Is it safe for a woman to travel alone in Russia?

Vladimir Sergeev/Sputnik
It may sometimes seem scary for a single female traveler to brave the great unknown - especially when you don’t know anybody or speak the language. That’s why we’re here with a basic guide to make your solo experience a great one!

Which places to visit if you travel solo?

If it’s your first time, you can start from Moscow, Kazan and St. Petersburg. These cities are easy to reach (you can take tickets for trains and flights online) and they are popular among other foreign tourists, so you won’t have any trouble finding  company there.

“I never felt unsafe at any point wandering the tourist areas of St. Petersburg and Moscow, as I stick to well lit, public areas,” said Portia Jones from the UK. “You will find lots of police officers patrolling streets, in metro stations and security guards manning the doors of shopping centers.” Nevertheless she recommends keeping documents and wallet in an inside pocket or another safe place. 

After the big cities, you can go deeper – to the south (to see the sea and the mountains), to the west – to see Kaliningrad, to the north – to see Karelia, and to the east - to aboard the TransSiberian.

“I took the Trans-Siberian Railway all the way across the country from Vladivostok to Moscow and I had some great experiences along the way. In one instance, I shared a train compartment with a Russian teacher who helped me practice my Russian, even helping to translate my horoscope for me!” said Katie Aune from the U.S., who spent three months in Russia, adding that she didn’t have any troubles here for that time. 

Any dress code for women?

There are no special or unspoken rules for women here: you can wear skinny clothes, mini-skirts, or whatever floats your boat. You’d only ever worry about dressing up when you’re out for some fine dining or ballet. Catcalling in Russia is generally rare, especially if you’re a foreign visitor. Bars and night clubs follow the same etiquette as you would see in any European country or the U.S. Like anywhere else, if you’ve done your utmost to look desirable, a guy might need to be told twice if you’re not interested in chatting. That being said, do remember that if you plan to enter an Orthodox church, pay attention to your outfit. It should be modest, with covered legs (better to find a long skirt) and shoulders. Women should cover their heads – if you don’t have a scarf, you can borrow something right in the church free of charge. 

You should also opt for a more reserved look when travelling in Russia’s Muslim republics, especially in the Chechen Republic and Dagestan. Nobody will force you to wear a hijab or cover the head, but leave your shorts for the beach, don’t wear them in the city (and of course, don’t enter a mosque with low décolletage). You won’t be threatened sexually, it’s just disrespectful toward local cultural norms.

Solo after dark

Big cities are mostly safe in Russia, but of course, you should take care of your personal belongings regardless. Life does not stop here in the evenings: everywhere in more or less populated areas, there is bright illumination and lots of young people,especially in summer, 24/7 shops (and flower kiosks, too!) and somewhere even night public transport. In tourist places, you’ll see special tourist police, who will help you if you get lost.

If you’re wary of night travel, we recommend downloading the Yandex.Taxi or Uber Russia apps - taxis are quite cheap in Russia.

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