For those who prefer drive his own car, rented car or camper I give some advices.
First of all you should say good bye to popular myths about Russia.
- You will not meet bears on the roads. I’m afraid all of them are in Siberia or in the Zoo. But it is a chance to impact deer in the night.
- Asphalt of the main Russian highways (that lead from Europian borders of the country to Moscow and to Black Sea shore) are as good as in Germany.
- Russian police is far from ideal but it is much better that before. Some of policemen even can speak English. They can help in case of trouble. Use short mobile telephone number 112 to call police.
- Russian are not polite drivers. Actually yes, the like to be the leaders on the road (especially BMW drivers), but there are no bandits on the road as was in the early 2000s. In any case don’t negotiate with people who don’t like you. Lock inside the car and call 112.
In Russian «Shosse» means Highway. It is very dump but they write Shosse on English language maps and road signs. The only reason for foreigners to know this word is to pronounce it to domestic people when you find the road. But Yandex Navigator is a very useful mobile application that give you a direction to any point you like here. Why not to translate Shosse? I don’t understand them.
Make sure your tank is full. There are many gas stations here but you may meet 500 km without them. It is very strange but namely on toll roads between Moscow and Saint-Petersburg. Why? I once stayed 2 hours in the night there waiting while toll road technical service brings me a canister with gas.
Toilets are awful. Even on toll roads. Use toilets at the gas stations, they are clean and in the heated rooms.
Don’t eat at the road cafes. It would better to eat at good gas stations: BP, LuckOil, Gazprom, and so on.
Moscow is an Automobile Affiliate of Hell. Traffic jams, nowhere to park, cost of parking areas are very high, not easy to navigate even with Yandex navigator, a lot of cameras fixing every little mistake, drivers are nervous. I go to Moscow by car only if have free parking point there (office parking, big supermarket parking or residential area where I’m a resident and have free hours to park car). For tourist who decide to visit Moscow only for one or two days it is better to leave car at the country of near hotel and pic a taxi, use underground or just walk.
For suburb tourist car is absolutely necessary thing because public buses are not comfortable, nobody speaks English (and sometimes Russian:)), and the distances are really long.
Generally I would say you may come here by your own car. Your national plates will say to other drivers that you are not Russian and people will be more tolerant to you.