About Russia (RU)
What can be said about the largest country in the world that hasn’t been said before?
Russia’s (RU) incomparable size is a broad statement about the country itself, whose territory covers one-eighth of the Earth’s habitable land mass and stretches from Eastern Europe, across Asia, and nearly touches the North American continent. And this country so vast in scope and spectacle likewise contains a range of terrain, climate, and points of interest that couldn’t possibly be matched by any other country.
Travelers can spend summers lazing on the beaches of the Black Sea, or shivering in the abject hinterlands of Siberia. The extremes of Russia are mirrored by its lengthy history of change, disruption, and reformation. It’s important to understand that Russia’s contemporary shape of a socialist republic is just one small sliver of its overall existence.
Visitors to this massive country inevitably come away with the impression that there is no other place like Russia, except Russia. And despite its past as a country closed off from the rest of the world, Russia is now open and accessible to travelers from all countries and all walks of life.
In light of the phenomenal distances between destinations and attractions, many visitors will find it far more cost-effective and convenient to rent a car in Russia. Only a handful of countries are as dependent on motorized transportation for all aspects of life as Russia. Its beyond-extensive road network spreads from Moscow in the west to Irktusk in the east — not that you’d want to cover that distance in a Russian rental car hire, let alone have time to do it. With the exception of some unthinkable distances, driving in Russia is on par with any other European country. National motorways are of high quality especially around the major cities, and it gets a little sketchy in remote rural areas, as to be expected. Moreover, Russia car rental rates are among the lowest in Europe and petrol is fairly cheap.
Choosing your car
Cheap car rentals in Russia are supplied by Sixt, Europcar, Hertz, Avis, Alamo, Budget, Dollar, and Thrifty. Choose from economy hatchbacks, minicars, compact, intermediate, and fullsize 4-door sedans, 7-12 seater minivans, SUVs, estate wagons, and premium and luxury vehicles.
Tips and advice
Visitors are advised to pick up some useful Russian phrases in context to traffic controls. It’s otherwise considered a sign of respect when foreigners attempt to speak Russian, and greatly appreciated by locals — although they’ll probably try to speak English in matters of importance.
Russia shares land borders with no fewer than 14 countries: Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, and Poland, on the Baltic coast; Belarus and Ukraine to the west, Azerbaijan and Georgia to the southwest; China, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, North Korea to the east and south. Check with your car hire provider before attempting to cross international borders.
Many European Union tourists can enter Russia on single-entry 30-day visas. It’s something to think about if you’re planning to rent a car in Russia and then for visiting other countries. The majority of travelers from Western countries will undergo a fairly involved process of getting a visa in the first place.
There are a number of Russian cities that require special authorization to visit. Meanwhile, the Russian annex of Crimea is a hotbed of controversy and probably best avoided unless absolutely necessary.
English is not widely spoken outside of major cities.
Avoid discussing politics or ethnic identity at all costs.