the San Francisco – Oakland Bay bridge and is one of the longest in the world.
Nowadays, the Russky bridge is seen as the symbol of Vladivostok due to its impressive and imposing sight.
Constructed between the late 19th and early 20th century, the Vladivostok fortess is one of the city's most popular attractions. The structure is designed with a complex system of labryinths, deep tunnels, casemates and underground passes. It's an intriguing attraction for all visitors.
Museum of ancient motor vehicles
Automobiles, motorcycles and all other sorts of motors developed between the 1920's and 70's by both Soviet and foreign engineers. As well as the motors on display, there's a library including videos and a lecture hall; not only is it a great visit for motorheads but an unusual way to experience soviet history for any curious traveller.
The gateway to more
Vladivostok serves as gateway to many places and even has the nickname ‘the gates to Asia’ because of its accesibility to many prominent countries in Asia via ferry such as Japan, China and Korea. The Golden Horn Bay, where Vladivostok is built, also provides tourist cruises to 50 nearby islands!
Education and language
It's estimated around 81% of Russia is monolingual, meaning they only speak their native Russian language. This makes Vladivostok's reputation as the language city even more impressive. Vladivostok has 12 colleges and universities and one of the most notable is Far Eastern Federal University which has cultivated a large number of Chinese-Russian translators.