Hier klicken um ein anderes Land zu wählen

Backpacking in Russia

One of the probably last backpacker adventures awaits you on a backpacking tour through Russia. Big, bigger, biggsten one could describe the dimensions of the largest country in the world. If you leave the country for 5000 km, you haven’t even crossed half of the country. The famous Trans-Siberian Express alone travels far over 9000 km from Moscow to the eastern end of the country in Vladivostok.

During your tour you will not only pass through huge uninhabited steppes, which have become the doom to many an uninvited intruder, but also the Arctic taiga, with its dense primeval forests, the deepest and largest freshwater lakes and the highest mountain in Europe lie on the territory of the Russian Federation.

Backpacking in Russland - st petersburg

Backpacking in Russia – st petersburg

And if you’ve had enough of the Russians, just visit one of the other 100 peoples who live all over the territory. Travelling in Russia is quite easy, as all major cities are connected to a well-developed railway network. If you’re in a hurry, you can also take a domestic flight. But also with the car it goes always ahead and even cheaply, because Russia is a real Tramperland. Allegedly there are even hitchhiking competitions.

The journey to Russia also takes place by train from Berlin, for example. That’s about 2000 kilometres, but there are also regular trains from Vienna. There are a number of airlines that fly directly from Germany to Moscow or St. Petersburg. The further you go to the east, the more sparsely populated the country becomes. The cultural sights – in the sense of European-Western influenced tendencies – therefore lie in the West.

You have to go to Moscow, the capital of Russia. Red Square and the wild nightlife are world famous. More culture awaits you on your backpacker journey in St. Petersburg, the world’s northernmost megacity, which was built in a marshland. You should also visit Kaliningrad. Murmansk on the Arctic Circle and Vladivostok are really far away. Make a detour to Lake Baikal and let yourself be captured by the Karelia lake landscape on the Finnish border. All climbers will find the best mountaineering terrain in the Caucasus. You can climb up to 5,642 m.

In the cities themselves it’s best to take the buses. In the really big metropolises the Metro is also worth it. There are currently well developed bus networks in more than 120 Russian cities, plus trams, trams and suburban railway lines. As a rule, you won’t have any problems getting your hands on money, as cash machines are available in sufficient numbers in all cities.

As far as security is concerned, you should avoid the dangerous regions. Since Russians mess with anyone, they can change quickly. Today it is the border to Ukraine, tomorrow the border to Afghanistan and the day after tomorrow the border to Japan. A trip through Russia is not cheap, because the prices are rising. Only vodka is kept small by order of President Putin.

Backpacking in Russland - Moskow

Backpacking in Russia – Moskov

Culture in Russia

Never look at the Russians with contempt. Throughout its history, the Russian people have created unique cultural assets – in all fields. The Russian is proud of it and rightly so. Works by Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Tchaikovsky have left their traces for eternity in music and literature.

In addition, the architectural masterpieces of the tsars such as the Winter Palace or the wooden churches in some northern regions. In addition there are successes in science and space travel, plus sporting achievements. In itself, the common Russian in the country is a subject exploited for centuries. Nevertheless, people have always preserved their hospitality.

Even if it may sometimes take a little longer to warm up with a Russian, it’s worth a try. Because once he has taken you to his heart, you have won a friend for life. Just show restraint on the backpacker trip through Russia and don’t play cocky. This can be especially true for alcoholized Russians – and there are many of them that lead to shock-resistant solutions.

Backpacker Route in Russia

As you can easily imagine, there is a lot to see and experience in Russia. With such dimensions it is not impossible that you will encounter different cultures and geographical conditions on your backpacker tour through Russia. The differences can sometimes be quite blatant. Here you stand in the middle of the modern age and there fully in hardly touched regions. Moscow and the Taiga. Siberia and St. Petersburg are travel destinations that have nothing in common, but each is a total highlight in itself. But there is more to experience in Russia.

Route 1: The classic (15-20 days)

  • 2-3 days Moscow, the capital of Russia and largest city of Europe with the Kremlin and the nightlife experience.
  • 2 Days Museums in the Tsar City St. Petersburg
  • 2 days harbour bay of Vladivostok
  • 2 days Lake Baikal the deepest lake in the world
  • Experience 2 days of millennial history in Yaroslavl
  • 3 days Kamchatka – volcanoes and concentrated untouched nature
  • 2 days nature reserve Sikhote-Alin with last Siberian tigers
  • 2 days Novgorod – one of the oldest cities of the country
  • 2 days Ladoga lake with monastery facilities

Route 2: Backpacker Intensive Trip (up to 40 days and more)

  • 2-3 days Moscow, the capital of Russia and largest city of Europe with the Kremlin and the nightlife experience.
  • 2 Days Museums in the Tsar City St. Petersburg
  • 2 days harbour bay of Vladivostok
  • 2 days Lake Baikal the deepest lake in the world
  • Experience 2 days of millennial history in Yaroslavl
  • 3 days Kamchatka – volcanoes and concentrated untouched nature
  • 2 days nature reserve Sikhote-Alin with last Siberian tigers
  • 2 days Novgorod – one of the oldest cities of the country
  • 2 days Ladoga lake with monastery facilities
  • 1 day Kazan’s Kul-Sharif Mosque, the largest of its kind in Europe
  • 3 Days Yugyd Va National Park, in the Komi Forests – Unlimited Trans-Siberian Railway from Moscow to Japan, China etc. drive
  • 3 days of pig cold in Omjakon, Yakutia.
  • 3 days climbing the Caucasus Mountains and Elbrus
  • 7 days Black Sea Coast departure
  • 3 days nature reserve Wrangelinsel
  • 3 days Stanowoi Mountains
  • 3 days primeval forests of Komi

In Wikipedia there is a list of Russian nature reserves that have only been visited by a few so far.

Travel times in Russia

You can travel through Russia all year round – provided you have the right clothes with you on your backpacker adventure through Russia. However, you should avoid autumn when it pisses for days on end and the streets turn into mud deserts. You should stay away from the big cities during the summer months, because the air is stuffy and smog often prevails. It’s better to go in August or spring. Remember that the summers in the taiga are very short. There you will need mosquito repellent at that time.

Backpacker Budget in Russia

As far as prices are concerned, Russia is certainly not the cheapest travel destination. In fact, Moscow is one of the most expensive cities in the world. At least when the country was booming, but with the Russians that’s one thing. If you’re looking for trouble again or get it done, it goes quickly downhill again. A Russian has to make do with almost 200 Euro (subsistence minimum) per month.

Of course, this doesn’t work on trips, even on backpacking trips, because you have to pay for food yourself and also for your accommodation. Many Russians live in state flats, they are cheap. Inflation in 2014 was almost 12 percent, so you can practically watch the prices go up.

St. Petersburg is the second most expensive city in Russia but cheaper than the capital. Let’s have a look at some prices. The taxi ride from the center to one of the international airports Schermetjewo, Vnukovo or Domodedowo costs about 20 Euro. Food and drinks are quite cheap.

A miserable Big Mac costs about 1,30 Euro, water half a litre about 0,5 Euro, a Coke, half a litre about 0,90 Euro. In Russia you have to try the original kvass during your backpacker trip. The liquid manure from bread costs approx. 1.05 euros. Russian beer – half a litre around one euro, imported beer costs just under 2 euros.

Public transport in Moscow

The taxi in Moscow costs from 20 minutes about 5 Euro, at night one to two Euro more. Every minute costs about 0,3 Euro. It is best to take the bus or the metro. However, the taxi is safer, at least if they are official taxis. You can buy ticket packages for the Metro or the Tram. With the universal ticket (Russian: Единый билет) you can travel all public transport in the city. The universal ticket for up to 5 trips costs around 3 Euro. There is also more.

Rail travel in Russia

Russia is a railway country. Almost 90,000 km of railway network, parts of it without electricity, cross the huge country. Some routes have different track gauges. This is really something for railway nostalgics. The trains are extremely punctual and that despite the immense distances. The best way to travel long distances is in sleeping cars.

There are then different versions, which reach from the Deluxe – myagkiy (мягкий) up to the wooden bench, which is still under the 3rd class and is called sidyachiy. The fastest and most comfortable trains are the skorostnoy trains. Which trains go where, how long the journey time is and what they cost, you can find out on the page. You can also order train tickets right away.

Bus travel in Russia

There are also long-distance buses in Russia, but they are by far not as comfortable as the trains, where you have a wider choice of seating and sleeping accommodations and can move around.

Domestic fares in Russia

It is worthwhile to bridge the huge distances between different Russian cities with a domestic flight even when backpacking. Numerous local airlines fly through the area in Russia. Have a look at the homepages of Aeroflot, Transaero, S7 airlines, Rossiya Airlines, UTair or Yakutia Airlines for prices. Another source is the website of NNOV Airport, which is also available in German. Moscow – St. Petersburg costs about 60 Euro depending on the season.

Backpacker Accommodation in Russia

Lieber eine richtige Unterkunft

Better a real accommodation

Travelling in Russia isn’t really cheap, but it’s much cheaper than in other Western European countries. As far as the question of accommodation is concerned, you can calculate with average Western European prices. Maybe a bit cheaper, but that just depends on how the ruble stands. With the Russian money currency it comes again and again by the Russian policy determined, to blatant changes. For a simple hotel room you pay about 20-30 Euro per night.

That’s a good alternative to hostel beds, especially if you’re going on a backpacker trip for two. Private bathroom – that has something. Otherwise there are hotel rooms in all categories and price ranges. For a middle-class hotel in the city of Moscow you can start from 70 Euros. The beds in a hostel in Russia are much cheaper, but as already said, from two persons it is worth a cheap double room in a simple hotel. On average, you pay between 15 and 30 euros for a bed in a dorm of a hostel. Let’s have a look at what Hostelworld gives for average prices for a hostel overnight stay.

  • Moscow 12 -14 Euro
  • St Petersburg 12 Euro
  • Irkutsk 12 Euro
  • Yekaterinburg 10 Euro
  • Vladivostok 11 Euro
  • Kazan 12 Euro
  • Ulan Ude 12 Euro
  • Listvyanka 14 Euro
  • Novosibirsk 12 Euro
  • Nizhny Novgorod 9 Euro

An alternative are the private Bed and Breakfast accommodations in Russia. Accommodations with a higher level cost as much as a double room in a simple hotel. What’s better now is for you to decide for yourself. In B&B accommodations there is often still a bit of family contact and thus also the hot insider tips included.

Camping in Russia

Camping is not a problem at all in Russia and is also practiced by the locals. Many of them camp in the bushes and camp wild in the Caucasus and the Volga region. Basically you can camp everywhere, but for safety reasons the campsites are preferable for backpacking. Some campsites are conveniently located close to the city centres of the big cities. You can then get to the city centre itself by bus. Have a look or listen to the so-called “turbaza” in the big Russian metropolises. There you can camp and find other accommodations at low prices.

Backpacker Trips, Tips & Highlights in Russia

On your backpacker trip through Russia you should definitely take a lot, preferably a lot of time. Or you just make one region. Otherwise the dimensions are too gigantic. What belongs to the Must do Highlihgts in Russia? Certainly a trip on the Trans-Siberian railway – even if only a part of it. To see a white tiger in the wild is certainly the peak of happiness for any animal lover.

Go to Kamchatka and its overwhelming nature to discover and penetrate the incomparable Taiga landscape. Whale watching on the Kuril Islands is as spectacular as visiting Lake Baikal and the Caspian Sea or trekking in the Caucasus. There is even a railway line around Lake Baikal. Then the Golden Ring and the Silver Ring are worth departing. One includes the cities around Moscow with the golden domes, the other the cities around St. Petersburg – pure culture and history.

Backpacking in Russland - See und Natur

Backpacking in Russia – Sea and Nature

Highlights in Russia

One of the classic highlights of a backpacker tour through Russia is drinking vodka with an experienced Russian and trying original kvass at a street stand. If you happen to be able to attend a military parade, you’ll see what a man is capable of. In Moscow you can shop extensively in the gigantic department stores. Such a real Russian hat with ear warmers belongs in the wardrobe.

If you’re in Russia in winter, you’d have to take a sleigh ride on a horse-drawn sledge. That’s more than romantic. You can really let yourself go with the Russian caviar and a glass of local champagne pure luxury. However, the strong caviar taste is not everyone’s cup of tea. A section of the old Silk Road is also worth a drive.

Backpacker insider tips in Russia

Russia is full of insider tips – no wonder, given the size of the country. As I said before, take your time and concentrate on one region. Discovering Moscow or St. Petersburg alone can take days, sometimes weeks. Here are a few unusual Russian tips. Take a look at the largest lotus fields in the world in Astrakhan. Dutch tulip fields already have something. But such lotus fields in the region around the Caspian Sea are up to 15 kilometers long. If you want to experience polar bears in the wild, you’ll have to go to the Wrangel Islands. They are located at the Arctic Circle and belong to the Unesco Natural Heritage.

If you prefer it a bit morbid, but want to face the terrible truth about the Russian prison camps, you have to go to Solikamsk. From there boats go across a river to the former Gulag camps, about which the Nobel Prize winner Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn reports in his book The Gulag Archipelago. A tour to the diamond mines in Yakutia is also spectacular. Hundreds of meters it goes crater-shaped into the earth, in order to take out the gems. And if you ever want to have it really cold, then take a detour to Omjakon. Temperatures below 70 degrees are measured there. Dress warm is the order of the day. It will be hot again in Kamchatka at the still active volcanoes.

Backpacking in Russland - Berge

Backpacking in Russia – Mountains

Food & Drinks in Russia

Eating and drinking, i.e. enjoying is really enjoyed in Russia. However, there is a pronounced tendency among Russians to both types: to gourmet and to gourmand – but where in Europe and America is it not? Given the huge size of the country, it’s not impossible that the cuisine in the different parts of the country isn’t exactly identical. Nevertheless, it can be said that Russian cuisine loves it sour. Almost everything is pickled sour.

And that fits to the Russian mentality, because an old wisdom says that sour makes fun. It can be said that the original Russian cuisine is simple. After all, most Russians in the countryside were poor. There was little meat, which also has to do with the Orthodox Church, which at certain times forbids the consumption of meat. Over the years this has changed as the country has opened up to new markets, and the wealthier middle class also likes to eat an Argentine beef.

Food in Russia

Some of the most famous Russian dishes are soups. Solyanka and borscht are among them. Tasty bread is eaten with the soups. Another typical Russian speciality that you must try on your backpacker trip through the country are the stuffed dumplings, which are called pelmeni and cooked, cooked or grilled with all kinds of fillings. A good Russian breakfast includes a porridge made of buckwheat, known as kasha, which is eaten sweetly. Another Russian treat that is very expensive in the West is caviar. You can never try the sturgeon’s fish eggs again as cheaply as in Russia. Kavier goes well with Russian eggs or blinis. Of course you’ll also find many fast food chains in every Russian city, but try the country’s cuisine.

Drinks in Russia

Food and drinks from the market

As you may have noticed, the Russians have a real alcohol problem. The vodka is not drunk, but poured. Don’t you dare get into a drinking competition with Russians. That can have bad consequences. And you know that. Not everyone tolerates alcohol equally well. Aggressions are quickly released there. But you should take part in a real Russian tea ceremony with one of these impressive samovar vessels.

Russian tea tastes completely different than the tea bags from the German supermarket. In addition to the well-known international soft drink brands, you will also find local soft drink brands such as Tarhun or Baikal, which can also be enjoyed, when backpacking in Russia. Of course, the stuff is also mixed with the alcoholic drinks. Local beers are quite ok and also inexpensive. The best known are Stary, Bochkareff, Tin’koff and others. But you should never buy the real kvas in the supermarket, but always ask the locals where you can get good original kvas.

Backpacker Visa and Vaccinations in Russia

Russia is never peaceful, never has been and never will be. But the country borders too unequal countries. The Asians have invaded several times, so have the Europeans. But also the Russians always try to enlarge their already big terrain. Entry regulations are clear for Germans. But one cannot enter from everywhere. The following documents are sufficient to enter Russia:

  • Passport: Yes
  • Provisional passport: Yes
  • Identity card: No
  • Temporary identity card: No
  • Children’s passport: Yes (with photo) for children under 12 years of age
  • Still valid child ID according to old model: Yes

As always, the identity documents should be valid for six months after the date of departure. Each child needs their own identity card.


There is a visa requirement for entry and exit. You have to apply for your visa for your Backapcker trip through Russia at the responsible Russian embassy or consulate before you enter Russia. No visas will be issued at the borders. Have a look at the homepage of the Russian embassy for the details…

Medical information for Russia

Without sufficient vaccination against tetanus, diphtheria, hepatitis A and other infectious diseases you should not start your backpacking tour. Stay away from the radioactively contaminated cities. Otherwise you don’t have to worry about tropical diseases.Save

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *