Once in a lifetime

What Are the Best Ways to Visit Russia?

st petersburg
Traveling to Russia has gotten quite a lot of publicity due to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, but will soon be talked about with the FIFA World Cup scheduled there in 2018. There really is a lot to see, and not only because it's by far the largest country in the world. I had the opportunity to visit St. Petersburg a couple of years ago and will always have vivid memories of the city. In some ways it was very different from what the average American probably pictures, and in other ways quite the same.

The thing that did impress me was that Russia is changing fast, and it seems people aren't really sure if they should embrace it or resist it. As with many places in Europe the trauma of war from the Twentieth Century still casts a shadow, and this may be difficult for Americans to comprehend. But even with all the hardships they are still proud that their country is still a beautiful place.

But many are probably discouraged from attempting to visit Russia because of the cost and difficulty of working through the red tape. It is true that it is more difficult for most Americans to get in and out of Russia than probably most other countries. If you want to do it the easy way do like we did and take a Baltic cruise that includes St. Petersburg. You won't have complete access to the city, but staying with the tour group you will see a lot, and the entry and exit will not be a problem.

If you are planning to take a trip there you will have to know a few things, but some of the rules were changed in 2012 to make the process easier. You will need a passport that will not expire until at least six months after your departure from Russia. Also you will need a travel visa, but prior to that an invitation, which is also termed visa support. This is really a pre-visa or official document from an officially registered Russian entity such as a business, organization or agency. A proper invitation is required before the Russian consulate in your home country can process your visa.

For first-time travelers this can get a bit overwhelming. I would strongly suggest that before you get some experience with the process that you look up an outside Russian visa service who has experience getting you through the red tape. It's really not an impossible process, but one that experience will be a handy guide. And one other thing: if you overstay your visa, even by a few minutes, you will be prohibited from leaving. It will probably be more difficult to get out of the country than it was to get in.

There are so many places in Europe that are truly unique. Check out our website 

http://bestvacationeurope.com/ for information on other great things to see in Europe, and for ways to navigate your way around Europe by train. Glen Wheaton is a writer who loves to travel, especially in Europe.