How to do Russia right

If you’re traveling to Russia for the FIFA World Cup, you’re in for a treat. A huge country with an incredible history awaits for you. Russia is the land of ballet, countless churches, and breathtaking palaces. If you’re planning a visit, here are some tips from a local on how to do Russia right.

1. Language

Russia street sign

If you travel during the FIFA World Cup, there will be English speaking volunteers to help you. However, it might help to learn the basics of the Russian alphabet – that way you’ll be able to read the street signs to know your location. Also, people are not as mean as they look! The hard exterior is just a façade; people are actually kind and will help you if you’re lost.

Basic words: 

Hello: Privet (informal) / Zdravstvujte (formal)

Goodbye: Poka (informal) / Do Svidaniya (formal)

Thank you: Spasibo

2. St Petersburg

St Petersburg

St Petersburg is famous for having ‘white nights’ and moveable bridges that go up every night and don’t go down till dawn. One tip: don’t get stuck on the ‘wrong’ side of the canal, since you won’t be able to cross back till dawn or have to pay for a long cab ride. However, the sight of the bridges going up is truly magical. It is accompanied by classical music and an occasional light show with fireworks. Since it never gets fully dark, you can spend the whole night walking around and exploring the city. The white nights of St Petersburg are described as the most romantic experience in Russia.

3. Moscow

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Russian’s like to say ‘Moscow never sleeps’. Whether you are looking for a cultural experience in the world famous Red Square, or the metropolitan big city experience with wild parties, Moscow truly has something for everyone.

4. Money

Russian money rouble

Russia is a cheap country! You can still find expensive restaurants, but traveling on a tight budget will not be a problem here. Russian currency is called rouble. Don’t feel pressured to exchange money ahead of time – you can do it practically anywhere here.

5. Traditions

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You might be surprised to hear this, but Russians consume more tea than vodka. This is truly a tea country (Russia has the fourth-highest tea consumption per capita in the world), with its own tea-drinking traditions. So when in you are in Russia, make sure you try tea with jam. Yes, jam! Russians put a couple of teaspoons of raspberry, strawberry, currant or other kinds of jams in their tea. Stir it properly, grab some pastry, and enjoy a cup of tea Russian style.

6. “I’ll be back”

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Most importantly, don’t be scared. The scary stereotypes will not prove to be true, and at the end of the trip, you’ll be surprised to hear yourself say “I want to come back!” If you have a chance, travel to more cities other than St Petersburg and Moscow, because Mother Russia has a lot to offer.

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