Unless you have been living in a cave the past few months, you are most probably aware of the current world situation especially between Russia, Ukraine and the entire Western world. In this post I won’t talk about whether it is moral or not to travel to Russia right now nor won’t express my political views because *reminder : this is a travel blog*
However you are likely to have ended up here looking for informations to actually travel to the Russian Federation this summer or later this year (unfortunately the current situation looks like it is going to last a little while …). Good news for you (us, me included), yes it is possible to travel to Russia in 2022 and I am going to explain you all (sort of) about it !
This guide contains everything you need to know about visas for westerners, border crossings, flying to Russia, how to book your tickets and more.
Disclaimer : I am a regular tourist & french (EU) passport holder, not a travel agent nor embassy staff. This post is for informative purposes only as I have done lots of research including speaking to local friends of mine to know how to travel to Russia this coming summer.
This post is about tourism related travels – if you wish to visit relatives in Russia other rules apply, contact your local embassy.
Last updated : 06/11/2022
Getting a visa
If you don’t need a visa to visit Russia good for you ! It also mean that your country is probably not on the “unfriendly countries list“, a list published by the Russian governmet of countries * I quote* “hostile towards the Russian Federation”. It countains 48 countries to this day including all western countries. However it does not stop the Russian embassies and consulats in those countries to issue tourist visas.
Most of these countries’ governments only (strongly) advice against travelling there but do not prohibit it : meaning it is really up to you if you decide to go or not to go.
It is definetly a case by case situation, you should call the russian embassy/consulat in your home/residence country to ask them directly if they issue tourist visas at the moment.
Speaking for France, they definitely do and actually never stopped.
How to enter Russia
Land borders seem to be all closed for third country national tourists almost since the beginning of the Covid pandemic. For example you can’t cross the border between Georgia and Russia unless you’re a Russian or Georgian citizen.
Entry must be by air only. Feel free to share your experience in the comments !
Flying from western countries
Because land borders can’t be crossed for now, the only option is flying. At the time of writing (late may 2022) there aren’t any flights between european countries (including Switzerland) to Russia or vice versa.
Your best shot to reach Moscow or elsewhere in the Federation is flying through Turkey, the Caucasus, the Middle East (quite a detour though) or … Serbia ! Yes Serbia, right in the middle of Europe !
AirSerbia has daily flights to many Russian cities. You can book directly on their website a flight from Paris to Moscow via Belgrade for example. Serbia’s capital is the best transit place between Russia and Europe, without any massive detour.
Armenia is also a good option in my opinion if you wish to travel to the North Caucasus (or reach Moscow). There are direct flights from Paris to Yerevan, and from there you can easily fly to Krasnodar or Sochi. Check out ArmeniaFly, ArmeniaAirways and FlyOneArmenia.
Georgia can also be a great transit place as EU passport holders have visa free to enter the country. A few foreign airlines flying from Tbilissi to Moscow for example are : Pegasus, Turkish Airlines Qatar Airways, FlyDubai …
There are truly quite a bit of options to reach Russia from Europe, you just have to be resourceful.
Yerevan – Moscow
Paris – Sochi via Belgrade
I take Paris as an example because it is easy to reach from any Western country.
Flying from elsewhere
Everywhere else in the world, airlines seem to be operating as usual. For example Emirates still flies to Russia. You can book a flight from Dubai to Moscow directly on their website. You can also find flights from India and most of Asia.
Buying airplanes tickets
Many well known booking platforms stopped displaying informations on flights to Russia such as Skyscanner, Kayak, Momondo and plenty others. It means you can’t book a flight to anywhere in the Russian Federation through them considering you can’t find them in the first place. However, flights exist still.
You cannot book a flight on russian platforms or russian airline companie’s websites with a Visa/Mastercard. It means you can’t fly into Russia with a local airline unless you buy the ticket directly at the airport, or ask local friends of yours (if you have) to pay for your ticket with their russian card using the MIR payment system.
To know which airlines fly there, I recommend to check on Avia.tutu.ru and Travel.yandex.ru (google translate the page), find the foreigner airlines flying from your departure city into Russia and book directly on these airlines’ websites.
Some airlines such as Pegasus might not display flights to Russia because of your IP address location, for instance a french IP address won’t work. Use a VPN. * Note : I have also heard of booking not going through because of the country the Visa/Mastercard has been issued – Facts that I did not verified/experienced myself*
Let me know about your experience buying a flight to Russia in the comments !
Extra things to know
- The Russian authorities require a 48 hours negative PCR test in English or Russian.
- There is an “application form for those who are on flights to the Russian Federation for border crossing“. It is apparently some sort of form related to Covid to fill up and give at the Russian border. I got it from the visa center of Strasburg (France) but I guess every russian embassy, consulat or visa center has a link to it. They probably have it at the border but it doesn’t hurt to get it before because depending on where you will land, they might only have a russian version.
- Bring enough cash for the duration of your trip. In my experience 50€ banknotes are very easy to change anywhere. I think it is best to bring euros or US dollars, which are “popular” and valuable currencies. Don’t change it all at once, the ruble rate is highly unstable these days …
- Russian people will not hate us because we are westerners. If you decide to travel to Russia you obviously understand that goverment doesn’t equal people. So do they.
Are you planning a trip to Russia anytime soon ?