Practical information Moscow and central Russia

  • Moscow and central Russia, Russia
    © iStockphoto.com / Mordolff
  • Moscow and central Russia, Russia
    © iStockphoto.com / Numbeos
Amy Adejokun
Amy Adejokun Expert destination Russia
Russia : the key figures

Area : 650700.0 km2

Population : 21200000 inhabitants

Jet Lag :

Moscow is 4 hours ahead of the UK in winter and 3 hours in summer.

Moscow and central Russia : Travel Information before you go!

Flights

The duration of the flight is approximately 4 hours. London is 1,555 miles from Moscow. The airline companies British Airways and Aeroflot operate 3 daily flights. EasyJet also operates daily flights to Moscow. FlyNiki, the low cost airline company founded by Niki Lauda, the former Austrian Formula One champion, will fly you to Moscow via Germany and if you book early, you'll get a cheap flight. The price includes quality service with free fresh sandwiches prepared by Demel (the imperial supplier to the Austrian court) and non-alcoholic beverages, as well as newspapers and magazines. You can also order a hot meal or a 'Gourmet Selection Box' from the cabin crew for an extra charge of between ?7 (£6) and ?14 (£12). The menu includes Austrian specialities such as Schnitzel, Spätzle and Apfelstrudel. You can take off from London Heathrow at 8:45am and arrive in Moscow at 5:50pm. The return flight leaves Moscow at 4:55pm and arrives at London Heathrow at 8:10pm. The airline works in partnership with Air Berlin and flights land at Domodedovo International Airport, some 20 miles south of Moscow. The Aeroexpress train leaves every half hour from the airport and will take you to Paveletskaya station in three quarters of an hour, where there are connections to lines 2 and 5 on the underground, just two stops from the city centre.
If leaving from Paris, French Aigle Azur and Russian Transaero Airlines operate flights from Paris Orly South Terminal to Vnukovo, half an hour from Moscow. Originally only Air France and Aeroflot were authorised to fly scheduled flights between Paris and Moscow. Aigle Azur now operates 4 flights a week and Transaero Airlines 7 flights a week.

Airports

Cheremetievo-2 International Airport is located 25 miles from the city centre (a 45 minute drive). Administrative formalities often take a long time on arrival. To get to the city centre by taxi, allow £20 for the fare, and make sure to negotiate the price before getting in. Some express bus lines, that run from 8:30am to 10:00pm, will also take you to the Moscow terminal in 45 minutes for a few pounds. You can take a taxi or the metro to the centre of Moscow, which is about 8 miles away.
Domodedovo International Airport is 20 miles south of Moscow. The Aeroexpress train leaves every half hour from the airport and will take you to Paveletskaya station in 45 minutes, where there are connections to lines 2 and 5 on the metro, just two stops from the city centre.

Security

Despite an active police presence, petty crime has greatly increased in the past few years. There are many pickpockets in town and they usually operate in subways, train and metro stations, on night trains, in markets and in tourist areas. Avoid walking around with valuables on display (jewellery, camcorders, cameras) and leaving any luggage visible inside cars. Make sure to be careful, without being overly paranoid. Avoid picking up wads of roubles off the ground. It's a classic scam to have you accused of theft then searched by an accomplice dressed as a police officer.

Languages

Russian is the official language. English is not yet widely spoken but it is nonetheless developing.

Required travel documents for

Valid passport and visa are needed. For the tourist visa, valid for three months, you must drop off a file at the consulate including your passport, three ID photos (size 3 by 4 cm), a form already filled in, dated and signed, a document from a registered insurance company covering medical and repatriation costs, a receipt from your travel agency indicating the name of the hotel you booked (with the dates of arrival and departure plus the reference number of the Russian tourist agency, in charge of the services in the country). Allow a week (two weeks for groups) for delivery.
Since February 2002, the procedure is less strict for stays of less than 72 hours. In this particular case, the visa is delivered upon arrival at the airport, at the counter where they check passports, provided you have purchased an organised trip or booked a hotel room through a Russian travel agency or through a registered hotel, at least 48 hours before the departure date.

Religion

The Muscovites are mostly Orthodox Christians. Few are from minority groups - Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Buddhist and Muslim.

Currency

The currency is the ruble (RUB), which used to consist of 100 Kopecks, though these are no longer in circulation. 1 ruble = 0.02 pound Sterling. The main credit cards (Visa, MasterCard and American Express) are accepted by most shops, hotels, restaurants, and airline companies and can be used to withdraw cash in banks and at cash machines. Travellers cheques, however, are used very little. If possible, bring cash in US dollars, preferably in small denominations and in excellent condition. There are many foreign exchange offices, so you can compare the rates to get the best deal. Avoid black market currency exchange in the street, even if they offer tempting rates, because you are likely to be ripped off. Banks are open from 9:30am to 4:00pm, Monday to Friday, while foreign exchange offices stay open until 7:00pm, even on Saturdays.
Any cash you are bringing into the country must be declared on the customs form when you arrive.

Local transportation

Bus, trolleybus, tramway, underground train and boats, there are many different means of public transport in Moscow. Most are cheap, the main difficulty being to find your bearings in this rather messy web. The complex network is far from easy to understand for a foreigner.
Buses - It is advisable to ask someone which line is the right one before boarding the bus. You have to buy your ticket (?off the stub') from the driver and stamp it in the machine by the window. You can also buy a pass, valid on all public transport, from the booths of the underground train.
Underground train - Fast, clean and cheap, the underground train is definitely the simplest way to travel on the condition that you have a bilingual map on you to help you decipher the station names. The train runs from 5:30 am to 1:30 am and there are peak times - in the morning around 9:00 am and in the evening around 6:00 pm. You can buy a token for each trip or use a rechargeable magnetic card, or else a monthly pass. The underground also links up avenues together and shelters many kiosks and peddlers. The decoration of the underground stations (statues, frescoes, stained-glass windows), either in the proletarian or in the Russian imperial style, is so spectacular that it is worth going down just for the visit.
Omni boats - They sail on the Moskva. The piers are spread out all along the banks. The fares are low and it is the ideal way to get a quick overview of the main tourist attractions. Some big hotels organize river cruises with dinner and show on board.
Taxis - Many official taxis (yellow) and unofficial (?tchastniks') drive around the capital city. You just have to hail one at random by raising your hand (they are available when the small green light is on, near the rear-view mirror). There are not any set fares and the vehicles are not equipped with a metre. This is why you have to negotiate the fare before leaving, knowing that they usually cost £3-6. Many private vehicles become occasional taxis, to make ends meet. It is common practise so do not hesitate to use them, their fares often being very competitive. You can call a taxi by telephone on this number: 927 00 00.
Driving - It is possible to rent a car, chauffeur-driven or not, for a very reasonable price, which varies according to the category of the car. We recommend to hire a chauffeur for comfort as well as for safety. You will find rental agencies (Avis, Hertz, Europcar, Intourtrans, Aerotour) everywhere in town and at the airport.

Health

No particular vaccine is required, but it is recommended to be up to date with the following: typhoid, tetanus, diphtheria, poliomyelitis, hepatitis A and B. Visitors wishing to stay in Russia more than three months must show an HIV-negative certificate. Tap water is not recommended. Despite city water carts that clean the streets energetically every morning, the hygiene conditions are often poor, in particular in public toilets. Most medicines are available without prescription in pharmacies and at metro kiosks. In case of an emergency, contact the European medical centre (Tel: 251 60 99). Insurance covering medical and repatriation expenses is mandatory.

Electricity

220 V.

Tourist numbers

Russia welcomed 20.2 million visitors in 2006.

Taxes and tips

Taxes and services are usually included in hotel and restaurant prices. It is customary to leave a tip for luggage porters in hotels, waiters in restaurants and taxi drivers.

Telephone

To call Moscow from the UK, dial: 00 + 495 + the 7 digit number. To call the UK from Moscow dial: 00 + 44 + the number without the initial 0. Useful numbers: Taxis: 927 00 00. Police: 02. Fire department: 01. Information: 953 50 01.

Moscow and central Russia : Useful addresses in the country

Before leaving

Russian Embassy
6/7 Kensington Palace Gardens
London
W84QP
UK
Tel: +44 207 229 2666
Fax: +44 207 229 5804


At the destination

British Embassy
Smolenskaya Naberezhnaya 10
Moscow 12 1099
Tel: (7) (495) 956 7200
Fax: (7) (495) 956 7201

Intourist (The official agency for the organization of holidays and cruises.)
Mokhovaia 13
Tel: 292 44 03

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