In a new series of articles here on Hello Russia Tours we will be giving you a step-by-step guide on how to make it to Russia – and have a time of your life here. First chapter is dedicated to the prepping stage of your journey – take notes! Here are some trip tips you can find helpful.
Your trip to Russia starts with your tourist visa (valid for up to 30 days). In order to obtain one you will need: a passport (valid for at least 6 months after your visa expires), a couple of recent passport photos, an invitation (which you can obtain through our Visa Support Service here) and a visa application form (available here; choose English language in the second drop-down menu). Take all of the above to your nearest Russia Consulate, pay a consular fee (starts at $160) and be ready to wait for up to 2 weeks for your documents to be processed. You can also use the services of a local travel agency to submit your papers for you.
The time of your visit is entirely dependent on your travel preferences. Summer is, of course, the most popular season: gorgeous Peterhof fountains are working, St. Petersburg rooftops open exceptionally beautiful views of the city and on particularly hot days you can always get away from the summer madness with a private tour of rivers and canals. Fall is when the theatrical season starts so for traditional Russian ballet you might want to come in October or November. During winter the number of tourists drops significantly, which will give you a chance to have a completely stress-free visit to The State Hermitage. Moreover, there is no time better to see The Catherine Palace than spring.
Some trip tips about money. Russian currency is called rouble. The current exchange rate (as of August, 2016) is approximately 65 roubles for $1 and 75 roubles for 1 euro. While you can pay with a credit card almost everywhere (VISA and MasterCard are most common; AmEx won’t be accepted in the majority of places), it is a good idea to have a little cash on you, in case you want to have something from an ice cream stand on the street or pay for a souvenir in a tiny church shop. Apple Pay has not been introduced to Russia yet, so be sure not to leave your plastic at home.
The list of your travel essentials depends on the time (season) you visiting Saint Petersburg. However, make sure you take the following: