Moscow Travel Tips

A final pointer we should impart on the prospective tourist is to accept Moscow for what it is. Once you have got to grips with the intimidating side of the city (which is far more oppressive in the dark and gloom of winter - making summer a better bet for most visitors), you can begin to unravel the unique atmosphere of this wonderful metropolis. It's fun, brash, dynamic, and has a unique and fascinating history that still echoes vividly in the life of Moscow and Muscovites today.

Here are a few things to bear in mind for your trip to Moscow. First of all, be prepared! Moscow is not the easiest place to be a tourist and if you don't take a few simple precautions it can be a miserable experience. The first thing to bear in mind is the weather. If you're going outside the months of May to September you're going to need winter clothing, and if you're going in the heart of winter you're going to need a lot of it! Leaving your hotel without a hat, scarf, gloves and warm, waterproof shoes (with at least two thick pairs of socks) is foolhardy - if not downright dangerous!

In Russia foreigners are required to always carry their passports with them. Russian police have been known in the past for targeting tourists to check their documents. If yours are all in order they shouldn't bother you, however they may try and fine you anyway (in order to pocket the cash!). Carry the phone number of your embassy with you and threaten to call them and have someone meet you down the police station if necessary. With Moscow keen to improve its reputation as a tourist destination hopefully such practices will soon become extinct.

One thing you must do in order to comply with the insane bureaucracy of the Russian visa regulations is to register your visa within 3 working days of arrival at the OVIR. If you are staying in a half-decent hotel or hostel they will do this for you. Otherwise take a walk to ul. Pokrovka 42, and get it out of the way. The office is open 9-6pm, but closes between 1-2pm for lunch.

Other things to bear in mind are that you can pay the world or next to nothing for pretty much everything in Moscow, so if your pockets aren't as deep as Roman Abramovich's then hunt around. Something you will struggle to avoid paying is special 'foreigner' prices for common expenditures like museum entry and sometimes even hotel rooms. This is perfectly legal (until recently foreigners had to pay more for plane and train fares too!) so there's no point getting in a huff!

Don't forget to post your own Moscow travel tips at the Guardian's Been There travel guide!

Above: What car does Crystal Waters drive? ...Lada-dee, Lada-da!

Below: Worth the prison sentence? Landing a plane in Red Square


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