From airport to city
A visa is not required for a trip of less than 72 hours if you arrive in St. Petersburg by ferry or by cruise liner and you have a pre-arranged program of excursions by an approved local company. This kind of visa for cruise passengers is called Blanket visa and can be ordered online at Russian travel agency.
Pulkovo Airport, 20km south of the city centre, serves many international and domestic destinations. A new terminal opened in 2014. There is unlimited free Wi-Fi. The airport has Business lounges that are free for first and business class travelers but are available for use by all passengers upon payment of a fee. The lounges include snacks, drinks, televisions, and showers.
To travel between the airport and the city:
City buses numbers 39, 39Ex and minibus K39 operate service between the airport and the Moskovskaya (Московская) metro station (RUB30-40, 35 minutes). Buses are available 05:30-01:30. From the Moskovskaya metro station, you can take metro line 2 (blue), which operates between 5:45AM and 12:20AM, to the city centre (20 minutes). If you arrive late at night and the metro is not operating, you can also take a night bus from the metro station to the city centre. Minibus K39 also stops at the Aeroport commuter rail station. From there, you can take a train to Saint Petersburg's Baltiysky Station (17 minutes, 6:00AM-11:30PM), next to the Baltiyskaya metro station. This is only convenient if it is near your accommodation.
Taxis can be ordered from the service booth in the arrivals hall. Prices are fixed based on the zone of travel; the cost to the city centre is RUB900-1000. Without traffic, the trip takes 30 minutes, but it can easily take an hour during rush hour. As an alternative, Taxi 068 has a mobile app that you can use to book a taxi to the center for RUB600, but you will need a Russian phone number to communicate. If calling from the airport arrival hall, it will take 10-20 minutes for the taxi to arrive. Uber fares to the city center are approximately RUB1,000.
Pre-booked taxis will cost RUB1,300-1,600 to the centre, but you will be welcomed in the arrival hall by your driver carrying a sign with your name. Pre-booking through the internet is without risk, no credit card information is asked, and pre-payment is not required. Lingo Taxi has English-speaking drivers and dispatchers.
Bridge draw schedule
Except during the winter, the 9 low bridges in St. Petersburg are drawn during the night to allow for the passage of boat traffic. Therefore, if you don't make it to the side of the river where you are staying before the bridges are drawn and there are no high bridges to cross, you will be stuck until the bridges are lowered. Note that there are "breaks" when some the bridges are lowered in the middle of the night for approximately 30 minutes to briefly allow everyone to get home. The bridge schedule is particularly noteworthy for those staying on Vasilyevsky Island, which is unreachable at certain times of the night. Seeing the bridges drawn in the middle of the night is a must for all visitors to the city!
The Bolshoy Obukhovskiy Most, 14km south of the Alexander Nevsky Bridge (Most Aleksandra Nevskogo), is never drawn, allowing for 24-hour crossing of the Neva River. However, the bridge is out of the way and will increase the cost of your taxi or Uber.
The following are the times when the bridges are drawn and will not be able to be crossed:
Palace Bridge (Dvortsovyy Most)To Vasilyevsky IslandFrom 1:25AM to 2:50AM & from 3:10AM to 4:55AM
Blagoveshchensky BridgeTo Vasilyevsky IslandFrom 1:25AM to 2:45AM & from 3:10AM to 5:00AM
Troitsky BridgeTo Petrogradsky, near Peter & Paul FortressFrom 1:35AM to 4:50AM
Liteiny BridgeNear Lenin Square / Finlandsky Railway StationFrom 1:40AM to 4:45AM
Birzhevoy (Exchange) BridgeBetween Vasilyevsky Island & Petrogradsky, near Peter & Paul FortressFrom 2:00AM to 4:55AM
Volodarsky BridgeNear LomonovskayaFrom 2:00AM to 3:45AM & from 4:15AM to 5:45AM
Tuchkov BridgeBetween Petrogradsky and Vasilyevsky IslandFrom 2:00AM to 2:55AM & from 3:35AM to 4:55AM
Bolsheokhtinsky / Peter the Great BridgeJust north of Alexander Nevsky BridgeFrom 2:00AM to 5:00AM
Alexander Nevsky Bridge (Most Aleksandra Nevskogo)On Nevsky ProspektFrom 2:20AM to 5:10AM
Finlyandsky BridgeJust south of Alexander Nevsky BridgeFrom 2:20AM to 5:30AM
Metro SPB Line2: Chyornaya rechka. The station is devoted to Alexander Pushkin and located not far from the place where he was fatally wounded in the duel with Georges d'Anthès
Saint Petersburg's metro system is the second largest in Russia, after that of Moscow. The metro is a cheap and effective way to get around the city, and also a major tourist attraction due to the beautiful decorations of the stations. Amateur photography (without a tripod, etc) is allowed, although professional photography is prohibited.
The trains are fast and run frequently. During rush hour, there are often only 30 seconds between trains. Fares are RUB35 per entry regardless of the distance traveled. The system can be accessed by inserting a brass token into the turnstile slot, by tapping a Sputnik smart card purchased from a machine at the station, or by tapping a Mastercard PayPass or Visa PayWave card on the white circle near the turnstile. Large baggage requires payment of 1 additional fare.
Opening and closing times vary; the subway is closed from approximately midnight to approximately 05:45, depending on the station.
Metro maps can be found in every train car and always have station names in the Latin alphabet. The station names on the platforms are also in the Latin alphabet, and many other signs are in English. Station announcements on the train are only in Russian, but if you listen carefully you will hear the conductor announce the current station name and the next station as the doors are closing.
Highly recommended is the use of the metro cards that work as electronic wallets, e.g. the Electronic card "Podorozhnik". They can be acquired at the metro cash desks, charged at the desks or the automated ticket machines in metro stations and then used to pay metro and bus fare by simply swiping over the readers at buses or turnstiles. This greatly reduces wait times for metro tickets and is much easier than paying coins on the bus rides and it is also cheaper as the price per fare is lower for paying with the card than paying with cash. When initially charged with a balance, the card itself should be free or require only a very small deposit. Recommended is buying the card during off-peak times at the metro stations, charging the cards later is then usually with no wait times as many Russians somehow prefer waiting at the cash desks over using the ticket machines. The cards can be bought by anyone with cash and function like cash (anonymous, no PIN, lose the card = lose the money). Be advised that the cash desks at the metro stations don't advertise the cards and may need a picture of the Podorozhnik card(website print or phone picture) to "understand" what the customer wants. The cards *should* be able to be refunded (deposit and remaining balance, if any) before leaving St. Petersburg, if the amount remaining is worth waiting and effort on the cash desks. The cards work for all metro, tram and trolleybus fares in St. Petersburg and many bus routes. Some private bus routes and most or all Marshrutki do not yet accept the cards, so money in coins may be needed for some routes. Ticket controllers carry a small card reader to verify if the Podorozhnik card was swiped in the bus, so that works as expected. (A similar card type exists for Moscow City, the Troika, but the systems do not yet interact, i.e. the Moscow "Troika" does not work in St. Petersburg and the St. Petersburg "Podorozhnik" does not work in Moscow.)
Stations are deep underground, and transferring trains at transfer stations involves long walks that can take up to 10 minutes.
Trains can be extremely crowded during rush hour. Be aware of your belongings and expect to have to push your way out of the train upon arrival at your station.
By bus, trolleybus, or tram
Buses (автобус - avtobus) and trolleybuses (троллейбус - trolleibus) run frequently and cover much of the city. Route information is available using Google Maps. Information for trolleybuses and trams is also available online..
Trolleybuses are indicated by the letter 'm' (the lower case version of the Russian letter 'т') on the stops, and diesel/gas buses by the letter 'A'. Both buses and trolleybuses may show the same route number, but the trolleybus route in this case is frequently shorter, and can vary in some minor respects.
Trams (трамвай – "tramvai") are not common in the city center due to traffic issues but are available outside the city center.
Tickets (RUB30, more to the suburbs) are sold by attendants on board the vehicle. They usually only speak Russian and prefer exact change.
Buses and trolleys on main routes are frequently overcrowded. If you are caught without a valid ticket, you will be fined RUB300.
Taxis are always available but are much more expensive at night. Every private vehicle is a potential taxi. Flagging down a vehicle and paying for a ride somewhere is perfectly normal in Russia and quite popular although ill-advised for tourists. Safety is, of course, an issue. As a rule, you should never get in a private cab if it already has passengers inside.
Refuse requests from the driver to take on more fares unless you reached your destination; if he insists, ask to stop at a safe-looking place, pay and leave. If the driver stops for gas, step out of the car, take your belongings, and get some fresh air while he is fuelling it. Those travelling alone (men and women) should wave off any suspicious ride for any reason whatsoever. Gypsy cabs which linger near popular bars and restaurants at night have been known to be especially dangerous, with several instances of druggings and robberies.
Drivers do not usually speak English. Watch out for overpriced taxis outside Hermitage museum. They have meters that run at 4 times the rate of regular taxis. Negotiate a flat fare before getting on the taxi. If the driver insists on using the meter you should walk away.
Route taxi (маршрутка - marshrutka) is sometimes the fastest way to get somewhere. Vans have 14-20 seats, are usually white or yellow, always with a letter K followed by the route number plate (such as K-28). Often they are small Chinese or Turkish buses. There are no regular stops; you must tell the driver when you want to get out, or wave while on the roadside to stop one. You must pay to the driver at entry, usually RUB30-40. If you cannot reach the driver on your own, pass the money through the other passengers and be ready to pass other's money if you sit close to the driver. The Marshrutka experience may seem exciting sometimes, especially when you see some brave driver counting change while steering with his knees at 110km/h (70mph). Many marshrutka drivers are illegal immigrants and speak Russian poorly (if any at all).
Uber is a safer and cheaper method of transport than taxis. Drivers usually don't speak English, but communicating with the driver is not necessary since the fares and destinations are all handled through the app. Popular alternatives to Uber are: Yandex.Taxi, Gett and Taxovichkoff (all have mobile apps and have similar concept to Uber).
By local train
Commuter trains (электричка, elektrichka) may be useful to get to the suburbs. Fares are based on travel distance. Speeds are moderate, but trains operate infrequently. Information is available in Russian online.
While the terrain in Saint Petersburg is flat, the city is not bicycle-friendly due to limited bike lanes, bad weather, and dangerous car traffic. However, you are allowed to take a bicycle onto the elektrichka trains upon payment of a small fee and go to a less crowded suburb to enjoy a ride.
There are plenty of ATMs and legitimate currency exchange booths in the city centre. There are also many 24-hour supermarkets.
Souvenirs are commonly available on Nevsky Prospekt, particularly near the Hermitage, although prices for everything are higher here than on side streets.
Raketa wristwatches (Часы Ракета) for over half a century tourists have been hunting for Russian watches in Saint Ptersburg. But be aware of many counterfeits. The most wanted Russian watches in Saint Petersburg are the one produced locally by the "Petrodvorets Watch Factory - Raketa" Russian's 300 years watch factory (By the way the Factory, located in Petershof, is open to visits. Founded by Peter the Great in 1721, this Manufacture is the last one in Russia, and one of the very few in the world to produce its mechanisms from A to Z. Since counterfeits are mostly found, we advise you buy only those Russian watches in the shops listed on the factory,s site
Apraksin Dvor (Апраксин двор). perfect for people watching, but keep your purse and camera close since it is a favorite of both shoppers and pickpockets. You can find almost anything here. Undergoing a long-term revitalization plan.
Gostiny Dvor. The city's oldest and largest shopping centre, dating to the mid-18th century. The name means "Merchant Yard", as its old role was to provide both shops and housing to merchants from far away. It sells almost everything from Playstations to Saint Petersburg Vodka. Prices are high.
Udelnaya flea-market, (take blue metro line to Udel'naya station, go up the escalator, turn right, cross the railway in front of you and turn right). Blocks of concrete-steel-glass cubes selling various new goods, turns to roofed flea market stalls with good stock and widely varying wares which turns to non-roofed stalls and ending up with trade-places of blankets placed on the ground up-north where the market ends. Half way up the flea market on left side is Middle-Asian style open-fire grill-restaurant-tent with reasonable prices and delicious kebabs, shashliks and pork ribs. Bargaining in Russian will be appreciated.
Passazh (Пассаж). The Harrods of Saint Petersburg, a smaller and very beautiful shopping center for the elite.
Souvenirs Fair, Nab. kanal Griboedova 2 (Canal Griboedov behind the Church of the Saviour on the Spilt Blood). A huge variety of cheap souvenirs from Matroyshka (матрёшка) dolls to Soviet Memorabilia. Be aware that all the Russian Raketa watches sold are counterfeits. English is generally spoken here and the market caters to tourists.
DK Krupskoy, Pr. Obukhovskoy oborony 105 (Metro: Elizarovskaya), ☎ +7 911 124 2254. Used to be a book market but nowadays you can buy various things there. It's a very well known place among locals but not by foreigners. You can find souvenirs by a very good price there. Much cheaper than stores in the city centre.
The Hermitage Museum/The Winter Palace  is Saint Petersburg's prime attraction, a massive palace-museum showing the highlights of a collection of over 3,000,000 pieces spanning the globe. The Hermitage is truly one of the world's great museums, with an imposing setting displaying priceless works by Rembrandt, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Rubens and more. Getting a tour guide is recommended; they can charge as much as $100, but the additional information they impart can be well worth the price, and they can readily take you directly to the items you want to see.
Ticketing is complex, but the Hermitage itself is 300 rubles for Russians and 400 rubles for foreigners (2013) and they do check if you have a Russian passport, even if you speak Russian. Students of all nationalities get in for free, but don't forget your student card with photo (the 'administration' will likely reject your ID if it doesn't have a date on it). Entrance is free on the first Thursday of every month. Large bags aren't allowed in the museum, and a massive cloakroom downstairs (no charge, as usual in Russia) exists to assist with jackets and bags. A ticket allowing photography costs 200 rubles. Some rooms and all temporary exhibits prohibit all kinds of photography.
Getting into the Hermitage
Advice for foreigners visiting the Hermitage Museum: Find a tour group. This may have changed, call the museum ahead of time to find out.: Entry fee is 200 rubles instead of 400, and includes the photography fee and a whistle-stop tour of the museum (but note the free entry for students). Don't accept a tour from the numerous touts hanging around the queue. Instead, march past the queue and in through the main entrance, or the exit opposite if the queue's blocking the entrance (don't worry, you're not queue-jumping). Have a scout around for notices with museum tour times in your native language, or in extreme circumstances, ask at the desk. If you find a good candidate, you're all set to go to the Tours Office to book yourself on it. This is where things get slightly surreal. To get to the Tours Office from the main entrance, go forward past the cashiers, and turn left down the corridor. The Tours Office is in front of you at the end, and may or may not be marked. Get yourself a place on your tour, collect the bit of paper, go to cashier No. 5 (who is not with the rest of them, instead turn left out of the Tours Office and she's in a box at the end of the corridor), pay, get your paper stamped, take it back to the Tours Office and get it checked, stamped again and muttered over and then you're ready to brave the coat dungeon.
You can buy tickets on-line, and have a confirmation emailed to you. It is currently slightly more expensive than a local ticket as they charge in dollars at an old exchange rate ($18 including photos), you just walk straight to the front of the queue. Hand your booking confirmation and passport to information desk. She will get the ticket office to check your details and issue the tickets.
The queues at the ticket office can be long, and purchasing a ticket online can help you bypass this queue first thing in the morning. However, at other times the museum can limit the admission rate because of the numbers already in the museum. In this case having purchased your tickets in advance won't save you as much time. There are also ticket machines just before you get to the cash desk which have much shorter lines.
The museum has a cafe and large shop near the entrance, and numerous small shops throughout the galleries. Audio guides are available in English, and most signs in the gallery are in English and Russian. Guide books are available for around 300 rubles.
Russian Museum, Inzhenernaya Ul. 4 (Across Ploshad Isskustv from the Grand Europe Hotel), ☎ 595 42 48. 10AM to 6PM daily ex. Tuesday. An extensive collection of Russian paintings and sculpture. People who are disappointed that the Hermitage is mainly western European art love this museum, since most of the artists are relatively unknown to non-Russians. The main building, the Mikhailovskiy Palace houses the main exhibits, and the Russian Museum also oversees the permanent and temporary exhibits at the Stroganov Palace, Marble Palace and Mikhailovskiy Castle. Tickets to each can be purchased separately or as a universal pass. Foreigners RUB350, Russians RUB150.
Peter and Paul Fortress. You can go in for free, but to enter the church and exhibitions you need tickets. You can get a combo ticket for everything, or you can just enter the church. Other than the church, which is where the all of the Romanov Czars of Russia from Peter the Great (bar two or three) are buried, the other things on the island aren't terribly impressive, so it might be worth it to just see the church. Note that if you buy a combo ticket for everything, you still need to have a 'special ticket' for a lot of exhibitions within the fortress! No tickets on Wednedsdays and maybe not Monday either
The Admiralty, North end of Nevsky Prospekt (Next to the Hermitage). Not open to visitors, but worth seeing from the outside.
The bridges on the Neva Open 2 times per night to allow boats to pass.
Museum of Artillery, Combat Engineers and Signal Troops . Housed in old Arsenal fortress-like building near the Peter and Paul Fortress and surrounded by moat. HUGE collection of weapons from the beginning of history until the present, including an extensive collection of Soviet weaponry from WW2 and the Cold War. Tanks, ballistic missiles, Katuscha trucks, countless Kalashnikovs. Personal note: Absolutely awesome, one of the highlights of all my European travels. If you speak Russian and can pass as a Russian, a 2-hour private guided tour costs around 15 euros. Closed Mondays, Tuesdays and the last Thursday of the month.
Ethnographic Museum, (Next to the Russian Museum Mikhailovskiy Palace). An interesting and educational display of the traditions and costumes of various ethnic groups found in the lands of the former Russian Empire. Foreigners 350 RR, Russians 100 RR.
Alexander Nevskiy Monastery. Located at the Eastern end of Nevskiy Prospekt next to the River Neva. The site also has the Tikhvin Cemetery which houses the tombs of some of the world's most famous composers; Tschaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Mussorgsky and Borodin, and also the author Fyodor Dostoevsky, along with many other famous Russian figures.
Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood, Canal Griboedova, 2a (Between Nevsky Prospekt and the Neva), ☎ (812) 315-16-36. A traditional style Russian church built on the spot where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated in 1881. The interior is elaborately decorated with over 6000sqm of mosaics. Photography without a tripod and extra lighting permitted for free. 250 RR
Our-Lady-of-Kazan Cathedral (Казанский собор, Kazansky Sobor), Nevsky Prospekt and Canal Griboedova (Metro: Nevsky Prospekt). Impressive neoclassical exterior, richly decorated interior. Includes the tomb of Gen. Kutuzov, hero of the war of 1812. Free entry.
Saint Isaac's Cathedral, St. Isaac's Square, 4, ☎ (812) 315-97-32. 11am to 7pm daily ex. Wed. Located near to the Admiralty. It was built in 1818 and is a major attraction in the city. It is the third highest cupola cathedral in the world. There are night time visits, too, and the view from the colonnade (observation deck) is one of the best views of the city, for those who are willing to climb 400 steps. Foreigners 300 RR, Russians 120 RR.
Peter the Great's Cabin. Peter the Great's men built the small wooden cabin in a matter of days for him when he planned the city and it has been preserved in a small brick building in the district Petrogradskaya. It is located close to the Cruiser Aurora on Petrovskaya Naberzhnaya.
Narva Triumphal Arch (Narvskie Vorota), prospect Stachek 1, ☎ +7 812 786 87 92. You have just come out of Narvskaya metro station, and here it is! The arch was built to meet and greet Russian soldiers who came home having defeated Napoleon Bonaparte's army. It is made of bricks and plated with cooper. The chariot reined by Pheme is running atop. Many tourists and citizens misbelieve that the arch is monolithic. Nope, it's inhabited! You might have seen a lot of arches in your life. But you've hardly been within any. You come to the left door, enter the arch and buy a ticket (100 rubles in summer 2015). Then you climb a very high spiral ladder which pierces the pier (not for those who are prone to dizziness!). Eventually, you are in the crown of the arch. Here, at a height of 15 meters above the ground, a small exhibition hall is. Usually they exhibit something related to wars and battles Russia and USSR participated in. In August 2015 they were exhibiting things and photos telling about World War I. 100 rubles.
Loft Project ETAGI, Ligovsky prospekt, 74. Culture centre located in five-storey former bakery building with several exhibition spaces (combined surface around 5000 square metres). Contemporary art exhibitions, concerts, events (flea markets). Parts of Etagi loft are two art galleries, four exhibitions spaces, a cafe (with great interior and outside terrace), a hostel and a bookshop.
Kirov's museum, Kamennoostrovskiy prospect 26 (Gorkovskaya or Petrogradskaya metro stations). Daily: 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. Wednesdays: closed. A good museum is never just a set of items. It speaks to people and answers their questions. This museum will answer these ones: How did Soviet people live in the 1930s? What did their flats look like? What beds did they sleep on? What bathrooms did they go to? Where did they keep their food? What pens did they write with? How did Soviet people regard "luxury"? What sweets did Soviet children want their parents to buy them? The museum is the flat of Sergey Kirov who was the mayor of Leningrad in 1927-1934. But it isn't about Kirov only. It's about the epoch he lived in. It was the time between the World Wars when Joseph Stalin headed the USSR. 120 rubles.
Jangseung spirits. 15 guardian spirits came from Korea and gathered in the southwest corner of Park Sosnovka (the intersection of prospect Toreza and Svetlanovsky prospect - 60°00'41.3"N 30°20'50.7"E). It's believed that these 4-meter-high wooden spirits radiate positive energy and frighten demons away. Hurry up! Humid climate and vandals have destroyed 12 poles of the 15!
Andreyevsky Cathedral, 6 line V.O., 11, ☎ +7 (812) 323-34-18. Perhaps the most beautiful religious building on the island, built in 1780. The main cupola is framed by three narrow towers, and is topped by a two-tiered belltower. The gilt, three-layered iconostasis inside is an impressive 17 meters tall.
Church of the Assumption of Mary, Naberezhye Leitenanta Schmidta, 27. This five domed church was built in 1897. In 1935, as happened to many churches in Russia, it was converted by the Soviets into a warehouse, but in 1993 it was reopened for services. The ongoing careful renovations began in 1996.
Erarta Museum of Contemporary Art, No 2, 29th line, Vasilyevsky Island, ☎ +7 (812) 324 0809. 10am-10pm, Tuesday closed. Erarta project brings under one roof Russia's largest private Museum of Contemporary Art (with over 2,300 works in its collection as of the time of writing) and the art gallery. The building has a café (3rd floor), a restaurant, a gift store and a print shop. It has an overall floor area of 10,000 square meters. The Museum especially is worth visiting for its creativity, not only exhibiting other artists' works but also acting as an author itself. RUB500 for the Museum.
Exchange Building (Naval Museum), Birzhevaya Square, 4, ☎ +7 (812) 328-27-01 . 11AM-6PM Tu-Su. As of spring 2016 this building appears to be completely defunct. The Naval Museum is now in a brick building at Truda Ploschad The Exchange Building, which houses the Naval Museum, is the centerpiece of the Strelka ensemble. It was built in 1816 in the Neoclassical style. The Naval Museum, one of the largest in the world, contains historical displays of the Russian navy from its founding to the present day, including weaponry, models of ships, and even some original mastheads. Extensive World War II display, and also (not directly related to Naval history) a diorama box of the storming of the Winter Palace. Foreigners 320 rubles, Russians 90 rubles.
Ivan Kruzenshtern Statue, Across from Naberezhye Leitenanta Schmidta, 17. A statue of Admiral Ivan Kruzenshtern, was built in 1870 in honor of the 100-year anniversary of the renowned Admiral's death.
Kunstkamera (Room of Curiosities), Universitatskaya Embankment 3 (Close to the Palace Bridge; enter around the corner on Tamozhenny Pereulok), ☎ +7 (812) 328-07-12. 11AM-6PM Tu-Su, closed every last Tuesday of the month. This museum is primarily famous for its one-room freak show collection of 300 year-old deformed fetuses in formaldehyde (of which you are not allowed to take pictures). The rest of the museum consists of trinkets from various world cultures (over one million exhibits). It's of interest mainly as it is the oldest state museum in Russia, established by Peter the Great in 1704—consequently it has a very dated feel. Foreigners 200 rubles, Russians 100 rubles.
Menshikov Palace, Universitatskaya Embankment 15, ☎ +7 (812) 323-11-12. 10:30AM-5:30PM Tu-Su. Operated by the Hermitage, this museum displays some art and an exhibition on life in the early 18th century, in a palace built for the first governor of St. Petersburg, and before him Peter the Great. The Baroque palace was built in 1721, and was one of the first grand stone constructions of the city. Look especially for the grand staircase, and the Walnut, Naval, and Chinese rooms. Note: you will be given and required to wear special woolen "slippers" over your street shoes as to not damage the flooring.
Mikhail Lomonosov Statue, Mendeleevskaya St. A statue of the famous 18th century Russian Renaissance man himself, famous for his contributions to mathematics, literature, painting, natural science, chemistry, physics, mineralogy, history, philology, and art.
Mining Institute Museum, 21st line V.O., 2, ☎ +7 (812) 321-40-82 . By appointment for group tours only. One of the largest and oldest geological museums in the world, containing more than 230 thousand items, collected from more than 80 countries. Even if you don't make it inside on a tour, it's worth passing by to admire it's imposing 1811 Imperial-style facade.
Narodovolets (the People's Will) Submarine D-2, Shkipersky protok, 10, ☎ +7 (812) 356-52-66 . W-Su 11AM-5:15PM. A small museum aboard a WWII submarine, dedicated to the actions of the submarine throughout the war (run by the Naval Museum).
Naval Institute, Naberezhye Leitenanta Schmidta, 17. The oldest naval academy in Russia, founded by Peter the Great in 1701. Some of its most famous graduates include Ivan Kruzenshtern, Rimsky-Korsakov, and many others. The building was completely rebuilt in 1798.
Rostral Columns. The first monuments you'll immediately notice on the Strelka, the Rostral Columns are yet another symbol of the city. Constructed in 1810, the columns are each adorned with six rostra (traditionally, the prows of captured ships), symbolizing the might of the Russian Baltic Fleet. At the base of the columns you'll see sculptures representing the great rivers of European Russia, the Volga, Dnieper, Neva, and Volkhov. In addition to their decorative purpose, the columns also served as lighthouses, and to this day the gas flames are lit on holidays.
Rumyantsevsky Park and Obelisk, between the 1st and 2nd lines along Universitetskaya naberezhye. The big obelisk in the center of the park was moved here from Mars Field in honor of Count Peter Rumyantsev's victory in the Russo-Turkish War of 1791. On the southern end, look for two statues of the famous Russian painters Repin and Surikov.
Russian Academy of the Arts, Universitetskaya naberezhye, 17. Russia's largest center for advanced study in the arts, founded by Lomonosov and Shuvalov, and was until the 20th century the only school of its kind in Russia. The impressive neoclassical building was built in 1788.
Research Museum of the Academy of the Arts, (Inside the Academy of the Arts), ☎ +7 (812) 323-35-78. W-Su 11AM-6PM. A huge collection of drawings, prints, paintings of both Russian and Western artists, as well as casts and sculptures, all on display across three floors of the Academy. The models of great Petersburg architecture, of the Smolny Monastery, St Isaac's Cathedral, Mikhailovsky Castle, etc., are especially worth seeking out.
Theban Sphinxes, (across the road from the Academy of the Arts). You wouldn't expect it, but these two granite sphinxes are three thousand years older than the city itself! They were excavated in 1820 in the temple of Amenhotep III near Thebes. Upon seeing them, the Russian writer and diplomat Muravyev wrote to the Tsar, and convinced him to purchase the statues for display in Petersburg. They were installed in 1834. Oddly enough, sphinxes seem to be popular in the city - there are another six made by Russian sculptors lurking about.
The Twelve Colleges, Universitetskaya naberezhye, 7/9. One of Domeniko Trezini's many neoclassical buildings in Petersburg, built in 1742. The ensemble is comprised of twelve identical, connected, three-story buildings. The main facade faces Mendeleevskaya St, rather than the Neva, because at the time of construction, there was a canal in place of the street, across from which was the main market on the island. Today the ensemble houses the Geological and Agricultural departments, as well as Admissions.
Zoological Museum, Universitetskaya naberezhye, 1, ☎ +1 (812) 328-01-12 . 11AM-6PM daily. A wild lesson in taxidermy, the museum contains over 17 million species, stuffed, mounted, and fossilized (although due to constraints of finitude, the building "only" displays some 500 thousand). The collection began at the Kunstkammer, and grew into its enormous state under the later Imperial period. You won't have to look hard, but look for the complete blue whale skeleton, as well as the world's only stuffed mammoth.
Churches and Temples
If you have seen the top tourist destinations but still have enough time, turn off the tourist highway and see some more churches and temples scattered throughout St. Petersburg. Many of them do have something unique to show!
Church of the Holy Trinity, prospect Obukhovskoy oborony, 235. Old Russian prince had a farm... And he wanted his village to have a church. He decided that it would resemble two Russian Easter dishes - kulich and paskha. The idea made the church outstanding before it was built. Then the prince found the architect who would bake the dishes. The Easter table is laid just across from Proletarskaya metro station. The church is round and yellow like a well-baked pie. It departs from the tradition (most Russian orthodox churches are cross-shaped). The bell tower isn't a tower at all. It's a pyramid plated with metal. The church is well-lit. The architect used windows and walls to direct sunbeams and then let them play inside. On clear days icons, candlesticks and chandeliers seem to be floating in the air! Ironically, along with the church, wherefrom people send messages to God, the architect built the Main post office of St. Petersburg, wherefrom people send messages to each other. The latter made him famous. The ways of God are inscrutable!
Politechnical University Church of the Intercession, Politekhnicheskaya ulitsa, 29. Technical university. What can sound more secular? The church breaks the stereotype. It was drawn by the teacher who taught drawing in the university. Initially, the church was to be a part of the library. The scientists even invented an iron curtain (long before it turned into a metaphor) to split the altar from the reading room. Then it was decided to attach the church to the university hostel as a separate building. God and students became neighbours. The church mishappened to be opened on the brink of World War I and everything which followed it. That's why it was frescoed only in the mid-'90s. But it saved the church from being ordinary. It's a rarest place where one can see the Last Judgement Scene frescoed in modern times. God is painted as a large and mighty hand. The Scales of Justice are weighing human souls. The sinners are being dragged to hell by the demons. In hell they are turning into the silhouettes. But some of them are being pardoned. God's mercy is painted as the spring which is cooling hell. Four kingdoms Babylon, Macedonia, Persia and Rome are painted as a square above hell to make visitors google, why. In the corridor God is painted neither as God the Father, nor as God the Son but as the Dove (God the Holy Spirit). It's also a rarest case in Russia!
Opera and Ballet
No trip to St. Petersburg is complete without seeing an opera or ballet performance. The Mariinsky is perhaps the most well-known institution, but it is by no means the only theater in the city. Tickets are sold throughout the city at kiosks and shops called Teatralnaya Kassa, which charge a nominal (usually about 20 RR) fee for "insurance," which is theoretically optional. The theater box offices themselves sell tickets directly, too, and usually for the same price. Sometimes blocks of tickets sell out at the kiosks but tickets are still available at the theater, or vice versa, so it is worth checking both places if you have your heart set on a particular performance. It is possible to take not-so-small children into some performances if you take a private box, although you will need to ask when you buy your tickets.
Do not buy your tickets "online". "Online" prices are 10x higher than the actual price and are geared for foreigners who don't know Russian. Example: 10th row seats at the Conservatory's performance of "The Marriage of Figaro" online cost $107, but if you go to the theatre directly a few days before, you pay 500 rubles ($15 US).
Mariinsky Theater, Theater Square 1, ☎ 326 41 41. The Mariinsky Theater (formerly the Kirov, which is the name the troupe still uses when touring abroad) is world-class for both opera and ballet. There are English supertitles for operas sung in Russian; operas in other languages have Russian supertitles. Performances are offered in two halls: the main theater, and the newly-built Mariinsky Concert Hall. Tickets can be purchased on the theater's website.
Mikhailovskiy Theater, Ploshad Isskustv 1 (Between the Russian Museum and the Grand Hotel Europe), ☎ 595 43 05. The exterior is not as recognizable as the Mariinsky, but the interior is nearly as grand, and the theater hosts both Russian and foreign headliners in opera and ballet.
St. Petersburg Opera, Galernaya Ul. 33 (West of the Bronze Horseman), ☎ (812) 312 3982. An intimate theater (half-sized stage, and only about 150-200 audience seats) which puts on the major repertory operas at a lower price than the major theaters and has a fascinating foyer - one has to see it to believe it.
Conservatory Theater, Theater Square 3 (Across the street from the Mariinsky Theater). While the hall itself is not lavish - quite sterile, really - a good option for seeing Russian and repertory operas cheaply, performed by faculty and students of the conservatory where Tchaikovsky (and many other famous figures from the Russian music world) studied.
Theater on Vasilyevsky Island, Sredny prospect 48, ☎ +7 812 323 02 84. If it were in New York City, it would rather be an 'off-Broadway' theater. But being in St. Petersburg it's a big but cozy theater on a big but cozy island. They stage Russian and foreign drama, e.g. The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Without a Dowry by Alexander Ostrovsky, Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov. They neither turn plays into 'performances for schoolchildren' nor into manifestations of underground art. They don't change dramatists' texts but choose the angles to show that a 150-year-old play isn't just a 'piece of art from the gorgeous past' and is still reflecting human life.
Youth Theater, Pionerskaya ploschad 1, ☎ +7 812 712 41 02. Don't take the theater's name literally! They do stage Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs by Brothers Grimm, The Moomins by Tove Jansson, The Emerald City by L. Frank Baum and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. But the theater isn't for children and teenagers only. Here you can see Plays by Samuel Beckett, King Lear by William Shakespeare, Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury, Poor Folk by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, A Profitable Position by Alexander Ostrovsky and Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev. Leave your age outside the theater but remember to take your heart and mind with!
Theater of St. Petersburg State Theater Arts Academy, Mokhovaya 35, ☎ +7 812 273 04 32. The theater inherits the building from Tenishev School where Vladimir Nabokov studied. It obliges it to... Frankly speaking, it obliges the theater to nothing but does create the specific atmosphere. It's a theater and a school simultaneously. The auditorium is a deep wooden amphitheater with long and armless benches. The directors' talent is to combine this antique interior with fresh stage ideas. The actors are the students who are finishing the academy. As a part of their finals, they make a performance. They stage Odyssey, Don Juan, Romeo and Juliet, A Street Car Named Desire and many other plays. The repertoir changes every year. The actors often regard the house as a part of the stage. Don't be shocked when somebody suddenly jumps from nowhere to the bench next to you. Here you have a unique chance to see the actors who have learnt everything to perform well but aren't influenced by any theater with its intrigues and other paraphernalia yet. It's the theater where actors not only can show their best. They have to do it. Otherwise they will flunk their final exams.
The music scene in St. Petersburg is diverse, with several classical, jazz, and pop concerts to choose from each week. Tickets are available at the same Teatralnaya Kassa locations as ballet and opera tickets, although tickets to pop concerts - especially US and European stars on tour - sometimes use exclusive distributors. For pop and rock concerts, unless you buy tickets for the dance floor (tanzpol), you are expected to sit quietly in your seat as if you were at a ballet - ushers are vigilant about keeping the audience from standing up, dancing, or cheering (polite applause is allowed, but that's about all).
Several of the ballet and opera theaters above also offer orchestral and recital performances, so those are not repeated below. Also, don't forget the many small clubs where up and coming bands play.
St. Petersburg Philharmonic Grand Hall, Mikhailovskaya Ul. 2 (Entrance across from the Grand Hotel Europe). A world-class orchestra which records and tours abroad. The Small Hall (Maliy Saal) hosts excellent chamber music performances and recitals.
St. Petersburg Philharmonic Small Hall, Nevsky Prospekt 30 (Next to the Metro station on Nevsky Prospekt). The Small Hall (Maliy Saal) of the Philharmonic hosts excellent chamber music performances and recitals.
Jazz Philharmonic Hall, Zagorodny Pr. 27 (South of Nevsky Prospekt, use Vladimirskaya Metro Station). Offers a variety of jazz performances several times per week.
Ice Palace (Ledoviy Dvorets), (At Prospekt Bolshevikov Metro Station). One of several sports arenas that also serves as a concert hall for pop and rock concerts.
Oktyabrskiy Concert Hall, Ligovskiy Prospekt 6 (Near Ploshad Vosstaniya). Pop and rock concerts in an auditorium close to the city center.
Most cinemas in St. Petersburg show Hollywood films dubbed in Russian. Art cinemas like Dom Kino often show independent American or British movies subtitled in Russian. DVDs of American/European films are also often dubbed. There have been crackdowns on sellers of bootleg DVDs, so it may be difficult or expensive to find DVDs in English these days. There are several DVD stores in the city - often near Metro stations - and it is worth asking about films in English.
Annual Message to Man international documentary, short, and animated films festival takes place in June or July, screening many films in English.
Dom Kino, 12 Karavannaya Ulitsa (Near Gostiniy Dvor Metro Station), ☎ 314 56 14. Sometimes shows films in their original language.
Avrora Cinema, Nevksy Prospekt 60.
Modern cultural centers
St Petersburg is considered to be a cultural capital of Russia not only because of Hermitage, but also because it attracts people working in creative industries.
There many young artists, musicians, designers etc. These kind of people have their own places, so called "creative spaces" (креативные пространства in Russian). It's interesting to see young designers and programmers working or tourists sleeping in ex-palaces on the river bank.
Loft project Etagi (Этажи), Ligovsky prospekt, 74. The oldest and biggest cultural center. Cafe, hostel, designer shops, book store etc
Taiga (Тайга), Dvortsovaya naberezhnaya, 20. Cultural center on the river bank. Good view over Petropavlovskaya fortress. Designer shops, offices, hostel, bar, ping pong etc
Fligel (Флигель), ulitsa Vosstaniya, 40. Recently opened cultural center. Bars, cafes, hostel, shops etc
Creative spaces tour, ploschad Vosstaniya. Tour over cultural centers listed above run by Olga Polyakova, local activist in the creative industries.
Roof tops of St Petersburg
St Petersburg is beautiful city. But there is no observation platform like in Paris or London. Because of the constructions law that forbids building skyscrapers in historical centre. So there are few options where you can get great view.
St Isaac's cathedral, Isaakievskaya ploschad. The highest church in St Peterburg has so called Colonnaded Walkway at 43 metres height
Roof top tour, Nevsky prospekt. There are many young people in St P, who call themselves roofers. The roofer guide offers a rooftop tour right on Nevsky prospekt. This one is safe and legal. And it has very unique location. Costs 1000 rub/person
Roof top restaurants. Moskva, Makaronniki, Mansarda, Terrassa and several others upscale restaraunts. Expect a 2000-5000 rub bill (per person)
A tour of the canals by boat is a great way to see the city in the summer. The typical tour is through the Moika, out to the Neva to see the Peter and Paul Fortress and the Cruiser Aurora, then in through the Fontanka (sometimes as far as the Mariinsky Theater). Tours start at many points along the route and return to their starting point - hawkers for different boat companies abound - and the boats may or may not have a cafe and toilet on board. Almost all tours are in Russian. 400-600 Rubles seems to be the average price.
Anglotourismo Boat Tours, Fontanka Embankment 21, ☎ +7 921 989 47 22. Canal boat tours in English, departing from near the Anichkov Bridge (Nevsky Prospekt and Fontanka) in season (May 2 - Sept 30).
You can also walk along the canals and admire the numerous bridges, some of them very interesting (like the Bank Bridge).
Walking around with locals
The alternative way to explore St Petersburg is to know it from inside, walking and talking with locals and trying local activities. Those people who have lived here for years would like to tell you a plenty of stories, open some secret places (as roofs or courtyards etc.) and treat you as a friend.
Sputnik (Tours by locals), ☎ +7 (950) 028 0370. Tours by locals for 1 to 10 people. Some tours are free and others are cheap (from 10$). Many of them are unique like Russian cooking classes, rooftop, flea market, Uzbek food tours, art galleries, lofts etc. from 10$.
Petersburg Voyage (Tours by locals), ☎ +7 (967) 513 26 80 (firstname.lastname@example.org). Daily Tours in English in small groups. A good way to find out about St. Petersburg more! from 35$.
Discover Walks St Petersburg, Sytninskaya st. Saint Petersburg 197101, (email@example.com). Meet actual Native of St Petersburg in addition to exploring major landmarks. Join a walk with locals who will "decode" the city with you, and also learn from an insider about local events and festivals, about where to shop, good places to eat or drink, secret places locals keep to themselves. Severeal tours to join every day, €15, by reservation.
Festivals and events
Victory Day (День победы), on May 9, celebrates the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in 1945. This day is marked with an opening military parade on Palace Square, directly in front of the Hermitage, visiting various war monuments, giving flowers to war veterans who are dressed in full military outfits, and an evening parade down Nevsky Prospekt which includes survivors of the Siege of Leningrad.
Scarlet Sails takes place on the weekend of the summer solstice, the shortest day of the year, around June 24. It includes concerts, water shows, and fireworks, with festivities going until 4:00AM. The main streets are closed for the festivities.
Stars of the White Nights Festival includes performing arts events in June, centered around the Marinsky Theatre.
New Years is the biggest holiday of the year in Russia.
Food & drinks
Russian cuisine is famous in the world, and high-quality authentic Russian dishes are available all over Saint Petersburg. But there is other interesting food in the city.
1) Central Asian (Uzbek/Tajik) food. There is huge Uzbek immigrant community and they have unique culinary traditions. Very cheap (250RUB/meal) and very tasty. Most of the places are hole in the wall type and hard to find. There are many places inside Sennoy market. Also foodies can sign up for Uzbek food tour
2) Georgian food. Very unique and tasty cuisine. Georgian restaurants are scattered all over St Petersburg. It's more expensive (600RUB/meal) than Uzbek. But worth trying.
It's hard to find Uzbek/Georgian food outside of ex-USSR. Try it here.
Budget (<300 RUB)
Nothing, absolutely nothing, tastes better than hot Russian crepes with caviar, mushrooms, caramel, berries, or what have you with a cup of tea on a cold winter street.
Chainaya Lozhka (Чайная ложка), Has around 50 restaurants all over city (Nevsky Pr. 44 is one of the most centrally located). These fast-food restaurants serve blini (Russian crepes) with a variety of fillings - you choose your own at the counter. They also have a wide selection of teas. Some restaurants have wifi. 5 euro.
Yolki-Palki Traktir (Ёлки-Палки Трактир), Has 6 restaurants in the city, mainly in the centre (Nevsky Pr. 88 is right on the main street). Some open until late, some open 24h. . Decent food with very affordable prices, smoking and non-smoking sections. Staff in some restaurants may actually serve you in English. 10 euro.
Kroshka Kartoshka (Крошка Картошка), Has over 25 restaurants all over city,. It a big european chain of fast food restaurants that offers baked potatoes with your choice of topping but also has salads, soups and deserts. 3-5 euro.
Teremok (Теремок), Several locations. This blini chain began with street-corner kiosks throughout the city (many are quite easy to find), and they have expanded to include counter-service restaurants serving not only blini, but also kasha, salads, and other quick, inexpensive fare. Some central locations are Bolshaya Morskaya Ul. 11, Nevsky Pr. 60, and Nevsky Pr. 106. The restaurants have menus in English if you ask. 100-300 rubles for a filling meal.
U Tyoshi Na Blinakh (У тёщи на блинах). Cafeteria-style Russian and Ukrainian food for a reasonable price with faux-rustic decor, not like a Soviet-era stolovaya. Has more than blini: soups, salads, meat dishes, desserts, etc. Those who know the Mu-Mu chain in Moscow will recognize this, although on a smaller scale.
St. Petersburg, kan. Griboyedova 7 or 9. Good and cheap food in the very centre (next to the "Saviour on the Spilled Blood" church). Pay attention, there are two restaurants called St. Petersburg next to each other and the second one is more expensive. 45 rubels for a Borsch soup, 140-200 rubels for a main dish, side dishes 35 rubels.
Pirogi (ПирО.Г.И.), Nab. reki Fontanki, 40 (наб. реки Фонтанки, 40). Open 24/7. A cozy and charming cafe-restaurant ambience during the day, turning into cute and relaxing bar in the evening as well as a vibrant music venue at night. A variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages at a very reasonable price. Good and moderately priced food served 24 hours a day. The menu comes in both English and Russian. Friendly and helpful English-speaking staff. Free Wi-Fi. Separated smoking/non-smoking sections. A good selection of traditional Russian pies filled with meat, chicken, fish, mushrooms or cabbage served with three different salads (big enough to be a main course), 130 rub. Beef Stroganoff with mashed potatoes: 240 rub. Soups: 130 rub. Average bill per person: 450 rub (two courses + beer or wine).
Pirogov dvorik (Пироговый дворик) (Pie Courtyard), kan. Griboyedova 22 and many other, ☎ 329-09-09. Open 9-22 daily. Tasty pies with meat, fish, vegetables or fruits and berries. Different styles and sizes. Traditional russian cuisine like Borscht or roast beef. NB: a "pie" is not made with pastry in Russia, but with a bread-like substance. 5 eur.
Saint-Petesburg Metro office eatery, metro Primorskaya, ul. Odoevskogo 26 (on a Odoevskogo St. Walk 100 meters along high building of Metro Office. Second entrance with stairs is eatery). during daytime. closes early. Open during day time. You can freely come and have a lunch. Choise is not wide: 3 to 5 salads, couple of soups and few mains with tea or juice or fruit drink. 3-5 eur.
V Meste (В Месте), Just off ulitsa Vosstaniya (From Ploshad' Vosstaniya, wander north towards Chernishevskaya checking every side road to the right until you find one with a giant concrete and glass building at the end, second or third right turn. Head down that road, and it's on your right, but the sign is just an A4 piece of paper laminated and stuck to the open door). generally 9-23, but varies. Done out like an old Soviet apartment. Has a HUGE range of board games and a decent range of food. The food is simple, but filling and delicious. Pirogi and simple sandwiches are the name of the game here. Beer is also cheap, and coffees are bottomless. There are also a few old Soviet era videogames for you to try your hand at for a nominal fee. If you've never visited a Russian flat that belongs to someone over the age of 30, then it's worth visiting just for the experience. The staff speak English, and are friendly enough to help you navigate the menu - unlike a lot of Russians! 250 rubles.
Ristorantino Carducci, Sezzhinskaya Street, n. 37 (ул. Съезжинская, д.37), ☎ 8 (812) 235-64-40. Lunch: Monday - Saturday, 12:00 - 16:00; Dinner: Monday - Saturday, 16.30 - 23.00. Fine cuisine in a romantic atmosphere in the center of St. Petersburg. The menu includes the classic recipes of the Italian and European cuisine prepared in accordance with the highest traditions.
SCHASTYE (СЧАСТЬЕ), M. Morskaya, 24 (close to Isaakiyevsky cathedral), ☎ (812) 680 24 44. Sun-Thu 09am-01am, Fri-Sut 09am-06am. Breakfast, Dinner, English menu. Menu in SCHASTYE present dishes by french and italian cuisine in autor’s interpretation by chief Dmitriy Reshetnikov, its always original and nobody can stay indifferent after this dishes. In SCHASTYE serve many different desserts by chief-bakery Ekaterina Kiselkova and cookies, chocolate, candys or different homemade dessert in original packing can be a good present or compliment.
La Baguette, Grazhdanskaya ul 27. Very nice, cosy little tea and cake shop near Griboedova canal with a sweet faux-French atmosphere. You can also have tasty meals there. Mains approx. 300 rubles.
Kavaleria, Kavalergardskaya ul 20. A great family-run place just a block away from the spectacular must-see Smolniy Monastery and Tavricheskiy garden. Fresh local and foreign beers, great cuisine (huge portions), english menus and english-speaking staff. Great for watching sport events too. Mains approx. 300-400 rubles.
1,001 Nights (Тысяча и одна ночь), ул. Миллионная, 21. noon-23:00 daily, live music & belly dancing F-Su 20:00-23:00. This would be but an ordinary undistinguished Uzbek restaurant, were it not within one block of the Winter Palace. Given location, the place is spectacular in that it maintains decent service and very good food. 300-500 rubles.
Acquarel, (next to the Birzhevoy bridge), ☎ +7 (812) 320-8600. Right on the water, this restaurant offers Italian food alongside a French/Asian fusion menu. Friendly people, delightful atmosphere, and a wonderful view, Acquarel is a wonderful and delicious dinner option or even a great place to relax and get a drink in their lounge chairs.
Barrel Bar, Kazanskya st. 5, ☎ +7 812 9-298-298. 12PM-2AM. restaurant in the cultural heart of the city with a varied menu and superior wine list A great place for lunch and dinner. Prices from 350 rubles for main.
Cafe Old Tbilisi (кафе Старый Тбилиси), В.О. 4-я линия, 5 (near the Vasilieostrovskaya metro station). 11:00-23:00 daily. You'll probably be the only foreign visitor to this small unassuming place on Vasilievsky Island, but the great Georgian food is absolutely worth the short metro trip. The quality for the price here is just outstanding. 650 rubles.
Caravan-Sarai (Караван-Сарай), ул. Некрасова, 1, ☎ +7 (812) 272-7153. In a city with plenty of Uzbek food, this may outshine the competition. Not for the service or the decor, but for the very long menu of top-notch Uzbek cooking.400-600 rubles.
Clean Plate Society (Общество чистых тарелок), Гороховая ул., 13, ☎ +7 (812) 934 97 64. After the enormous success of opening bar "Mishka" last year, avant-garde musician/heartthrob Kirill Ivanov and budding chef-mogul Alexander Berkovksy have ventured into the restaurant, or more precisely "cafe-club," business. "Obschestvo Chistykh Tarelok", or "Clean Plates Society" in English, is named after a children's fairy tale alleging that Lenin told children that those who finish all the food on their plate would become members of the Clean Plates Society. Quality burgers, cream soups and vegetarian dishes with worldwide influences. Almost everything is under 300 rubles. Recommended for hipster-watching in St. Petersburg.
Gin-no Taki (Гин-но Таки), пр. Чернышевского, 17. 11:00-06:00 daily. A very reasonably priced Japanese chain restaurant just across the street from the Chernyshevskaya metro station. The interior is very stylish, even if the fashion shows on the TVs are a bit much, and you can control your service with the aid of a call button. The food is good, but the sodas might be even better—free refills! It's also a very solid choice for a place to unwind late-night after a wild night. 150-400 rubles.
Gastronom (ресторан Гастроном), наб. реки Мойки, д. 7 (close to Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood; вход с Марсового поля), ☎ (812) 314-3849 . Sun-Thu: 12PM-12AM; Fri, Sat: 12PM-3AM. Excellent desserts (tiramisu is really great); good reviews for dinner. Wide selection of international fare: Thai, Italian, Russian, steaks. Rare place with 5 varieties of Caesar salad. Outdoor terrace is comfortable for a baby stroller, but closes before late Sept. Simple salads average at 200, sophisticated salads 300-400. Most soups are at 200. Pasta 300-400. Mains average at 350-400..
Jean Jacques (Жан-Жак Руссо), Ул. Марата д.10 (very close to Moskovsky vokzal), ☎ +7(812)315-49-03. Decent lower-end French cuisine. Nothing-special breakfasts: either omlet or croissant or porridge.
Kafe Ket, 22 Ul. Stremyannaya. Kafe Kat is a tucked into a rather unassuming location, just off Nevsky. This little restaurant serves what might be the best Georgian food in St. Petersburg. There is an English menu and the staff is friendly. 1500 rubles for 2, 3 courses + beer
Kafe Tbilisi, Sytninskaya ul, 10 (Metro Gorkovskaya behind the market), ☎ +7 (812) 232-9391. Georgian food. The dishes prepared in pots are excellent.
The Idiot (Идиот), 82, Moika Emb, ☎ +7 (812) 315-1675. Named after the Dostoevsky novel, and offering a wide variety of very tasty vegan, vegetarian, and seafood dishes at prices higher than what you'd expect. All served in a very cozy and attractive cellar stocked with books, ex-pats, and intellectuals.
Montana Saloon, 20, Kirochnaya str. or 19, Izmailovsky pr. American cuisine, wonderful steaks (best in S-Petersburg), good wine and pleasant atmosphere. A bit expensive (the best steak costs 850 rubles), but it is worth it.
Harbin, ул. Жуковского, 34/2. 12:30-23:30 daily. Chinese in Saint Petersburg is often better than in most parts of Europe. This restaurant is cozy and overcrowded (show up early or late if you want to ensure that you get a table), and has an extraordinarily long and complex menu. If you have no native speaker with you, bring a food dictionary, or you will have no idea what you are ordering. 800 rubles.
Giuseppe Park (Парк Джузеппе), 2B Canal Griboyedova (just next to Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood and Russian Museum), ☎ (812) 571-7309; (812) 973-0943. 11am-1am. Excellent Italian food in a white nearly-luxury setting. In peak hours, choose easier-to-cook dishes to minimize risk of mistake. Great gaspacho, "quatro formagio" pizza. Good for a late breakfast as well (although no breakfast-time menu: only omlets, 170 rubles). Heated outdoor terrace open until at least end of Sep. No wifi, for a reason: it's a place to eat. Average bill per person: 1500 rubles (3 courses, no alcohol).
Mama Roma. A chain of Italian restaurants; free wifi. Malaya Konyushennaya, 4/2: outdoor terrace is open heated until at least end of Sep; terrace perfect with toddler: spacious enough for baby strollers; has children-safe wide couches.
Oliva (Олива), 31 Bolshaya Morskaya ul.. Kitchen closes at 11:30pm. Greek restaurant with a genuine Greek chef; popular with expats.
Oriental Express (restaurant/buffet) (Восточный Экспресс), ul. Marata 21 (close to Moskovsky train station). Tourists-oriented and doesn't hide it, the place has a good selection of traditional Russian dishes. Buffet and restaurant share the same building and kitchen and have few common dishes, but are otherwise very distant from each other (at least in prices). Free wifi (ask waiter for instructions). Restaurant: salads 220..310; soups 210..340; mains: 310-540. Buffet: salads 80, soups 80-130, mains 130-190.
Tepló (Тепло), B. Morskaya, 45 (close to Isaakiyevsky cathedral), ☎ (812) 570 19 74. Mon-Thu, Sun 9am-12am, Fri-Sat 1pm-1am. Still TripAdvisor #1, it's currently loosing its charm and excellent service. Still, quite charming good value for money, although drinks are quite expensive. Fireplace in winter and courtyard with umbrellas and flowers in summer. Most staff speak English, those who don't are still helpful at navigating the English menu. Lunch set menu from 1pm. Equally good for breakfast (from 9am, Mon-Fri only) with omlets, pancakes, a weekly rotation of porridges and fritters. Free wifi (ask waiter for instructions); childrens playroom; separate non/smokers; outdoor terrace open until at least 5ths of Oct (but no gas heaters). Same owners as a nearby Zoom Cafe. Dinner: average bill per person: 1000 rubles (three courses, no alcohol). Breakfasts: omlet 110, porridges 80, tea 90.
Traveling Sack for a Pregnant Spy (Саквояж для беременной шпионки), ул. Б. Конюшенная, 17 (close to Kazansky cathedral), ☎ +7 (812) 570-06-37. M-F 11am-01am, kitchen closes at 11:30pm; Sa-Su noon-02am. A very fun Russian restaurant, that would be worth visiting as a gallery of weird spy-kitsch, but the food is also decent. No wifi. Average bill per person, no alcohol: 800 rubles.
Vostochny Ugolok (Восточный уголок), Гороховая ул., 52 (close to Isaakievsky cathedral), ☎ (812) 713-57-47. 24 hours. Good-quality Caucasian cuisine in a vivid interior. Excellent shahlyki and manty. Average bill per person (3 courses): 1000 rub.
Zazhigalka (Зажигалка), Невский проспект, дом 74 (Nevsky Prospekt 74) (Opposite McDonald's (Rubinshteyna Street), next to Red Tower Chinese Restaurant. Walking distance from Anichkov Bridge over Fontanka River), ☎ (812) 272-24057. 24 hours. Located just opposite McDonald's (the one near ul. Rubinshteyna), this restobar is open 24 hours a day. They serve business lunch from 12-5 PM with 3 options. Choose the 250 rubles one, it includes salad, soup, main meal, garnish (a.k.a side dish), berry drink, and bread. The 200 rubles option include no soup and the 150 rubles includes no course/garnish. Food was very good. Looked classy and tasted great. Very great cool, lounge feel atmosphere. Menus have English translation and several staffs can speak English. Great service too. Business lunch - 250 RUB.
Zoom, Gorohovaja str. 22 (close to Isaakiyevsky cathedral), ☎ (812)448-5001. Until 24; last order until 22:30. Same owners as Tepló, but much more intimate; not a victim of top TripAdvisor positions. About 1000 rubles per person (three courses, no alcohol).
Austeria (Аустерия), Iohann Alley, Peter & Paul Fortress (Near the entrance to the fortress), ☎ +7 812 230-03-69,. 12PM-12AM. This restaurant, offering a very European setting with mostly Russian high quality food, nabs a lot of tourists visiting the fortress. But nonetheless, the service and food remain phenomenal - while tourists are trapped here, it is no tourist trap. Off season, particularly during the snowy winter months it place can be almost magical, as you get the beautiful restaurant more or less to yourself. Meals start at 1150 rubles but can reach much higher.
Baku, ☎ +7 812 941-37-56. 12PM-2AM. One of the city's more impressive interiors, modeled after the palaces of the Shirvan Shahs (imagine eating in Sheki's Khan-Saray). Only opened in 2006, but has received rave reviews from all quarters since. A great place to try out Azeri cuisine. Prices from 1300 rubles.
Grand Hotel Europe Restaurant. The Sunday Jazz Brunch here is a "Not to Miss" if you are looking for a real splurge. About $90 USD per person includes a full caviar spread and sushi bar in addition to the normal brunch fare (carving station, omelette station, salads, fruit, baked goods, desserts, the options are nearly endless). There is also bottomless champagne glasses (and the champagne is quite good) and a huge frozen ice sculpture that is tapped where you can refill your glass with iced vodka as many times as you'd like. The jazz is very good and the pace is relaxed and enjoyable. The only caveat: As with most Russian eateries, there is no non-smoking section, so if you are not a smoker, ask for table away from the majority or risk having to inhale cigarette smoke while you dine.
Kalinka-Malinka (Калинка-Малинка), Ital'yanskaya ulitsa, 5. Overdone and overpriced Russian-kitsch tourist trap for foreigners (Russians wouldn't be caught dead here). But if you're staying nearby, they'll treat you fine and you can eat some bear meat. 1400 rubles.
Na Zdorovye! (На здоровье!), П.С. пр. Большой , 13/4 (3 blocks up Bolshoy Prospect from the Sportivnaya metro station). 12:00-23:00. This is the kitschiest kitchen in town, but it's no tourist trap, not by a long stretch. Its way off on the Petrograd Side north of the stadium, and is frequented mostly just by Russians, who come to enjoy the fun over-the-top decor, and the delightful "tastes just like babushka makes it" cooking. Sending the kitsch even further over that top are the performances of Russian/Gypsy folk music and singing 19:00-23:00 daily. Come here for a full meal or the vodka shots + zakuski, and you'll have a memorable night. 900 rubles.
Sunduk (Сундук), ул. Фурштатская, 42. M-F 10:00-24:00 Sa-Su 11:00-24:00. A great, small, cozy, and very stylish brick-walled Russian restaurant, with excellent food, and good enough service. Live entertainment comes often, and is often surprisingly good—imagine sitting down and only then seeing a solo jazz guitarist sit down to play some beautiful music. It's been open for more than a decade, and there's a reason why it's a fixture of the local restaurant scene around Furshtatskaya. 850 rubles.
Terrassa, Kazanskaya, 3 (Highest floor of shopping center behind Kazansky cathedral). Offers magnificent view to Kazansky cathedral from terrace. Pastries are well worth the price. Averages: soups 330-380 rub; salads 400-700 rub; pizza 500 rubles; mains 1000 rubles; tiramisu 320 rubles.
Bars in Saint Petersburg generally have the best beer selection of any city in Russia. The Baltika Brewery headquarters is in Saint Petersburg and the beer is very popular in the city. Many tour companies offer nightly "pub Crawl" tours of Saint Petersburg; these can be found easily via an online search.
Dumskaya ulitsa has several small crowded and rowdy venues including Datscha, BarBarA, Fidel, Belgrad. These bars have cheap beer, crazy dances, Balkan, ska, punk, disco or whatever the DJ has on his mind.
Bratya Tonet Wine Bar, Birzhevoy per., 4 (Vasilyevsky Island), ☎ +7 981 198 2787. 11AM-2AM. A classy place with live music.
Bristol Pub, ul. Marata 36/38. Very home-atmosphere and friendly.
Chroniki, ul. Nekrasova 26 (Metro: Mayakovskaya; Ploshchad Vosstaniya). Anachronistically harmonizes the drinking cultures of a modern Scandinavian bar and a classic Leningrad “ryumochnaya” (the traditional Soviet-era watering hole). This is not a rowdy club for dancing to Eurodance all night, but rather a classic bar perfect for intellectual debates of a more cultured public. The stylish interior is very modern yet cozy, simple yet edgy, with white tiled walls, brass windowsills, gilded antique Soviet chandeliers. There is a massive wooden table for larger groups as well as a tall standing (or leaning, if you’ve already had a few) table perfect for slamming down your shot glass, or grabbing a quick bite to eat before running off on errands or to your next bar-hopping destination. The beautiful and uniquely stylish wooden bar counter spans across two spaces: smoking and non-smoking. This is one of very few reasonably priced and cool bars in St. Petersburg located above basement-level, allowing its customers to gaze at passersby as well as take in the beauty of the classic St. Petersburg architecture on Nekrasova street. The black-and-white photos on the wall include images of a strict 1970s Leningrad barmaid as well as her jovial clients - a nostalgic reminder that in this beautiful northern city, its inhabitants were always capable of drinking and always loved drinking. The preferred order at Chroniki is, as per tradition at a Leningrad ryumochnaya, hard alcohol (there are a many vodka varieties, from the legendary Stoli for RUB90 to Finnish, Swedish and Danish brands) and the bartenders also recommend Crimean port wine “Massandra”, locally brewed craft beer, and a house-special cocktail “Free Ingria,” inspired by the eternal confrontation between St. Petersburg and Moscow. The snack selection includes sandwiches (one for RUB100 , two for RUB150, five for RUB350), distinctive “Northern tapas” served with a choice of boiled tongue, salmon, chicken, vegetables or, of course, herring (the traditional Russian chaser for vodka). The weeknights are more chilled out for quiet but steady drinking and on the weekends, friends of the owners are invited to DJ and merry revelry almost always inevitably ensues.
Conchita Bonita, Gorohovaya 39 (Metro: Sennaya-Sadovaya, Admiralteyskaya), ☎ +7 812 570 50 60. Very cozy tex mex bar/restaurant with warm atmosphere and always smiling personnel. Conchita Bonita is well known for it’s high quality kitchen, inexpensive prices, unquestionably best strawberry margarita in town and over 300 different cocktails. Restaurant’s staff speaks English and you can also ask for English menu. Guests of Conchita Bonita are called Donna Conchita’s family and every Saturday they come to the restaurant to celebrate Donna Conchita’s birthday at midnight. On Fridays and Saturdays after 12:00PM the floor is open for dancing and to spice things up there is even a dance pole in the center of the floor to give some extra spin.
Dead Poets, Zhukovskogo, 12, ☎ +7 812 449 4656. Sum-Th: 2PM-2AM; F-Sa: 2PM-8AM. A quiet cocktail bar. Cocktails: RUB350-600; Bottle of wine: RUB1,600-9,500.
Dickens Pub, 108 Fontanka Canal (Near Sadovaya & Technologichesky Institute metro stations, just off Moskovsky-Fontanka bridge), ☎ +7-812-380-7888. Good service, great food, and a wide range of English and other international beers, with over 15 on tap. There are also many superior whiskeys too! Dickens Pub is a good place to eat. Be prepared for a party - especially on Fridays & Saturdays!
Hat Bar, ul. Belinskogo, 9 (Metro: Gostiny Dvor). 7PM-3AM. Crowded bar with live jazz music.
Hemingway Bar (Хемингуэй-бар), ул. Ломоносова, 3, ☎ +7 812 310-7007. 12:00-05:00. A comfortable, big bar with upscale drinks and cooking. The biggest draw is the cool clientele and live performances: blues, jazz, R&B. One tip though, if you open the door to a DJ blaring Russkaya popsa—leave because you won't be able to hear yourself think. ~1400 rubles to eat.
Red Fox Pub, Pulkovskoye 3/1 (Metro: Leninsky Prospekt, south of the center). 11AM-3AM. Great craft beer and bar food.
Stirka 40°, Kazanskaya 26, ☎ +7 812 314-53-71. Combination bar and laundromat. Have a beer while washing your clothes! Operated by a famous local designer that also operates the Produkty Fontanka 17 club.
Tower Pub, Nevsky Prospekt 22 (Metro: Nevsky Prospekt), ☎ +7 (812) 315 1431. Open 24 hours. A great place to rest, have a quick drink or stay for the whole evening. The bartenders are really nice, do speak English and are in for a chat (on a quiet night). It's located in the basement of a large building but the atmosphere is really nice. No live music.
Vinny Shkaf, Rubinshteina St., 9/3 (Just off Nevsky Prospekt). 2PM-11PM. A classy wine bar. Wine bottle: RUB1,500-6,000; 330ml beer: RUB290.
Xander Bar @ Four Seasons Hotel, Voznesenskiy prospekt 1 (Metro: Admiralteyskaya), ☎ +7 812 339 8000. Old-world luxury atmosphere. Smart casual attire. Cocktails: RUB550-650.
There is a wide and excellent selection of great clubs that will satisfy all tourists looking to spend the night out. The city hosts clubs of all music. Rock, pop, jazz, hip hop/RnB, and a lot more.
Griboedov (Грибоедов), Voronezskaya Ulitsa 2 (Metro: Ligovsky), ☎ +7 812 164 4355. Open daily except Tuesday; 12PM-6AM. A suitably spaced out place for a club whose name can also be interpreted as "the mushroom eater" or a famous Russian's poet surname, the acts here are famously offbeat, especially on weekdays when you're as likely to find a poetry reading as live reggae or a DJ spinning psychedelic trance. This club is hidden in an underground bomb shelter with a new performance space/bar/restaurant atop the bunker's hill.
Metro Club (Метроклуб), 174 Ligovsky Prospekt (Metro: Ligovsky). 10PM-6AM. Saint Petersburg's biggest club, with 3 floors. Mostly for people aged 16-30. Eurodisco music such as techno, trance and house. Entry:RUB200-400 depending on time and date.
Mishka, Fontanka 40, in the basement (Metro: Nevsky Prospect; Mayakovskaya; Ploshchad Vosstaniya). A popular DJ bar/cafe for local scenesters, as well as 20something tourists and ex-pats, located on the most central intersection (Nevsky prospekt and Fontanka). Due to strict dress code don't try to enter with a backpack and be ready to hear that the party tonight is "invitation only". It means the security did not like your look. The place was opened by St. Petersburg avant-garde musician and heartthrob Kirill Ivanov and friends in the beginning of 2011, at the end of 2011 Mishka has already achieved the title of St. Petersburg's Best Bar according to TimeOut magazine. During daytime, Mishka more of a cafe (with free WiFi), where you can relax, read and/or chat and enjoy a selection of sandwiches and fresh salads. In fact, it's one of the few places that serves in line with the Western understanding of "salad" - a huge bowl of fresh greens with a choice of other fresh ingredients to add, rather than the traditional Russian understanding of salad which is usually a lot of mayonnaise with other ingredients and often without any greens at all. There are two spaces - the entrance space is the "club" side, generally the rowdier side and the place to get boozed up and drunkenly dance the night away, and the second space is more relaxed, more brightly lit, non-smoking, and a comfortable place to grab a bite to eat (even at 4am!) and sit and chat with your friends without shouting over the music from the entrance space. At night there is usually a DJ playing (even on weeknights!) whatever hipsters are listening to these days (rather than typical Russian clubs that only play worn-out house and 90s pop) and the bar can get very crowded on weekend nights. Try one of the dozens of specialty shots to get your night started in the right spirit... or to end your night, if you're on a bender.
Mod Club (Мод), Kanal Griboedova, dom 7 (in the courtyard) (Next to Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood; Metro: Nevsky Prospect), ☎ +7 812 712 0734. 6:00PM-6:00AM. Cavernous live music hall with old brick walls and loft outdoor bar, separate room with wrap-around bar and small DJ stand, chill-out room with small concerts and a terrace bar for dancing under the White Nights skies. Pizza is sold in the back. Very diverse music program: from reggae to punk/metal, but mostly rock. Friendly atmosphere. The crowd is made up of students, musicians, artists and expats. The space also includes MOD Gallery with local art on display. Design of the club is worth checking out as well. Menus in English, English-speaking bartenders, inexpensive beer. Entry: RUB150 on weekends.
Produkty, Fontanka 17 (Metro: Nevsky Prospect; Mayakovskaya; Ploshchad Vosstaniya). Literally, 'Groceries'. Opened in the fall of 2011 by designer Lisa Izvozchikova, owner of Stirka bar. The space is modest in size, but being one of the rare cafe-bars in St. Petersburg located above basement-level, boasts views of the Fontanka and features local DJs as well as more "amateur" music lovers spinning their favorite tunes, sipping cocktails and occasionally dancing and even singing along if the mood strikes them. Produkty features a carefully thought-out range of alcohol - all the makings of any classic cocktail as well as a delicious and dry cider "St. Anton", grog, milkshakes with berries, a homemade hot ginger tea, as well as freshly squeezed orange juice. The food is mainly vegetarian, and the offerings include couscous and sandwiches. All the furniture was brought from Berlin: the leatherette-upholstered bar, massive leather armchairs, round bar stools from the 1970s, chairs taken from GDR kindergartens and schools, typewriters and a Wurlitzer jukebox that only accepts Deutschmark (don't worry! you can buy the necessary Deutschmark tokens at the bar). The classic hipster-reference to East Germany is not completely lost when it comes to describing the style and clientele of Produkty.
Gay & lesbian
Due to social stigma, there are not many gay clubs in Saint Petersburg. However, there is a large underground scene and many people use online websites and mobile applications to meet other gay and lesbian folk.
Central Station, ul Lomonosova 1/28. The biggest gay club in Saint Petersburg, it features three floors, plays a selection of house and disco music, performances of drag queens, a dark "men-only" room and also contains Saint Petersburg's only all day sushi restaurant. Gays are not very accepted among the locals and are even targeted once in a while. It is common for people to wait outside and harass people leaving the club. cover after midnight: RUB100-300.
For information on using telephones and buying SIM cards in Russia, see Russia#Contact.
The emergency service number is 112.
Free WiFi is available in most hotels, cafes, restaurants, bars, and shopping centers.
Computer and printer access
There are many computer clubs/internet cafes, usually crowded by kids playing CounterStrike.
CafeMax (Кафемакс), Nevsky Prospekt 90-92 (Metro: Mayakovskaya or Ploschad Vossitanya), ☎ +7 812 273 6655. 24 hours per day. A cheap internet cafe with printer access. Will print items, such as train tickets purchased online, if the file is emailed to the attendant.
Saint Petersburg has a somewhat undeserved reputation for being a dangerous city. Things have calmed down since the Wild West (or Wild East) days immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but some common sense is still required.
As with most other major cities, avoid traveling alone at night, and do not get into altercations with drunks. If traveling at night, it is recommended to stay on the main sidewalks and avoid any dark alleys or yards. Gypsy cabs are not recommended under any circumstances, especially those that linger near bars where expatriates and tourists congregate.
Downtown and western parts of the city are safest. Suburbs like Kupchino, Veteranov, Ligovo and Sennaya in the centre should be avoided at night time.
As a general rule, the farther you are from the city center, the more dangerous it is.
Saint Petersburg's football club, Zenit Saint Petersburg, is one of the biggest clubs in the country, and has its own gang of hooligans. If you decide to visit the football stadium to watch the club play, you should buy tickets to center sectors. If you do not do this and a fight starts, you are likely to get dragged into it by either the hooligans or the police, since both will think you are part of the brawl.
Take care of money, documents, cameras, mobile phones, and anything of value because of pickpocketing. Especially watch out on the Metro during busy times, as people start pushing at the train doors, and pickpockets are frequent, particularly (but not only) at Gostinyy Dvor Metro Station. When riding the Metro, keep in mind that robbery can be a real threat; you should constantly watch what is going on around you and who is standing very close to you.
Thefts of photo equipment are really a big problem in Saint Petersburg. Photo bags probably won't save your camera -- it can be opened in less than 5 seconds. Cameras should be kept in bags slung across the body at all times, with your hands keeping a firm grip on them, and no watches or jewelry should be visible at all. Quite obviously, do not show in public that you have a lot of money. Robberies are not uncommon, and many foreigners have been threatened at gun and knife point. However, foreigners are not targeted specifically, and robbers will attack both foreigners and natives that carelessly reveal their wealth.
Take special care on Nevsky Prospekt, particularly the area with the city tour buses, a favorite spot of pickpockets and particularly of those after photo equipment. On the bright side, "Nevsky Prospekt" sees little mugging.
Russian driving is wild. Drivers attack their art with an equal mix of aggressiveness and incompetence. Guidelines are lax and rarely followed. As a pedestrian, take great care when crossing the roads, as pedestrian crossings are in 99% of cases ignored (even by police). If you are thinking of driving yourself, bear in mind that the Russian traffic police are extremely corrupt, even by Russian standards. Pedestrian crossings with a traffic light are quite safe to use, most car drivers will stop (of course, other cars will either be rear ended, or drive through crossings at ridiculous speeds with no regards for safety). Just like in any other big city always look left and right before crossing the road and make eye contact with the driver if possible.
Bar fights do occur. In the centre of the city and around Nevsky Prospekt, they are unlikely to happen. However, in the suburbs and local cheaper pubs, fights occur almost daily. If you are staying with locals living in these areas, it might be a good idea to avoid these bars. Police are unlikely to show up as they consider fights as small, unimportant, regular and a waste of time, and they will probably laugh at you for calling.
Another subtle danger that can affect your trip is the inevitable effect of winter weather. Poor clearance of snow and ice is a big problem in this city. Caution is advised in snowy winters because of falling ice from roofs, and pedestrians should pay special attention to ice on the streets.
Overall, be warned that if you are used to living in the US and/or Western Europe, Saint Petersburg, as well as the rest of Eastern Europe, will seem different, and, at times, a bit intimidating. On the other hand, Russian people are usually friendly, welcoming and interested towards foreigners, and nothing should happen to you unless you put yourself in harm's way. If you don't care about them they don't care about you, and nothing should get in your way of having a great holiday.
Another danger is the bar scams that abound in the city. Please avoid at all costs Crystal bar on Griboyedov channel embankment, right next to the Savior on the Spilled Blood church. Here's how the scam works:
Girls approach you and invite to have drinks together, and the even offer to pay for those drinks. They build trust and take you to other bars. After those bars they talk to a friend on the phone that says that whatever club you want to go is closed and so they take you to Crystal club. There you immediately start being served drinks and food without showing you the menu and then they charge you a ridiculous amount. Calling the police is pointless as they will not show up.
The private hospitals listed below have English-speaking Russian doctors (very few, if any, hospital staff are expats). Depending on the type of service provided and the terms of one's insurance policy, these hospitals may be able to arrange direct billing with European and American medical insurance companies.
American Medical Clinic, Moyka Embankment 78 (Just west of St. Isaac's Square), ☎ +7 812 740 2090. 24 hours. Includes dental clinic and pediatric unit.
Euromed, Suvorovsky Prospekt 60, ☎ +7 812 327 0301. 24 hours. Multi-specialty medical center that provides a full range of medical services,applying international standards and protocols of diagnostics and treatment. Includes it's own laboratory and pharmacy units, in-patient department with comfortable 5-star hotel class wards, ambulance team. English-speaking personnel provides direct insurance billing and any administrative support to the patient(accomodation,visas,transfers,medical evacuatuons).
MEDEM International Clinic and Hospital, Marata str. 6 (near Mayakovskaya Metro, 50 meters from Nevsky), ☎ +7 812 336 3333. 24 hours. Full range medical service in cooperation with Clinique des Grangettes (Geneva, Switzerland). On-site trauma, laboratory, dentistry, pediatric ward, overnight pharmacy. Private Ambulance with medical transportation/evacuation services. Diagnostics Center with MRI unit, ultrasound, X-Ray, endoscopy, functional diagnostic. Emergency and elective surgery, urology, gynecology, ENT, general practitioners, family medicine. Stroke unit, hospital with ICU and resuscitation. English-speaking staff, direct billing with Russian and foreign insurance/assistance companies. Fully equipped Conference Room for medical/pharmaceutical symposiums and colloquiums.
The city's water system is not ideal because of a number of old pipes and as a result does not provide 100% clean water. Some locals boil or also filter tap water before use; you might want to buy it bottled if water quality affects you.
In Saint Petersburg cold water is cleaner than hot.
There are numerous public toilets, most of which are attended by a person who will charge about RUB15 for entry. It is a good idea to take your own toilet paper, as it is not always provided. The toilets are typically extremely dirty by Western standards. If you are a Westerner, you can get away with wandering into the Western hotels, which have lovely bathrooms— the Grand Hotel Europe in particular. Just don't ever push your luck with suit-clad men guarding the hotel entrances, they are tough as nails if provoked. Many restaurants also allow tourists to use the toilet without being a customer.
The city was formerly known as Petrograd (Петрогр́ад), and later Leningrad (Ленингр́ад).
This is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places on earth and virtually any building in the large historic centre, threaded with canals dotted with baroque bridges, can be considered an attraction—and indeed, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. This is a magical city, with a long list of major attractions. Its Hermitage Museum, housed in the Winter Palace of the Romanov Dynasty, is both one of the world's greatest and oldest collections of art, treasure, and antiquities, and one of its most beautiful buildings.
Founded by Peter the Great in 1703, in the territory of the Inkeri town of Nien which was a capital of Finno-Ugric province Ingermanland which was part of Novgorod Republic, and Sweden. The first settlements in this region date from 2500 years ago. Archaeologists found old graves full of izhora silver treasures, also korela-inkeri epos of Kalevala halfly was written near Sester river, modern Sestroretsk. In this time the lifestyle of aborigines was very different it was forest people which lived in tunnels underground, famous for hunting, mushroom medicine, and making steel. It was place of joining three finno ugric subethnosos suomi Inkeri and Karela, St Petersburg the former home of the tsars and the centre of imperial Russian culture, Saint Petersburg was known as "The Venice of the North" in its heyday. Re-christened Petrograd during the first World War, the city was renamed Leningrad in 1924 in honour of communist revolutionary and founder of the Soviet Union, Vladmir I. Lenin. Bombed, besieged and starved during World War II, the city took a back seat to Moscow during the Soviet-era.
Saint Petersburg is nicknamed the 'Venice of the North'
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the city has rapidly been making up for lost time and is by far the most cosmopolitan and Western of Russia's cities. Renamed once more in the aftermath of the fall of the Soviet Union, most Russians know it as Piter (Питер), a familiar diminutive of Saint Petersburg.
During the hardship years of Yeltsin's presidency, much of the city was controlled by the infamous Tambov gang, but have since reduced in influence. With world-class architecture, astonishing views and friendly people, there's lots to do here.
There is a huge seasonal variation in day length due to the city's position at 60°N.
Days are less than 6 hours long at the end of December, but it never gets darker than twilight during the White Nights season in June. Not only are the days very short in late autumn and early winter, but the weather may be overcast for weeks, without a hint of blue sky, which may feel depressing. The driest season with least precipitation is early spring. July and August are usually the rainiest months, though the difference is usually not big enough to worry about. But if you care about this, it is a good idea to have an umbrella or raincoat handy.
In November–March there are hardly any tourists at all, so you won't see the long lines of the summer at the Hermitage. Saint Petersburg's neoclassical streets are also simply gorgeous in the snow. Temperatures can range from slightly above freezing point to bitterly cold. From time to time it may get to -25°C (-13F) and below, often with high humidity and wind, so be prepared to dress warmly. Most major tourist attractions, except those relying on the water, are still open and some hotels offer lower prices during this time. The ground is usually covered in snow and the rivers and canals are frozen during this time. Snow is not always removed from streets in time and may exacerbate traffic problems. There is danger of slipping on ice or getting hit by falling icicles. Wear good boots, take small steps, and watch your feet!
In April, the streets are covered in sludge as the snow melts.
June is peak tourist season during the famous White Nights (roughly 11 June–2 July), when the sun sets only for a brief period of twilight, and the streets stay alive around the clock. Book early.
July and August are usually the warmest months. This is a rather northern city, and it rarely gets really hot, but even more modest warmth can be hard to bear in summer because of the high humidity. Rain showers usually come and go throughout this time, so it is always a good idea for one to have an umbrella or rain jacket at all times, even on sunny clear days.
Late September—early October is a lovely time in the city. The temperatures drop to moderate, often with strong winds, and the tourists are all gone. Rain is still common.
Fountains operate from May through mid-September. Most trees are in leaf from May through October.
Note the days of school holidays, when museums and other similar venues can become considerably more crowded. School holidays are in early November (autumn break), the first half of January (winter break) and late March (spring break). Moreover, general holidays are held around the New Year into early January, as well as in early May.
Day trips can be done on your own or via an organized excursion offered by many tour operators. Even though it is a lot to see in one day, Peterhof, Kronshtadt and Lomonosov are all located in the same general direction west of Saint Petersburg and are all accessible by hydrofoil, so it is popular to see all three sites in one day.
Oreshek fortess, a view from the right bank of Neva River
Gatchina — Big palace and park located in a beautiful village 50km south of Saint Petersburg.
Kronshtadt — Old seaport town on Kotlin island, 20km directly north of Lomonosov. Main Russian naval base from early 18th century. You may take a hydrofoil back to the Hermitage for RUB 400 one-way.
Lomonosov (AKA Oranienbaum) — Park with museum honoring Michael Lomonosov. 9km west of Peterhof via the A121 highway. Train station name is Oranienbaum ('Orange tree' in German). TIP - You may also visit Kronshtadt and take a hydrofoil back to the Hermitage for RUB 400 one-way, an inexpensive alternative to the more expensive ones leaving from Peterhof.
Oreshek Fortess — a medieval russian fortess at Orekhovy Island in the mouth of Neva, 50km east of Saint Petersburg.
Pavlovsk — Lusicous green park where you could feed the squirrels from your hands. Can be reached by train from Vitebskiy station (not the main hall, but the smaller hall for local trains, which is on the right side as you face the station). Pavlovsk train station is close to the northwestern gate to the park, and from there it is a long (but pleasant) walk though the park to the palace.
Peterhof — Home of the sumptuous "Russian Versailles" and the recently open to visits "Petrodvorets Watch Factory - Raketa", 30km southwest of Saint Petersburg.
Pushkin (A.K.A. Tsarskoye Selo) — 25km south of Saint Petersburg, with beautiful parks and palaces, most notably the Catherine Palace built for Tsarina Catherine I.
Repino — House-museum of the artist Ilya Repin, located just off the Gulf of Finland, where he lived and worked. To get there: Elektrichka train from the Finlandsky Station (45 minutes, round trip fare RUB 120, eleventh stop on the westbound line — check in advance to make sure the train you board stops in Repino — then from the station cross the main road and walk down the path to the left of the supermarket through a resort complex to the next major road. Turn left and walk about 1.5km to the gate marked Penaty. The walk takes about 45 minutes. The museum and grounds close at 3PM, or earlier if there are no visitors.
Staraya Ladoga — the first capital of Russia is a pleasant little village four hours away with an incredible wealth of historical sights, including its own stone kremlin and church frescoes by the hand of none other than Andrei Rublev.
Vyborg — town situated on the Karelian Isthmus near the head of the Bay of Vyborg, 130km to the northwest of St. Petersburg, 38 km south from Russia's border with Finland, where the Saimaa Canal enters the Gulf of Finland. Swedish built castle, started in the 13th century and extensively reconstructed by Russians in 1891–1894. Mon Repos, one of the most spacious English parks in Eastern Europe, laid out in the 19 century. Fortifications of the Mannerheim Line (built by Finland against the Soviet Union) are close by. Check the schedule of the 75 minute rapid train online..
If you leave Russia and plan to return, make sure you have a multiple entry visa.
Novgorod — Ancient town with churches and museums, 180 km from St. Petersburg.
Narva, Estonia — 160km southwest of Saint Petersburg. Located on the Narva river, which serves as the border between Russia and Estonia. Twin castles (Russian, established Grand Duke Ivan III, and Danish/Swedish).