Tips for travellers
Russian culture has very much in common with European cultures in general. So, here won’t be any specific must-follow requirements or tips. If you are aware of common rules of conduct, you’re fit for travelling in Russia. Simple as that! Soon you will find that Russians are very much like anyone else in terms of human values and aspirations, habits, feelings, personal likes and dislikes.
The history of Russia is in general closely tightened with the history of “Old World” though it’s believed that the country takes a unique position in the world by connecting the Eastern and the Western civilizations and being both either and neither of them at the same time.
Sometimes it feels like there are two cultural codes existing in Russia, hiding one inside another – just like matryoshka dolls do! “Internal cultural code” is the environment Russians live in – this is the global contemporary culture of the world. It comes naturally as the minds are open.
But in often cases when it comes to interacting with a foreigner Russians gladly support any clichés or stereotypes about themselves, so, roughly speaking, if anyone offers you a shot of vodka at 8 am, talks to you about Gagarin, Perestroyka, bears and ice-hockey all of a sudden, or encourages you to have a caviar sandwich no matter what, you may be sure – that is not the way they usually act. They just want to let you feel the authenticity of their culture the way they think you expect it to happen.
Another Matryoshka doll! So don’t feel obliged doing something you don’t feel like doing. Just be polite and friendly, use common sense – and you’re sorted!
Any winter traveler should be aware that central heating in Russia is an omnipresent feature. All the premises including shopping malls, metro, hotels, theaters and etc. are heated. It’s always around +20 or even warmer indoors no matter how freezing it is outside.
Please keep it in mind and dress accordingly. Getting properly dressed for outdoor activities in a cold season requires multiple layers, warm hats and scarfs.
Travelling across the European part of Russia you should be prepared for humid and windy weather rather than for incredible frosts. Summers in Russia vary from warm to really hot with temperatures as high as from +20 to +35-40C, so don’t forget your sunscreens.
Having an umbrella could also be handy in case you get caught by shower.
Churches in Russia are open to everyone but as a visitor you should take care not to disturb any devotions or offend sensibilities. Women should cover their heads and bare shoulders when entering a church.
In some places it’s also required for a woman to wear a skirt – wraps are usually available at the door. Men should take their hats off and not wear shorts. Please don’t forget to keep your hands out of pockets.
Though uncommon for most places, but not forbidden and even desirable when it comes to souvenir markets of private sellers. Especially when you find yourself in touristic areas like Red Square.