Top events in Russia

October
02

IgroMir is Russia's first exhibition of interactive entertainment, consoles and computer games. Visitors to the event get a first-class insight...

October
09

Theatres across the city celebrate the performing arts, with guest actors, artistes and clowns from across the Baltic region. Chekhov, Dostoevsky...

October
13

Russia's answer to Wimbledon captures the city's attention for nine days in October.

The Kremlin, Rostov
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The Kremlin, Rostov

© www.123rf.com / Vitaly Titov

Russia Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

17,075,400 sq km (6,592,849 sq miles).

Population

142.5 million (2013).

Population density

8.3 per sq km.

Capital

Moscow.

Government

Federal republic since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Head of state

President Vladimir Putin since 2012.

Head of government

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev since 2012.

Electricity

220 volts AC, 50Hz. Russia uses a standard two-pin European plug.

Russia is at once breathtaking, baffling and stunningly beautiful. Monumental in every respect, it’s a land where untamed wilderness sits alongside bustling urban centres, and adventure lurks around every corner. From imperial splendour to icy Siberian tundra and from time worn Soviet-era monuments to uber-hip urban culture, Russia is a land of contradiction and superlatives. No wonder Churchill described it as “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”

In the west of this vast country, the cities of St Petersburg and Moscow serve up sweeping postcard sights by the dozen. Moscow is the rapidly beating heart of the ‘New Russia’, where Asia and Europe combine to create a boisterous metropolis on a grand scale. Whether it’s history, culture or a hedonistic nightlife you’re after, Moscow certainly has it all. St Petersburg, with its majestic film set of palaces, cathedrals and waterways is well deserving of the title ‘Venice of the North.’ Peter the Great’s ‘Window on the West’ is the most European of all the Russian cities with its baroque and rococo grandeur mirroring (and exceeding) the best of the grand capitals of Europe.

For the first time in its history, Russia is now wide open for foreign visitors to experience, and exploration beyond the two main hubs is well advised. The Golden Ring, a collection of ancient gems, transports the traveller back to a bygone age. Towns such as Suzdal and Vladimir, rich in old world charm are a daytrip from the capital, and with Europe’s longest river the Volga travelling south through Russia’s rich heartland to the Caspian sea, it is possible to witness a varied selection of cities, panoramas and peoples. These in turn provide a magical insight into the country beyond its increasingly Westernised veneer.

Those who look further afield towards the east, meanwhile, will find a land of varied, often sublime natural beauty. The region of Russia stretching from the Ural Mountains to the Pacific Ocean in the east is vast, rich in diverse cultures and contrasting landscapes. From the lake dwellers of Baikal and the old imperial city of Irkutsk (The Paris of Siberia), the mountains of the Altai and the shamans of Tuva, Siberia has many secrets. It is an area long hidden, rich in mythology and today remains much of a paradox.

It is a combination of the above and so much more, fused with a touch of mystery that is drawing an increasing number of tourists to the Russian Federation, all eager to discover and experience the puzzles and mythologies of modern Russia for themselves. Numbers are set to increase further still in the run up to 2018 when the country will play host to the football World Cup. The poet Fyodor Tyutchev wrote: ‘Russia cannot be understood…In Russia one can only have faith’ and it has been said that Russia is impenetrable. Indeed, perhaps indeed she is. However you’ll have the time of your life trying to find out!

Travel Advice

Last updated: 19 September 2014

The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to within 10km of the border with the Ukrainian Donetsk and Lugansk Oblasts.

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to within 10km of the border with the Ukrainian Kharkiv Oblast.

The FCO advise against all travel to Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan and the districts of Budyonnovsky, Levokumsky, Neftekumsky, Stepnovsky and Kursky in Stavropol Krai.

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to North Ossetia, Karachai-Cherkessia and Kabardino-Balkaria (including the Elbrus area).

There are on-going armed clashes, kidnappings, seizure of buildings and other violent incidents in the Donetsk, Lugansk and Kharkiv oblasts of Ukraine bordering Russia. The picture remains volatile and uncertain. However, it is clear that a number of border crossing points are insecure, and fighting is taking place across the border, with deaths reported in Russia. You should remain vigilant throughout regions of Russia bordering Ukraine, and avoid all demonstrations and public gatherings.

There is a high threat from terrorism. Attacks have occurred most frequently in Moscow and in the North Caucasus. The most recent attacks took place on 29 and 30 December in the city of Volgograd. You should remain vigilant in all public places.

Political rallies can occur in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other places across Russia. Check media for the latest information, be vigilant, and avoid any demonstrations. See Political Situation.

You should be aware of the risk of street crime. See Crime

Current figures are not always available. However, British nationals made around 127,000 visits to Russia in 2011. Most visits are trouble-free.

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.

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