With its blend of tundra, forests, sub-tropical beaches, ornate onion domes, elegant and grand sprawling palaces, imposing Kremlin, concrete Stalinist monuments, world-famous ballet and vast geographical and cultural differences across the length and breadth of the land, Churchill's famous quote that Russia is a 'riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma' seems to ring true. Russia is a land of intriguing history, rich cultures, epic train journeys, and vodka - all to be explored and discovered, and the riddle unraveled.
KEY FACTS BEFORE YOU GO:
- Capital: Moscow
- Currency: Russian rouble
- Time Difference: As the largest country in the world (by a merry mile) and a transcontinental country, Russia spans more than one time zone (to be exact, there are 11 time zones in Russia, although none observe Daylight Saving Time). However, most visitors to Russia will travel between Moscow and St Petersburg, which both observe Moscow Standard Time, which is 2 hours AHEAD of BST and 3 hours AHEAD of GMT. For travelling beyond Moscow and St Petersburg, please find more information here.
- Flight Time: 3 hours and 50 minutes direct to Moscow, or 3 hours and 20 minutes to St Petersburg
- Official language: Russian
- Entry requirements: A visa is required before travel unless you are travelling by cruise (or ferry) in Russia for up to 72 hours AND you have booked tours through officially licensed companies. If a visa is required, you must apply to the Russian Embassy before you travel. Find out more about Russian visas here. Passports must have a minimum of six months' validity after the expiry date of your visa. If your passport has been issued since January 2017, ensure that you've signed your passport before you travel; if it is unsigned, you could be denied entry into Russia.
- You must sign an Immigration card every time you arrive in Russia, which you'll receive at passport control. The card is in 2 identical parts, with one part retained by the Immigration Officer. You should ensure that you keep the other part safe as your departure from Russia could be delayed, and hotels or hostels etc will not accept guests without an immigration card. Even if you are travelling by cruise ship, you must sign an Immigration card and retain it every time you disembark the ship to go ashore, even during an overnight stay.
- Vaccinations and Health: You should always ensure that you travel with adequate travel health insurance. For up-to-date information, please check this website (as recommended by the Foreign Office): https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/country/186/russia#Vaccine_recommendations. If vaccinations are required, it is generally advisable to arrange an appointment with a health professional four to six weeks before departure.
General information on travel vaccinations can be found on the NHS website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/travel-vaccinations/
Please read here for information on bringing medication into Russia.
To find out more, and for the most up-to-date advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/russia
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