17 Jun Phone calls and internet access in Russia
No one wants to get disconnected from the world when being abroad. The ease of making a phone call and checking emails while traveling is not a luxury anymore, it’s becoming a must. However, the rules and standards differ from country to country, and might be overwhelming at the beginning.
To spare you from unnecessary stress and confusion, we prepared a short guide about how to make phone calls to and inside Russia, where to buy a Russian sim card and where to get a cheap internet access in Russia.
Making international calls to Russia
The international code for Russia is +7 (the same as for Kazakhstan). In order to call someone in Russia, dial
1. 00 (or +) 7
2. then the area code, 3-5 digits (every region in Russia has a different one – see below)
3. and then the local subscriber number (5-7 digits)
For example, to call our office dial 007 (for Russia) then 495 (for Moscow) and then 720 83 98 (our landline).
Calling a cell phone is practically the same, just the area code always starts with “9” (reserved for mobile).
Don’t get confused if you see extra digits or symbols in a Russian mobile number. Russian cell phone numbers sometimes contain symbols, which are not used when dialing internationally. Ignore the digit “8” and the plus (+) if they appear before the area code.
Making internal calls in Russia
All regions in Russia have their own code (“area code”). In order to call another city in Russia, dial 8, wait for a tone, then dial the area code, and then dial the phone number itself.
Area codes of the major Russian touristic cities:
- Moscow – 495, 499
- Yaroslavl (and other cities from the Golden Ring) – 485
- Saint Petersburg – 812
- Veliki Novgorod – 816
- Nizhny Novgorod – 831
- Kazan (Republic of Tatarstan) – 843, 855
- Ekaterinburg – 434
- Novosibirsk – 383
Calling inside one city is easy, because you don’t dial any additional digits, just the subscriber’s number. The exeption is Moscow, where you have to dial all digits, so to get in touch with our office, dial 8 495 720 83 98.
Having different area codes implicates different tariffs for long-distance calls. Phone calls inside one city are quite cheap, but the cost of a call to another city depends on a city, your operator and even the time of the day.
Once you leave the city where you have bought your sim card, you go onto roaming tariffs (pretty expensive sometimes). That’s why, if your trip covers several Russian cities and you plan to stay a few days in each, it might be cheaper to buy a new sim card in every city, rather than using the same everywhere.
Purchasing a sim card
Buying a prepaid sim card in Russia is cheap and easy. A new prepaid sim costs about 200 RUB (approx. 4,3 EUR) and you can buy it in numerous kiosks and cell phone shops (like Evroset <<Евросеть>> or Svyaznoy <<Связной>>), located often outside of metro stations, and also at the airports. When buying a new card, you will be asked for your passport for the registration purposes (don’t worry, it’s a standard procedure for everyone, also locals).
There are a few main network providers, including Beeline, Megafon, MTS. There is also Tele2, considered to be the cheapest one, however, it’s not available in Moscow. Note, that to be able to use a Russian sim card, your phone has to be unlocked. In case you have a sim lock and you plan longer holidays in Russia consider buying a Russian phone (there’s a big choice of very cheap ones; check in the cell phone shops).
Topping up a sim card
You can top up your sim using top-up machines, which can be found almost everywhere, in most underpasses, phone shops, also in small towns and villages. Choose your provider from the list on the touch screen, type in your phone number (without the +7) and then insert the amount of money you want to top-up by.
The second option is to visit one of the cell phone shops and ask to top up your phone at the counter. Simply say your phone number and the amount of money you want to put on it.
Internet access in Russia
According to statistics, approximately 70 million Russians are active internet users, which is already a proof of a widespread internet network in Russia.
The 3G service is pretty good throughout Russia, so to access internet you can simply use your phone. Internet costs differ a lot, so make sure you choose the right data plan, otherwise, you might burn your credits super fast.
In big cities like Moscow and Saint Petersburg, you will easily find cafes and restaurants with free WiFi (free, after you buy something to drink or eat).
In St. Petersburg, you can access WiFi at the airports (Pulkovo 1 and Pulkovo 2), at the three main train stations (Moskovskyi, Baltiyskiy, Ladozhskiy), as well as in Peterhof Park. In Moscow, many areas of the city are covered by a commercial WiFi network called Beeline, which is quite cheap to use. In addition, the Moscow metro has free WiFi in carriages on the circle line.
If you don’t have a computer with you, but you need to use one, you can go to one of numerous internet cafes, which can be found in any bigger and smaller town.
Enjoy your holidays and share impressions and photos on the go, while traveling in Russia!
Don’t hesitate to reach out to ExploRussia’s team whenever you need a local to help you around.