Fact file: Russia

Did you know?
The average Russian drinks more than 12 litres of pure alcohol a year. In the form of beer, wine or spirits — especially vodka — of course.
Language
Russian.
Visas
All visitors need visas. To get one you must first confirm accommodation for every night you are staying in Russia. You will need to hand over your passport and visa so it can be registered.
Getting there
Sheremetevo-2 airport in the capital Moscow or St Petersburg airport. Once there, it's best to travel by rail, as domestic flights are unregulated and have the world's worst safety record.
Flying time from London
Three hours to Moscow or St Petersburg.
Getting around
Driving can be a bureaucratic nightmare. You need a certified Russian translation of your driving licence from the embassy in London. The best way to see this massive country is the Trans-Siberian Railway. River transport is great, with main services between Moscow and St Petersburg, along the Volga. Moscow has perhaps the most beautiful metro in the world — and trains run every two minutes.
Currency
Rouble.
Costs
Prices vary but as a guide: roll of camera film £1; 500ml bottle of beer 25p; moderate local restaurant meal £3; tourist restaurant £20; four-mile taxi ride £4; litre of petrol 20p.
Weather
July and August are the warmest months and the main holiday season, but the dampest. To avoid the crowds and the rain try May-June or September-October. Winter is bitter but there's always vodka to warm you up. Spring is slushy and muddy. Summer 24C (75F), winter - 10C (-15F).
Time difference
Russia is a huge country so time differences are enormous, from three to 12 hours ahead of the UK.
International dialling code from the UK
00 7.
Voltage
220v, 50Hz.
Opening hours
Most shops open Monday to Saturday, with food stores hours 8am-8pm with an early-afternoon break (pereryv) of an hour, other shops 10/11am-7/8pm with a 2-3pm break. Department stores open 8am-8pm, and cities have 24-hour kiosks. Banks open 9am-noon Monday to Friday, and 1-6pm in major cities.
Health — before you go
Make sure you are immunised against tetanus and diphtheria, and take out travel insurance.
Health — when you are there
In certain cities, like St Petersburg, the water is definitely not safe to drink. Use bottled water if you are at all unsure. Avoid cheap vodka, and if you are eating street food make sure it is hot and well cooked.
Warnings
Street crime against foreigners is a problem in Russia's major cities. Muggers favour underground metro areas, overnight trains, stations, airports, markets and tourist attractions, and have been known to break into locked and occupied hotel rooms. Avoid travelling in the Chechen Republic, Dagestan, North Ossetia, Ingushetia and Kabarda-Balkar (including the Elbrus region) and its border areas as they are all unstable. The biggest danger to travellers is kidnapping.
Emergency
Police, Tel 02. British Embassy, Sofiyskaya Naberezhnaya 14, Moscow, Tel 956 7400.
Customs
If you are invited into a Russian home it's seen as rude if you turn down any food offered.
Pets
Not advisable as quarantine rules apply.
Tipping
Very few places in Russia expect you to tip. Top hotels add between five and 15% on bills.
Tourist office
There is no official tourist office in the UK. You should be able to get information from the Russian Travel Centre on 020 7224 4678.


Telephone

+44 (0) 203 696 2870

Mon – Fri 8:30am – 5:30pm

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