Introduction. Travelling in Russia.
If you are going to travel in Russia by bike I have good news and bad news for you. Firstly the bad news: things which are often said about Russia are true. It is true that there are territories covered with snow 9 months in the year in Russia. It is true that there are places where it is easier to meet a bear than a human being in Russia. It is true that there are places where villages are located 200 km from one another and cities – 1000 km from one another. And now good news: you won’t experience any of “nightmares” described above on your way. What you will encounter though I will tell you in due course.
- EuroVelo-1 route in Russia. Velopiter club developed EuroVelo route on the Russian territory, made GPS-tracks and described its every stage. We have chosen more or less quiet roads. But currently the route is not signposted and mostly unpaved. We hope that in the future Leningrad district authorities will signalize the needed roads. That’s why I would like to advise you the following:
- Have a GPS navigator with you, and you will always know where you are.
- If you don’t like navigators you have to buy a map or a road book of the Leningrad district of scale 1:200 000 (1 cm in 2 km).
- Please note that Russia is a big country, distances between towns are large and hotels are few. On the other hand you are allowed to put up tents anywhere in the wood. Any wood you choose. It is obvious you should not put up your tent in someone's garden or near the houses. Unlike the Europe in Russia you can light a campfire in the woods, but definitely you are supposed to follow fire regulations. On your way there will be no campsites – places intended for tents. From Kingisepp to Petrodvorets woods are your only option for spending the night unless you want to make a trip over this distance in one day which is quite challenging. Let's hope that a tourist camp or a hotel will be opened soon in Koporje or Gostilizi, the largest towns on Eurovelo-1 route in Russia.
- The biggest part of the way goes along small asphalt roads with little traffic. Some parts are unsurfaced, and once we will even have to cycle through the field. But so much more fun!
- When you travel in the depth of Russia we recommend you to have roubles in cash at hand. You won't be able to pay with foreign currency or a credit card in the village shop. You can change money in Ivangorod or Kingisepp.
- Security. Russia is rather safe country for travelers. Level of danger in the trip is not much higher (if still higher) than in neighbouring Latvia and Poland. Besides local people have rather difficult life conditions themselves and sympathize with foreigners who cycle around the country. You may be sure to find them hospitable and helpful. Here are some useful telephones numbers: 02 – police, 03 – emergency.
- Climate. Eurovelo-1 goes through a territory of the Leningrad district with a moderate climate, which is warmer that in Finland and almost the same as in the neighbouring Estonia crossed by Eurovelo-1 route before it comes to Russia. The best period for visiting our country is the time from the second half of March till the mid-September. Indian summer in the beginning of October is especially picturesque, but this time of year is significantly colder.
- Visa. Before coming to Russia find out if you need a visa. EU citizens need a Russian visa.
- Sightseeing. There are interesting sights along Eurovelo-1 route: imperial palaces which have few equals in Europe, ancient fortresses, orthodox churches. Soviet time relics are no less interesting: ruins of collective farms, Lenin monuments, blocks of dismal-looking panel houses. From cultural or historical point of view they are not valuable, but they convey the spirit of totalitarianism epoch rather well. And finally - Saint-Petersburg, the city of unique beauty.
You can ask any questions you may have on the forum http://velorussia.org/forum/index.php. The forum was created by Velopiter club with the aim to help foreign guests traveling in Russia. Member of our club, the largest bike club in Russia, will do their best to answer your questions in English and other languages.