Your smartphone is the only travel gadget you need.
Now, when you go on a trip, you don't have to bring maps, guides, and dictionaries with you - everything is available on your phone. You can also book a room, order a taxi, find any services you need, buy tours and souvenirs, and more. In this article we'll introduce you to the most useful apps that will help you travel through Russia. We tried all the apps ourselves, all of them are free and available on Google Play and the App Store.
Buying tickets and booking accommodations
Let's start with the most important questions of the journey: how to get from one city to another, and where to stay while traveling? It's funny that in Russia, where rail transportation is better than air, there is no English app for purchasing tickets, although there are excellent services like rzd.ru and tutu.ru.
Thankfully, there are good mobile apps for purchasing airline tickets. Aeroflot is the app of one of the largest and most reliable Russian airlines. It allows you to purchase tickets directly without any intermediaries. It has a user-friendly search function, quick search and ticket purchasing capabilities. You can pay for the tickets by credit card. You will also get push notifications about the status of the ticket and the beginning of the registration. And there is a built-in Passport scanning feature (you do not need to enter data manually). Or there is another app, S7 Airlines. In fact, it has the same features as the Aeroflot app. The app is quite easy to use, and S7 tickets for certain flights may be a little cheaper. Bonus programs are available in both apps. And if you want to compare ticket prices of different airlines and choose the one that suits you best, then you can use Yandex. Flights, a search aggregator, that sorts various airlines represented on the market. Using these apps, you'll find a ticket anywhere you want to go.
After buying a ticket, you have to find a place to stay, and it is always better to do so without intermediaries. You can use one of the most popular apps -Booking.com or Airbnb. They have a user-friendly search feature, you can read reviews of the place of accommodation and book a place to stay without leaving the app. Both have huge house rental databases in Russia and other places around the world. Booking.com is an app for booking a hotel or hostel room. Sometimes you can also come across a rental apartment. Airbnb will help you rent an entire house, an apartment, or a part of one for a couple of days or for a longer period of time, and it may be cheaper than booking a room on Booking.com.
You can also try your luck and go on a trip without booking at all, if a prepaid and confirmed accommodation booking is not a requirement to enter the country. For those who change their route on the spot or plan during the trip, there is a special service - BookingTonight.
So, the transfer and accommodation steps are completed. Now we need to figure out how to navigate in the city. If you like using public transport to see the new city from the inside, you should download apps that will help you plan the right route.
If you like subway rides and want to see the Metro of various Russian cities (for example, Moscow Metro is a special attraction with its unique beautiful design), there is a great app by a large Russian company, Yandex.Metro. It will help you navigate in the "underworld" of the two largest cities in Russia - Moscow and St. Petersburg. With the app, you can calculate travel time, and select the correct trains to change to other Metro lines. Another similar app is aMetro. It supports more cities, but it works much slower than the Yandex app in Russia, although it shows even the crossing routes between stations.
What about the complicated surface public transport map? Yandex has another excellent app for that: Yandex.Transport, which has no similar apps in Russia. Its only minus is that not the whole interface is available in English, but it's still quite simple to use. It's easy to plan a route, find out where the nearest stop is, and when the bus you need will come. You can calculate the time before leaving your house so you don't miss the right transport. The app supports many large cities in Russia.
And if you prefer a taxi to any public transport, with some apps it will be inexpensive and simple. All of the taxi services available in Russia are similar, the only difference they may have is coverage areas and the terms of service. For example, if you care about the type and size of a car that picks you up, then choose Gett (GetTaxi) - in this app you can choose between Economical, Comfort, Business, VIP, Kids and Minivan classes of service. If you only care about the price and the class of the car, you can choose either Yandex.Taxi or Uber - they have a huge car base in Russia, so just choose what you like - they both have good prices and quality. You can choose a cheaper vehicle as well as a luxury class. In each case you can pay by cash or card. By the way, something from our personal experience: sometimes "Yandex.Taxi" is cheaper than public transport!
If you like to walk or drive yourself, GPS-navigator apps will help you. There are so many of them, that you can easily choose the best match for you.
Yandex services in Russia are the most accurate, so we'll start with them.
Among the mobile navigators, the "Yandex.Navigator" is the most popular one. It has a convenient and colorful interface, good sound notifications about turns and lane changes, and different voice options. If the Internet is on, then it will show you the shortest route according to traffic conditions. But it is not very convenient for pedestrians. For them there's an app called Yandex.Maps (it also works for cars, but does not have voice alerts). It is a handy app that plans travel time and point-to-point routes for pedestrians or any transport. It can also show which transport pedestrians can use to get to their destination point. In "Yandex.Navigator" and "Yandex.Maps" you can search for places by their function — cafés, petrol stations, shopping malls, and so on. It is very convenient. You can use it both in online and offline modes, simply by downloading the maps.
Apart from the products of Yandex company, you can check such apps as Maps.me and 2gis. These are good apps, many features of which are similar to the Yandex ones, both have offline search functionality, but you will need to clear some storage on your phone to use them. When you install each app, they automatically download maps that occupy a lot of space. But for a tourist with roaming, these apps are the real deal. Maps.me is good because of its detailed description of the places, and 2gis shows you the exact entrances of the organizations and shopping mall maps (in small towns in Russia, 2gis may malfunction and bring you to the wrong place. But it works fine in big cities).
Staying in touch.
Now that we've mentioned the travel roaming, we're going to talk about staying in touch free of charge – Wi-Fi map will help you with this. This is a popular and user-friendly app that can help you find the nearest free Internet spot with an available password. It has a Wi-Fi password network from around the world, collected by users who share spots and passwords to them. Wi-Fi map also gives you offline access to the saved spots.
Cultural program planning
Now that we don't have to worry about the Internet, let's deal with cultural leisure. There are many apps that will make your journey interesting and eventful. For example, there are apps that can introduce you to Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan, and Sochi. The apps are called Moscow Travel Guide, St. Petersburg Travel Guide, Kazan Travel Guide and Sochi Travel Guide. Created by the eTips developer, they give you the opportunity to study cities in augmented reality. Now they are available only to iPhone users. The series is presented in English, Spanish, German and has an offline mode.
For phones on Android, there's a handy guide in Google Play that works offline: Russia travel guide Offline. It is a rich source of information about many cities in Russia. There you can find very detailed descriptions of the cities and interesting details about Russia and the people who live there.
There's also another smart guide with offline functionality that will help you get acquainted not only with Moscow and St. Petersburg, but with the rest of the world - it's called World Travel guide by Triposo. It provides users with full guidance on major cities and countries, a currency converter, a weather forecast, and a phrasebook for non-English places. But it occupies a lot of storage - the initial version takes up 589 megabytes.
If you are studying Russian culture and you speak Russian, the Localway app will be a gift for you. There you can find the main sights and attractions throughout Russia. It has audio guides for the significant sights of Russia, and original guides - experts have created guides for the best of the best places especially for tourists. There you can make restaurant reservations, buy movie, theater and concert tickets, and see discounts and special deals on restaurants.
Save on travel.
You can find offers and discounts in another convenient Russian app, Biglion - you get coupons of up to 90% on food, services and entertainment. Unfortunately, even though the interface itself supports English, all the available offers are in Russian. But if you figure out how to use this app, it can be a very good helper to save money.
Stay open to the world.
And last, your number one helper in a foreign country could be the simplest app that you definitely already know - Google Translate. It will help you ask questions, and by talking to native speakers you can even improve your language speaking abilities. Russians have such an old proverb -"Your tongue can get you all the way to Kiev", and it works! Smartphones are very handy, but don't forget to stay in the offline world, look around, and enjoy your surroundings. Especially on the journey, where there's so much new to see!
We hope that this compilation of apps will be useful and make your trip as convenient as possible!