A short guide to travelling to Russia in 2024

A short guide to travelling to Russia in 2024
12 December 2023

A trip to Russia required solid preparation in the best of times, so please read the following lines carefully before booking. Interestingly, some recent developments have made travel actually easier. The recent emergence of e-visa is one of these developments.

E-Visa and Paper Visa

Electronic visas are valid for up to 16 days and for one entry only. You can apply for an e-visa without additional documentation either at the website of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs or use our own Russian visa application form (service fee applies). Only nationals from these countries can apply for an e-visa.

For travel beyond 16 days and for nationals not eligible for an e-visa, you need to check your options with your nearest Russian consulate. Liden & Denz provides a comprehensive visa service in cooperation with the Russian consulate in Bern, Switzerland. We are authorised to provide visa handling services including medical insurance and supporting documentation for all EU nationals and residents of Switzerland of any nationality.

Travel to Russia

Most Western countries have stopped flying to Russia (and have banned Russian airlines from entering Western airspace), but there are workarounds, especially if you travel to St.Petersburg. Frequent bus services from nearby Helsinki, Tallinn and Riga connect the imperial capital with the outside world. Gdansk, which is near Kaliningrad, offers an alternative bus route. Kaliningrad airport connects to all major airports inside Russia. It is very easy to book online bus tickets with specialised operators like Luxexpress, Ecolines and others. Both St.Petersburg and Moscow are accessible by air with direct flights from Istanbul, Belgrad, Dubai and further hubs in Asia and Africa.

Money

International credit cards do not work in Russia. Please try to book and pay for as many services as possible (such as hotels) before travelling to Russia. Take enough cash of a major currency with you. Amounts over the equivalent of USD 10000 need to be declared at the border. Once in the country, you can either exchange your currency into cash Rub or open very easily a bank account for non-residence that includes a local debit/bank card. That will take no longer than 48 hours and can be done online, sometimes even before leaving for Russia. Ask us for a short-list of banks we recommend.

Communication

The Internet works as everywhere else. As roaming charges will be high, we highly recommend a local prepaid SIM card in case you stay longer than just a few days. You will need your Russian mobile number to set up apps for taxi, food delivery, local banking and many other online services. 

Border control

All Russian borders are controlled by the FSB and while foreign visitors usually pass the border without a single question asked, you are likely to become a “person of interest” if you have recently visited Ukraine or are a well-known blogger with a digital footprint that may or may not contradict with some of the more draconian laws issued since 24.2.2022. If you turn out to be a person of interest, the authorities can check your social media profile and your postings on your mobile phone or on your notebook. In that case you might be in for additional questions or you might even be refused entry. We have not heard of any arrests of foreign nationals at the border unless you carry drugs (which is a very bad idea anyway).

VPN

Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin are blocked in Russia. WhatsApp, Telegram, VK are fully accessible. You can still check your social media on Insta but only by using a VPN, which you will probably need anyway as quite a few online services are not available any longer in Russia (like airbnb, booking.com etc). Which services are blocked seems arbitrary and is hard to predict. The use of a VPN service inside Russia will not get you into any legal trouble.

Public places

In the unlikely event you come across an anti-government demonstration, don’t take any pictures, turn around and walk away. Keep your passport and visa with you at all times. Apart from that, the streets are very safe and despite the geopolitical tensions, you don’t need to fear negative comments, even if your home country participates in Russian sanctions. Just do not enter in any public debates with people you do not know.

Travel warnings

Check the often scary worded travel warnings from your government before embarking on a trip. If you are not scared, welcome to Russia!

What else?

There is no shortage of food, restaurants and bars are full and busy till late. Domestic travel by metro, train and air transport works smoothly, as usual.

We are here to help

Contact us at [email protected] for updated information and use our normal emergency numbers if you are stuck at the border.

6 responses to “A short guide to travelling to Russia in 2024”

  1. Lena says:

    Travel to Russia as a German citizen

    Hi,

    I am a German citizen, born in Kazachstan and wanted to visit Russia for quite some time and would now be able to afford it. But since the situation between Russia and the western countries is quite tense and there are a lot of travel warnings I have serious concerns. I wanted to ask if you have any experience with western (especially European/ German) travelers in 2024. I´m looking foreward to your honest advice and estimation.

    Thank you very much,

    Lena

  2. Dear Lena,

    Thank you for your comment!
    We answered your questions by email.

  3. Eduard says:

    Hi, this is Eduard from Slovenia. I am planing to do summer road trip of Scandinavian countries with camper van. As I will be visiting and traveling through Tallinn, my next stop I would like to do is visit Saint Petersburg by crossing at Narva. I would like to ask you for 2 information:
    – is border crossing at Narva with camper van possible,
    – as I would like to continue with travel up north, is it possible to leave the country on Finland border? Otherwies I will need to travel back to Tallinn and use ferry to Helsinki.

    Thank you very much for you reply,

    Eduard

    • Hi Eduard,

      Thank you for reaching out with your questions. It sounds like you have an exciting summer road trip planned!

      Regarding your question about the Narva border crossing, it is currently impossible to cross into Russia at Narva with your vehicle. However, you have a couple of alternatives for entering Russia with your vehicle. You can cross the border in Otepää (Estonia) or Kirkenes (Norway). So, you can enter Russia through Otepää and exit through Kirkenes or vice versa.

      If you need any assistance getting a visa to Russia, booking a hotel in St. Petersburg, or issuing medical insurance, visit our sister website visarussland.ch.

      I hope this information helps you plan your journey more smoothly. Have a fantastic road trip through the Scandinavian countries and enjoy your visit to Saint Petersburg!

      Safe travels,
      Sasha Shevjakova

  4. Eduard says:

    Hi and thank you a lot. I will definitely contact visarussland.ch.

    Just to clarify, you are saying that border crossing with own car is possible in Otepaa. I can only see city of Otepaa in Estonia and no border with such name. Am I missing something?

    Thank you,

    Eduard

  5. Sorry, my mistake! Luhamaa, this place is called Luhamaa.

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