We are deeply saddened by the Russia-Ukraine conflict. For this reason, we have temporarily ceased operating tours to Russia. We hope to see a peaceful end to this crisis as soon as possible.
Hundreds of years of western art, vast wilderness, and diverse landscapes await in the largest country in the world. Russia tours are the best way to experience everything this strikingly varied destination.
With 11 time zones of bewildering enormity, and landmass stretching from the melting pot capitals of Moscow and St Petersburg in the west to the icy Siberian wastelands and Vladivostok in the east, a Russia trip is guaranteed to intrigue, amaze and open your eyes to the land that gave us Tolstoy, Stravinksy and Kandinsky.
No other country has had such an overpowering and sometimes stormy history, the effects of which are still felt across the world today. A Russia tour allows you to discover the nation’s turbulent past with your feet on the soil where all that history actually unfolded. Take a stroll through the remarkable Red Square in Moscow, and admire the architectural marvels of St Basil's Cathedral and the Museum of History. An essential part of your trip is a tour of the grandeur of the Kremlin’s ancient walled fortresses, glittering palaces and swirly-spired churches that will fill you with awe.
Head northwest from Moscow and visit Russia’s cultural powerhouse, St Petersburg. Called the Venice of the North thanks to its charming canals, it is considered one of the greatest European cities and an essential section of your Russia trip. Uncover its intriguing history with a visit to the magnificent buildings of Palace Square, including the Hermitage Museum, once the iconic Winter Palace, and now one of the largest museums in the world – holding more than three-million artefacts, in the Peter and Paul Fortress across the River Neva where the city began, and in glorious Catherine Palace at Pushkin, just outside the city limits.
While Russia’s cultured cities are home to an abundance of architectural and artistic gems, its idyllic countryside offers a contrasting picture of tiny villages, Soviet towns and ever-shifting landscapes: from pine-carpeted slopes to rugged cliffs, lush grasslands to tumbling waterfalls, Russia is full of surprises for even the most experienced traveller.
Lake Baikal is the deepest and oldest freshwater lake in the world - it lies within the vast region of Southeast Siberia, along with rivers and forests overflowing with fish and wildlife, sandy wood-backed shores, majestic volcanoes, and towering mountains. One of the best ways to travel through this continent-sized country is by train - embark on one of the many incredible journeys as part of the Russian rail network, the most famous of which is the Trans-Siberian railway, taking you through Russia and beyond to Mongolia and China. Relax in contemporary comfort while the most breathtaking and diverse landscapes flash past your window.
Located between Eastern Europe and Northern Asia and with a total population of approximately 144.3 million, Russia is a fascinating and diverse country with an almost endless array of activities and sites to discover. It’s vastness is a huge part of its character and so it can be challenging to see all that Russia has to offer - with our Russia tours you’ll get a tailored experience that allows you to get the most of your trip, whatever your area of interest.
We’ve listed some of the key must-do things for your Russia trip, giving you just a taste of what to expect from a holiday to the motherland itself.
Moscow and St Petersburg are the two most accessible destinations that are covered extensively by our Russia tours; both are cultural hubs with a rich and tumultuous past. These extraordinary cities are some of the most vibrant and complex in the whole of the Northern Hemisphere. From Moscow, the heartland of Mother Russia, head northwest to the elegance and poignancy of St Petersburg, you’ll find yourself on a journey that inspires emotion and intrigue at every turn.
Built alongside the Moskva River, Moscow is a vast cosmopolitan city that dwarfs London, Paris and New York, covering more than 2,500 square kilometres, and boasts something for everyone: from art galleries to nightclubs, high end restaurants to authentic local eateries, cinemas and theatres, and countless architectural sights with a rich history behind them.
Take in the wonders of the Kremlin - officially ‘the Grand Kremlin Palace’, a monumental feat and a perfect example of classic Russian architecture in its many forms: from the stunning Cathedral of the Assumption, to the Great Bell Tower and the Armoury Chamber, the Kremlin offers more than just photo opportunities; it reveals the complex history of the largest country in the world.
The Red Square is a glorious sight for visitors, and those who are particularly curious about the nation’s communist past can gaze upon the preserved remains of their most iconic leader Lenin.
Our Russia tour takes you on to the beautiful city of St Petersburg with its opulent architecture and expansive squares. Visit the notorious Winter Palace and walk in the footsteps of the original Russian Emperors, gaze upon the gorgeous facade of Catherine Palace, walk in lush green gardens at St Isaac’s Cathedral, and pick up a keepsake down the city’s main high street, Nevsky Avenue.
If you’re the outdoorsy type, Sochi Region is the ultimate destination where you can take full advantage of Russia’s remoteness. Lake Kardyvach is nestled between three emerald-green mountains in one of the most stunning landscapes you’ll ever see.
Whether it’s heritage sites, historical settlements, bustling nightlife or tranquil countryside you’re after, you’ll find it all within the boundaries of Russia - embark on a Russia tour today and choose from an endless array of things to do there.
The best way to truly experience the cultural heart of a country is to try as much authentic food and drink as possible. Russian cuisine is as vast and varied as its landscape and cultures, and as a result, food is a real highlight of any Russia trip.
Nothing reflects Russia’s move towards westernisation more than the way the restaurant and cafe scenes in both Moscow and St Petersburg have transformed since the 1990s, so there are plenty of opportunities to try international cuisine - lovers of everything from French haute cuisine to standard American fast food will not be disappointed.
However, there are still plenty of places serving traditional hearty fare– though perhaps not quite so basic as back in Soviet times, and there are more and more fine dining establishments popping up across the country.
Traditional Russian snacks, or zakuski, are widely available, and caviar, an utter luxury in the west, is a comparatively inexpensive food (though still a treat) and served with soft and fluffy blinis and a hard-boiled egg. For the finest caviar, go for the larger eggs that are lighter in colour, but if you prefer a less intensely fishy flavour, order the cheaper, darker caviar.
Russia’s world-famous beetroot soup, borscht, is delicious and widely served, as are pickles, salted fish and cold meats. Fresh fish is more plentiful in maritime St Petersburg, where you can enjoy seafood and freshly caught white fish traditionally served with rich buttery sauces and the classic Russian herb dill.
Main meals are often accompanied by vodka, and vodka is often accompanied by nothing other than more vodka, often in flavoured varieties, though recent years have seen a move towards more temperate drinking, and you'll find beer and wine available as an alternative.
First holiday to Russia? Here are a few questions you might have.
UK nationals need to apply for a visa before travelling to Russia. The processing time is up to 20 working days, so you should leave plenty of time. You should also ensure that you have at least six months’ validity in your passport. Cruise passengers to St Petersburg and other Russian ports may spend 72 hours in Russia without a visa, provided they have booked their tours through an officially licensed tour/ cruise operator, such as Newmarket Holidays.
Despite increasingly fractious relations between Russia and the West, Russia is, generally speaking, a very safe country to visit. Large cities like St Petersburg and Moscow are very tourist-friendly, although petty crime like pick-pocketing is not uncommon in some tourist areas. There are a number of risky areas in Russia, where travel is advised against, including near the border with Ukraine.
Russia is the largest country in the world, so its climate varies massively depending by region. That being said, most of Russia experiences a continental climate, with long, cold winters and brief summers. In Siberia, however, temperatures in the winter regularly drop to –50°C. In the east, where Moscow and St Petersburg are located, summer temperatures hover around the mid-20s in the day, dropping to around 10°C at night, with milder, often unpredictable, springs and autumns, with moderate rainfall.
Generally speaking, the best time to visit Russia is from May to September, outside of the harsh winter and unpredictable late spring. That being said, certain destinations are best avoided in peak summer, when temperatures can climb above 30°C.
Russia has a wealth of sights and cities that attract visitors, but the most-visited cities are St Petersburg and Moscow. St Petersburg was Russia’s capital for two centuries, and is still considered its cultural capital today. The city is home to the Mariinsky Theatre and the State Russian Museum. Moscow, meanwhile, is home to the Red Square, Russia’s symbolic centre, which includes St Basil’s Cathedral and Lenin’s Mausoleum.
Moscow is the capital city of Russia, and one of the country’s most-visited places.
In Russia, they use the Russian Rouble (RUB) – for the latest exchange rate, see www.xe.com. The Russian Rouble has been devalued in recent years, meaning that visiting Russia is now cheaper for foreigners. Given the country is so large, prices do vary, but generally speaking, the country is very affordable. Larger cities like Moscow and St Petersburg have a range of options to suit all budgets for things like accommodations and eating out.
Regional cuisine varies in Russia, although generally speaking they eat a lot of dairy, including cottage cheese and sour cream, along with hearty staples like porridge, bread and potatoes. Pickled and fermented vegetables are also very popular, including sauerkraut, along with soup and dumplings. A salad course and a meat course are common components of a meal in Russia.
In Russia, they speak Russian, although English is becoming increasingly widely spoken, especially in larger cities and tourist areas. Below are a few useful phrases in Russian, with pronunciation in brackets:
Hello – Привет (privet)
Goodbye – Прощай (proshchay)
Thank you – благодарю вас (blagodaryu vas)
Please – пожалуйста (pozhaluysta)
Do you speak English? – ты говоришь по-английски (ty govorish' po-Angliyski?)
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