How to get ready for a trip to Moscow
There are few cities in the world that come loaded with as much wonder and mystery as Moscow. Rising proudly around the Moskva River, Moscow is stacked with an imperial splendour and striking Brutalist Soviet architecture.
Whether you want to spend a few days exploring the Kremlin, take an evening visit to St Basil’s Cathedral lit up in its fiery grandeur, or a stroll around Red Square, the personality of this majestically crafted metropolis will leave an impression on you for years to come.
With a rich culture boasting some of the world’s best ballet dancers, classical musicians, theatres, galleries, and even circus performers; there’s so much to see and do in Moscow that it can be easy to feel overwhelmed.
Fear not, however. That’s exactly why we’ve prepared a handy guide to the city, just for you.
Are you sitting comfortably? The visa process is famously strict. Start the official application process. Alternatively, many services will take care of the application process on your behalf, for example Intourist, formerly the official state travel agency.
The cost of a single entry tourist visa, valid for up to 30 days, varies and it's best to apply as early as you can. Note that it’s mandatory to attend a visa application centre in person in order to apply for a Russian visa, as they require biometric fingerprinting. There are application centres in London and Edinburgh.
For your application, you’ll need your passport, application form, a passport photo taken within the last six months and a Russian National Tourist Board booking form. If you’re self-employed, a company director, or unemployed, you’ll need to provide bank statements for the last three months, showing a minimum of £100 per day for the duration of your visit. Your passport will need to be valid for at least six months after the visa expires, and must include at least two blank pages.
If you are getting the visa yourself, the questionnaire here is where you should start, and will also provide you with your booking form. Also known as a ‘tourist voucher’ or ‘tourist confirmation voucher’, this needs to be stamped by your hotel or travel agent. An application form can be found here.
On arrival, if you are staying for more than seven working days, visitors must register with the local branch of the Federal Migration Service, although your hotel should automatically do this for you.
What to pack
As you might expect, warm clothing is essential if you’re travelling between November and March, where average temperature is -8ºC. Down jackets, warm hats and wool-lined mittens are worth packing. From the beginning of June, Moscow can get quite hot, reaching low 30s on sunny days.
Make sure your vaccinations for Tetanus-diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Typhoid and MMR are up to date before traveling. If you have a medical condition, bring enough supplies of all medications, clearly labeled and in original containers. If possible, bring a signed and dated letter from your GP describing your condition. There’s no longer a reciprocal healthcare agreement between Russia and the UK, so as always, make sure you have comprehensive health care. Visitors are advised to avoid drinking tap water or having drinks with ice cubes. Only drink sealed bottled water.
The best way to get into the city from the airport is to take the train, which is both good value and a comfortable ride.
The Metro is a tourist attraction in itself with its beautiful ornately designed stations. It’s also the best way to travel around the city, although walking is easy too within the center. Buses are useful for out of town sights, while taxis are affordable and abundant - although bear in mind that often taxi drivers won't speak English.
You’ll need to carry your passport at all times and remember not to take photos of any military or sites of strategic importance such as airports.
There are lots of useful online travel tools and apps to make your time in Moscow even more enjoyable. Some that will come in handy during your visit are:
- AccuWeather – for up-to-date local weather forecasts, wherever you find yourself.
- Currency Calculator – for staying on top of exchange rates.
- TripAdvisor – reviews of local restaurants and business, written by visitors like you.
- Google Maps – never get lost again.
- Visit Russia is the official Russian National Tourist Office with up-to-date visiting and visa information.
- VFS.Global can administer your visa application.
- Intourist offers tours to Moscow and will be able to help with arrangements.
To make sure everything is really taken care of before your holiday, book your Heathrow airport parking with us.
With our Meet & Greet parking service all you have to do is drop your car off with us and we’ll do the hard work of parking for you. You can get on with enjoying your trip while we’ll look after your car, and have your keys ready for you when you get back from your adventure.
(Official government advice for British citizens visiting Russia is available here.)
*Information correct as of April 2017
Whether you're jetting away on a city break or following the sun to the beach get ready to travel with our expert tips and guides.
Preparing for your holiday should be exciting, not stressful.