Since we were young, the immense attention always struck us Red square of moscu or the palaces of St. Petersburg. Traveling to Moscow or St. Petersburg has always been in our sights and has resisted many times because of how expensive cities like Moscow can be, one of the most expensive in the world. But this time we have encouraged and prepared the trip with the purpose of not spending too much and trying to save costs, yes, and traveling for free, as we like.
Our only experience in a country similar to Russia was in Uzbekistan, part of the former Soviet republic or U.S.S.R., where there is a lot of Russian population and where part of its architecture we owe it to the communist legacy of the twentieth century. Similar yes, but fair.
When we start preparing the trip the first thing you realize is how complex it is get the visa, necessary to visit Russia, and the Cyrillic alphabet, so different from ours. In the case of flights it is somewhat easier, since you can find real bargains and direct flights in winter, but who wants to freeze ?. Anyway in less benign times you can find flights for less than € 300. Moscow or St. Petersburg are far from Spain, and that must be applied to the rate.
Preparations. Travel to Moscow and St. Petersburg
In order to plan a trip to Russia here are our recommendations.
You can get more information in our articles of the RUSSIA section
Search for cheap flights to Moscow and St. Petersburg
We were looking for direct flights, since the 9 days you planned to be we did not want to spend them at any airport. Also, not being such a long trip, about 5h, it is worth going by direct flight and not only that, the difference is minimal than making a stopover. Companies like Iberia, for the good as for the bad, as the Russian Aeroflot or S7 Airlines have direct flights. The latter, with the best prices.
You can fly to Moscow with direct flights from Spain both from Madrid as from Barcelona. In the case of Madrid, both Iberia, Aeroflot or S7 Airlines and in the case of Barcelona, both Aeroflot and Flying (only in summer).
But without a doubt the Skyscanner search engine is where you can find the cheaper flights both to Moscow or St. Petersburg as it compares prices between different agencies and airlines.
Search engine for cheap flights to Russia
Apply for a visa well in advance
For a few years and following the diplomatic relations between the European Community / Spain and Russia they make traveling to Moscow or St. Petersburg a little complicated. In addition to having to pay for the visa you must follow a series of bureaucratic procedures that more than one can take away the desire to travel to Russia. Everything is for traveling.
Our recommendations to obtain the visa are as follows. You have to follow them at a low table, since they are very maniacal.
- Make sure you have the passport with a minimum validity of 6 months with two consecutive and facing free pages
- Prepare a Photography recent card
- Fill out the online application form
- Hire an international assistance insurance, it is mandatory. They can manage it from € 20
- SUPPORT VISA / Invitation letter processed by a travel agency or your hotel. If you do not have them they can help you in exchange for € 30
- Prepare for all this about € 58 + € 30 per person and a wait of about 10 days
Visa for Russia
Decide the number of days in each city
One of the big decisions is decide how many days pass in Moscow or St. Petersburg. For many traveling to Moscow is the most, but for others the greatness of the empire is in St. Petersburg. We are not going to talk about the itinerary now, for that we will have time later, but keep in mind one thing, the dimensions of Moscow are colossal but it has “less” heritage of interest to see, so we recommend more days in St. Petersburg than in Moscow
A part is the starting point, we do not doubt, Moscow. Maybe because the dessert that is usually the star, St. Petersburg, we leave it for last.
Search accommodation. Hotel or apartment?
You have the option to book a hotel from any booking website like Booking or Hotels Combined or rent an apartment on websites like Airbnb. The accommodation in Moscow is really expensive and going to a hotel does not usually compensate unless you are looking for certain amenities.
Apartment in Moscow
In case your hotel does not have this service or it simply seems an unnecessary luxury we leave you several options to reach your accommodation.
From Sheremetyevo International Airport to Moscow
There are several ways to get to the city center, to Moscow. The Taxi is by far the most expensive, somewhat prohibitive, but luckily we have the Aero Express that is part of theSheremetyevo International Airport to the stationBelorussky, where there is a Metro stop. The ticket costs 420 RUB (a little less than € 6) and if you buy it online it will always be a little cheaper than at the box office itself. A difference of about 50 RUB. In the end it is not so expensive to travel to Moscow, right ?.
From St. Petersburg to Pulkovo International Airport
Although the taxi is somewhat cheaper than in Moscow, the fare is usually around € 20. If you want to save some money there is the bus number 13 that starts at the station Moskovskaya metro. Another option is to take a minibus called Marshrutka for about 30 RUB, they are old, but they are a little adventure.
Transportation in Moscow or St. Petersburg
If we talk about Moscow
Without hesitation, elmetro. It is cheap, very efficient and reaches everywhere. There are bonuses by number of trips or by days. For example, the 3-day one amounts to 400 RUB or, for example, the one with 20 trips to 580 RUB.
If we talk about St. Petersburg
As in Moscow, the transport par excellence is the subway, although both buses, trams or trolleybuses work very well for short distances. All with popular prices. For example, 100 RUB three bills. A 40 RUB ticket.
Orient yourself through the city. I do not want to lose!
Here goes the geek part but at the same time the most useful. The Russians do not speak English and they also have a tremendous capacity for liars. Therefore, you orient yourself well, or you can get lost very often.
There are many deapps for your smartphone where you can download the map of the city, with its streets, monuments and addresses. We use one called Maps.me, for those who love Android or Apple, or Here, for the new Windows 10. In any case it is very useful to bring downloaded the city map, without using 3G / 4G, in order to guide you, but the best thing is that you can mark points of interest not to get lost and know the distance or the type of transport. Don't you think it's great? Seriously, whoever wants to get lost can, but with this impossible.
Maps.me and Here
Transportation between both cities. Plane or train?
He airplane It may be a good option because if you compare it with the Red Arrow train can get you much cheaper at first sight. If you really do calculations and add the transport to the airport, then to the city center and if you also decide to spend the night, it is almost better to take a night train with bunk beds and so you live one of the classics of the former Soviet republic. The most classic train is called the Red Arrow (Red Date) orKrásnaya Strelá (Красная стрела), more expensive, but a tourist phenomenon.
To be able to buy a ticket on the Red Arrow a lot cheaper and without intermediaries Access the official website. Tickets do not usually leave until 45 days before, but the most important thing is to know which train to choose and especially the type of car. Hiring is not easy, but here are the steps to be able to hire it:
- signup in the registration form
- You will receive an email with confirmation
- Then access the web and select the journey. Origin, destination and day.
- Select the trainКрасная стрела
- Choose the type of seat:
- Luxury Luxury compartment for two with bathroom and TV
- Soft. It is first class for two people with two bunk beds.
- Compartment Second class with capacity for 4 people
- By last. touches pay with VISA and print the ticket or export it to PDF
Here you have a screenshot of our tickets. The red one Red Arrow, We got for 5,767 RUB, about € 79. There are also others cheaper trains and less tourist from 980 RUB, about € 14, very cheap! Who said that Russia was expensive?
How to hire the train to St. Petersburg
Understand the language a little
Russian does not speak English and be understood by signs sometimes it can be really difficult, so you should learn a little Russian or at least some other trick. The alphabet is key and if you carry this cutlet it will surely take you out of more than one mess.
Untruco for example is download the subway map in Cyrillic and in "Christian", that if not, it is very complicated to know where you stand. You can find these maps in Google with ease. No one said that traveling to Moscow is easy :).
Weather in Moscow - St. Petersburg
Russia it can be really cold in winter and if not, tell Napoleon when he tried to conquer it. In winter, going for a walk can be a good challenge for your body. In summer, the temperatures are very pleasant although the nights cool. Recall that the weather there is not as dry as in Spain, so at low temperatures the thermal sensation It can still be worse than Spain.
Here goes the time for the next 7 days.
Vaccines and stuff
To travel to Moscow or St. Petersburg it is not necessary to get vaccinated but there is one thing that you have to keep in mind, the mosquitoes. In St. Petersburg there are kicks, since it is a city built on a swamp. Do not forget the Relec.
Tours and excursions (without waiting for queues)
If you do not want to wait in line and also, you want to book your visits to Moscow or St. Petersburg in advance and you also want to talk to you in Spanish And without queues we recommend you see the following tours:
- River Cruise
- Moscow Metro Tour (super interesting)
- Communist Moscow Tour
- Puskin Palace
- Peterhof Palace or the Hermitage
- Moscow City Pass (Save money!)
See tours in Moscow
See tours in St. Petersburg
For a seven or nine day trip With a purely cultural dye it is a perfect destination. Traveling to Moscow and St. Petersburg does not disappoint anyone. Both cities exhibit the best of the Russian Empire, so it is called to be an almost perfect trip. Finally, if you are looking for a good guide, I am afraid that you will not find many of quality, at least from Moscow, although the Lonely Planet of Móscú in English is not bad as well as that of St. Petersburg.
You can get more information in our RUSSIA section articles
Photographs courtesy of Shtersterstock, total, we had not yet traveled to Russia :).