Planning a trip to Russia can be very confusing these days. Following the 2022 sanctions, many well known booking platforms became totally useless.
I have travelled multiple times to Russia, in 2022 included and I share here a bunch of travel resources you might need to plan your next trip.
Bellow is a list of websites, compagnies and booking platforms I personally use in my travels and recommend (in no particular order).
Everything mentionned here is up-to-date and relevant to travel in Russia in 2023.
Booking flights without a russian bank card
The only airline flying from Europe (geographically speaking) to Russia without a massive detour. You can easily fly from Paris to Moscow via Belgrade for example. Not cheap.
Flying via Turkey might be the easiest way to reach Russia from the West. They offer plenty of flights to many russian cities.
FlyOne Armenia is a cheaper option with less availability though and long connection in Yerevan between flights in my opinion.
Booking flights with a russian bank card
I’d recommend to start your flight searches here. This is the favourite booking platform of many russians. It seems to find the best deals, and its calendar view shows which days are cheapest to fly.
Yandex is the russian equivalent of Google. The company has different booking platforms including Yandex Travel (Яндекс Путешествия) for flight tickets. I also check this site as a way to compare the prices with Aviasales.
Aeroflot is Russia’s leading airline.
They fly all across the country as well as interntionaly. Western countries are of course out of the map but they were supposed to start flying again in South Asia and the Middle East so check it out.
Note : Popular booking platforms such as Skyscanner, Momondo or Google flights do not offer/show flights to and from Russia anymore.
Ostrovok is the best alternative to Booking.com in Russia, especially if you don’t own a russian bank card. You can easily filter the search to show accomodation that can be booked without a card, no prepayment required.
Yandex travel offers more accomodation choices than Ostrovok. However in my experience a prepayment is required to book, with a card issued in Russia obviously.
Note : Booking.com, Airbnb or hostelworld for example do not show accomodation in Russia anymore.
Tutu is a very popular booking platform. For bus, flights, trains and even hotels. I use it to book my bus tickets so I don’t have to queue at the station. However bookings can only be made with a russian card. Even if you don’t own one, you can use it to research destination and ticket availability before heading to the station.
RZD is the national railway company. The interface (as well as the App) is very easy to use and has an english version. I recommend to book your trains on it instead of Tutu that can be slightly more expensive. Once again, russian cards only but you can do your research before buying your ticket at the station. (A VPN might be necessary to open the link)
LUX Express is an Estonia based bus company and your best shot if you want to travel between Russia and the Baltic countries/Europe without a flight detour. I’ve travelled with it between Saint Petersburg and Riga in September 2022 and can’t recommend enough.
Russian bank cards
Tinkoff is a neobank and has no physical branches but ATM’s all across the country. It is very easy to open an account and receive your MIR card within days. I have one and I am pretty satisfied with their service.
I have been using VPN.ac for several years now and I’m pretty happy about it : Fast speed, double encryption options (e.g. Russia – Netherlands).
Price starts from $3,75 / month.
Note : Roskomnadzor, the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media in Russia has banned plenty of popular VPN providers (they didn’t block them entirely but I’m no expert) including NordVPN, StrongVPN, ExpressVPN, Surfshark …
All trails is my favourite hiking App out there. Many popular russian hiking trails are listed on it. I really like the fact that there are reviews and photos of the trails by other hikers, it gives an idea of what to expect.
Rutrail is a russian website listing plenty of hiking trails around the country. GPX files of the trails are downloadable for free.
Backcountry (US), Bergfreunde (EU) or Alpiniste (FR), all the same online store for outdoor gears and clothes. I buy many of my travel gears on it. They have a large range of very good quality brands.
If you live in a country where Vinted operates, check it out, you can find amazing deals for second hand outdoor and travel gears that are actually brand new.
Tour companies + Insurance
As I’ve never done any organised tour in Russia, I can’t recommend you any.
About the travel insurance, many well known ones such as Chapka, World Nomads and True Traveller do not cover for Russia anymore. To apply for my 3 months visa in 2022 I used the insurance of my Visa card (yes my french bank card), and it worked..
However, if you have a company, a guide or a travel insurance (that covers for Russia at the moment) to recommend, please feel free to email me and I can add it here to help other people in their research.