Russia is home to some of the world’s most mesmerizing architecture, fascinating museums, and stunning landscapes. Should its title as Europe’s most dangerous country put you off from traveling there? Read below to find out!
How Dangerous Is Russia?
Sadly, Russia has been named the most dangerous country in Europe on the Global Peace Index ranking for 2020. The list takes into account militarization, safety and security, and conflict on both a domestic level and an international level. Russia sits eight points above Afghanistan, the least peaceful and most dangerous country in the world.
Although Russia’s position as the most dangerous country in Europe makes it seem completely unsafe, the US Department of State only categorizes it as a Level 2 risk, on par with popular tourist destinations such as Italy, France, the United Kingdom, and Jamaica. The government advises to exercise “increased caution” in Russia, but the country is not under a travel ban.
Possible problems that you have an increased chance of experiencing in Russia include terrorism, harassment, and the arbitrary enforcement of local laws. There are some areas within the country and its territories that the US government advises avoiding completely, including the North Caucasus region and Chechnya, Crimea, and Mr. Elbrus. But other areas are still safe for travelers as long as they exercise increased caution.
The popular cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg have been the targets of terrorist attacks in the past, however, this is something that many busy cities across Europe have in common. It’s not necessary to avoid Moscow and St. Petersburg altogether; just be aware of suspicious activity and follow all instructions in the event of an emergency. There is also the possibility of experiencing anti-U.S. sentiment, and U.S. citizens may face extra scrutiny by Russian security services.
The medical care on offer in Russia is largely equal to Western standards in metropolitan cities but might be of a lower standard in regional areas. There are no vaccinations required for travel to Russia.
Ultimately, there’s no need to avoid traveling to Russia in 2020. But as is the case with all other countries, it’s important to keep your own safety a priority and be vigilant on your travels.
The Top Tips For Staying Safe In (And Enjoying!) Russia
The most obvious thing you can do to stay safe in Russia is avoiding all areas that are deemed too dangerous for travelers, including Chechnya and the North Caucasus, Crimea, and Mr. Elbrus. When in cities that are commonly frequented by travelers, it’s advisable to take the same precautions you would in any other city.
This means being aware of your surroundings at all times, particularly when traveling alone or at night. Stay sober when dining or socializing with strangers, especially on trains as this is where much petty crime takes place. Keep an eye on your belongings and avoid flashing any signs of wealth.
Unfortunately, there are still high levels of discrimination in Russia, particularly in regional areas. It’s best to avoid engaging in debates, arguments, or physical fights with locals, even when you’re taunted. The safest thing you can do in the event of conflict is to walk away or stay with a group of people you trust.
As far as your health goes, avoid drinking tap water in Russia. It’s a rite of passage to sample local Vodka but be wary of drinking from unlabeled bottles, or drinking anything given to you by a stranger.
While in Russia, keep your passport on you so you can produce it immediately if you are stopped by police officials. Not all Russian police officers are corrupt, but some will take a lack of passport as a reason to harass or even arrest you.
Russian Etiquette: How To Blend In With The Crowd
Russia is a huge country, with expectations and standards changing depending on where you go. Things tend to be more progressive in the major tourist hotspots, but Russians living in regional areas are, in general, more traditional and religious.
In order to blend in with the crowd as much as possible in Russia and avoid standing out as a tourist, one important thing to remember is to dress appropriately when visiting Orthodox churches. Women should cover their knees, shoulders, and heads, while men should remove their hats.
Generally speaking, Russians can be superstitious, so it’s wise to avoid behaviors that were traditionally thought of as bringing bad luck, such as whistling indoors or greeting someone over a threshold. According to Frommer’s, it’s also considered bad form to come to close to a newborn baby in Russia.
When it comes to chatting with locals, there are a few topics that may cause heated debate. Topics along the lines of Putin, Stalin, and Chechnya should be avoided.