directions in russian

Directions in Russian: 90+ Useful Words and Phrases

Have you ever been lost in a Russian speaking country?

Even though we all have smartphones, they don’t always work when you’re away from home. Plus cell service can be spotty, and some hidden local gems just aren’t on Google Maps.

This is when you need to actually ask the locals. I know that can be scary, but it’s a good thing! Talking to natives means you’ll get the local perspective and probably discover new places—venues an app would never lead you to.

This post will teach you how to ask for directions in Russian, along with providing you with the key vocabulary and essential phrases and questions for helping you communicate about destinations and directions.

Contents

Cardinal Directions

Starting with the basics, here are the cardinal directions in Russian, plus the adjective forms of each direction.

восток — east

восточный — eastern

Восток — это точка, где солнце восходит, а Запад — где оно заходит. (The East is the point where the sun rises, while the West is where it sets.)

запад — west

западный — western

Мы поехали на запад, чтобы насладиться красивыми закатами над океаном. (We went west to enjoy the beautiful sunsets over the ocean.)

юг — south

южный — southern

Мы решили отправиться на юг, чтобы насладиться теплым климатом и кристально чистым морем. (We decided to head south to enjoy the warm climate and crystal-clear sea.)

север — north

северный — northern

В зимний период на севере России температура может достигать очень низких отметок. (During the winter period in the north of Russia, the temperature can reach very low levels.)

Sometimes, you can also travel in a mix of two directions, such as:

Right and Left

Anytime you ask for directions, you’re likely to get a response that directs you right or left.

справа — right

Магазин справа от дороги предлагает широкий выбор товаров. (The store to the right of the road offers a wide selection of goods.)

слева — left

Моя книжная полка находится слева от рабочего стола. (My bookshelf is located to the left of the desk.)

These are the basic words for “right” and “left,” with literal meanings of “right side” and “left side.” In addition to these, Russian also features adverbs that indicate a direction or movement in a rightward or leftward direction:

направо — on the right/to the right

Пройдите вперед, а потом сверните направо. (Go straight ahead, and then turn right.)

налево — on the left/to the left

Пройдите прямо, а потом сверните налево у большого здания. (Go straight ahead, and then turn left at the big building.)

Asking for Help and Directions in Russian

You can only get help if you start asking questions in Russian. Let’s start with a few options you can use when addressing an unfamiliar person.

Извините, Вы не могли бы подсказать… — Excuse me, would you be able to tell me…

The closest literal translation of this construct is “Excuse me, could you give me a hint…” Of all of the polite ways of asking for assistance in Russian, this is the most polite.

Извините, Вы не знаете… — Excuse me, would you know…

Где находится …? — Where is… located?

Как мне добраться до …? — How can I get to…?

В какую сторону …? — Which way to…?

Как далеко до …? — How far is it to…?

Как мне пройти к …? — How can I get [on foot] to…?

Words for Landmarks and Establishments

Whether you need to get to one of these or someone is using them as signposts on your route, you need to be able to recognize these common places.

парк — park

музей — museum

стадион — stadium

театр — theater

банк — bank

церковь — church

памятник — monument

магазин — store, shop

аптека — pharmacy

больница — hospital

гостиница — hotel

вокзал — train station

ресторан — restaurant

торговый центр — shopping mall

автобусная остановка — bus stop

Остановка is generally applicable to all modes of public transportation, except the metro (subway) and railway.

Modes of Transportation in Russian

The most common local modes of transportation are:

автобус — bus

машина — car

такси — taxi

поезд — train

пригородный поезд — commuter train

Native speakers often refer to commuter trains as электричка . This word literally means “electrical train,” but it’s used in informal contexts to refer to trains on all regional lines regardless of whether they’re electrified or not. 

Some cities in Russia retain a network of minibus taxis that are called маршрутное такси (minibus taxi) or simply маршрутка (shuttle bus). They stop on demand along a defined route and sometimes provide a convenient way to reach certain destinations.

трамвай — tram

троллейбус — trolleybus

The routes of rail-less, electric public buses are more common in Russian cities than they are in Western ones.

метро — subway

пешком — on foot

Words for Navigational Markers

A set of directions is likely to include these common elements of topography.

улица — street

площадь — square

район — district

светофор — traffic light

перекрёсток — intersection

квартал — street block

здание — building

дом — house (often used as a substitute for “building”)

дорога — road

мост — bridge

центр города — city center, downtown

корпус — block (used when several buildings share the same number as a complex)

For even more Russian vocabulary, check out this giant Russian vocab list.

Verbs Related to Directions

Common actions to perform in the process of reaching your destination may be conjugated in the imperative or in the future tense, or with a modal verb preceding the infinitive.

повернуть — to turn

проехать — to drive or ride past, to drive for (units of distance/time)

This is a versatile verb that can replace добраться in a question clause or indicate various actions along the way Проедете мимо театра. means “[you will] ride past the theater; Проедете три остановки. is “[you will] ride for three stops.”

попасть — to reach, to get to

This is another synonym for добраться . The other meaning of this particular verb is “to hit the target.”

пересечь — to go across

увидеть — to catch sight of, to see

сесть на — to take a seat on

Words for Distance and Time

When you ask for directions, the answer is likely to include the approximate length or duration of the trip.

час — hour

Such as: Около часа (About an hour) is a valid response to “How far is it?”

минута — minute

Short trips may be estimated in minutes, and каждые пять минут (every five minutes) is the commonplace way to describe the frequency of the public transport schedule.

Russia-speaking countries all use the metric system, so distances will be measured in:

километр — kilometer

метр — meter

Prepositions and Adverbs Related to Directions

далеко — far

близко — close, nearby

направо — [turn/go] right

налево — [turn/go] left

прямо — straight ahead

перед — before, in front of

после — after, past

мимо — past by

возле, около — near, close to

рядом с — next to, by, beside

напротив — across from, facing

по направлению к — towards

через — over, across, through

Example Dialogues

Putting it all together, here is a small sample of what you might use or hear when asking for or receiving directions in Russian. 

Q: Извините, Вы не подскажете, где находится ближайшая станция метро? — Excuse me, would you be able to tell me where the nearest subway station is?

A: Конечно, станция “Братиславская” прямо за углом. — Sure, the Bratislavskaya station is just around the corner.

 

Q: Как далеко отсюда до стадиона? — How far is it to the stadium from here?

A: Пятнадцать минут пешком. — It’s a fifteen minute walk.

 

Q: Мне нужно попасть на Красную Площадь. — I need to get to Red Square.

A: Идите в ту сторону, а затем поверните направо, когда увидите большой собор. — Walk that way and then turn right when you see the large cathedral.

Q: Вы не можете мне показать на карте? — Can you show me on the map?

A: Конечно. Он примерно здесь. — Sure. It’s right about here.

 

Q: Как туда лучше всего добраться? — What is the best way to get there?

A: Лучше всего поехать на метро. — It’s best to take the metro.

 

Q: Туда можно дойти пешком? — Is it possible to walk there on foot?

A: Вам лучше всего сесть на трамвай. — Your best option is to take the tram.

 

Q: Где находится парк? — Where is the park?

A: Слева от остановки Вы увидите вход в парк. — To the left of the stop, you will see the park entrance.

 

Q: Вы не знаете, когда будет следующий автобус? — Would you know when the next bus arrives?

A: Следующий автобус прибудет через пять минут. — The next bus arrives in five minutes.

 

Q: Где находится ближайшая аптека? — Where is the closest pharmacy?

A: Пройдёте мимо церкви, затем повернёте направо, и через два квартала на углу будет аптека. — [You will] Walk past the church, then turn right, and in two blocks there will be a pharmacy on the corner.

And here are a couple of idioms that express how near or far your destination is:

Это в двух шагах отсюда. — It is very close by.

Это чёрт знает где. — It is very far.

Literally, it means “it is the devil knows where,” which is a very colloquial way in which someone may imply that you should rethink your plans to go there on account of the effort it would take. 

And finally, do not forget to express your gratitude at the end of the conversation:

Огромное спасибо! — A huge thank you!

A note on language formality: In the Russian language, you only use ты (singular informal “you”) when speaking with children, friends or relatives. Everybody else gets Вы, which sounds and acts like a plural “you” but is capitalized in writing to represent the singular formal word.

A vast majority of interactions that involve asking for directions are going to occur between people who have never seen each other before, so it follows that you will be mostly using formal Russian in these situations.

 

Well, you are prepared now! Even if you are lost and your phone battery has died, you have all of the necessary tools to ask a local for directions in Russian.

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