Russia Business Directory
|Your one-stop guide to Russia|
|Travel & Tourisme|
First in July 2005 Russian government approved hotel standards on the basis of European standards of stars. However, it is still up to the hotels whether to apply for the classification or not, though the hotel has no right to put any stars on its sign as long as it has not received the proper certificate.
On the website of Russian State Tourism Agency you can download an updated list of hotels which successfully passed the state certification. However, bear in mind that the absence of such classification does not necessarily mean that the hotel is of lower standard.
A good piece of advice will therefore be to check the international websites with hotel reviews (Trip Advisor etc) as well as dedicated Russian national websites. Members of international hotel chains usually provide good standards, while old Soviet-style hotels will not always meet your expectations.
One of the latest phenomena in Russia is a dramatical increase in the number of so-called "mini-hotels", holiday inns, which emerged as soon as the existing hotels in Russia were no longer able to meet the increasing demand for lodging. This is especially common in Moscow and St.Petersburg where several old hotels with thousands of rooms were demolished or closed for renovation. The number of mini-hotels in St.Petersburg is close to 100.
Some of these hotels are arranged according to Bed&Breakfast principle, offering a minimum of services. Others can be placed in the luxury class, even above five stars, when a dozen of guests can make use of spa, saunas and exclusive services. Many of these hotels are placed in the centre, in the old classical buidlings, providing tourists with an immediate approach to most of the sights. They definitely can compete with "common" hotels as for the prices and friendly atmosphere.
The quality varies, so make use of others' experience and advice from your Russian colleagues.
If you travel from Norway, the most convenient way of travel will be a direct flight. Presently, you have four possibilities (see below). Several airlines compete for having you on their flights. All depends on whether you prefer flexibility to low prices, and vice versa. Thanks to direct flights between Oslo and St.Peterburg (May 2006) and Oslo and Moscow (August 2007) launched by NRCC Member Company Norwegian Air Shuttle AS, the "distance" between the two countries has been considerably reduced.
By car or bus to Murmansk
Bus trip from Kirkenes to Murmask takes about 4-5 hours depending on the time spent on the border. The route is operated by Russian private transportation companies. However, on the websites of Norwegian travel agencies Privjet!, Pasvikturist, Russland.ru/Flait you can read about the route, prices and book a seat (nor/eng).
Several companies offer also individual transfer from Kirkenes to Murmansk and back. Check the website of Russland.ru/Flait.
Railway tickets in Russia
However, some travel agencies (see below, Air and Sea Transport AS) will book railway tickets for you according to your schedule.
Visa to Russia
Most of nationalities, with some exceptions (Byelorussia, Ukraine etc) need visa in order to go to Russia. Visa is issued on the basis of visa support, called "invitation" in common, provided by a Russian organization or Russian citizen. In practice, you can purchase this visa support from a travel agency offering trips to Russia, sometimes even with no obligation to purchase the trip. Hundreds of Russian companies also sell visa support online, though the reliability of those is difficult to control.
Russian Embassy in Oslo, Consular Section - check the rules and requirements as for visa to Russia on this website. Downloadable visa questionnaire (nor/eng/rus)
Privjet! Travel Agency - NRCC Member Company offers package travel to Russia, as well as visa assistance with and without trip purchase. Downloadable visa questionnaire (nor)
Russian Visa for Dummies - this section of Way to Russia.net tells you in detail all you need to know about visa to Russia (eng)
Hotels, flights, railway in Russia
Travel agencies offering travel to Russia
Travel agencies offering tours to Norway
Governmental bodies and private associations
Russian Union of Travel Industry non-profit organization established in 1993, with representative offices worldwide, uniting more than 900 companies, hereunder travel agencies, accommodation and transport providers, insurance and consultancy companies etc.
Rata News comprehensive and daily updated sources of news from the Russian travel industry (rus)
Russian Business Travel Association - creating, promoting, organizing, marketing, educating and servicing of business travel and MICE industry.
Travel Fairs and Exhibitions
International Trade Far for Travel & Tourism Intourmarket, first time organized in March 2006, Moscow.
Otdykh Leisure annual travel and tourism exhibition, arranged in Moscow every autumn (since 2004)