Russia – Discover the Unknown The place where the Go Russia team share their passion Wed, 26 Aug 2020 22:54:59 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 Russia – Discover the Unknown 32 32 101143019 Health & Document Requirements for International Travel Wed, 26 Aug 2020 09:44:12 +0000 As borders are gradually reopening and international travel is resuming, we appreciate current uncertainty many travellers might have not knowing what tests and other official documentation is required for their travel plans.

IATA (The International Air Transport Association) has developed a very useful online resource where you can get an instant confirmation of what is required for your holiday or a business trip overseas.

Login on IATA dedicated website –, choose your destination, enter your passport details and get an instant confirmation of all documentation required for your trip, including any mandatory COVID-19 test. The website will also confirm whether a visa or other travel documentation will be necessary for your trip.

IATA documents confirmation for international travel

Just a quick note: as of 26 August 2020 Russia has reopened its borders with the UK, Switzerland, Turkey & Tanzania. A negative COVID-19 test (by PCR method) taken not earlier than 72 hours before arriving in Russia will be required. There is no need to translate the test results in Russian, an English confirmation will be accepted.

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The borders are open now. Are you ready to go to Russia? Fri, 21 Aug 2020 09:46:19 +0000 For many of us, 2020 has been the summer of the staycation, but it’s now time to think about broadening our horizons. We’re delighted to report that from the end of July, the Russian authorities started to lift restrictions on international flights and on 01 August, Britain was one of the first countries to be welcomed back.

One of the biggest benefits to being among the first tourists to Russia post-lockdown is that visitor numbers are still low. So why not take advantage of the lull in tourism and enjoy Russia without the crowds? If you travel with us, you can be sure our tours are limited to small groups – that’s just how we like it.

Find your tour to Russia now!

Life is back to normal in Russia

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How Go Russia responds to Covid-19 Tue, 26 May 2020 15:11:45 +0000
Moscow River

As many of you are concerned with future travel plans, we would like to give you some update on our response to those unprecedented times and how we deal with the situation.

We would also like to encourage our potential customers to start thinking about their future holidays. So keep browsing our website for new travel ideas in Russia or along the Trans-Siberian railway, or maybe going further south and discover the Caucasus nations: Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan & Turkey.

Life goes on, and we would encourage you to make plans for future travels. To avoid any concerns you might have, please continue reading to be rest assured Go Russia continues in business and our travel consultants are more than happy to help you with your travel ideas.

  1. Monitoring Government & Health Advice. We constantly monitor the government and health advice of respective authorities in all destinations where we operate our tours. Customer information is regularly updated on our website with an advice on what to do –
  2. Financial Stability. We have a healthy balance sheet and our finances and operations are annually reviewed by the Civil Aviation Authority in the UK when we renew our ATOL licence. There are no concerns in terms of fulfilling our obligations even in the current climate.
  3. Total Financial Protection. We are fully compliant with the Package Travel Regulations and all holidays offered by Go Russia are financially protected. This means that all your payments to our company will be refunded in the unlikely event of our insolvency. More information –
  4. Discounts & Special Offers. We are offering discounts should you wish to postpone your holiday to a later date. We believe you should not miss this chance to rebook your tour now: you will lock in today’s price and on top you will get a discount. Our rebooking options are much more favourable than any special early booking or similar promotions offered by our company.
  5. Investment in Technology. We continue investing in technology, automating many booking processes and our communication with suppliers and customers. Thus we keep our operational costs to a minimum. However, our travel consultants remain our key staff and we are not cutting any costs here.
  6. Operational. Our operational offices are open and you can reach us by phone or email, Monday to Friday, 9 AM – 5 PM. All inquiries are responded within 24 hours except for weekends and public holidays.  
  7. Forward Thinking. We are sure, international travel will resume soon, so we continue working on new itineraries to offer you more choices and destinations. Just some examples: we have recently launched our Luxury tour to Moscow & St. Petersburg, a city break in Kiev & Lviv, we continue expanding our programmes in the Caucasus region.

Virtual travel is all very well if that’s the only thing you can safely do, but there’s nothing like the real thing.

Search for your future holiday now!

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Victory Day 2020 – a very different kind of occasion Mon, 18 May 2020 15:34:25 +0000 This year’s Victory Parade was a very different kind of occasion, impacted by the spread of the coronavirus that has brought not only Russia but the entire planet to lockdown. This massive parade, an annual event since 1995, commemorates the sacrifice Russians made to defeat Nazi Germany in the Great Patriotic War.

The first Victory Day celebration was held a month after the end of that war – which we in the West know as World War Two – on June 24th 1945. 40000 Red Army soldiers marched through the streets of Moscow accompanied by 1800 military vehicles. People would wait 20 years for the next one, held on May 9th 1965, the 20th anniversary of the end of the war in Europe. After another 20 year gap, the 1985 parade reminded the world’s observers that Soviet Russia was still a force to be reckoned with. If you’d like to see footage of some of those historic events, the Moscow Times has produced this video of Russia’s Victory Day through the decades and it’s fascinating to watch.

Since 2005, Putin has been at the helm.  The medals on the chests of today’s participants bounce as they march perfectly in sync, battalions followed by the military hardware that’s showcased for all to see. It’s an impressive sight, whether you’re Russian or not. The largest ever parade, taking place in 2015, saw half a million Russians walk through the streets of Moscow.

Sadly, though understandably given the nature of this medical threat we all face, this year’s parade has been postponed indefinitely. There’s hope that the situation will have improved sufficiently for this year’s parade to be staged in September, with the date the war ended after the Japanese surrender – September 2nd – one possible date being considered. Only time will tell, so watch out for an announcement this summer.

Russia. Moscow – May 9, 2020. The Victory Day.

This year, Russian citizens had to be content with an overflight by military aircraft, itself a sight to behold. They watched on television as Putin walked, alone, to the Eternal Flame and placed flowers outside the walls of the Kremlin. The mood was solemn as he addressed the nation, and though he did not mention the virus by name, it was ever-present in people’s thoughts. Instead, Putin emphasised that historic Russian sacrifice and alluded to the current threat as he said:

“Our veterans fought for life, against death. And we will always be equal to their unity and endurance. We know and firmly believe that we are invincible when we stand together.” 

And so the event, adapted but no less powerful, continued with bombers, fighter jets and military helicopters leaving a trail of red, white and blue smoke across the sky. Russians were invited to send in photographs of those who fought in the war to enable the Immortal Regiment commemoration to take place in an online format instead of the usual outdoor procession. There were also online concerts, lectures and films. Fireworks traditionally draw Victory Day to a close, and this year was no exception, with displays going ahead across the country. In each place, all that was missing was the crowd.

MOSCOW – MAY 9: Fireworks on the 70th Victory Day on Red Square on May 9, 2015 in Moscow

So now Russia waits, to see how long it takes to tame and defeat this pandemic. But you can be sure of one thing, whether in September or at some other date in the not-too-distant future, Victory Day will be back and the streets of Moscow will be full again.

Please contact Go Russia if you wish to arrange a tour to Russia.

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Are you prepared for the 75th anniversary of Victory Day? Wed, 12 Feb 2020 11:00:58 +0000 This year, on May 9th, it’s the 75th anniversary of Victory Day and a very important holiday in Russia. To understand why, you need to know that this is the day Russia marks VE Day. It’s celebrated elsewhere in Europe on May 8th, but Russia lies further east. By the time the surrender was officially agreed, it was after midnight in Moscow and therefore May 9th in its time zones.

World War Two was a bleak time in Russian history and many of its citizens suffered terribly during those war years. The end of such a period was a big deal and to this day, the occasion is marked by parades and ceremonies all over the country. Each year, the events staged in St Petersburg and Moscow attract global attention and in 2020, that’s likely to be even more the case as it’s such a major milestone.

It’s expected that many foreign visitors, including Heads of State, will travel to Russia for the event. Invitations have been sent to the leaders of the USA, France, Germany and China amongst others. It’s customary for Red Square to be the focus of attention. Division after division pass by, representing each sector of the armed forces. Tanks, helicopters, surveillance vehicles and an aerial fly past join the brigades and battalions on the ground. A ceremonial 21-gun salute as the national anthem is played adds gravitas and military bands provide a soundtrack. There’ll be the usual address from President Putin after he’s completed his inspection of the armed forces personnel. It’s an impressive sight and leaves the visitor in no doubt as to Russia’s current military capabilities.

As you might expect, that’s going to bring with it some disruption. We already know that Red Square is going to be closed from May 1st to 10th. If you want to see the military parade, it’s worth finding a spot near to the entrance of Red Square if you can, which is the nearest the general public are permitted to be. Alternatively, try to catch the rehearsals when you can often get closer to the action.

At the time of writing we are awaiting confirmation whether the same closures will be put in place for the Kremlin as well. Right now nothing has been decided but to see if you will be able to access sights such as the Armoury, you can check with us nearer the time – if they are selling tickets, then it will be open.

The bad news is that these closures are going to have an impact on sightseeing. You should still be able to access GUM department store but St Basil’s Cathedral will be off limits if you can’t get into Red Square, meaning you won’t be able to snap a selfie in front of those colourful onion domes. In the past Lenin’s Mausoleum has been off limits as well. Road closures and extra security measures at the airport are to be expected.

Major cities will be extra crowded, particularly Moscow and St Petersburg as domestic visitors flock to see the parades. In the evening, there are plenty of parties and a fireworks display. You see, the upside of the disruption to those tourist attractions is that you will get to see Russia at a time of intense and joyful celebration – this is one of the most important holidays on the calendar. The crowds create an air of excitement and the atmosphere is not to be missed.

Of course, those key visitor attractions will still be there if you return for a second visit, but there’s something very special about being in Moscow for Victory Day. You won’t regret being there for the spectacle.

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Euro 2020 Fri, 07 Feb 2020 11:00:49 +0000 Following the success of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, football returns to Russia this year as St Petersburg co-hosts the UEFA Euro 2020 tournament. In fact, no fewer than 12 cities have been selected for the honour of staging matches. Together with St Petersburg, teams will compete in Germany (Munich), Hungary (Budapest), Denmark (Copenhagen), Spain (Bilbao), Italy (Rome), The Netherlands (Amsterdam), Romania (Bucharest), England (London), Ireland (Dublin), Scotland (Glasgow) and Azerbaijan (Baku).

This set up is different to previous competitions but the organisers wanted to do something a little different seeing as this is the 60th anniversary of the first tournament. Cities had to bid to stage the group stages, quarter finals, semi finals and finals. St Petersburg successfully bid to host group matches in its Krestovsky Stadium, which will see the national side going up against Denmark, Finland and Belgium in matches scheduled for June 2020.

If you enjoyed the atmosphere in 2018, or realised too late that you’d missed out on a good thing, you might be tempted to book a trip to St Petersburg this summer to coincide with the matches. St Petersburg’s easily reached from the UK. Direct flights with Wizz link London Luton with St Petersburg’s Pulkovo airport; Aeroflot also offer a direct flight from London Gatwick. With high speed train connections linking St Petersburg and Moscow, it’s also easy to combine a holiday to the Russian capital with a match or two further north.

Just Go Russia can help with your travel arrangements. We can arrange transfers, book hotels and suggest add-ons such as that city break in Moscow or even an epic journey across Russia on the Trans-Siberian. You could even combine a match with a visit to neighbouring Finland. If you’re not sure what your options are, there are lots of tour suggestions on our website or if you prefer we’d be happy to take your call if you get in touch by phone.

As with the World Cup, travellers in possession of a Fan ID are entitled to visa-free entry. Once you have your Fan ID, you can enter and exit the country between 30 May and 3 July 2020 as if you were in possession of a multi-entry visa. The advice on the UEFA website reads as follows:

“Please apply for a FAN ID on You will need your passport, as well as your order number or ticket number, which you can find on the UEFA EURO 2020 Ticket Portal.”

If you’re not in possession of a match ticket, then to visit St Petersburg on a UK passport you’ll need a standard 30 day visa, unless you enter by cruise ship or ferry on the 72 hour visa-free arrangement. Holders of passports of 53 countries including most of the EU can take advantage of the e-visa which was introduced in October of last year.

Once you’re in St Petersburg, getting to the stadium is straightforward. There’s a metro station right outside, Novokrestovskaya, which connects to the city centre, while Krestovsky Ostrov is also located within walking distance of the ground. Transfers are swift, cheap and easy. All you’ll have to worry about is how your team is doing and whether they’ll make it through to the next stage of the competition.

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Discover the Pavlovsk Palace in St. Petersburg Thu, 30 Jan 2020 10:30:56 +0000 Have you ever watched a design or home improvement programme on TV and thought that sometimes, the homeowner doesn’t quite get the say that they should in what’s being done to their own property? Worse, have you ever spent money on your own renovation project and decided that the result wasn’t quite what you had in mind? Most of us don’t have enough spare cash to redo the work, but then we aren’t Russian emperors and we certainly don’t have a Royal budget.

In the 18th century, Catherine the Great commissioned a grand palace for her son, Grand Duke Paul and his wife Maria. She loaned them her official architect, Charles Cameron, and gave the couple a thousand hectares of woodland beside the Slavyanka River, up the road from Tsarskoye Selo, the palace he had designed for her. Some would say Cameron did a great job, creating an elegant and simple Palladian home for the Royal pair. That’s not to say it wasn’t grand: a three storey palace with a dome, colonnades and galleries decorated with friezes and reliefs.

Leaving the builders behind, Paul and Maria set off for a tour of Europe which would take them to Italy, Austria and Germany. In France, they fell in love with the beauty of palaces like Versailles and Chantilly with their magnificent and immaculately landscaped gardens. Along the way, they shopped for antique furniture, clocks, paintings and porcelain. Though they kept abreast of progress, their vision for the property didn’t match that of Cameron, and unsurprisingly, things became a little tense.

Cameron was unhappy at Maria’s unsolicited purchases, while Maria didn’t find the bright colours Cameron had chosen to her exacting tastes. Paul didn’t much care for the similarities between his house and that of his mother, and found the place a little too austere for his liking. Four years after work began, inevitably perhaps, they parted company. Cameron set off for the Crimea to build Catherine a new palace and Paul hired an Italian, Vincenzo Brenna, to complete the interiors.

Fortunately, Brenna was more in tune with his employers’ wishes than his predecessor had been. He oversaw the creation of a palace that was more suited to the status of its occupants. It was lavishly furnished with false marble, silks and gilded detailing, and heavily influenced by ancient Greece and Rome. When Catherine died in 1798, Paul became Emperor of Russia and with that elevation in status came an extended, more imposing palace. Curved wings fanned out from the original building, closing in around a courtyard, with a statue of Paul placed right in the centre.

No expense was spared, but Paul’s joy was to be short-lived. He’d made enemies of the nobles in his court and was murdered in 1801. When fire destroyed a large part of the palace in 1803, Maria called upon Cameron and Brenna to rebuild, also enlisting the help of a Russian architect called Andrei Voronykhin and later, Italian Carlo Rossi, to recreate the palace she adored. Pavlovsk Palace remained Maria’s residence until her death in 1828, a memorial to her late husband and their extravagant tastes. In her will, she stipulated that none of the furniture should be removed. Her descendants respected her wishes, and the house effectively became a family museum, remaining so after the Russian Revolution, though ownership of course passed to the state. Heavily damaged in World War Two, careful repair work ensured that it was eventually restored to its former glory.

Today, Pavlovsk Palace is one of the most popular sights in the St Petersburg area. Visitors are drawn not only to the palace itself, but to the beautifully landscaped garden that surrounds it. The pictures you’ll see online don’t do it justice. Why not come and admire Emperor Paul’s grand design and see what you think of it in real life?

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Did you know Christmas celebrations in Russia take place in January? Mon, 06 Jan 2020 10:00:47 +0000 The Christmas decorations were all packed away weeks ago here in the UK, but Russia’s  just finished clearing up after its Christmas celebrations. 

In Russia, those following the Orthodox religion choose to fast for 40 days, abstaining from meat and dairy products in the run up to Christmas – similar to what we do in the west before Easter. On January 6th, the night sky signals that it’s time to go to mass, after which friends and family are invited for a slap up meal and the giving of presents. Though that all sounds very familiar, there are a few differences when compared to what we do in the UK.

Christmas Eve in Russia is referred to as Sochevnik, which comes from the word sochivo meaning grain. Lentils, peas, barley or even wheat that has been soaked in water is served as a kind of porridge after people come back from church. It’s called kutya. The meat you’d expect to see served is traditionally goose, as it was in the UK many years ago. Cooks smother it with plenty of sour cream sauce before it goes in the oven as that gives it a wonderful rich flavour when it comes out. As we would with pork, it’s served with baked apples. Afterwards, don’t be surprised to be handed a kozulya. These biscuits often take the form of an animal such as a reindeer or a goat. 

Christmas dinner has more such similarities to its UK counterpart. Does your family still hide a small coin in the Christmas pudding? In Russia, it’s not a pudding that might contain a surprise, but instead it might be in the stuffed dumplings. A coin indicates you might be about to come into some money, while thread suggests travel and a piece of tomato is the precursor to romance.

Girls with candles in the dark

In Russia, on Christmas Eve, there’s a tradition that single women try to see who they might one day marry by using a mirror and candles. Groups of female friends might also burn threads of string. Custom dictates that it’s the person whose thread burns the fastest who’ll be next up the aisle. And regardless of gender, people across Russia call upon the spirits to determine whether the New Year bring good fortune, health, wealth and happiness or not.

Saint-Petersburg. Russia. Christmas tree with decorations.

As 2020 kicks off, we are looking forward to great things here at Just Go Russia. We hope that you can look forward to a lucky, prosperous and healthy year and it would bring us great joy to hear that you will be travelling with us to Russia. But even if you’re not, we wish you the very best.

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Why not visit the Tolstoy Estate Museum? Tue, 05 Nov 2019 07:29:33 +0000 Leo Tolstoy was one of Russia’s great writers, the creator of epic works such as War and Peace and Anna Karenina. Snubbed by the Nobel committee despite multiple nominations for the Literature Prize, history has judged him more favourably.

Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy was born in 1828 to a Russian aristocratic family. The family estate was located near Tula, about 120 miles from Moscow, but the author spent many years in St Petersburg and Moscow also. Tolstoy led an interesting life. He quit university in Kazan midway through his studies and found it hard to settle into a career. Having run up massive gambling debts, he fled to the Caucasus and joined the army, serving as an artillery officer in the Crimean war. Though decorated for bravery, he was appalled at the senselessness of war and left the army when the war ended.

Such experiences would shape his writing, however. Literary acclaim first came after the publication of Childhood, Boyhood and Youth, and his war memoir, Sevastopol Sketches. During a trip to Paris a few years later, he met the French author of Les Misérables, Victor Hugo. It’s thought that the battle scenes in War and Peace draw upon Hugo’s style. Not long afterwards, Tolstoy returned to the family estate at Yasnaya Polyana, where he founded schools for local peasant children. It was there that he wrote War and Peace and Anna Karenina.

Nevertheless, he loved Moscow and it was perhaps inevitable hat he would purchased a home for himself there too. He chose Khamovniki, then on the outskirts of the city, for his winter residence, and lived there with his family from 1882 to 1901. This home is now a museum which houses the world’s largest collection of Tolstoy memorabilia, comprising photographs, manuscripts and more.

Opened as a museum over a century ago, the house is staged as it would have been when Tolstoy himself lived there, and as such offers visitors a fascinating glimpse into the taste and habits of this great writer. Its authenticity is unrivalled. This is a place focused more on the life of Tolstoy than the works; you can imagine the family going about their day to day business as Tolstoy laboured over his latest book. Some of the many illustrious visitors to the home included Sergei Rachmaninov and Nicholai Rimsky-Korsakov. An audio guide narrated by Fekla Tolstoy, his great great granddaughter helps further immerse the visitor into the world of the author, his family and his friends.

Arranging a visit to the house as an independent visitor requires some pre-planning, so it’s easier to include it as part of a tour itinerary. We suggest combining it with the Muzeon Park of Arts, which is located just a short drive away on the other side of the Moskva River to the south of the city.

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Have you been to Muzeon Park? Thu, 10 Oct 2019 06:08:52 +0000 It’s been almost three decades since the break-up of the Soviet Union, yet our fascination with it shows no sign of going into that same terminal decline. And one way that manifests itself is by visiting the parks that are now home to those statues that once graced the squares and streets of its former republics.

In Moscow, the Open Air Park of Fallen Monuments has been renamed the Muzeon Park of Arts, or often simply Muzeon Park. You’ll find it on the bank of the Moskva River, across the street from Gorky Park. There, you’ll find a collection of monuments to the likes of Lenin, Stalin and Gorky as well as examples of contemporary art.

But this now popular Moscow green space had a bumpy start to life. Originally Gorky Park was supposed to extend across the road, but the project never came to fruition. Over the years, the city’s planners had new proposals; war stopped construction of the Academy of Sciences on the site and a post-war residential development never materialised. Somehow this little piece of Moscow real estate remained largely a waste ground, with the Tretyakov Gallery marooned at its heart. Fortunately, this was the place where dismantled Soviet-era statues were gathered up, and a new park was born.

Muzeon Park displays over 700 sculptures and works of art. Themed areas, such as the Oriental Garden, Pushkin Square and Portrait Row, helped to make sense of the diverse collection. Highlights include a giant steel sculpture representing the Soviet world and several Lenins missing their pedestals. Big names including Stalin (minus his nose in one instance), Brezhnev, Marx, Gorky and even the KGB leader Dzerzhinsky are all represented. The park also offers a great vantage point to see the old Red October Chocolate Factory on Bolotny Island and the famous statue of Peter the Great, erected at the confluence of the Moskva River and the Vodootvodny Canal.

But that’s not all. Contemporary sculptors have attended symposiums, after which they were invited to display their work, limestone often being the material of choice, alongside the fallen monuments. As its young trees matured, the leafy setting has only become more attractive. Views over the Moskva River make this a lovely place to come and sit in the sunshine or take a leisurely stroll.

Muzeon Park has seen many changes over the last decade. Architect Yevgeny Asse was invited to redesign the park landscape, replacing some of the more tired infrastructure with new paths, improved lighting and eateries. There’s even provision for an open air cinema. Such development extended to the adjacent Krymskaya Embankment, which was upgraded with flower beds, modern seating and pavilions. Muzeon Park also features a regular Vernissage so that artists can exhibit their works on a regular basis. Masterclasses help wannabe artists take another step closer to achieving their dreams.

Muzeon Park might have one foot rooted firmly in the past, but it has an eye on the future too.

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