Visiting Russia as a tourist in 2023 is possible, but may pose some challenges worth considering beforehand.
Yes, traveling to Russia as a tourist in 2023 is possible. Here's what to look out for if you're preparing for your dream trip.
First things first, it is worth checking if you need a visa to cross the Russian border. In 2023, citizens of some 65 countries can visit Russia without a visa. This includes most of the post-Soviet states like Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, as well as Ukraine.
Additionally, citizens of some countries in South and Central America - including Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Panama, Peru, Venezuela, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Uruguay, Ecuador - do not need a visa to travel to Russia.
Citizens of Israel, South Africa, Cuba, Montenegro, Thailand, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Andorra, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Mongolia, Botswana enjoy visa-free regime with Russia, too.
For the full list of countries, click here.
* Data for the infographics is from November 2022 and was obtained from the Russian consular information website.
* The status of a particular country is subject to change. We advise additionally researching the relevant information in each particular case before booking any trip to Russia.
* Visa waivers may apply for holders of diplomatic or military service passports, select businessmen, air crew members, members of a ship or train crew, professional truck drivers, organized tourist groups and people who have official permission to live in some border regions.
Is it safe to travel to Russia right now?
Russia as a travel destination received a fair share of negative PR from various sources in early 2022.
Some official travel accounts run by governments of countries like the U.S., Australia, Great Britain and others advise their citizens to abstain from non-essential travel to the country.
That said, it is always advisable to evaluate safety risks when traveling to any foreign country. Traveling to Russia is no exception. However, Moscow, St. Petersburg and other major Russian cities have been widely regarded as being safe, especially in comparison to other popular tourist destinations.
Little has changed in major Russian cities from the point of view of tourists or local residents. Consequently, the most extreme and vocal concerns over security may be disregarded as being too alarmist.
That said, logistics pose the greatest challenge for tourists traveling to Russia in 2023. A number of countries closed their national airspace for Russian air companies resulting in more complicated logistics for tourists who intend to visit Russia in 2023.
However, specific changes depend on a particular country from where a tourist departs. In some cases, direct flight routes remain intact. For example, nothing has changed for tourists from China, India, Turkey, Middle Eastern countries and the majority of post-Soviet states. They can book direct flights to Russia's main airports.
Tourists departing from European capitals will have to book connecting flights via Turkey or countries in the Middle East. This makes tickets more expensive and flights longer. However, it is still possible to travel to Russia from virtually any country in the world.
It should be noted that every country has its own nuances that must be taken into account beforehand. For example, the Indian Embassy in Russia advises Indian nationals against traveling to Russia via third countries. According to the embassy website, Indian travelers should choose only direct flights from Delhi to Moscow, otherwise they risk being denied entry into Russia.
In another instance, the British government prohibited its citizens from purchasing tickets on Russian airlines that were under sanctions. Nonetheless, the British authorities made an exception for those journeys originating in or within Russia: in this case, British nationals may purchase tickets from Russian companies without breaching UK sanctions.
Covid restrictions, vaccination status & quarantine
In 2022, Russian authorities canceled Covid-related restrictions for Russian citizens and foreign tourists, alike.
In 2023, foreign nationals no longer need to provide results of a negative PCR test when entering Russia by any mode of transport. Therefore, foreign travelers no longer need to take a coronavirus test in advance before departure.
Furthermore, Russian authorities lifted Covid-related restrictions that required visitors to provide a specific reason for visiting the country facilitating tourist traveling.
The only remaining Covid-related regulation is a requirement to fill in a questionnaire. Passengers - both Russian and foreign citizens - will be asked to fill out the paper version of the questionnaire on board during their flight to Russia.
Click here to find out who can travel to Russia without a visa in 2023.
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