Last updated on November 9th, 2019
Hey guys, in this post, I’ll be trying to shed some light to the safety in Moscow, Russia. Is Moscow safe for tourists? You will find out very soon. I will also tell you about 5 general safety rules in Russia.
Moscow is huge. If you don’t count Istanbul (because a part of it is in Asia), Moscow is the biggest city in Europe with almost 12 million people living in the capital of Russia. Unofficially, there are 15-17 million inhabitants. But don’t be scared, Moscow doesn’t feel that big (even though it is huge). Just Like in any big city, there is crime in Moscow. However, even if you look at Numbeo data, Moscow is no more dangerous than New York City. Are you scared of going to NYC? I don’t think so.
Interested in the best things to do in Moscow? I’ve got a blog for you: what to do in Moscow for 2 days.
Don’t believe everything you hear about Russia in the news, if I haven’t been and lived in Russia, I would probably be sceptical of going to Russia as well. It’s always better to form your own opinion, unless, well, the region is really dangerous and your government advises you against all travel to that region (e.g. Somalia or Yemen at the moment). Russia is not the case.
How safe is Moscow? 5 safety rules in Russia
Is Moscow dangerous or is it safe for tourists? I would say that Moscow is generally safe for tourists. I know many people who visited Moscow and none of them ever had any problems apart from taxi scams (higher prices for foreigners, however that can be easily avoided – later I will tell you how). Like in any city, you need to be cautious and maybe learn the Cyrillic alphabet (it takes a couple of hours – it’s not that complicated at all) – that would help you a lot as you would be able to read many signs. For some reason, most of the signs in Moscow are not translated to English like they are in St. Petersburg, so knowing the Russian alphabet would really help you.
5 safety rules in Moscow and in Russia
Use various taxi apps instead of catching a taxi on the street
Instead of getting a traditional taxi on the street, try to get one online via Gett or Yandex taxi. It’s really the easiest way to get a taxi in Moscow as well as the cheapest. The taxis in Moscow are so ridiculously cheap that you can drive all day in Moscow for the price of a meal for two in London, for example. Using the taxi apps would help you to avoid one of the common scams in Moscow when taxi drives charge you more because you don’t speak Russian and can’t argue or if you don’t agree on the price in advance – don’t forget to mention that the sum is in Rubles. Of course, not all the taxi drivers are scammers, but I genuinely recommend you to use Uber or Yandex taxi instead.
Read my post about Moscow vs St. Petersburg – what’s the difference >>>
Stay at the properties around the city centre or within the Sadovoe Koltso ( Garden Ring Road)
Another safety tip for Moscow is staying in the properties around the city centre or within the Sadovoe Koltso (Garden Ring). It doesn’t mean that other districts are dangerous, but they could be far and I think the last thing you want is to commute for 1.5 hours in the overcrowded metro, right? So properties within the Sadovoe Koltso (Garden Ring) would be a safe bet. I would recommend staying near Lubyanka, Arbatskaya, Kropotkinskaya or Polyanka, as all these places are nice, very central and have plenty of hotels for any budget.
If you’re interested in the best places to stay in Moscow, if you’re up for a 5* hotel, you can stay in St. Regis Moscow (we stayed there and loved it), good 3-4* would be Hotel Maroseyka or Design Hotel Senator or a budget-friendly hotel or hostel would be Art Hostel or Pokrovka 6 Hotel.
Don’t let suspicious people buy you drinks
One of the rare occurring scams (but it still happens though) is letting people you just met buy you drinks, get you drunk and then steal your wallet. If you spot that someone is suspiciously friendly and for absolutely no reason wants to buy you MANY drinks, there’s something wrong with it. Alternatively, don’t let these people bring you to another bar or nightclub and don’t get in the car with them.
Also, if you see drunk people on the street at night, it’s always better to avoid them.
Looking for more cities to visit in Russia? Head to this post about the best cities to visit in Russia >>>
Always carry your passport (or a copy with you)
Russia has mandatory army service for all the males and if you’re a male and you’re young (you look younger than 30) or you have a Middle-Eastern look (that has nothing to do with the army), you could be stopped by police by a routine check. Don’t get scared and don’t freak out. You just need to stay calm, say that you don’t speak English and show your passport/copy or any other official ID. As policemen usually don’t speak English, they won’t take long with your check and you will continue your journey very fast.
These checks usually happen at the entrance of the underground stations and in public places.
If you’re driving, you could also be stopped. Don’t worry – follow the same principle as described above.
Read my post about the things you need to know before visiting Russia and the best Russia travel tips here >>>
Try to learn a couple of phrases in Russian or have Google Translate at hand all the time
Unfortunately, people in Russia don’t usually speak English very well or at all. However, it doesn’t mean that Russians are unfriendly. Even in Moscow, it’s not so easy to get around by metro, if you don’t speak Russian or read Cyrillic. I recommend always having a phone with the internet at hand, so you can check the route on Google maps or ask people by showing them a translated phrase in Google. You can buy a sim card at the airport or in any of the offices of Beeline, MTS, Megafon – the 3 main mobile operators in Russia.
Bonus: number 6! Don’t take photos of government buildings or military people.
Russian militaries and police are very strict when it comes to taking photos. So when it says “no photos”, it does mean that no photos are allowed. Also, try to avoid taking photos of military personnel and police, unless they agreed to pose for you, of course.
I hope that this information was useful for you, guys! Should you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask. Are you interested in my other posts about Russia? You can check my entire Russia travel category here >>>