How to travel to Russia now ?

How to travel to Russia now ?

Trucks loading a passenger airplane in front of Domodiedovo airport in Moscow in Russia

Looking for up-to-date information on how to travel to Russia right now ? You’re at the right place !

Here is a simple overview of what you need to know to travel to Russia in 2024 from getting a visa, to a travel insurance, how to actually travel there to and also book a hotel and a train ticket.

People in front of Saint Basil church on the Red Square of Moscow in the evening in Russia and a sign wondering how to travel to Russia right now
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Getting a visa

You can get a visa to Russia easily in your home country at the embassy, consulat or through a travel agency. Depending on the length of your trip you can either get :

• a 16 days evisa online (no embassy needed) but not valid for all overland border crossings so be carefull when planning your travel itinerary
• A tourist visa : from 1 to 3 months, single, double or multiple entries
• A business visa : best if you plan to visit Russia for a long period of time over a whole year. E.g. I once used a 1 year business visa. I went there twice for 3 months each, so 6 months total in a year.

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Getting an insurance

Travel insurance

It is mandatory to have an insurance to travel in Russia and to apply for a russian visa, including the e-visa.

Most of the western insurance compagnies do not cover for Russia nor Belarus anymore. I recommend you Attollo Assistance, which is the European branch of Ingosstrakh, one of the leading insurance companies in Russia. It includes 24/7 assistance, medical expenses up to 35 000 €, repatriation etc.

• Best Russia travel insurance

A travel insurance certificate to Russia of Attollo assistance

Vehicle insurance (car/motorbike)

The international Green Card agreements on motor liability insurance with Russia and Belarus ended in 2023. Now you need to get an OSAGO (ОСАГО short for Обязательное страхование гражданской ответственности владельцев транспортных средств = Compulsory civil liability insurance for vehicle owners) aka the russian version of the green card for your car or motorbike.

I can get you a reliable and good one via Ingosstrakh, just contact me here with the length of your stay in Russia + details of your vehicle and I’ll get you a quote.

An old Lada car on the mountain road in Chechnya, North Caucasus

How to actually travel to Russia

Flying

There are no more direct flights from the European Union to Russia. No Western airlines nor Russian airlines fly from the EU, the UK, USA nor Canada to Russia.

Anywhere else in the world works just the same : you can fly from the Middle East, China, India etc to Russia.

If you want to fly from the West to Russia your best options are to go through Serbia, Turkey or the South Caucasus. I recommend you :

• Turkish Airlines
• Air Serbia
• Kupi.com for national flights within Russia (a russian booking platform based in the middle east = you can book with a Visa/Mastercard).

Trucks loading a passenger airplane in front of Domodiedovo airport in Moscow in Russia

Overland by bus

Going overland by bus to Russia is the cheapest way. You can go from :

• Poland to Kaliningrad with PKS Gdansk
• Estonia and Latvia to Saint Petersburg with LuxExpress
• Georgia to North Ossetia by marshrutka or shared taxi

Warning : the borders with Finland are closed until further notice and with Azerbaijan until July 2024 at least.

Un bus Luxexpress qui voyage entre l'Europe et la Russie

Overland by train

There are no more trains between the European Union and Russia.

If you travel the Transmanchurian and Transmongolian, the trains are running as usual. You can book train tickets from Russia to Mongolia on RussianTrain with a Visa/Mastercard.

How to booking a russian train ticket online with Visa/Mastercard

Overland by boat

Apparently there’s one ferry a week from Stokhom to Saint Petersburg with the St Peter Line and none between Finland and Russia but if you have proper info please message me or leave a comment.

In the Far East of Russia there are ferries from Vladivostok to Japan and South Korea taking both passengers and vehicles.

Boat transport in Sebastopol, Crimea

Overland with your own car or motorbike

You can still travel overland to Russia with your own vehicle, car or motorbike but be carreful of the border crossing you choose :

• Impossible to travel from Finland
• Norway (into the Murmansk Oblast) : the Storskog – Borisoglebsk border is open but is not valid for an e-visa.
• Estonia : Narva/Ivangorod is for pedestrians only until 2025, you must go through either Kunichina Gora – Koidula or Shumilkino – Luhamaa border crossings
• Latvia : Burashki – Terekhova border crossing
• Georgia : Verkhny Lars / Kazbegi
• Azerbaijan are closed until at least July 2024
• Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China should all be open as usual but make sure they allowed third country nationals if it’s a border post in the middle of nowhere.

Voitures qui traversent la frontière entre la Finlande et la Russie en hiver

Why third country nationals cannot cross the Belarus – Russia border ?

Third country nationals, meaning non Belarussian or non Russian passport holders are not allowed to cross the land border between Belarus and Russia : not by bus, not by train, not by private vehicle, not on foot.

Why ? Because there is no border checkpost. You will not be stamped out nor in on either side. Formally the border exists, but there is no checkpost nor customs control due to an agreement between both countries.

If you enter Russia via Belarus you will be considered illegal in the Russian Federation.

A sign warning of the border zone between Russia and Europe in both english and russian languages

Getting russian roubles

Due to the Western sanctions on Russia no European banks nor any Western banks will sell you russian roubles. Same at exchange currency offices in Western countries including the ones at the airports in countries sanctionning Russia.

Russian banks are disconnect from SWIFT and the Visa – Mastercard banking systems suspended their operations in Russia so your foreign bank card does not work there anymore. It’s impossible to get cash from a russian ATM.

The best way to get russian roubles is in Russia, directly at a bank or in an exchange currency office. I recommend to exchange Euros or US dollars bills in good conditions.

How to exchange money in Russia

A russian man exchanging euros for russian roubles in the street in Russia

How to book a hotel in Russia without a local bank card

The best alternative to Booking.com, Expedia, Airbnb etc in Russia is Zenhotels.

Zenhotels is the European branch (based in Cyprus) of Ostrovok, one of the main russian booking platform. You can book your hotels and pay directly online with your Visa/Mastercard.

A room with Kremlin view at the National hotel in Moscow, Russia

How to book russian train tickets online with a foreign bank card

It’s impossible to book on the national RZD train booking platform with a foreign bank card.

I recommend to book your train tickets directly on RussianTrain. The prices are almost the same as on the official website, the platform only charges a small extra commission.

You can book any kind of russian trains on it : fast speed train from Moscow to Saint Petersburg, all your Transsiberian tickets, trains to Crimea and even international ones to Abkhazia and Mongolia.

A train travelling through Siberia in Russia

You’re planning to visit Russia soon ? Let me know in the comments if this post has been helpful to you !

The soviet statue of the Motherland calls in Volgograd in Russia and a sign wondering how to travel to Russia right now
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