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I'm attending a close friend's wedding in Russia in July. We'll be visiting St Petersburg for a few days first, then on to Moscow. We have a toddler who goes to bed early and we would much rather stay in AirBnB type apartments rather than hotels. There seem to be many such apartments, and I read elsewhere that this sort of thing is quite popular amongst foreigners.

It's unlikely I'll be able to get a homestay visa from my friend's family because there are many such visitors. I know that for a tourist visa I need confirmation from the hotel or travel agent, but these apartments aren't really either of those, as far as I know. Perhaps the AirBnB hosts hold get me a homestay visa? Perhaps I could go to a travel agency, explain my itinery and ask for them to sponsor a tourist visa? Are ever of these options? Are there any other possibilities?

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I think that @Roflcoptr provided easiest way to get an invitation. May be, if you'll say more about country you are from, I can help you more. –  VMAtm Apr 17 '12 at 6:18
    
I'll be travelling from the UK. –  silves89 Apr 18 '12 at 14:32

3 Answers 3

up vote 9 down vote accepted

First, I can really recommend to read through www.waytorussia.net. This seems a very good online resource that could answer all my questions when I planned my trip through Russia last spring.

Therefore, I can recommend the service a third-party company provides over this website. You have to pay 20 US dollars and they book a hotel for you, send you the invitations and then cancel the whole tour again. They are specialized just for this service. Maybe you can get it cheaper, but for me it was way worth the 20 bucks.

http://www.waytorussia.net/Travel/VisaSupport.html

You can enter which cities you want to visit and they will write that into the invitation letter. With that invitation letter you can go to the embassy and wait for a visa. Be sure that in the visa application form to write down the same cities as in the invitation letter. Once you get the VISA, there is no remark in your passport in which cities you will stay. So your free to travel wherever you want. Just be sure to adhere to the dates of entry and exit of the country,.

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Thanks! This does looks like a good way to do it. But it doesn't seem entirely... Legit? Legal? I don't know, I'm perhaps being too cautious? –  silves89 Apr 18 '12 at 14:32
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@silves89 As I know, there are a lot of people here who were in Russia and used this site (@Mark Mayo too, FYI). You should search about this site here on travel.SE (primarily, in russia and find a lot of information). –  VMAtm Apr 19 '12 at 16:04
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I also think the site is widely used and I never heard of any problems about that. Additionally, all these details are not mentioned in your visa. So once you got your visa, you should be fine. –  RoflcoptrException Apr 19 '12 at 16:06
    
Thanks chaps, I'm reassured and I'll be doing this in the next few weeks. –  silves89 Apr 24 '12 at 8:51

Otalo searches all the leading vacation rental sites (like airbnb, HomeAway, Holiday Lettings, Roomorama, etc.) for you. They 700+ rentals in Russia, here are links to St. Petersburg (278 rentals) and Moscow (374 rentals).

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Just FYI, want to note that, according to the Russian laws, if you are traveling on ferry, you can stay in St.Petersburg for three days without visa (because the St. Petersburg is a seaport mensioned in corresponding law). You still need visa to visit Moscow, but may be this can help for your stay in St. Petersburg.

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