Real Russia Blog

Trans-Siberian Zoom backgrounds
27
April
2020

Trans-Siberian Zoom backgrounds

Call your friends and colleagues from along the Trans-Siberian railway!

Remote conferencing and video calls are more necessary than ever, but many of us do not want every to see inside our homes or offices. Thankfully, both Zoom, and Microsoft Teams allow you to change your background so you can be anywhere from the beach to the moon. We at Real Russia are missing our travel, particularly, and so we decided to do the next best thing, imagine that we are travelling! So, we put together a small selection of Zoom and Microsoft Teams backgrounds and thought we would share them with you guys too. Scroll on for the images and instructions on how to use them!

How to change a Zoom background

All our images have been set to the recommended size for Zoom, so all you need to do to ‘visit’ Russia while on a call, is follow these instructions … Please note: this will change your default image.
  1. Log in to Zoom online here.
  2. Select ‘Room Management’ and then ‘Zoom Rooms’.
  3. Click ‘Account Settings’.
  4. Go to your profile and under ‘Background images for Zoom Rooms’ select ‘Upload New Image’.
  5. Select the image you want as your background and click ‘Open’.
If you would like to change your background image for just one room, floor or location, check out the instructions over on the Zoom website.

How to change a Microsoft Teams background

Changing the background on your Teams account is slightly different to Zoom, but just as easy.
  1. Open File Explorer on your computer.
  2. Copy the following address into File Explorers address bar and press enter: %APPDATA%MicrosoftTeamsBackgrounds for Windows, or ~/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Teams/Backgrounds on a Mac.
  3. In this folder you will see another called ‘Uploads’.
  4. Drop the photos you would like to use in here, and they will be accessible next time you make a Teams video call.

Trans-Siberian Zoom backgrounds

Now for the reason you are here, some Trans-Siberian backgrounds to help you feel like you can travel across the Trans-Siberian railway at any time! Just click on whichever image you would like as your background to download it and it will be ready to use on Zoom or Teams. It is as simple as that!

Lights along Arbat Street in Moscow

Take a night-time walk through the artistic quarter of Moscow with these beautiful archways. Lights on Arbat Street, Moscow

The walls of the Kremlin in Moscow

Take a trip to the halls of power, the imposing, and beautiful, Kremlin. The walls of the Kremlin, Moscow

A Tartar style village in Kazan

Step back in time to Russia’s past in this recreation of a typical Tartar village. A Tartar style villae, Kazan

The border between Europe and Asia outside Yekaterinburg

Pretend you are calling from two continents at once, Europe and Asia! The border between Europe and Asia, Yekaterinburg

A steam train on the Circum-Baikal railway at Lake Baikal

Relive the golden age of steam by posing with this incredible Soviet steam train. A steam train at Lake Baikal, Russia

A Mongolian train on the border with Russia

Not looking your best? Call alongside this train on the Russian border and pretend you have just been making repairs, so looking a little scruffy is to be expected. A Mongolian train on the border with Russia

Beijing Railway Station

Tell people about the Trans-Siberian journey you definitely didn’t just imagine, while stood on the platform in Beijing. Beijing railway station, Beijing

The Great Wall of China at Mutianyu

Get away from it all atop one of the most famous walls in the world, the Great Wall of China. The Great Wall of China at Mutianyu near Beijing

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Real Russia Blog

Top 5 Russian superstitions you should know about
13
March
2020

Top 5 Russian superstitions you should know about

Real Russia has put together a handy guide so you can remember these superstitions while travelling in Russia.

Russia remains a unique place of wonder to travellers – vibrant and modern but with old traditions that are passed down the generations. With its national customs rooted in Orthodox religion and Paganism, many people still believe in folklore and superstition. Real Russia has put together a handy guide so you can remember these rituals while travelling in Russia.

1) Never shake hands over a doorway

According to Russian belief, a house spirit is thought to reside over the threshold of each home. Therefore, it is considered bad luck to shake hands or kiss a guest across a doorway. You should enter a Russian home completely before greeting the host or alternatively the person inside the home should step outside to meet you.

2) Quiet time before going on a journey

Every time you embark on a journey Russians will sit down and have a moment of peaceful reflection. Superstition dictates that all members of a group sit in quiet contemplation for a short while. It is a good opportunity to take stock and ensure that you have everything you need for your trip.

3) Waiting for a person to arrive at their destination before cleaning up after them

If someone has left the house on a long journey, no one should clean their belongings away until at least a day after they have arrived at their destination.

4) Never step over someone, and if you do walk backwards to reverse action

It is considered taboo to step over people, or parts of their body (handy to remember on a packed train). The reason for this is that Russians believe the person will no longer grow. It is better to politely ask the person to move or find a way around them. If someone accidentally steps over a person, it is possible to reverse it by stepping backwards.

Passengers sitting for quiet time
Passengers sitting for quiet time

5) Do not return home to get something you have forgotten

You’re on your way to an excursion and you forget something in your hotel room, do not go back to retrieve it as doing so will spoil your journey. Returning for forgotten things is considered a bad omen in Russia and it is better to leave it behind. However, if you cannot travel without the item you must look in the mirror before leaving your room again to make everything better.

If you have been inspired to see the real Russia for yourself and see these superstitions first-hand, check out our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram social media channels.

Real Russia Blog

A beginner’s guide to Russian train travel
4
October
2019

A beginner’s guide to Russian train travel

An essential guide answering the most common questions regarding Russian train travel

Train travel is one of the simplest ways to navigate the vast expanse that is Russia, from speedy domestic trains connecting major cities such as Moscow and St. Petersburg to international sleeper trains operating on the Trans-Siberian train route.

In this post, we will equip you with the essential facts you need to know about Russian train travel from planning, booking and understanding your train ticket to what you need to take with you.

Are Russian trains reliable?

Perhaps the most frequent question we get asked is, ‘are Russian trains reliable?’. Simply put, yes. Russian trains are often on time so you should always aim to get to your platform a good 10-15 minutes before you need to leave.

What types of Russian trains are there?

Russia has a variety of trains in operation including high-speed, firmeny, skory, Elektricha, passenger and more. Therefore, it can be useful to read up on the different types of trains available before planning your journey.

You can find a comprehensive list of Russian trains and some information about these on our website.

How do I understand Russian train classes?

Russian train classes can be quite tricky to understand, moreover, you may even find that some facilities differ depending on the age of the train.

View our ‘Classes of Russian Trains’ poster below for a brief overview of Russian train classes and what to expect. For a downloadable version, please click on the image below.

Russian Train Classes Poster
Classes of Russian train carriages

Onboard . . .

Since we provide train tickets for Russia ourselves, we often get asked questions that are not concerned with the usual booking procedure and understanding of train classes. With this in mind, our train experts have picked out some of the most common questions which should help alleviate some of that pre-travel angst.

Russian Train Interior Seating
Seating on a Russian train

Is it possible to pay with card on trains?

This largely depends on the type of train you take. Newer domestic trains may now take card payments for products or food purchased on the train; however, most older commuter trains may not have card payment facilities. When taking Trans-Siberian trains from Russia, it is important to note that other countries such as Mongolia, have a currency that often cannot be acquired easily prior to entering the country and may not have card facilities. Therefore, you should adequately prepare yourself with supplies for this leg of your journey.

Are showers available on the trains?

This depends on the type of train and class you choose. Some privately-run trains that operate between Moscow and St. Petersburg may have showers provided in certain classes. First-class cabins may have a shower shared between two cabins although these are usually shower heads connected to a tap on the wall rather than conventional showers. Luxury trains such as the Golden Eagle offer private en-suite bathrooms with a power shower.

Which power sockets are used in Russia?

Russia operates on a 220V supply voltage and 50Hz; they have two plug types which are the C and F. Both plug types use two round pins as standard in Europe.

For Trans-Siberian travellers passing through different countries, we recommend packing a multi-adapter as the power mains may change if you need to swap trains in a different country. UK travellers will need an EU converter plug to convert the 3 square prongs into the standard EU two prongs.

Is vegetarian food available on Russian trains?

Vegetarians shouldn’t have too many problems finding things to eat on the train. Vegetarian dishes are available on most menus and bread, fruit and vegetables can be purchased on many train station platforms. Trans-Siberian travellers may find themselves restricted for choice if visiting countries such as Mongolia which are prolific meat-eating countries, although you should still be able to find something.

Bar and Snacks on Russian Train
Bar on a Russian train

Are there disabled facilities on Russian trains or stations?

It is possible to find disabled facilities on certain trains, such as the Sapsan, that travels between Moscow and St. Petersburg. Unfortunately, disabled facilities are not widespread yet, however, newer trains are starting to challenge this. It is possible to find a lift at the carriage entrance on these trains to aid wheelchair-bound passengers on these trains and the cabins will have wider corridors and cabins. Plug sockets, call buttons and switches will have braille instructions for passengers with visual impairments.

Most train stations have facilities for disabled passengers including toilets and wheelchair ramps.

Are pets allowed on Russian trains?

Pets are allowed on Trans-Siberian trains although you must buy a specific ticket that allows a pet to accompany you. Any pets you take must be small and need to be kept in a cage or carrier of some kind that will easily fit in the spaces provided for regular luggage. Exceptions are made for guide dogs who are allowed anywhere onboard free of charge.

If you have any other questions regarding Russian train travel, please see our Russian trains FAQs.

Booking made simple with Real Russia!

If you plan to travel by train around Russia or on the Trans-Siberian, our website can help! We show live train schedules, average ticket prices and have our own simple and straightforward booking process should you wish to book your train tickets with us. If you are unsure about the type of ticket you need or have any questions, please contact our dedicated train travel experts.

Planning a whole Trans-Siberian journey? Use our Trans-Siberian planner to help align your train journeys side-by-side!

Real Russia Blog

Knowledge Day: Back-to-School in Russia
30
August
2019

Knowledge Day: Back-to-School in Russia

The 1st September is always a special day in the Russian annual calendar, why? Because it`s Knowledge Day of course!

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.

Back to School in Russia

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 Student Assembly

How did Knowledge Day come about?

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.

Knowledge Day: An experience of a Real Russia team member

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”.

Knowledge Day in Russia

Share your experience!

Do you have fond memories of your first day of school? We would love to hear about them in the comments below.

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Real Russia Blog

3 ways to explore Russia by train
23
August
2019

3 ways to explore Russia by train

Sit back, relax, and discover Russia with these inspirational train routes.

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!

Why travel Russia by train?

The pros and cons of Russian train travel

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.

Moscow Train Station Train Board

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?

3 awe-inspiring train routes you must take when exploring Russia

Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM)

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.

The route:

  • Tayshet
  • Bratsk (crossing the Angara River)
  • Ustkut (crossing the Lena River)
  • Severobaikalsk (northern tip of Lake Baikal)
  • Tynda
  • Khani
  • Komsomolsk-on-Amur (crossing the Amur River)
  • Sovetskaya Gavan
Things to experience on the Baikal-Amur mainline

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.

Lake Baikal, Russia

Kirov railway

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):

  • St Petersburg
  • Saint Petersburg Ladozhski
  • Volkhov
  • Volkhovstroy 1
  • Lodeynoye Pole
  • Podporozh'ye
  • Svir’
  • Petrozavodsk
  • Kondopoga
  • Kyappesel'ga
  • Medvezh'ya Gora
  • Segezha
  • Nadvoitsy
  • Idel'
  • Belomorsk
  • Kem'
  • Kuzema
  • Engozero
  • Ambarnyy
  • Loukhi
  • Chupa
  • Knyazhaya
  • Kandalaksha
  • Polyarnyye Zori
  • Apatity 1
  • Olenegorsk
  • Kola
  • Murmansk
Things to experience on the Kirov railway

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.

Soviet Era Steam Train

Trans-Siberian

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)

  • Moscow
  • Yaroslavl
  • Kirov
  • Perm
  • Yekaterinburg
  • Tyumen
  • Omsk
  • Novosibirsk
  • Krasnoyarsk
  • Tayshet
  • Irkutsk
  • Ulan-Ude
  • Chita
  • Birobidzhan
  • Khabarovsk
  • Vladivostok
Things to experience on the 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.

Ulan Ude Ivolginsky Datsan

Get your journey started – book your train tickets with us online today!

Why people choose us for Russian train travel

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.

Real Russia Blog

All you need to know about applying for a Russian visa in 2019
16
August
2019

All you need to know about applying for a Russian visa in 2019

Make applying for a Russian visa a simple and stress-free process

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.

What is a visa?

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.

Russian Visa Example

Why is it important to have a visa?

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.

Is a Russian visa hard to get?

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.

What are the main types of Russian 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.

Passports, Visas & Travel Documents

When should I get my Russian visa?

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.

Can I get a Russian visa at the border?

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.

Can I get a Russian visa online?

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.

What documents do I need for a Russian visa?

  1. Visa application form – The visa application form can be obtained freely from a Russian visa application centre. You can also fill this in online through our website.
  2. Passport – You must have your original, signed passport which must be valid for at least 6 months after the planned date of departure from Russia. This must also have a blank visa page if applying for a single-entry visa or two blank pages for a double-entry visa. For multiple entries you will also need two blank consecutive pages.
  3. Photograph – You need one recent (no older than 6 months), passport-sized photograph taken on a plain white background for your Russian visa application.
  4. Tourist voucher and confirmation of invitation (tourist visas only) – The tourist voucher is a document that confirms your itinerary, hotel you are staying in and travel bookings in Russia. This document includes the tourist reference number in the case of Russian tourist visas. The confirmation of invitation is typically issued by a licensed UK or Russian travel company; the invitation is an official document issued by a company licensed by the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs. Please note: The tourist invitation and travel voucher need to have the same reference number.
  5. Business invitation (business visas only) – An official document issued by a company that has been licensed by the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs.
  6. Additional documents – These may include any additional documents such as those for nationals or people applying outside their home country, kids travelling alone, auto-tourist visas and documents that are required for self or unemployed travellers. When you enter your nationality into our website, we will list the additional documents you will require as part of your application. For more information, we always recommend checking the requirements for your region on the appropriate Russian Consulate / visa application centre website.

How much does a Russian visa cost?

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).

Lake Baikal Scenic Tour

Simplify your Russian visa application – apply with us today!

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.

Why travellers choose us for Russian visa applications

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!

Real Russia Blog

The Most Popular Museums in Europe, According to Instagram
17
February
2019

The Most Popular Museums in Europe, According to Instagram

Four Russian museums in the top 50!

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.

Our research

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 results

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.

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

A post shared by Vatican News (@vaticannews) on

Methodology

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.

The top Russian museums

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.

Moscow Kremlin, Moscow (3rd – 920,280 posts)

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.

State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg (9th – 490,326 posts)

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!

Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow (36th – 59,287 posts)

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.

Kunstkamera, St Petersburg (46th – 36,180)

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.


If you would like to check out any, or all, of these museums, get in touch with our travel team who can tailor any one of our Moscow and Saint Petersburg tours to your needs.

For more inspiration, follow us on Instagram for some incredible images of Russia and the Trans-Siberian railway.

Real Russia Blog

Real Russia Travels: Dominic Quiney goes to Russia for the 2018 World Cup
29
August
2018

Real Russia Travels: Dominic Quiney goes to Russia for the 2018 World Cup

In June 2018, Real Russia’s own Dominic Quiney went to Russia to experience the world’s grandest festival of football. In this short blog, he reflects on his experiences there.

Introduce yourself…

I'm Dominic Quiney and I joined Real Russia in February 2017 and my role at the company is Marketing Executive. I studied History and Russian Studies at the University of Birmingham and lived in Russia twice (once in Petrozavodsk, in summer 2013 and once in Moscow, from 2014-2015).

Why did you decide to go to the World Cup in Russia?

I decided I simply had to go to Russia for this unique experience, because, even though I've hugely enjoyed living in Russia before, I wanted to see the festival of football that this country with its unique culture and highly hospitable people could put on. I told my friends and family beforehand that Russia wouldn't disappoint for this, and I was certainly proven right!

Tell us about your experiences at the tournament

It was spectacular! The tournament was hosted across 11 Russian cities in total, and even though I only managed to visit two cities (Moscow and Volgograd), I could tell that the foreign fans were fascinated by Russia, its culture and its people, while the locals were fascinated by the foreign fans and were very happy to make new international friends.

As soon as I landed in Moscow, I got the train down to Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad) and, after making new Russian friends on that train (Russian train journeys are always an excellent way of meeting the locals), I arrived in Volgograd. I spent my days there visiting the FIFA Fan Fest, the awe-inspiring Mamaev Kurgan (the highest point in Volgograd and which saw some of the fiercest fighting of the battle for the city), taking a brief cruise on the Volga river and visiting numerous museums. Oh, there was the small matter of visiting the Volgograd Arena to watch England play against Tunisia too! England won 2-1, courtesy of a very late goal from Harry Kane!

​The day after the match, I got back on the train from Volgograd to Moscow. There were supporters from the UK, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, the USA and, of course, Russia, in my carriage of the train, so it had a very international flavour to it! I spent a few days in Moscow and met up with some friends, visited Red Square and Nikolskaya Street during the World Cup festivities (they were extremely busy with fans from all over the world singing, playing musical instruments and celebrating), VDNKH (the huge, Soviet-era exhibition park near the Cosmonautics Museum) and, amongst other sights, the Moscow FIFA Fan Fest. This was held at Sparrow Heights (Vorobyoviye Gory), in the courtyard of the stunning Moscow State University.

Do you intend to go back to Russia this year using your World Cup Fan ID?

Yes, certainly! I'll actually be making use of it again in October!

If you want to start your own Russian adventure, see our wide range of tours and excursions, or contact our travel specialists, who will be happy to assist you.

This is how one of our staff members used his Fan ID to explore Russia. How will you use yours?

Real Russia Blog

Meet the team: Tanya Pecheykina

31
January
2018

Meet the team: Tanya Pecheykina

Our Visa Support Supervisor in Volzhsky

Introducing our team

This month, we continue to introduce you to our well-established team of dedicated specialists, who are happy to give independent, expert advice and assistance for all your travel needs. Today we shall be meeting Tanya Pecheykina, who you’ve probably already spoken to if you’ve ever applied for a visa with us! Let’s find out more!

Tanya, Visa Support Supervisor

Tanya started working for Real Russia in 2012, the day after her graduation from Volgograd University of Humanities with a Master’s Degree in logistics. 

Tanya likes to read and loves anything handmade such as embroidery, drawing and painting, even studying at an art school as a child.

Tanya likes to spend her time actively – riding her bike, roller-skating and skateboarding in the summer,  snowboarding and ice-skating in the winter. 

Tanya’s travel favourites

Where have you been in Russia and what is your favourite place in Russia?

I have been to Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan, Dombay, Sochi and towns along the Black Sea coast. Each city has something different that attracts me. Moscow and St. Petersburg, of course, are grand and splendid, but of all the places I have been, the most magnetic for me is a Mountain called Dombay, because of the skiing and natural beauty of the Caucasus Mountains. I love the mountains and nature.
 
Where would you like to go next in Russia? 

The next destination – possibly Kaliningrad. Also on the list – Crimea, the Altai mountains and Lake Baikal.
 
What countries have you visited?

My first trip abroad was to America on a student Work and Travel programme, where I spent three and a half months. My life-long journey since then has continued through Europe – Germany, France, Czech Republic, Latvia, Estonia, Italy, Greece and the UK.  

I remember I had a long-haul journey by train from Volgograd to Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. That train journey took us three days, through Russia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, so I’ve almost completed half of the Trans-Siberian trip! 

​                                                                             Tanya in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Last summer I visited Baku (the capital of Azerbaijan) and Tbilisi (the capital of Georgia) and I loved both of them! The Georgian military road from Tbilisi to Vladikavkaz is simply must-see for all lovers of nature and mountains!

Work at Real Russia

Why do you think people use Real Russia services to apply for a visa rather than do it themselves?

The reasons can be varied, but mainly, I think, it’s to not worry about the whole process and be confident of a positive outcome. Applying for any visa independently requires a lot of time and attention due to many details and requirements. Why become a specialist in visas, if such professionals already exist?
 
What would you say is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

Actually, working at Real Russia, for me, is a bit like a hobby. I love what I do. I like that I’m a part of a great  team, and can provide real help to people and turn their travel plans into reality!
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We thank Tanya for answering our questions. Keep your eyes open so you don’t miss next month’s interview with another member of our amazing team! Have questions about Russian, Mongolian, Chinese or another visa? We will get them answered!

Real Russia Blog

Let the adventures begin in Yaroslavl
31
January
2018

Let the adventures begin in Yaroslavl

One of the oldest cities in Russia, whose historical centre is protected by UNESCO

The 1,000-year history of Yaroslavl and its location in the middle of the Golden Ring makes it a great destination for a day or weekend trip from Moscow, or as part of the Golden Ring tour. It is the oldest city on the Volga river, with its historic centre being designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

You may recognise the town's founder, Yaroslav the Wise, from the 1,000 roubles banknote or photos of his impressive statue in Yaroslavl.

Inspired? Let’s find our more about the history and must-see spots of Yaroslavl.

Early Yaroslavl

The history of Yaroslavl’s founding has now become part of Russian legend. According to the legend, Yaroslavl was founded in 1010 when Yaroslav, the prince of Rostov, future price of Kiev and son of Russia’s first Christian grand prince Vladimir the Great, travelled through the land. On the banks of the River Volga he encountered a tribe of pagans who set a fierce bear on him. Price Yaroslav killed the bear with his poleaxe and founded a fortress where he had killed the bear to protect his lands.

During the two centuries following this, Yaroslavl remained a small border town until the 13th century where due to its favourable location, Yaroslavl become one of the most developed towns in ancient Russia. Yaroslavl became one of the most developed towns in ancient Russia, a major commercial and political centre, whose architectural development continued. A rapid church growth facilitated the development of the local icon-painting school that is now world famous for iconography art.

What to see

Take a tour of Yaroslavl’s architecture

There are only three Russian cities whose centres are classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site: St. Petersburg, Yaroslavl and Derbent.

If you start your exploration in Yarsolavl’s historical city centre and take a stroll down its medieval streets, with the beautiful churches and impressive cathedral, the sense of rich heritage and historical significance will make it easy to see why it serves as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Yaroslavl’s Architectural Historical and Art Museum Preserve occupies the grounds of a former 13th Century convent and provides a look at central Russia’s building traditions and art styles, including paintings, frescoes, and iconography, of the XVII century. Ringing bell towers and intricate church domes dominate the complex that stretches along the scenic banks of the Volga River.

As you explore, make sure to stop and see the stunning architecture of the Transfiguration Monastery with its beautiful frescos and 15th-16th century icons. If you climb to the top of one of the bell towers you’ll be met by beautiful views of Yaroslavl and its surrounding nature.

Another gem of Yaroslavl architecture is the 15-domed Church of St. John the Baptist, a marvel of 17th Century Yaroslavl architecture.

The emerald-domed Church of Elijah the Prophet – masterpiece of ancient Russian art

Have a walk down the river

After appreciating the city centre’s historical sites, now would be the ideal time to get some fresh air and observe the spectacular scenery of this city nestled between two rivers.

Take a stroll along the Yarosolavl Embankment, with its alcoves and street lights dotted along the shore, to overlook the Volga river. You can even take a river tram across the Volga to visit the Tolga Convent, founded in the early 14th Century, whose domed churches are nestled inside a cedar grove.

Then hire a bike to reach the Strelka Park with its musical fountains, and a huge stone, believed to have healing powers, which stands on the spot Yaroslav met the bear.

Sterlka Park in place of confluence of the Volga and Kotorosl river.

The stark white Assumption Cathedral nearby has a tragic history. Initially built in stone in the early 1210s, it was demolished in 1937 by Communists and rebuilt in 2005. Today, you can still see the original cathedral bells on display outside.

The Assumption Cathedral.

Visit the Museum of Valentina Tereshkova, the world’s first female cosmonaut was born and lived in the Yaroslavl region, and became the world’s first female cosmonaut in 1963.

Make sure you don’t miss the monument to the growling bear, a symbol of Yaroslavl, erected to celebrate the 1000th anniversary of the city.

When in Yaroslavl… explore the beginnings of Russia

Yaroslavl is great to visit at any time of the year.

On the last Saturday of June you can visit Baba Yaga, the ferocious-looking witch from Russian folklore, for her birthday in her hometown of Kukoboy, which is 157km from Yaroslavl.

If you visit Yaroslavl during pancake week in February, there are many festivities to take in. One of the most interesting museums related to pre-Christian Russia is the residence of her majesty the Queen of Maslenitsa to taste classic Russian recipes cooked on a traditional Russian stove. This is a great place to stop by for authentic Russian cuisine and to catch one of the folk performances or plays.

And in spring, in March of odd-numbered years, Yaroslavl holds Russia’s oldest jazz festival “Jazz on the Volga”.
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Now that I’ve introduced you to the magnificent millennial city that is Yaroslavl, the only thing left for you to do is to look at our 3-day Golden Ring tour that includes Yaroslavl or contact our travel team if you have your own plans and itinerary.

Have you been to Yaroslavl? Share your opinions with us on our social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+.