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Getting to Russia


By plane

Moscow and Saint Petersburg are served by direct flights from most European capitals, and Moscow also has direct flights many cities in East Asia, South Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and North America. US non-stop flights from the United States to Russia are offered by Delta (from New York and Atlanta to Moscow, Sheremetyevo) American Airlines (From Chicago to Moscow, Domodedovo), United Airlines (from Washington to Moscow, Domodedovo) and Aeroflot (from New York, Washington and Los Angeles to Moscow, Sheremeryevo). There are also non-stop services offered from Toronto and Montreal, Canada to Moscow, Domodedovo operated by Transaero. Please, mind that there are 3 international airports in Moscow: Sheremetyevo (SVO) in the northwest, Domodedovo (DME) in the south and Vnukovo (VKO) in the southwest. Getting between these airports is quite challenging, because there are no means of rapid transfer between them, so if you are planning a transfer trip, mind airports for all your flights. Usual taxi fee for a trip between any of airports is about RUB 1500, which is expensive unless you travel not alone. You can, of course, use public means of transportation which are much cheaper (ranging from RUB 200 to RUB 500 per person depending on means you choose), but if you don't speak Russian at all and first time in the country - you better think twice before attempting that, you might easily get lost. Sheremetyevo is an old airport built for Summer Olympics in Moscow in 1980 and hasn't experienced any renewal so far. Things are to change with the new terminal which is currently scheduled to become operational in August, 2009. Domodedovo is the newest airport: it's a high-class modern airport, so you'd be better off choosing flights bound for it. Vnukovo is a much smaller airport and is generally operated by low-cost airlines. There are airports in all large cities in Russia.

By train

Train service is usually reliable. You can get a direct train from many cities in Eastern and Central Europe to Moscow and sometimes Saint Petersburg. Helsinki, Tallinn , Riga, Vilnius, Berlin, Budapest and Warsaw are all possible departure points with daily services to Russia. There is also service from Moscow to all of the Central Asian countries at least 2-3 times per week and is rather long (3.5-5 days). There is service from Moscow to Baku , Azerbaijan (3 days); however, the Azerbaijan-Russia border is only open to CIS passport holders. The Trans-Siberian Railway spans the entire country and connects with Chinese cities such as eijing and Harbin, as well as Mongolia's Ulaanbaatar. There is also a very infrequent service from Moscow to Pyongyang, North Korea (essentially the Trans-Siberian plus a short link from Vladivostok to Pyongyang).

Most long distance trains have 3 types of cars: soft sleeper for 2 ( СВ' pronounced ES-VE, not in all trains), soft sleeper for 4 ( купе - kupe, most common) and hard sleeper with open compartment for 6 ( плацкарт - platskart). For details on domestic Russian trains, see below in the Get around: By train section.

By car

Traveling in Russia by car can be difficult. Roads may be poorly marked, if marked at all, and poorly maintained, especially outside the cities and towns. Car rental services are only starting to develop in major cities such as Moscow or Saint Petersburg, and are expensive.

Crossing the border by car is a peculiar entertainment.

There is no doubt that car travel is the best way to see the country, but it is a risky enterprise which is recommended only for the brave and capable.

Russian highways have highway patrol police (GAI) roadblock every 20 km or so. If you have an international license plate, prepare to pay a bribe ($5-$20) in some of the most corrupt regions (e.g., in the Caucasus). Russian traffic rules are very numerous and you will be found violating some of them. If you decide not to pay, at best you should expect to spend several hours at every road block.

Service is scarce and poor, and the countryside can be quite dangerous without experience and fluency in the Russian language.

It is possible to travel safely by car in Russia using a private licensed guide. Traveling independently is not recommended, especially for the non-Russian speaker. Guides generally provide their own cars or vans and know the roads, the customs and the countryside making seeing small towns and historic sites possible.

By bus

A few bus companies, most notably Eurolines, operate international coach services from a number of destinations to Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Tallinn, Helsinki, Riga, Vilnius, Warsaw and Berlin all have regular services to Russia.

By boat

Ferry services operate in the summer between Sochi and Turkey's Trabzon. In Vladivostok there is a scheduled ro-ro ferry to Busan and numerous lines to the different Japanese ports, however they are mostly oriented to the used Japanese car imports and less to tourism, there is also a weekly service in summer between Korsakov on Sakhalin and Wakkanai on the Japanese island Hokkaido. Cruise ships are also call to Russian ports frequently.

Source: Wikitravel.org