Basic Russian Phrases For Travellers

Whenever I go to a new country I try and learn a few phrases in the local language. I feel that a little bit of effort on my part goes a long way to showing that I want to learn more about the country I am visiting and that I don’t expect them to have to speak English.

The likelihood in most major towns and cities is that people do speak at least a little bit of English but I am visiting their country not the other way around so the least I can do is greet them in their own language.

I found in Russia that most people spoke English, to varying degrees, however it was very much appreciated when I said pleasantries in Russian. Below are a few Russian phrases and words that I found super helpful when trying to navigate Russia and the Cyrillic language!

Phrases To Remember

Most of these phrases are fairly easy to pick up once you say them a few times. A couple of words in the local language goes a long way – especially when you’re trying to convince the provodnitsa on your train to let you go to the toilet when the train has stopped!

English = Pronunciation = Cyrillic

Yes = dah = да

No = niet = нет

Thank you = spaseeba = Спасибо

Please = pazhaloosta = Пожалуйста

Hi (informal) = preevyet = Привет

Bye (informal) = paka = Пока

Good morning = dobray ootro = Доброе утро

Good day = dobrie djen = Добрый день

Good evening = dobrie vyecher = Добрый вечер

Good bye (off) = da svidaniya = До свидания

My name is = meenya zavoot… = Меня зовут…

What is your name = kak vas zavoot = Как Вас зовут

Toilet = tooalyet = туалет

Water = vada = воды

Beer = piva = пиво

Wine = vino = вино

Juice = sok = сок

Meat = myasa = мясо

Without meat  = bez myasa = без мяса (this is the easiest way to ask for a vegetarian meal)!

Words To Look Out For

These are words that we found ourselves looking for on signs to help us find particular places rather than needing to speak them. Remember, there is only one letter difference between water and vodka! But we won’t pass judgement if you “accidentally” buy two bottles of vodka instead of two bottles of water at 9am… when in Russia!

English = Cyrillic

Train = поезд

Hotel = Гостиница

Supermarket = супермаркет

Restaurant = ресторан

Water = воды

Vodka = водка

Entrance = вход

Exit = Выход

Moscow = Москва

St Petersburg = Санкт-Петербург


I hope these Russian phrases help you on your next trip and that you have fun exploring Russia!

P.S. I would also highly recommend downloading the Google Translate app and downloading the local language offline to enable you to search translations without needing internet – this has saved us a ew times from very awkward encounters!

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