Consider these statistics on your flight to Russia: not only is Russia the largest country in the world, it is also the largest supplier of natural gas, the second largest oil producer in the world, and is home to the world’s longest railroads, most trafficked subway systems and one of the oldest lakes (Lake Baikal). Plan your Russia flights and vacations wisely – there is a lot to see in Russia.
No longer under communist reign, Russia is now a nation of individuality and diversity. When you book flights to Russia today, you’ll arrive in one of the best places in the world to see the ballet or take in the opera. Russia boasts a renewed sense of excitement. Cathedrals are being renovated, street market vendors are making money and the Red Square is back to being a high-traffic meeting place. Even literature is making a comeback in Russia. While some people were forced to read Dostoyevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” for school requirements, many travelers pass the time on their flights to Russia with a leisurely read of the classic book. Book a cheap flight to Russia now and avoid the crowds – the Winter Olympic Games are heading to Sochi in 2014 and the country is sure to be laden with crowds and tourists.
Russia is an enormous country with extremely different climates. It will get colder the farther north you go. For most of the country, summers are quick and winters far too cold and long.
Best Time to Fly to Russia
Moscow and St Petersburg are two of the most popular tourist destinations and are traveled to much of the year. The early summer (May and June) has the festivals, exhibitions, carnivals and concerts; autumn (September) is a great time to book flights to Russia for the foliage; and late winter (January and February) is when these cities are covered by thick falls of snow. Moscow’s temperatures can range between -22 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit; St Petersburg’s average winter temperature is about -14 degrees and summer highs are about 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
St Petersburg (and other northern cities such as Helsinki, Stockholm, Oslo and Aberdeen) enjoys White Nights when the sun does not set until after 10pm – twilight melts into dawn – between late-May and early-July.
Winters are bitterly cold. If you visit in the off-peak season, be sure to bring plenty of warm clothes. However, the winter is the best time to find cheap flights to Russia.
Getting around Russia
Aeroflot Russian Airlines, the national airline, has a comprehensive domestic Russia flight network. It flies from Moscow to several cities including St Petersburg, Kazan, Samara and Vladivostok
S7 Airlines is based in Novosibirsk and flies to several destinations including Irkutsk, Kazan, Moscow, Nizhni Novgorod and Omsk.
Transaero offers Russia flights around much of the country including to St Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Kiev, Odessa, Chimkent, Tashkent and Kamchatsky.
Rail: the Trans Siberian railway is the longest railway in the world. It starts in Moscow and chugs through Nizhni Novgorod, Kirov, Ekaterinburg, Omsk and over to Vladivostok.
Russian Railways operates a good range of passenger services throughout Russia, from Archangelsk to Zabaykal’sk. Journeys are inexpensive, if slow, but there are usually three classes of service on long journeys. Travel third class (Platskartny) for a more “Russian” experience. Moscow and St Petersburg have metro systems; good service and really beautiful stations.
Bus travel is also cheap and links cities and towns around Russia, but is not very comfortable. The main bus station in Moscow is called Schyolkovsky Bus Terminal.
The following chart gives approximate journey times fromMoscow
(in hours and minutes) to other major cities and towns in the Russian Federation.
Russia Travel Information
- Russia has more than 100 ski areas. Among the best are Mount Elbrus, which has the highest peak and year-round skiing; Cheget in the Caucasus Mountains in the Baksan Valley; and the Volen Sport Park which is about 40 miles from Moscow and has six slopes.
- Sochi, on the Black Sea, was Stalin’s preferred resort in the past and is President Putin’s fave today. Due to the warmest climate in Russia, you can swim in the sea in the summer and ski in the mountains (like Putin) in the winter. The town is undergoing a makeover as it is the host for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. The town also has the largest botanical gardens in Russia.
- Veliky Novgorod is the oldest Slavic city recorded in Russia, first mentioned in chronicles in 859. It is a beautiful, historic city boasting the cathedral of St Sophia the Wisdom of God, Russia’s oldest church, which dates from the 11th century. Detinets (the fortress) is the historic center. The architectural monuments of the town are listed on the Unesco World Cultural Heritage List.
- Kamchatka, on the extreme northeast of the country, is a land of volcanoes and geysers. There are active and extinct volcanoes, mineral springs and hot springs.
- Kostroma, in central Russia, is one of the country’s oldest cities and was close to the hearts of the Romanov tsars. Several of them, including the last tsar, Nicholas II, visited the Ipatievsky Monastery there. The Resurrection Church-on-the-Debre is a stunning, fairytale building, a beautiful five-domed affair.
- Volgograd was once called Stalingrad, scene of the infamous World War II battle between Russian and German soldiers. An enormous statue – 269 feet tall – called Motherland Calls! stands on Mamayev Kurgan as a memorial to the fallen. Mamayev Kurgan is a hill overlooking the city that saw some of the fiercest fighting between the forces.
- Best to book your hotels in Russia far in advance of your trip to secure the best rates. Moscow hotels and St. Petersburg hotels range from budget-friendly to luxury