Russia for Solo Travellers and Backpackers

As a solo and backpacker destination:

Russia is a challenging and tricky country to travel alone in due to the language barrier mostly. It has only been in recent years that the Russian government has allowed individuals to travel through this country without being on a tour so very few hotels, activities and transport options have English speaking staff.

There are many activities for solo travelers and opportunities to make new friends in hostels as there is a travel route that most seem to follow which usually entails, St. Petersburg and surrounding, the overnight train to Moscow and then out into the country around the golden circle villages.

The transport system is very good, local buses and trams are fairly straight forward, the overnight train (Moscow/St Petersburg) should be treated with caution, try to get a cabin with other travelers and lock all valuables.

It is important to carry your passport on you at all times otherwise the police will fine you. Russian people can come across as being stern and a hardened but if you make an effort (at least learn please & thank you in Russian), they will help you and make the trip very enjoyable!

Accommodation for solo travellers:

The hostels are great in the cities as they also organize activities and have lots of information on events and happenings in the city that might be of interest to travelers. Some of them employee Russian history students to do city tours which are great value and a good way to meet people.

Hotels don't seem to have these facilities to the same extent and the ones that do charge high booking fees in US$. In some of the smaller towns or villages such as on the golden circle there are no hostels available but there are hotels and monasteries which are cheap and friendly.

As part of the visa agreement accommodation must be booked for the first few nights in Russia previous to arriving as when you get there the hostel or hotel has to validate your passport which means you should take photocopies as the original is taken away for 24-48hours.

Budget for solo travellers:

Russia is a very cheap country to travel in when alone. Accommodation is around $15-20US a night when in the city. If you are off the beaten track or in one of the monasteries it is much cheaper, around $10US a night.

You can buy dinner for US$4-5 at a buffet bar. Activities are a little more expensive such as entry to the churches and ballet. (You can use ISIC cards for discounts). Transportation such as the metro is very cheap, the overnight train from Moscow/St. Petersburg is the only expensive ticket which is approx. $45US (but includes a night's accommodation).

As a budget solo traveler you would be looking at approximately $US40 a day including activities.

Trips and activities for solos:

Russia has many exciting activities for the solo traveler such as:

visiting the hermitage; attending a Russian Folk Dancing evening; looking at the many beautiful coloured churches; city tours; watching a classic Russian Ballet; experiencing a Russian bath to get a good rubdown from a local; being entertained by the prisoners from outside the St Petersburg Prison; exploring the Kremlin and John Lennon's tomb; tour of the KGB; checking out the chandeliers in the Moscow underground metro; as well as heading out into the country to see the remains of communism in communities and soak up the Russian atmosphere.

As there are no real tourist offices in Russia yet for backpackers, most of the above activities that need to be booked can be done through a hostel.

It is truly the most amazing environment to be in and a very different experience!

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