The Real Russia story

Humble beginnings

The Real Russia story begins in 1997 when Founder and Managing Director Chris Watkins decided to broaden his horizons by taking a short trip to Russia. It didn’t take long for Chris to fall in love with the country, its people and their culture; very quickly this short trip grew into a lifelong love affair.

With no real assistance available, Chris had found the Russian visa application process quite difficult. Upon returning to the UK in 2003 he decided to make sure that no one else had the same problem. He wanted to try and break down the barriers created by the visa process, making it easier for others to experience Russia as he had. So, having inspired his family with tales of Russia and his desire to share it with the world, they founded Real Russia in a small office in North London.

Taking an initial focus on becoming the best Russian visa agency in the UK by simplifying the process and offering support and peace of mind, Real Russia started to flourish, helping many happy travellers through the Russian visa process.

The visa process was not the only area of Russian travel with limited assistance available in the early noughties. Having built a relationship with Real Russia based on traveller’s trust in our exceptional personal service, experience, and standards during the visa process, they started to ask if we could complete their Trans-Siberian adventure by helping with their accommodation, rail tickets, excursions and guides.

For a company born of a desire to share Russia with the world, of course Real Russia said, “yes!”. 

Growing success

These extra travellers meant it was time for Real Russia to expand beyond its humble beginnings, so the team began to grow as Chris introduced a fresh group of like-minded individuals, each with a passion for Russia, travel, and for helping people create their dream adventure, to the real Russia. Many of this team are still with us today, travel experts such as Sasha, Olga, Natalie and Natasha, and they are as passionate as ever, only now they have the benefit of over ten years’ experience working alongside travellers from across the UK and around the world!

Inspired by our many passionate customers, the fledgling Real Russia team found themselves embarking on the ultimate Russian adventure, the Trans-Siberian Railway! This was the moment Real Russia really came into its own; this undertaking, this experience, of riding the rails and travelling into the great expanse of Siberia, was to show who Real Russia wanted to be moving forward. It was experiences like this that Chris and the team wanted to share with people all around the world, the REAL Russia.

Real Russia today

25 years later, with over 25,000 rail tickets sold annually and six World Travel Award wins, Real Russia’s aim remains constant – to share the incredible culture, people and experiences of Russia and the Trans-Siberian Railway with the world.

Check out what our travellers have to say by visiting our testimonials page.