Russia Holidays

There is still a grittiness and unpredictability to Russia that makes every visit a new adventure. The sheer size and variety of locations ensure that one visit is not enough. While Moscow and St Petersburg have become showcases of western opulence, move even a short distance outside of the cities and you enter a world which has, through force of circumstance, retained its traditional ways, where idyllic villages sit nestled in forests of silver birch.

Explore the highlights of Russia

St Petersburg

St Petersburg

  • Explore the formal gardens of Peterhof. 
  • Marvel at the hundreds of treasures within the Hermitage.
  • Admire the frescoed ceilings and icon adorned walls of St Isaacs Cathedral.


  • Visit the Kremlin and its cathedrals.
  • Attend a ballet performance at the world-famous Bolshoi Theatre.
  • Understand Russian art with a visit to the Tretyakov galleries.


Lady, Trans Siberian Railway

Trans-Siberian Railway

  • Board the Golden Eagle train and travel across Russia’s wonderfully unexplored interior.
  • Travel along the shores of Lake Baikal.
  • Meet with nomadic families in Mongolia.
Golden Ring, Russia

The Golden Ring

  • Explore ancient Russian towns where time stands still.
  • Visit the charming riverside town of Suzdal.
  • Stay in a converted monastery.


Our Russian specialists recommend

  • Take a short break to St Petersburg, arguably one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
  • Join Katya Galitzine to explore a very different side of St Petersburg on the Jewels of St Petersburg Tour departing 26th February 2020.
  • Moscow - a very modern city but look behind the façade to find the treasures of traditional Russian architecture which can still be found.
  • Lake Baikal and the surrounding areas - the cities of Irkutsk and Ulan Ude, in particular, are fascinating with the remnants of ethnic culture which escaped Sovietisation.
  • Embark on an epic rail journey from Moscow to Vladivostok on board the Trans-Siberian Railway.
  • Explore The Golden Ring, a collection of ancient towns lying to the north of Moscow which is neither circular nor golden but steeped in history nonetheless.
  • Along the Mongolian border, in the rich green valleys of the classically beautiful Altai region, 250 varieties of peony grow wild while, in the far east, you will find the last refuge of the Siberian tiger.
  • Cruise the Volga River between Moscow and St Petersburg, passing beautiful rural landscapes, visiting traditional Golden Ring towns and ancient riverside monasteries.

Our Russia holiday experts

Having explored the Golden Ring in 6ft of snow, the palaces of St Petersburg in spring and travelled the Trans-Siberian Railway in autumn, Katie and Tom are true Russian experts. With a passion and expertise for both the classic sites and those beyond the ordinary, they can help you get the most out of a holiday to Russia.

Nick, our chairman, also has close links with Russia. He visits regularly and even traversed the country by motorbike in 2005.

Advice from our Russia experts

“Just a four-hour flight allows the visitor to Russia a complete culture change. Golden domes and frescoed churches rub shoulders with contemporary galleries and buzzing restaurants. In an ideal world, combining both Moscow and St Petersburg gives further insight into the Russian psyche and a deeper understanding of this iconic country. Winter and summer alike offer something special and unique to a trip to Russia.”

Katie Benden | Travel Consultant

Russia FAQs

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Is Russia safe?

Travelling around Russia is as safe now as it has always been. Like with any destination, we always advise keeping an eye on your belongings, especially when out in busy, crowded areas and it is sensible to leave any valuables at home.

Are there any sensitive areas I should be aware of when taking photographs in Russia?
In any country you visit, we always advise obtaining permission before photographing the locals out of courtesy. Photography of the Metro, train stations, airports, government and Military buildings and instillations is prohibited so be aware.
Are there any Russian customs that I should know?

Russia has a rich heritage of traditions, so it can be hard to remember everything.

  • Russians love flowers, so if you are going to dinner in a private apartment flowers are a perfect present - always take an odd number as even numbers are for funerals!
  • Never give a gift of soap; it implies the person smells. Next best to flowers are chocolates.
  • Never show your back to someone, for example when entering a row of theatre seats, it is appropriate to enter facing the people already seated.
  • Always take your shoes off when you enter someone's apartment or house, there are usually slippers to wear.
  • Don't jay walk, as the police will fine you.
Is there a dress code I should follow?

Russian women particularly take huge pride in their appearance and visitors should pack something clean and tidy if visiting the theatre, ballet or high end restaurants. When visiting churches, women must remember to cover their heads, so pack a scarf. Men should never put their hands in their pockets in church.

Can I hire a car in Russia?

Yes, but driving in Russia is not easy, particularly if you cannot read Cyrillic. Additionally Russian drivers do not always adhere to rules and driving is thus quite problematic. It is easier to hire a car and driver.

Can I use credit cards?

In the main cities most shops, restaurants and hotels accept credit cards. Additionally there are ATM machines everywhere. Move out of the cities or main tourist centres and life is very different and you should ensure you have sufficient roubles.

Can I pay using Euros?

Generally no. Market traders will probably accept foreign currency, but restaurants, shops etc. will only accept Roubles.

Will my mobile phone work?

Russia has an excellent mobile network, but be warned, it is very expensive to use a foreign mobile phone for calls and data. You will, however, find free Wi-Fi available all over the place. 

Do I have to carry my passport with me when I am out and about?

All Russians are required to carry official identification at all times. The rules also apply to foreigners, so you should, technically, carry your passport when you are out and about.

Are taxis safe and okay to use in Russia?

Perfectly so but they tend not to bother with a meter and charge extortionate amounts. Better to get one of the smartphone apps such as  "Get Taxi" or Uber. Uber is one of the most efficient ways to get around the city and very cheap. Perfect for a visit to the theatre. The average ride costs £2. The cars vary and they can take 6-8 minutes to arrive, but it works well.

I hear the visa process is difficult
There is no denying that the Russian visa process is laborious. A long form plus a visit to have your fingerprints done. That said we have done this form many times, we keep up to date with changes and have an extensive crib sheet to make the process as simple as possible. 


Russia - Jewels of St Petersburg

expert led group tour

Russia - Jewels of St Petersburg

Absorb the splendour of the Tsars in St Petersburg with a focus on some of the jewels and treasur...

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Russia - Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Railway

Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Railway

This is undoubtedly one of the greatest railway journeys in the world and one of the best ways to...

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Russia - Volga Dream Cruise from Moscow to St Petersburg

River Cruise from Moscow to St Petersburg

It is possible to see so much more of Russia on a River Cruise. Uncover the treasures of Moscow a...

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Russia - A Short Break to St Petersburg

A Short Break to St Petersburg

Over five days explore Russia’s beautiful imperial capital and some of the wonderful palaces and ...

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Russia - Golden Eagle Silk Route by Train

Golden Eagle Silk Route by Train

For centuries the domain of adventurers and merchants trading their wares, the ancient Silk Route...

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Russia - Moscow & St Petersburg Highlights

Moscow & St Petersburg Highlights

A visit to both Moscow and St Petersburg gives a greater insight into this fascinating country. W...

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Russia - The Golden Ring

Russia - The Golden Ring

Amid plains, lakes and marshes are scattered these old Russian towns. Known collectively as the&n...

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Russia - Lake Baikal Adventure

Lake Baikal Adventure

A seven day holiday based in Eastern Siberia on and around the shores of Lake Baikal, the oldest ...

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Ballet, St Petersburg, Russia

Take a ballet lesson with a prima ballerina

It is now possible for visitors to St Petersburg to take a ballet lesson at the studio of Diana Vishneva, prima ballerina of the Mariinsky Theatre and the American Ballet Theatre. The studio will be open to both professional artists and those with no experience. 
Winter Palace, The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, Russia

Catherine the Great

Oscar-winning actress Helen Mirren takes the lead as Catherine the Great, returning to the small screen for the first time in years. 

This four-part series which is scheduled to air on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV on Thursday 3rd October 2019 @ 9 pm, delves into the life of the most powerful female monarch in history.

Hermitage Pavillion. Catherine Park, Tsarskoye Selo, St Petersburg, Russia

Hidden Museums of St Petersburg

St Petersburg is known for its grand palaces and opulent residences. For a no less fascinating but slightly more quirky side of the city why not visit some of the less known museums. 

The biggest railway museum in Europe opened in late October 2017 on the site of old Baltiysky railway station depot. Spread over two buildings connected by a suspension bridge the museum houses collections including rare steam trains as well as electric locomotives and historical artefacts.

For a more hands-on experience, it is possible to view and touch exhibits at the Mikhail Anikushin sculpture workshop - he is known as the People's Sculptor of the Soviet Union. See the procedure of building a monumental sculpture from pencil sketch to bronze casting. Princess Katya Galitzine, wife of Steppes Travel chairman Nick Laing completed an internship at the studio of Mikhail Anikushin during the 1990's. It is possible to join Katya and Nick on our trans-Siberian train charter as they cross eight time zones on board the Golden Eagle train in 2019.

The Museum of the History of Photography provides a comprehensive overview of photography with permanent exhibitions tracing its developments from the earliest photos to modern-day technologies. Also home to a range of antique camera and developing equipment. 

St Petersburg View, Russia

News: A Night in the Museum

The Hermitage and Russian Museums now open until 9pm. 
Visit these stunning museums when the crowds have left for the day. Perfect to include on a short break to St Petersburg
Russian Dolls, Russia

Blog: Why now is the time to travel to Russia

"A country that was once considered one of the most expensive in the world, has become one of the most affordable."

Read Blog

Client Reviews

St Petersburg bridge, Russia Shuttersock 140653903.jpg
''Wonderful service. I must especially comment on the visa application information - invaluable. I dealt with Katie Benden and found her service incredibly efficient and charming. She really went the extra mile at all times.''

Carol Dunning

Traditional Wooden House, Russia
''Katie was always cheerful and helpful - in fact the "oldest carpet" exhibit was one of the highlights and also turned out to be Alexei's favourite item in the Hermitage!''

John Jones

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Holiday Ideas in Russia

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