Saint Petersburg is second largest city in Russia and
arguably most beautiful. It
is often referred as "Palmyra of the North" or "The Venice of the
North" as a reference to number of channels and islands that form the
old historic portion of the city. Saint Petersburg was constructed by
the orders of Peter the Great in the early 18th century. In the duration of the Great Northern War
Russian forces managed to defeat the Swedish empire conquering lands
that opened the Russian Empire its only passage to the Baltic Sea.
Emperor Peter I opened his famous "Window to Europe" and to solidify his
conquest he decided to construct a new city and move his capital here
from Moscow. The city was named after holy patron of the emperor, Saint
Peter. "Burg" is a German for city. Peter was a big fan of the West and
Germany in particular. Saint Petersburg was found on 16th (27th) May in
1703. It served as a capital of the Russian Empire until the historic
evens of the early 20th century didn't change that. At the outbrake of
the World War I the German sounding name of Saint Petersburg was briefly
changed to more patriotic Petrograd (Peter's city in Russian). Great
October Revolution of 1917 brought an end to Russian Empire and Romanoff
family that ruled it for over 300 hundred years. Subsequent Civil War
forced Bolsheviks to move their capital to historic capital of Moscow.
The Soviets renamed the city Leningrad after the head of revolution
Lenin, but after collapse of the Soviet Union the city was renamed to
its original Saint Petersburg. Despite turmoil and conflicts (both
internal and external) the Cultural Capital of Russia plays an important
part in the Russian literature, music and culture.
Schedule of bridges in St. Petersburg Bridges across the Neva.
Bolshoy Obukhovsky ("Shta") bridge. Doesn't raise up. Volodarsky
bridge 02: 00–03: 45 04: 15—05: 45
Finnish Railway Bridge 02: 20—05: 30 The bridge of Alexander
Nevsky 02: 20—05: 10 Bridge of Peter the Great Bridge (formerly
Bolsheokhtinsky Bridge) 02: 00—05: 00 Foundry Bridge 01: 50—04:
40 Trinity Bridge (formerly Kirovsky Bridge) 01: 40—04: 50
In terms of scale and grandeur, the magnificent southern
embankment of St. Petersburg has few equals. Its huge granite
embankments, stretching more than 2 km from the Senate building in
the west to the Summer Palace of Peter the Great in the east,
surrounded by the territory of majestic aristocratic palaces and
bridges with an ornamental canal are rightfully known throughout
the world. Every aspect of the history of St. Petersburg is
represented in this rich quarter. The statue of Falcone of Peter
the Great, the Bronze Horseman, is eloquent testimony to imperial
ambitions, and the square on which it stands is named after the
Decembrist rebels, who rebelled against the royal regime in 1825.
Although the soldiers themselves, who entered the square, rose up
for Emperor Constantine and his "wife" Constitution.
Palace Square, the Rastrelli Winter Palace (part of the Hermitage)
demonstrates the wealth of Imperial Russia, and the Eternal Flame
flickering on the Field of Mars is a darker reminder of the
revolutionary sacrifices. Dominating the horizon of St. Petersburg
is the magnificent dome of St. Isaac's Cathedral and the gilded
spire of the Admiralty. Some of the best views can be appreciated
by taking a boat trip on the waterways of St. Petersburg or
walking through the Summer Gardens.
The Grand Bazaar, Gostiny Dvor, was the commercial heart of St.
Petersburg in the early 18th century, and today it is still
buzzing with trading activities. It rose around the Nevsky
Prospect. Thriving communities of foreign traders and businessmen
also settled next door. Until the mid-19th century, stores in the
area served almost exclusively the luxurious end of the market,
meeting the unlimited demand created by royal and aristocratic
families for gold and silver, jewelry and high fashion designers.
The growth of commercial and financial activities has created a
new middle class business entrepreneurs. Before the Soviet
Revolution, banks grew around Nevsky Prospekt, their impressive
new offices representing various architectural styles, largely
neoclassical. Today the wheels of capitalism are turning again,
and Nevsky Prospect still attracts rich customers. In contrast to
the noisy commercial atmosphere, most of the region is built
around a tranquil oasis of Arts Square, with the Russian Museum
and other institutions that act as reminders of the rich cultural
life of St. Petersburg.
The western part of St. Petersburg is a region of contrasts, in
which one of the richest residential areas of the city and the
majority of the poor are located. The magnificent architecture along
the Promenade des Anglais is a world located far from the
dilapidated residential neighborhoods around the bustling Sennaya
Square, which have changed little since Dostoevsky described them.
Between them lies the old sea quarter, once inhabited by the
shipwrights of Peter the Great, many of whom were British. This area
stretched from the warehouses of New Holland to the Cathedral of St.
Nicholas, which stands on the site of the naval parade square.
Theater Square has been an entertainment center since the mid-18th
century. It is dominated by the prestigious Mariinsky Theater and
the Conservatory. Rimsky-Korsakov, where many of Russia's greatest
artists began their careers. Until 1917, theater directors, actors,
ballerinas, artists and musicians lived on the streets leading from
the Sennaya Square.
Vasilievsky Island, the largest island in the Neva delta, was to
become the administrative center of the new capital on the
personal orders of Emperor Peter the Great. However, the lack of
access (the first permanent bridge was not built until 1850),
and the danger of floods and the turbulent waters of the Neva
led to the abandonment of Peter’s project, and instead the
center grew across the river around the Admiralty. The island’s
original street plan consisted of canals that had never been
dug, but were preserved in numbered streets, known as lines that
run from north to south. The island’s focal point is located on
the eastern end with a beautiful ensemble of public buildings
around Strelka. The rest of the island developed with the spread
of industrialization in the 19th century and became home to the
middle class of St. Petersburg. The German community also
flourished here, which is reflected in the construction of
several Lutheran churches. Today, most of the island is famous
for clean air with wide tree-lined avenues, rows of museums and
attractive 19th-century architecture.
Zayachy Island (Hare Island) and
Petrogradskaya (Saint Petersburg)
Petrogradskaya side of Saint Petersburg gets its name
from a brief period when German sounding Saint Petersburg (City of
Peter) was changed to Russian sounding Petrograd. It occurred during
years of World War I when Russian Empire began to change many historical
German names. Saint Petersburg didn't escape its fate. Hence most of
buildings on this side date back to the beginning of the 20th century.
Saint Peter and Paul Fortress that stands on Zayachy Island dates back
to the early 18th century. It was one of the first parts of Saint
Petersburg that were constructed by city founder Emperor Peter the
Zayachy Island (Hare Island) is located at the widest
point of the Neva River. Its strategic position allowed massive land
cannons to hit all incoming ships, while remaining at a significant
distance for the naval guns to do a significant damage to the fortress.
Zayachy Island is measured at 750 meters by 400 meters. Its name comes
from a Finnish tribes that called Zayachy Island Ennissaari ("Yenisei"-
a hare, "Saari"- island). Later Swedes that expanded into these lands
called it Lyustgolm (Happy Island), Lust Eiland (Funland) and
Toyfelsgolm (Devil's Island). After Saint Peter and Paul fortress was
constructed, it was called simply Krepostonoy Island (Fortress Island).
Only in the 19th century it was renamed to Zayachy Island as a reference
to the original Finnish name. Nowadays one of the pillars of Saint John
bridge that lead to Saint Peter and Paul Fortress has a small figure
"Bunny, escaping from the flood" in height of 58 cm.
While most of the sights of St. Petersburg are located in the center
of the city, the outskirts of the city have a number of
architectural, cultural and historical sights. To the east is the
Smolny District, which got its name from the Smolny Court, which in
the 18th century supplied resin for the urban shipbuilding industry.
The highlight of this area is the dazzling Baroque Smolny Monastery
Rastrelli. Nearby, the Smolny Institute is famous for its historical
role of the Bolshevik headquarters during the October Revolution. To
the southeast of the center is the Alexander Nevsky Monastery, where
many famous artists, architects and composers of Russia are buried.
The southern suburbs offer a strikingly different perspective on the
city, with rows of pompous houses from the 1930s and 50s, a reminder
that Stalin sought to destroy the historic heart of the city by
moving the center from the old imperial district to the area around
Moscow Square. In the south, there is also the Chesma Church and the
Victory Monument of the 1970s, a monument to the suffering of the
Soviet people during the Siege of Leningrad.
Cathedral of the Transfiguration (Saint
Preobrazhenskaya ploshchad 1
Tel 272 3663
Bus: 46, K-15, K-76
Trolley: 3, 8, 15
Open: 8am- 8pm daily
The language spoken in Saint Petersburg is
Russian, as in most parts of Russia. English is usually taught in
schools and universities, so younger people are supposed to
understand it to some extent, but the chance of finding anybody who
is fluent in English on the streets is, though better than elsewhere
in Russia except Moscow, still not that great. Average people will
probably be able to point out a direction, but don't expect much
more. The signs and labels in most places, especially off the beaten
path, are still in Russian only, with a notable exceptions of metro
(subway) and street signs in the city centre. It may be a good idea
to get familiar with the Russian Cyrillic alphabet before the
travel, as this is easy and lets you recognize street names and so
Imperial Era (1703–1917) Swedish colonists
built Nyenskans, a fortress at the mouth of the Neva River in 1611,
in what was then called Ingermanland, which was inhabited by Finnic
tribe of Ingrians. The small town of Nyen grew up around it.
At the end of the 17th century, Peter the Great, who was very
interested in seafaring and maritime affairs, wanted Russia to gain
a seaport in order to trade with the rest of Europe. He needed a
better seaport than the country's main one at the time, Arkhangelsk,
which was on the White Sea in the far north and closed to shipping
during the winter.
On 12 May [Old Style 1 May] 1703, during
the Great Northern War, Peter the Great captured Nyenskans and soon
replaced the fortress. On 27 May [Old Style 16 May] 1703, closer to
the estuary 5 km (3 mi) inland from the gulf), on Zayachy (Hare)
Island, he laid down the Peter and Paul Fortress, which became the
first brick and stone building of the new city.
The city was
built by conscripted peasants from all over Russia; a number of
Swedish prisoners of war were also involved in some years under the
supervision of Alexander Menshikov. Tens of thousands of serfs died
building the city. Later, the city became the centre of the Saint
Petersburg Governorate. Peter moved the capital from Moscow to Saint
Petersburg in 1712, 9 years before the Treaty of Nystad of 1721
ended the war; he referred to Saint Petersburg as the capital (or
seat of government) as early as 1704.
During its first few
years, the city developed around Trinity Square on the right bank of
the Neva, near the Peter and Paul Fortress. However, Saint
Petersburg soon started to be built out according to a plan. By 1716
the Swiss Italian Domenico Trezzini had elaborated a project whereby
the city centre would be located on Vasilyevsky Island and shaped by
a rectangular grid of canals. The project was not completed but is
evident in the layout of the streets. In 1716, Peter the Great
appointed Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Alexandre Le Blond as the chief
architect of Saint Petersburg.
The style of Petrine Baroque,
developed by Trezzini and other architects and exemplified by such
buildings as the Menshikov Palace, Kunstkamera, Peter and Paul
Cathedral, Twelve Collegia, became prominent in the city
architecture of the early 18th century. In 1724 the Academy of
Sciences, University and Academic Gymnasium were established in
Saint Petersburg by Peter the Great.
In 1725, Peter died at
the age of fifty-two. His endeavors to modernize Russia had met with
opposition from the Russian nobility—resulting in several attempts
on his life and a treason case involving his son. In 1728, Peter II
of Russia moved his seat back to Moscow. But four years later, in
1732, under Empress Anna of Russia, Saint Petersburg was again
designated as the capital of the Russian Empire. It remained the
seat of the Romanov dynasty and the Imperial Court of the Russian
Tsars, as well as the seat of the Russian government, for another
186 years until the communist revolution of 1917.
1736–1737 the city suffered from catastrophic fires. To rebuild the
damaged boroughs, a committee under Burkhard Christoph von Münnich
commissioned a new plan in 1737. The city was divided into five
boroughs, and the city center was moved to the Admiralty borough,
situated on the east bank between the Neva and Fontanka.
developed along three radial streets, which meet at the Admiralty
building and are now one street known as Nevsky Prospekt (which is
considered the main street of the city), Gorokhovaya Street and
Voznesensky Prospekt. Baroque architecture became dominant in the
city during the first sixty years, culminating in the Elizabethan
Baroque, represented most notably by Italian Bartolomeo Rastrelli
with such buildings as the Winter Palace. In the 1760s, Baroque
architecture was succeeded by neoclassical architecture.
Established in 1762, the Commission of Stone Buildings of Moscow and
Saint Petersburg ruled that no structure in the city can be higher
than the Winter Palace and prohibited spacing between buildings.
During the reign of Catherine the Great in the 1760s–1780s, the
banks of the Neva were lined with granite embankments.
However, it was not until 1850 that the first permanent bridge
across the Neva, Blagoveshchensky Bridge, was allowed to open.
Before that, only pontoon bridges were allowed. Obvodny Canal (dug
in 1769–1833) became the southern limit of the city.
prominent neoclassical and Empire-style architects in Saint
Jean-Baptiste Vallin de la Mothe
(Imperial Academy of Arts, Small Hermitage, Gostiny Dvor, New
Holland Arch, Catholic Church of St. Catherine) Antonio Rinaldi
(Marble Palace) Yury Felten (Old Hermitage, Chesme Church)
Giacomo Quarenghi (Academy of Sciences, Hermitage Theatre, Yusupov
Palace) Andrey Voronikhin (Mining Institute, Kazan Cathedral)
Andreyan Zakharov (Admiralty building) Jean-François Thomas de
Thomon (Spit of Vasilievsky Island)
Carlo Rossi (Yelagin Palace, Mikhailovsky Palace,
Alexandrine Theatre, Senate and Synod Buildings, General staff
Building, design of many streets and squares) Vasily Stasov
(Moscow Triumphal Gate, Trinity Cathedral) Auguste de Montferrand
(Saint Isaac's Cathedral, Alexander Column)
Alexander I established the first engineering Higher learning
institution, the Saint Petersburg Main military engineering School
in Saint Petersburg. Many monuments commemorate the Russian victory
over Napoleonic France in the Patriotic War of 1812, including the
Alexander Column by Montferrand, erected in 1834, and the Narva
In 1825, the suppressed Decembrist revolt
against Nicholas I took place on the Senate Square in the city, a
day after Nicholas assumed the throne.
By the 1840s,
neoclassical architecture had given way to various romanticist
styles, which dominated until the 1890s, represented by such
architects as Andrei Stackenschneider (Mariinsky Palace,
Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace, Nicholas Palace, New Michael Palace)
and Konstantin Thon (Moskovsky railway station).
emancipation of the serfs undertaken by Alexander II in 1861 and an
Industrial Revolution, the influx of former peasants into the
capital increased greatly. Poor boroughs spontaneously emerged on
the outskirts of the city. Saint Petersburg surpassed Moscow in
population and industrial growth; it developed as one of the largest
industrial cities in Europe, with a major naval base (in Kronstadt),
river and sea port.
The names of Saints Peter and Paul,
bestowed upon original city's citadel and its cathedral (from 1725—a
burial vault of Russian emperors) coincidentally were the names of
the first two assassinated Russian Emperors, Peter III (1762,
supposedly killed in a conspiracy led by his wife, Catherine the
Great) and Paul I (1801, Nicholas Zubov and other conspirators who
brought to power Alexander I, the son of their victim). The third
emperor's assassination took place in Saint Petersburg in 1881 when
Alexander II fell victim to narodniki (see the Church of the Savior
The Revolution of 1905 began in Saint Petersburg
and spread rapidly into the provinces.
On 1 September 1914,
after the outbreak of World War I, the Imperial government renamed
the city Petrograd, meaning "Peter's City", to remove the German
words Sankt and Burg.
Revolution and Soviet Era (1917–1941)
In March 1917, during the February Revolution
Nicholas II abdicated both for himself and on behalf of his son,
ending the Russian monarchy and over three hundred years of Romanov
On 7 November [O.S. 25 October] 1917, the
Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, stormed the Winter Palace in an
event known thereafter as the October Revolution, which led to the
end of the post-Tsarist provisional government, the transfer of all
political power to the Soviets, and the rise of the Communist Party.
After that the city acquired a new descriptive name, "the city of
three revolutions", referring to the three major developments in the
political history of Russia of the early 20th-century.
September and October 1917, German troops invaded the West Estonian
archipelago and threatened Petrograd with bombardment and invasion.
On 12 March 1918, the Soviets transferred the government to Moscow,
to keep it away from the state border. During the ensuing Civil War,
in 1919 general Yudenich advancing from Estonia repeated the attempt
to capture the city, but Leon Trotsky mobilized the army and forced
him to retreat.
On 26 January 1924, five days after Lenin's
death, Petrograd was renamed Leningrad. Later some streets and other
toponyms were renamed accordingly. The city has over 230 places
associated with the life and activities of Lenin. Some of them were
turned into museums, including the cruiser Aurora – a symbol of the
October Revolution and the oldest ship in the Russian Navy.
In the 1920s and 1930s, the poor outskirts were reconstructed into
regularly planned boroughs. Constructivist architecture flourished
around that time. Housing became a government-provided amenity; many
"bourgeois" apartments were so large that numerous families were
assigned to what were called "communal" apartments (kommunalkas). By
the 1930s, 68% of the population lived in such housing. In 1935 a
new general plan was outlined, whereby the city should expand to the
south. Constructivism was rejected in favor of a more pompous
Stalinist architecture. Moving the city center further from the
border with Finland, Stalin adopted a plan to build a new city hall
with a huge adjacent square at the southern end of Moskovsky
Prospekt, designated as the new main street of Leningrad. After the
Winter (Soviet-Finnish) war in 1939-1940, the Soviet-Finnish border
moved northwards. Nevsky Prospekt with Palace Square maintained the
functions and the role of a city center.
In December 1931, Leningrad was administratively
separated from Leningrad Oblast. At that time it included the
Leningrad Suburban District, some parts of which were transferred
back to Leningrad Oblast in 1936 and turned into Vsevolozhsky
District, Krasnoselsky District, Pargolovsky District and Slutsky
District (renamed Pavlovsky District in 1944).
On 1 December
1934, Sergey Kirov, the popular communist leader of Leningrad, was
assassinated, which became the pretext for the Great Purge.
World War II (1941–1945)
During World War II, German forces besieged
Leningrad following the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union in June
1941. The siege lasted 872 days, or almost two and a half years,
from 8 September 1941 to 27 January 1944.
The Siege of
Leningrad proved one of the longest, most destructive, and most
lethal sieges of a major city in modern history. It isolated the
city from food supplies except those provided through the Road of
Life across Lake Ladoga, which could not make it through until the
lake literally froze. More than one million civilians were killed,
mainly from starvation. Many others escaped or were evacuated, so
the city became largely depopulated.
On 1 May 1945 Joseph
Stalin, in his Supreme Commander Order No. 20, named Leningrad,
alongside Stalingrad, Sevastopol, and Odessa, hero cities of the
war. A law acknowledging the honorary title of "Hero City" passed on
8 May 1965 (the 20th anniversary of the victory in the Great
Patriotic War), during the Brezhnev era. The Presidium of the
Supreme Soviet of the USSR awarded Leningrad as a Hero City the
Order of Lenin and the Gold Star medal "for the heroic resistance of
the city and tenacity of the survivors of the Siege". The Hero-City
Obelisk bearing the Gold Star sign was installed in April 1985.
Soviet Era Continued (1945–1991) In October 1946 some
territories along the northern coast of the Gulf of Finland, which
had passed to the USSR from Finland in 1940 under the peace treaty
following the Winter War, were transferred from Leningrad Oblast to
Leningrad and divided into Sestroretsky District and Kurortny
District. These included the town of Terijoki (renamed Zelenogorsk
in 1948). Leningrad and many of its suburbs were rebuilt over the
post-war decades, partially according to pre-war plans. The 1948
general plan for Leningrad featured radial urban development in the
north as well as in the south. In 1953 Pavlovsky District in
Leningrad Oblast was abolished, and parts of its territory,
including Pavlovsk, merged with Leningrad. In 1954 the settlements
Levashovo, Pargolovo and Pesochny merged with Leningrad.
Leningrad gave its name to the Leningrad Affair (1949–1952), a
notable event in the postwar political struggle in the USSR. It was
a product of rivalry between Stalin's potential successors where one
side was represented by the leaders of the city Communist Party
organization—the second most significant one in the country after
Moscow. The entire elite leadership of Leningrad was destroyed,
including the former mayor Kuznetsov, the acting mayor Pyotr
Sergeevich Popkov, and all their deputies; overall 23 leaders were
sentenced to the death penalty, 181 to prison or exile (exonerated
in 1954). About 2,000 ranking officials across the USSR were
expelled from the party and the Komsomol and removed from leadership
positions. They were accused of Russian nationalism.
Leningrad Metro underground rapid transit system, designed before
the war, opened in 1955 with its first eight stations decorated with
marble and bronze. However, after the death of Stalin in 1953, the
perceived ornamental excesses of the Stalinist architecture were
abandoned. From the 1960s to the 1980s many new residential boroughs
were built on the outskirts; while the functionalist apartment
blocks were nearly identical to each other, many families moved
there from kommunalkas in the city center in order to live in
Contemporary Era (1991–present) On 12
June 1991, simultaneously with the first Russian presidential
elections, the city authorities arranged for the mayoral elections
and a referendum upon the name of the city. The turnout was 65%;
66.13% of the total count of votes went to Anatoly Sobchak, who
became the first directly elected mayor of the city.
Meanwhile, economic conditions started to deteriorate as the country
tried to adapt to major changes. For the first time since the 1940s,
food rationing was introduced, and the city received humanitarian
food aid from abroad. This dramatic time was depicted in
photographic series of Russian photographer Alexey Titarenko.
Economic conditions began to improve only at the beginning of the
21st century. In 1995 a northern section of the Kirovsko-Vyborgskaya
Line of the Saint Petersburg Metro was cut off by underground
flooding, creating a major obstacle to the city development for
almost ten years.
In 1996, Vladimir Yakovlev defeated Anatoly
Sobchak in the elections for the head of the city administration.
The title of the city head was changed from "mayor" to "governor".
In 2000 Yakovlev won re-election. His second term expired in 2004;
the long-awaited restoration of broken subway connection was
expected to finish by that time. But in 2003 Yakovlev suddenly
resigned, leaving the governor's office to Valentina Matviyenko.
The law on election of the City Governor was changed, breaking
the tradition of democratic election by a universal suffrage. In
2006 the city legislature re-approved Matviyenko as governor.
Residential building had intensified again; real-estate prices
inflated greatly, which caused many new problems for the
preservation of the historical part of the city.
central part of the city has a UNESCO designation (there are about
8,000 architectural monuments in Petersburg), the preservation of
its historical and architectural environment became controversial.
After 2005, the demolition of older buildings in the historical
centre was permitted. In 2006 Gazprom announced an ambitious project
to erect a 403 m (1,322 ft) skyscraper (the Okhta Center) opposite
to Smolny, which could result in the loss of the unique line of
Petersburg landscape. Urgent protests by citizens and prominent
public figures of Russia against this project were not considered by
Governor Valentina Matviyenko and the city authorities until
December 2010, when after the statement of President Dmitry
Medvedev, the city decided to find a more appropriate location for
this project. In the same year, the new location for the project was
relocated to Lakhta, a historical area northwest of the city center,
and the new project would be named Lakhta Center. Construction was
approved by Gazprom and the city administration and commenced in
2012. The 462 m (1,516 ft) high Lakhta Center has become the first
tallest skyscraper in Russia and Europe that is outside of Moscow.
Get in Russian visa requirements are complex but are not hard
to manage with some online research. See the Get In section of the
article on Russia for information. 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.
From Moscow to St. Petersburg
The route from Moscow to St. Petersburg is by far the country's
most popular route. Airplanes between the two capitals fly on
average every 20 minutes, and trains depart at intervals of 1.5-2
hours, which is unthinkable for any other city in Russia. You can
move between Moscow and St. Petersburg in three ways:
night train (8-10 h) - the cheapest option, tickets to the reserved
seat from 900 rubles day high-speed train (4 hours) - in advance
prices start from 1,500 rubles, but closer to the departure date,
tickets rise sharply, especially for trains running at peak times
(Friday and Sunday evening, Monday morning); already 10 days before
the departure of tickets cheaper than 2500 rubles usually does not
happen, the average price is 3000-3500 rubles by air - the
competition in this direction is so high that a relatively
inexpensive ticket can be taken even on the day of departure; prices
are usually comparable to high-speed trains, 2500-3500 rubles The
question of whether to go from Moscow to St. Petersburg by train or
fly by plane is the subject of eternal disputes between lovers of
rail and air transport. By the time the high-speed train and the
plane are almost identical: taking into account the road to the
airport and the waiting time, you are unlikely to spend less than 4
hours on the road that the train travels. Trains are very punctual
and provide a greater guarantee that you will arrive on time.
Pulkovo Airport 1 Pulkovo Airport (LED IATA Аэропо́рт
Пу́лково, Aeroport Pulkovo), Ul. Startovaya (ул. Стартовая),
Northern Capital Gateway LLC (~17km south from the center), ☎ +7 812
337-38-22, e-mail: email@example.com. 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.
travel between the airport and the city City buses numbers
and minibus K39 operate service between the airport and the
Moskovskaya (Московская) metro station (RUB40, 35 minutes). Buses
are available 05:30-01:30. From the Moskovskaya metro station, you
can take metro line 2 (blue), which operates between 05:45 and
00:20, 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, 06:00-23:30), next
to the Baltiyskaya metro station. This is only convenient if it is
near your accommodation. Marshrutka (minibus) K3 operates service
from the airport with stops at the Moskovskaya (Московская) metro
station and the Sennaya Ploshchad/Spasskaya (Спáсская) metro
station, in the city centre. Uber
costs RUB500-900 to the city center. 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 RUB1000-1400, including booking fees. 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.
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.
Some taxi companies, such as LingoTaxi, have English-speaking
drivers and dispatchers.
Tickets can be bought at the train stations or online. Long
distance train tickets are generally more expensive if bought close
to the date of travel.
There are five principal train
stations in Saint Petersburg:
2 Baltiysky Station (Балтийский
вокзал), Nab. Obvodnogo Kanala, 120 (Subway:
Baltiyskaya). This is one of the busiest railway stations in Russia
by volume of suburban traffic. The station was modeled by architect
Alexander Krakau after Gare de l'Est in Paris. Construction started
in 1854. The station was opened on 21 July 1857 as the Peterhof
Railway Station. The station retains a glass roof over the terminal
platforms and is flanked by two-storey wings. The left one used to
be reserved for members of the Russian royalty who went to their
palaces in Strelna, Peterhof, Oranienbaum. A glass panel on the
façade still features the original clock, designed by Pavel Bure, a
celebrated watchmaker to the tsar and the ice-hockey players'
ancestor. Trains operate to/from Petrodvorets (Peterhof), Lomonosov
(Oranienbaum), Gatchina, Luga. Also used by trains to/from Aeroport
station, with connecting buses to Pulkovo airport. 3 Finlyandsky
Station (Финляндский вокзал), Lenin Square (пл. Ленина, ул.
Комсомола), 5 (Subway: Ploschad Lenina ("Площадь Ленина").). Built
by Finnish State Railways as the eastern terminus of the
Riihimäki-Saint Petersburg railroad, it was designed by Swedish
architects and opened in 1870 but was heavily reconstructed in the
1950s and 1970s. The station formerly contained a special pavilion
for Russian royalty. Trains operate to/from Helsinki (Allegro high
speed) and Vyborg. 4 Ladozhsky Station (Ладожский вокзал),
Zanevsky Prospekt (Заневский проспект, Площадь Карла Фаберже), 73
(Subway: Ladozhskaya «Ладожская», Bus: 4М, 4МА, 5, 21, 24, 27, 30,
77, 82, 92, 123, 168, 429, 453, 462, 531, 532, 533, 860Л Tram: 8,
10, 59, 64; Trolley: 1, 22; Share taxi: К-5, К-17, К-21, К-32, К-77,
К-92, К-95, К118, К-123, К-167, К-187, К-271, К-322, К-369, К-401,
К-429, 430, 430А, К-462Р, 531К, К-533.). This is the newest and most
modern passenger railway station in Saint Petersburg, designed by
architect Nikita Yavein, is one of the largest in Russia with a
capacity of up to 50 commuter departures and 26 long distance
departures accommodating 4,500 passengers per hour. Built at a cost
of RUB9,000,000,000 (US$300 million), the station opened in 2003 for
the 300th anniversary of the city's founding. Trains operate to/from
Petrozavodsk (RUB835), Arkhangelsk (RUB1,697), Tyumen (RUB3,038),
Tula (RUB1,435), Krasnodar (RUB2,839), Murmansk (RUB2,030),
Ekaterinburg, Cheliabinsk, Omsk, Novosibirsk, Astana (Kazakhstan),
Helsinki (night-train Leo Tolstoi), and other cities. 5 Moskovsky
Station (Moskovsky station, Moskovsky vokzal, Московский вокзал),
Nevsky av., 85 Ploshchad Vosstaniya (Площадь Восстания), 2 (Subway:
Ploshchad Vosstaniya (closer) (Площадь Восстания) and Subway
station: Mayakovskaya (Маяковская); Bus 1М, 1Мб, 3, 3М, 3Мб, 4М,
4Мб, 5М, 5Мб, 7, 15, 22, 26, 27, 54, 65, 74, 76, 91, 141, 181, 191.
Trolley 1, 5, 7, 10, 11, 22), ☎ +7 812 457-44-28. It has an easily
recognizable Neo-Renaissance frontage on Nevsky Prospekt and
Uprising Square, erected in 1844-51 to a design by Konstantin Thon.
Although large "Venetian" windows, two floors of Corinthian columns
and a two-storey clocktower at the centre explicitly reference
Italian Renaissance architecture, the building incorporates other
features from a variety of periods and countries. A twin train
station, now known as the Leningradsky railway station, was built to
Thon's design at the other end of the railway, in Moscow. Trains
operate to/from Moscow, Novgorod, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Volgograd,
Kazan, Samara, Rostov-na-Donu, Ufa, Sochi, and other cities.
6 Vitebsky Station (Витебский вокзал, Станция
Санкт-Петербург-Витебский), Zagorodny av.(Загородный проспект), 52
(Subway: Pushkinskaya (Пушкинская), Subway: Zvenigorodskaya
(Звенигородская); Bus 1М, 1Мб, 4М, 4Мб, 5М, 5Мб; Tram: 16; Trolley:
3, 8, 15, 17; Share taxi: К-25, К-90, К-124, К-177, К-258, К-338,
К-800, К-900.). Formerly known as the Tsarskoe Selo Station, it was
the first railway station to be built in Saint Petersburg and the
whole of the Russian Empire. Architecture: Construction started in
1901 and lasted for three years. Stanislaw Brzozowski gave the new
two-storey station an ornate frontage in an assortment of historical
styles, with decorative reliefs, floriated Jugendstil detailing,
outsize semicircular windows and two regular features of
19th-century train stations: a pseudo-Renaissance cupola and a
square clocktower. - However, it was Sima Minash's opulent Art
Nouveau interior that established the building as the most ornate of
St. Petersburg stations. Minash was responsible for the sweeping
staircases, foyer with stained glass and spacious halls boasting a
series of painted panels that chronicle the history of Russia's
first railway. The building's soaring arches and expanses of glass
proclaimed the architect's familiarity with advanced construction
techniques of the West. In 2003, the station underwent a painstaking
restoration of its original interior and Jugendstil decor. Apart
from the replica of the first Russian train, curiosities of the
Vitebsk Station include a detached pavilion for the Tsar and his
family and a marble bust of Nicholas I. Trains operate to/from
Pushkin (formerly Tsarskoe Selo), Pavlovsk, Czech Republic, Hungary,
Poland, Romania, Moldova, Bulgaria, Germany, Riga (14 hours, from
RUB2,200), Estonia Ticket prices (from): Ukraine, Odessa (RUB3,813),
Kiev (RUB3366); Belarus,Grodno (RUB2,999), Vitebsk (RUB1,629);
Lithuania, Vilnius (RUB2921); 'Local trains': Nevel (RUB815),
Novosokolniki (RUB689), Velikie Luki (RUB880), Soltsy (RUB549), and
To/from Russia Tickets for travel originating in Russia can be
bought at the train stations or
distance train tickets are generally more expensive if bought close
to the date of travel.
Sapsan high-speed trains (4-5 hours, 6
per day, RUB2,300-3,500 for 2nd class if bought several days in
advance) make travel between downtown Saint Petersburg and downtown
Moscow very easy. Some trains make a few stops including Tver. The
crew speaks English.
Overnight rapid trains (8-9 hours,
RUB800+) are slower buy usually cheaper. Price and comfort levels
vary, with the luxurious private Grand-Express "hotel train"
(featuring some compartments with showers!) at the high end, all the
way down to budget connections in third-class platzkart cars.
Second-class coupe coaches, which include a bed and sheets, are a
To/from Finland VR Group operates
high-speed Allegro trains running at up to 220km/h between Helsinki
and Saint Petersburg (3.5 hours, 4 per day, €59-79 for 2nd class).
Tickets originating in Finland can be purchased from the VR Group
website, via some travel agencies, and at major VR train stations in
Finland. Border-crossing formalities are completed on board the
train immediately after departure from Helsinki. The trains are
almost always on time and there are no delays in crossing the
border. On-board currency exchange is available.
International buses and buses to major cities in Russia all leave
from the main bus station (Avtovokzal),
near the Obvodny Kanal metro station. Some may make additional stops
elsewhere in the city; see below. Buses are the preferred method of
travel to/from Estonia and Latvia, but generally do not make sense
for travel to Finland or within Russia.
The process of
crossing the border by bus takes much longer than when travelling by
train or air. Border agents only speak Russian and are sometimes not
aware of visa requirements, which leads to delays.
To/from Russia The
train is much more preferred method of travel than the bus within
Russia. Domestic bus schedules can be accessed on
Express operates service to/from Helsinki (€15-20, 7 hours, 3x
per day). This is the cheapest way to travel to Helsinki, although
it takes twice as long as the train. Matkahuolto provides
information on traveling by bus to/from Finland. There are direct
buses between Saint Petersburg and Helsinki (7-8 hours, 4 per day,
€35) and Lappeenranta (6 hours, 3 per day, €31), with further
connections to other cities in Finland. Sovavto operates
daily buses between Saint Petersburg and Turku (10 hours, €53), with
stops at several cities including Helsinki (7.5 hours, €35).
To/from the Baltics and other cities in Europe
1 Lux Express, Mitrofanjevskoe Shosse (Митрофаньевское шоссе), 2/1
(Subway: Baltiskii), ☎ +7 812 441 3757. operates service to/from
Tallinn (€14-30, 7 hours, 7x per day) with a stop in Narva (€9-16, 5
hours, 7x per day), Tartu (€22-25, 7 hours, 5x per day), as well as
a service to/from Riga (4x per day, 11 hours, €33-35), with
continuing service to the rest of Europe. Office at Mitrofanjevskoe
Shosse 2-1, near Metro Baltiskii. Tel: +7 812 441 37 57. Lux Express
buses depart from Baltiskii Station and the main bus station
(Avtovokzal). 2 Ecolines
(Amron-ecolines, Transportnaya Kompaniya), Podyezdnoy pereulok
(Подъездный переулок), 3 (Subway: Pushkinskaya (Пушкинская)), ☎ +7
812 314 2550. 10:00-20:00. Operates daily departures to Riga (€36,
10-12 hours, 3x per day) as well as service to Minsk (€34, 15 hours,
1-2x per day) and Kiev (€68, 19 hours, 2x per day). Office at
Pod'ezdniy pereulok 3 near Metro Pushkinskaya 10:00-22:00. Tel: +7
812 314 2550, +7 901 300 6170. Ecolines buses depart from Vitebsky
vokzal (near Metro Pushkinskaya) and the main bus station
If you join a cruise tour of St. Petersburg, then you don't need
a Russian visa but you have to stay with the tour.
Line operates visa-free cruises to St. Petersburg from Helsinki,
Tallinn, and Stockholm.
RechFlot and Stolichnaya Sudokhodnaya Kompania (SSK) operate
river cruises on the inland waterway "Volga-Baltic" which links
Moscow, the River Volga, and Lakes Onega, Ladoga and Neva.
Passenger Port of St. Petersburg “Marine Façade" is the main boat
terminal in St. Petersburg, and is where 90% of cruise ships dock.
It was built on reclaimed land on the western shore of Vasilyevsky
Island at the mouth of the Neva River, 8km west of the city center.
With its 7 berths and 4 terminals, Marine Façade is able to handle 7
large cruise ships and more than 15,000 passengers per day. Bus #158
operates between terminal 3 and the Primorskaya (Примо́рская) metro
Smaller cruise ships sail up the Neva river and dock
at either English Embankment (Англи́йская на́бережная; Angliyskaya
Naberezhnaya) or Lieutenant Schmidt Embankment, both of which are
closer to the city center.
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. The schedule of bridge closure is in
the beginning of the article. 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. 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!
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
The trains are fast and run frequently. During
rush hour, there are often only 30 seconds between trains.
RUB45 per entry regardless of the distance traveled. Multi-trip
passes can be purchased including a 10-trip pass for RUB355 (must be
used within 7 days of purchase). 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
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.
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) 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
Tickets (RUB40, 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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
The best area for a tourist to stay in is generally considered to
be near the Nevsky Prospekt Metro. You'll be able to walk to most of
the main attractions, and there are tons of restaurants, shops,
cafes, clubs, etc. right on Nevsky. Staying off Nevsky along one of
the beautiful canals, though, would also be a fabulous idea.
Hot Russian crepes (bliny/блины) match excellently with caviar,
mushrooms, caramel, berries, or what have you with a cup of tea on a
cold winter street. Teremok (Теремок) is the street-corner kiosk
"chain" for bliny but it now has indoor fast food spots around the
city, along with Chainaya Lozhka (Чайная ложка) and U Tyoshi Na
Blinakh (У тёщи на блинах).
The other really tasty local
offerings for street food/fast food include pirozhki, shawarma
(шаверма), and pyshki (пышки). Pirozhki are fried buns stuffed
usually with beef, vegetables, potatoes, and mushrooms, and are easy
enough to find, but not quite as widespread as in Moscow. Shawarma
is a decidedly Saint Petersburg phenomenon (you won't find much of
it in other Russian cities), served mostly by Azeris, and is
everywhere—in cafes and on the street. Pyshki are Russian doughnuts,
wonderful with coffee, and are strongly associated with Saint
For restaurant dining, offerings are diverse. A
pretty unique place to eat Russian cuisine would be the attractive
restaurant on the grounds of the Peter and Paul Fortress.
International, Western European, Asian fusion (Russified Chinese
food is really good, but requires a culinary dictionary to order),
etc. are just as easy to find as Russian, and sushi is very popular.
Some of the most exciting food to try comes from the former Soviet
Republics. Georgian cooking, despite its obscurity, is one of the
world's great cuisines, and should not be missed. The Central Asian
(usually Uzbek) restaurants are a lot of fun too.
Cafes and restaurants in the very center, that is, on Nevsky, in
the area of the Admiralty, the Church if Christ on the Blood and
other mass attractions, are aimed at tourists. Here you will surely
find the menu in English, and prices are likely to be
disproportionately high. Locations for local needs in residential
areas, that is, in the center of the Griboedov Canal, on Vasilyevsky
Island and on the Petrograd side. In the outlying areas dominated by
Perhaps there is no local food in St.
Petersburg - there are only special names and special traditions of
its use in pyshechny, shavermenic, and so on. There are a number of
breweries in the city, but the Baltic and Nevskoye brands that are
widespread throughout Russia are not popular with locals who prefer
Vasileostrovskoye draft - really good “live” beer, found in almost
Cheap The following network establishments make up only a
small proportion of inexpensive cafes in St. Petersburg. Each of
these institutions is original and self-sufficient, and the quality
of food can vary from “disgusting” to “very tasty and home-style”:
trust your own intuition and see who eats at the adjacent tables.
You can eat for 150-300 rubles (2014), drink and eat about the same.
The company you will be motley public: from local drunks to the St.
There are also places in the city
with a special flavor. Firstly, pyshechnye, where the main and
sometimes the only food will be thick powder sprinkled with powdered
sugar (in no case do not call them donuts: the locals will not
appreciate this!) With tea or crappy coffee from plastic cups. The
most popular is the pyshechnaya that exists from the Soviet times on
Bolshaya Konyushennaya: it’s really hard to think of a more
nostalgic place. Another characteristic Petersburg institution is
Shavermies. They can be called anything (doner, kebab, etc.), but
the fact is that in Petersburg, like Western Europe, this street
food was for the first time in Russia awarded with individual cafes
with tables, plates, and sometimes even waiters.
Teremok - pancake fast food,
gradually turned into a simple dining room, where the pancakes are
baked fresh, but the hot dishes are heated and served in a plastic
dish. The prices are quite high and start at 100-150 rubles, and for
lunch you can start at 300 rubles (however, complex meals are much
cheaper). Chaynaya Lozhka -
A "teaspoon" was one of the first Russian fast foods, and perhaps
the only one where national traditions are fully implemented. It all
began with pancakes, salads and teas, to which were attached the men
and women who were trying to memorize the text they had been
distributed: the creators of the “Teaspoon” were trying to copy
McDonalds in this way. Later, the memorized text remained, soups and
various main dishes were added to the food, and coffee and beer were
added to the drinks, and it turned out to be just a network cafe
with a somewhat miserable, but still tolerable interior. The
pancakes here are fresh and tasty, served on porcelain plates with
metal utensils and, in general, if you have a choice between a
teaspoon and some other network cafe, feel free to go to the first.
For 200-300 rubles you will get a full and memorable (in a good
sense) lunch or dinner. During the day they offer set meals, which
are two times cheaper. There is no Wi-Fi to keep visitors from
- very tasty cakes.
Average cost Cheburechnaya Brynza is a
network institution that breaks a stable image of the Soviet
cheburek. This is a cafe with service and a poor menu, a good third
of which consists of pasties, including sweet ones. In terms of
taste, they are inferior to fat lamb cheburek somewhere in the
station eatery, and experiments with unusual fillings can hardly be
called successful: the pasties are dry, you need to eat them with
the sauce. However, if you want to have a meal in a pleasant
atmosphere, Cheese is quite suitable for this. For 2014, it has 10
branches in St. Petersburg. All cafes are round the clock and offer
good free Wi-Fi. Chebureks cost 100-150 rubles, hot dishes 200-300
rubles (2014). Spb - the main
specialization is a brasserie, but you can eat there too. Pizza Hut is an international
pizza chain. Carls Junior is
an American chain of fast food restaurants. In the menu, hamburgers,
potatoes, soft drinks without restriction (fee per glass). Beer for
sale. There is an action about which it is not written in the menu:
a hamburger and 0.5 l of beer for 110 rubles. Sbarro is an international pizza
chain. There are restaurants in many cities of Russia.
Expensive IL Patio is an international pizza chain. Thick
Fraer - St. Petersburg network of bars. A distinctive feature is the
interior, decorated in the style of the USSR of the 70s: propaganda
posters corresponding to the time of the inscriptions, signs,
stands, "Our best workers" and "Here was Vasya." In the menu,
besides beer, there is an assortment of various dishes of national
cuisine. A small plate with a snack (crackers, cheese, straws, fish)
is brought to the first 0.5-liter beer mug for free.
Pubs The city acts as a beer destination for Moscovites
visiting St. Pete for business or vacation reasons--hence its pubs
frequently have a much wider choice of beers than an average pub in
Moscow (not to mention other cities in Russia). St.Petersburg, being
the fatherland of the most popular beer in Russia — Baltica
(Балтика), is considered the beer capital of the country, while
Moscow is more of a Vodka Capital. Baltica, by the way, comes in a
large variety of numbers. Numbers 7 and 8 (seem-YORK-uh,
vahs-MYOR-kuh) are the most popular: seven is a lager, eight is a
Hefeweizen-style wheat beer.
Saint Petersburgers know how to party. 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.
Because of the
difficulty in operating gay clubs and the social stigma associated
with visiting gay clubs, many young men prefer to use gay iPhone
applications like Hornet and
Scruff to arrange to meet at coffee shops and more discreet
locations. This change in technology and the new political issues in
St. Petersburg is transforming how gays meet, from nighttime dark
watering holes to public straight venues during the day.
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 RUB20) 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.
1 Mariinsky Theater
(Мариинский театр, Mariinskiy Teatr, Maryinsky, Mariyinsky), Theater
Square (Театральная площадь), 1 (Bus: 2, 3, 6, 27, 71 & Share taxi:
K1, K6K, K169, K306 to stop 'Theater Square'), ☎ +7 812 326 4141.
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. Cavos rebuilt it as an opera and ballet house
with the largest stage in the world. With a seating capacity of
1,625 and a U-shaped Italian-style auditorium, the theatre opened on
2 October 1860 with a performance of A Life for the Tsar. The new
theatre was named Mariinsky after its imperial patroness, Empress
Maria Alexandrovna. 2 Mikhailovskiy Theater (Mikhailovsky,
Михайловский театр, Former: Mussorgsky Academic Opera and Ballet
Theatre; Small Academic Opera Theatre of Leningrad; Small Academic
Theatre; the State Academic Theatre of Comic Opera), Ploshad
Isskustv 1 (Between the Russian Museum and the Grand Hotel Europe,
Subway: Nevsky Prospekt (Невский проспект), Share taxi: К100), ☎ +7
812 595 4305, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. - 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. It was founded in 1833. It is named after Grand
Duke Michael Pavlovich of Russia. RUB600-2700. 3 St. Petersburg
Opera (Санкт-Петербург Опера), Galernaya Ul. (Галерная улица), 33
(West of the Bronze Horseman. - From Subway Sadovaya "Садовая",
Subway: Sennaya Ploschad "Сенная площадь" further to stop "Plocshad
Truda" Share taxi: 186, 124, 169. - From Subway line 5:
Admiralteyskaya "Адмиралтейская", further to stop "Plocshad Truda"
Bus: 22, 3, 27; Trolley: 22, 5; Share taxi: 180, 16), ☎ +7 812 312
3982, e-mail: email@example.com. 12:00-15:00 & 16:00-19:00. 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. RUB300-3,000. 4 Conservatory Theater
(Санкт-Петербургская государственная консерватория имени Н. А.
Римского-Корсакова), Theater Square (Театральная площадь), 3 (Across
the street from the Mariinsky Theater, Subway: Sadovaya «Садовая»,
Subway: Sennaya Ploschad «Сенная площадь» then - 15-20 min walk.
direction to channel Griboyedov or Share taxi icon SPB.svg: 1, 67,
124; Subway line 2 and 3: Nevsky Prospekt/Gostiny Dvor «Невский
Проспект»/«Гостиный Двор», then - Bus: 3, 22, 27; Share taxi: 180,
169, 306), ☎ +7 921 780-1123 (mobile), fax: +7 812 570-6088, e-mail:
firstname.lastname@example.org. 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. RUB300-1,500.
5 Alexandrinsky Theatre or Russian State Pushkin Academy Drama
Theater (Александринский театр, Российский государственный
академический театр драмы им. А. С. Пушкина), Ostrovsky
Square(площадь Островского), 6 (Subway line 2and Subway line 3:
Gostinyy Dvor (Гостиный двор)), ☎ +7 812 570-7794. 12:00-14:00 &
15:00-19:00. 6 Baltic House Festival Theatre (Балтийский дом
former Ленинградский Государственный театр им. Ленинского
Комсомола), Alexandrovsky Park, 4 (Subway line 2 Gorkovskaya
(Горьковская)), ☎ +7 812 232-3539, e-mail: email@example.com.
11:00-19:00. 7 Saint Petersburg Comedy Theatre (Nikolay Akimov
Saint Petersburg Comedy Theatre, Санкт-Петербургский академический
театр комедии им. Н. П. Акимова), Nevsky Prospect (Невский
проспект), 56 (Subway line 2 and Subway line 3: Gostinyy Dvor), ☎ +7
812 312-4555, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Cash desks 11:30-15:00 &
16:00-19:30. 8 Komedianty Theatre (Saint Petersburg State
Dramatic Theatre 'The Comedians', Санкт-Петербургский
государственный драматический театр «Комедианты»), Ligovsky Prospect
(Лиговский проспект), 44 (Subway line 1: Ploshchad Vosstaniya
(Площадь Восстания)), ☎ +7 812 572-1004, fax: +7 812 764-7016,
e-mail: email@example.com. Founded in 1989 9
Komissarjevsky Theatre (Академический драматический театр имени В.
Ф. Комиссаржевской), Italyanskaya Street, 19 (Subway line 2 and
Subway line 3: Gostinyy Dvor (Гостиный двор), Subway line 2 and
Subway line 3: Nevsky Prospekt "Невский проспект"), ☎ +7 812 315 53
55, fax: +7 812 571 08 53, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. W-M
11:00-15:00 & 16:00-19:00. The drama and comedy company was founded
by actress Vera Komissarzhevskaya in 1901. In The Passage (магазин
"Пассаж", Passazh), elite department store. 10 Lensoviet Academic
Theatre (Санкт-Петербургский академический театр имении Ленсовета),
Pr. Vladimirski (Владимирский пр.), 12 (Subway line 1 and Subway
line 4: "Владимирская", Subway line 1 and Subway line 4:
Dostoevskaya "Достоевская", Subway line 1 and Subway line 3:
Mayakovskaya "Маяковская"), ☎ +7 812 713-2191, e-mail:
email@example.com. 11:00-19:00. In the former Korssakov
family mansion. The resident company was founded as the Young
Theatre in 1929, then renamed the New Theatre in 1933, and finally
the Leningrad Soviet Theatre in 1939. 11 Liteiny Theatre (State
Dramatic Theatre on Liteinyi Prospect, Государственный драматический
Театр на Литейном), Liteinyi Prospect (Литейный проспект), 51
(Subway line 3: Mayakovskaya "Маяковская" 0.8km, Subway line 3:
Gostinyy Dvor (Гостиный двор) 0.9km; Bus: 15, Trolley: 8, 15, 3;
Share taxi: К258, К177, К90), ☎ +7 812 273-5335, e-mail:
firstname.lastname@example.org. In 1993 the Liteinyi's theatre troupe toured
America with a production of George Bernard Shaw's Great Catherine
in Russian. 12 Na Neve Theatre (Children's Theatre "Na Neve",
Детский драматический театр «На Неве»), Sovetskiy Pereulok
(Советский переулок), 5 (Subway line 2 Tekhnologichesky Institut
(Технологический институт) 0.6km NE), ☎ +7 812 251-2006, e-mail:
email@example.com. The theatre was opened in 1987 13 Ostrov Theatre
(Драматический театр «Остров»), Kamennoostrovskiy prospekt
(Каменноостровский проспект), 26-28 (Subway line 2 Gorkovskaya
«Горьковская». Share taxi: 46, 76, 183, 223, 30. Bus: 46, 76), ☎ +7
812 346-3810, fax: +7 812 346-43-43, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ticket office: W-Th 14.00-19.30, F-Su 14.00-19.00; All performances
start at 19:00. In the former Benois House. 14 Tovstonogov
Bolshoi Drama Theater (Большой драматический театр имени Г. А.
Товстоногова), Naberezhnaya Reki Fontanki (наб. реки Фонтанки), 65
(Subway line 4 Spasskayav (Спасская)) Subway line 5 Sennaya Ploschad
(Сенная площадь) 0.6km W), ☎ +7 812 310-9242, +7 812 310-7687
(ticket desk), fax: +7 812 571-4577, e-mail: email@example.com. Daily
11.00-15.00 & 16.00-19.00. Formerly known as Gorky Bolshoi Drama
Theater (Russian: Большой Драматический Театр имени Горького)
(1931–1992), often referred to as the Bolshoi Drama Theater and by
the acronym BDT (Russian: БДТ), is a theater in Saint Petersburg,
that is considered one of the best Russian theaters. 15
Zazerkalie theatre ("Looking Glass" Children's Musical Theatre,
Детский музыкальный театр «Зазеркалье»), Rubinstein Street (улице
Рубинштейна), 13 (Subway line 1: Vladimirskaya 'Владимирская',
Subway line 4 Dostoevskaya 'Достоевская'), ☎ +7 812 712-4393, fax:
+7 812 712-4395. The theatre appeared in August 1987 and was named
after the Lewis Carroll's "Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice
Found There". The Children’s experimental theatre “Zazerkalie”
appeared in 1992.
16 Youth Theatre on the Fontanka (Saint Petersburg State Youth
Theatre on the Fontanka, Санкт-Петербургский государственный
молодёжный театр на Фонтанке), Naberezhnaya Reki Fontanki
(Набережная реки Фонтанки), 114 (Subway line 1: Tekhnologichesky
Institut 'Технологический институт', further by walk or Share taxi:
К3, К36, К115, К124, К186, К213, К350 to stop 'Naberezhnaya
Fontanki'), ☎ +7 812 316-6564, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Daily 12.00-15.00 & 15.40-20.00. It plays Russian classic plays in
the winter seasons and hosts a rock concert in the summer.
17 Circus Ciniselli (Цирк Чинизелли, Большой Санкт-Петербургский
государственный цирк), Naberezhnaya Reki Fontanki ( Набережная реки
Фонтанки), 3 (Subway line 2 and Subway line 3: Gostinyy Dvor
(Гостиный двор) 0.5km), ☎ +7 812 570-5198, fax: +7 812 570-5260,
e-mail: email@example.com. Daily 11:00-15:00, 16:00-19:00. It was
the first stone-built circus in Russia; it is situated beside the
Fontanka.Opened on 26 December 1877, with a large stage (13m in
diameter) and stables (housing 150 horses). The architect was Vasily
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.
18 Saint Petersburg
Philharmonia Grand Hall (Bolshoi Zal, Санкт-Петербургская
государственная филармония им. Д. Д. Шостаковича, Большой зал),
Mikhailovskaya Ul.(Михайловская улица) 2 (Entrance across from the
Grand Hotel Europe, Subway line 2: Nevskiy prospekt), ☎ +7 812
710-4290, fax: +7 812 710-4085, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Cash
desks 11:00-15:00 & 16:00-20:00. The orchestra established in 1802.
The Bolshoi Zal (large hall) of this building is one of the best
known music halls in Russia. The building that houses the
Philharmonia was completed 1839. Architect: P. Jacot; and Facade
design: C. Rossi. - A world-class orchestra which records and tours
abroad. The Small Hall (Maliy Saal) hosts excellent chamber music
performances and recitals. RUB600-5,000. 19 St. Petersburg
Philharmonic Small Hall (Malii Zal, Санкт-Петербургская
государственная филармония им. Д. Д. Шостаковича, Малый зал), Nevsky
Prospekt (Невский проспект), 30 (Subway line 2: Nevskiy prospekt), ☎
+7 812 571-8333, fax: +7 812 571-4237. Cash desks 11:00-15:00 &
16:00-19:00. The Small Hall (Maliy Saal) of the Philharmonic hosts
excellent chamber music performances and recitals. 20 Jazz
Philharmonic Hall (Джаз-филармоник холле, Эллингтон холле),
Zagorodnyy prospekt (Загородный пр.), 27 (South of Nevsky Prospekt,
use Subway line 1: Vladimirskaya 'Владимирская' or Tram: 16), ☎ +7
812 764-8565, fax: +7 812 764-9843, e-mail: email@example.com. Cash
desks: Daily 14:00-20:00. Offers a variety of jazz performances
several times per week. RUB800-1,200. 21 Ice Palace (Ledoviy
Dvorets, Ледовый Дворец), prospekt Pyatiletok (Проспект Пятилеток),
1 (Subway line 4: Prospekt Bolshevikov 'Проспект Большевиков'), ☎ +7
812 718-6620, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Cash desks: Daily
11:00-20:00. It was built for the 2000 Ice Hockey World
Championships and opened in 2000 & cost USD 60 million. It holds
12,300 people. One of several sports arenas that also serves as a
concert hall for pop and rock concerts. RUB800-10,000. 22
Oktyabrskiy Big Concert Hall (БКЗ Октябрьский, Большой концертный
зал «Октя́брьский»), Ligovskiy Prospekt (Лиговский проспект), 6
(Subway line 1: Ploshad Vosstaniya 'Площадь Восстания'), ☎ +7 812
275-1300. M-F 11:00-20:00; Saturday Sunday 11:00-19:00. For Pop and
rock concerts and for performance of variety actors and also dancing
and ballet collectives in an auditorium. RUB600-12,000.
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.
23 Dom Kino (Киноцентр Дом Кино),
Karavannaya Ulitsa (Караванная улица), 12 (Subway line 3: Gostinyy
Dvor (Гостиный двор)), ☎ +7 812 314 5614, e-mail:
email@example.com. Sometimes shows films in their original
language. RUB100-250. 24 Avrora Cinema, Nevsky Prospekt (Невский
проспект), 60 (Subway line 2: Nevskiy prospekt), ☎ +7 812 942-80-20.
Daily 11:00-20:00. RUB250-700.
Canal boat tours
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. RUB500-650 seems to be the average price.
25 Anglotourismo Boat Tours, Naberezhnaya reki Fontanki, 21
(Subway line 3: Gostinyy Dvor (Гостиный двор)), ☎ +7 921 989 4722.
Tours at 11:00, 13:00, 15:00, 17:00, 19:00, 21:00, 00:20. Canal boat
tours in English, departing from near the Anichkov Bridge (Nevksy
Prospekt and Fontanka) in season (May 7 - Sept 30). RUB600-750,
Watch football: FC Zenit Saint Petersburg play in the Russian
Premier League, the top tier of Russian football. Their home ground
is Krestovsky Stadium, on Krestovsky island 10 km north of city
centre. Take Metro M3 (Green Line) west towards Begovaya and get off
The city's position at 60°N makes for huge seasonal variation in
day length. 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.
Winter: snowstorms In November–March there are hardly any tourists—even
domestic tourists—so you won't see the barest hint of 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 relatively mild, slightly above freezing point, to bitterly
cold. From time to time it may get well below the averages, to -25°C
(-13F) and below, often with high humidity and wind, so be prepared
to dress warmly. Most major tourist attractions (except fountains
and all sorts of water transport, of course) are still open and some
hotels offer lower prices during this time.
persists on average from November till early April (late April in
the countryside), with most of it falling during the first half of
the winter. Snow is not always removed from streets in time and may
exacerbate traffic problems. The danger of slipping may be high in
winter, as the surfaces are often covered with ice. Wear good boots,
take small steps, and watch your feet! Also beware of icicles
falling from roofs.
The rivers and canals are frozen on
average from late November till April. Usually from late April till
November the Neva is navigable, and during this season most of its
huge bridges are drawn up to let ships pass for several hours each
night according to a published schedule. This is a spectacular sight
during the White Nights, but also a major transport inconvenience.
In April, the sludge resulting from melting snow and the dust
which forms when it dries up may get tiresome.
May 9 is
Victory Day (День победы) celebrating the Soviet victory over Nazi
Germany. 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.
Summer: White Nights
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. The last
ten days of June, during the White Nights Festival of all-day
performances, concerts, festivals, and parties, are the busiest time
of the season and it can be difficult to reserve accommodation and
transport. 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.
from May through mid-September. Most trees are in leaf from May
When deciding on the time of your visit,
keep in mind the days of school holidays, when museums and other
similar venues can become considerably more crowded. School holidays
happen in early November, the first half of January and late March.
Moreover, general holidays are held around the New Year into early
January, as well as in early May.
Keep in mind that New Years
is the biggest holiday of the year in Russia. Reserving a hotel room
is usually not a problem during this time, but be prepared for very
large crowds and noisy celebrations.
Private language schools CREF -
Centre of Russian, English & French Studies. EducaCentre, 2 locations:
Komendantskaya square #1, Atmosphere Shopping Mall, 6th floor and
12th line of Vasilievskiy Island, ☎ +7 812 676 0075, e-mail:
firstname.lastname@example.org. (20) 45-minute group lessons per week: €180,
(30) 45-minute group lessons per week: €225; €60 administrative fee. EDUCA Russian Language
School, 3 Bolshaya Morskaya (Subway: Gostiny Dvor), ☎ +7 812 954
7320, e-mail: email@example.com. Not to be confused with the
similarly-named school listed above. Central location, although
teachers are younger and less experienced. (20) 45-minute group
lessons per week: €195, (30) 45-minute group lessons per week: €240;
€65 enrollment fee. Liden & Denz,
Italyanskaya ulitsa #17. Highly rated, although pricier than other
schools. (20) 50-minute group lessons per week: €280, 2-week
Language Centre, Zagorodnyi prospekt #17 (Subway: Vladimirskaya
or Dostoyevskaya), ☎ + 7 812 9061308, e-mail:
firstname.lastname@example.org. Facilities are very basic. 2 week
minimum. Group classes: €450 for 2 weeks.
There are plenty of ATMs and legit currency exchange booths. Do
not exchange money on the street: the rate won't be any better, and
you run a high risk of encountering any of numerous scams.
Small cornerstores are not necessarily more expensive than larger
Churches often have small souvenir/religious shops
with a large variety of items.
The famous place to shop is of
course on Nevsky Prospekt in the Center. The streetfront shops
there, Passazh, and the historic mall at Gostiny Dvor skew upscale,
but there are street markets just off Nevsky, most notably Apraksin
Dvor (south on Sadovaya from Gostiny Dvor) where you can get
anything on the cheap (especially cheap if you speak Russian).
For information on using telephones and buying SIM cards in
Russia, see Russia#Connect.
The emergency service number is
WiFi 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, e-mail: email@example.com. 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.
Corruption Policemen & bureaucrats. For any Western traveller
disturbing the system, permission to visit the country can be
refused at the border. The average street policeman usually cannot
speak any foreign language, but if you look like a tourist, you
could be a target for money income source. Don't panic! Always ask
for a receipt and the names of the officers.
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.
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. Nevsky Prospekt and nearby
markets are also pickpocket hangouts.
Theft of photo
equipment is really a big problem in Saint Petersburg. Photo bags
probably won't save your camera—it can be opened in less than 5
seconds; the straps can be slashed with a knife even more quickly.
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
By night 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.
western parts of the city are safest. Suburbs like Kupchino,
Veteranov and Ligovo are struggling with criminality and poverty.
As a general rule, the farther you are from the city center, the
more dangerous it is.
Gangs are a problem, although mafia
gang wars are unlikely to affect tourists. Some gangs, however, such
as neo-Nazis or angry hooligans, are out looking for problems and
commit crimes that can affect tourists. Hatred toward people with
darker complexions is not uncommon, and neo-Nazism is a concern. St.
Petersburg, and Russia in general, can be regarded as a seriously
dangerous destination for tourists of darker complexions so
travelling in groups is highly advised.
football club, Zenit Saint Petersburg, is one of the biggest clubs
in the country, and has its own band 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.
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
Russian driving is wild. Drivers attack their
art with an equal blend of aggressiveness and incompetence.
Guidelines are lax and rarely followed. As a pedestrian, take care
when crossing the roads, since it might be difficult for drivers to
notice you. If you are thinking of driving yourself, bear in mind
that the local traffic police are corrupt, but this issue has
improved drastically. Pedestrian crossings with a traffic light are
quite safe to use, most car drivers will stop.
Bar fights do
occur. In the center of the city and around Nevsky Prospekt, they
are rare. 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
Tourist traps Gypsy cabs are ubiquitous and a
little risky; never take one lingering near bars/clubs where
expatriates and tourists congregate.
Saint Petersburg has a
relatively big problem with street children who make their living
out of stealing. They can be a hassle and can beg you aggressively.
Act like any other Russian would: say no, then just ignore them and
go away. If they start touching you, be very firm in pushing them
Gay travelers must practice extreme caution while
staying in Saint Petersburg, as attacks often occur. Many Russian
people look upon public demonstrations of homosexuality with
undisguised contempt. It is advised to not openly display one's
Natural hazards Another subtle danger that can affect your
trip is the inevitable effect of winter weather. Poor harvesting of
snow and ice is a big problem in city. Caution is advised in snowy
winters because of falling ice from roofs, and pedestrians should
pay special attention to ice on the streets. Snow on marble is very,
very slippery—take small steps and watch your feet!
Petersburg regularly experienced floods during its history,
sometimes catastrophic. However, the construction of the preventive
dam has been completed, and catastrophic floods are unlikely to
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.
The below private hospitals 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.
3 American Medical
Clinic, Moyka Embankment 78 (Just west of St. Isaac's Square, Subway
line 5: Admiralteyskaya 'Адмиралтейская' or Subway line 5: Sadovaya
'Садовая'), ☎ +7 812 740 2090, fax: +7 812 310 4664, e-mail:
firstname.lastname@example.org. 24 hours. Includes dental clinic and pediatric
unit. Consultation from RUB2700. 4 Euromed, Suvorovsky
Prospekt (Суворовский пр.)60 (Subway line 1: Chernyshevskaya
'Чернышевская', further To stop Tulskaya ulitsa Bus: 22, 22a, 136;
Share taxi: K15, K76), ☎ +7 812 327 0301, e-mail:
email@example.com. 24 hours. Multi-specialty medical center that
provides a full range of medical services,applying international
standards and protocols of diagnostics and treatment. Includes its
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 (accommodation, visas,
transfers, medical evacuations). 5 MEDEM, Ulitsa Marata (ул.
Марата) 6 (Subway line 3: Mayakovskaya 'Маяковская'), ☎ +7 812 336
3333. 24 hours. Includes dental clinic, pediatric unit, and other
services. Consultation RUB2700-13,800. 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 (too much heavy metals). Some locals boil
or also filter tap water before use; you might want to buy it
bottled if water quality affects you. It's germ free, though, so
brushing your teeth with it is fine—it's just not great for
drinking. Cold water is cleaner than hot. No hot water for 3 weeks
There are numerous public toilets, most of
which are attended by a person who will charge about RUB30 for
entry. Toilet paper 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. Just don't ever push your luck with
suit-clad martial arts masters guarding the hotel entrances, they
are tough as nails if provoked. Many restaurants also allow tourists
to use toilet without being a customer.
The first 24 hours in Saint Petersburg may be a shock to the
system. The welcome from immigration officials seems like a
hang-over from Communist times- don't expect to be spoken to or even
looked at by officials. Flying into Saint Petersburg may seem
unusual, with the sight of old concrete tower blocks and factory
chimneys. The suburbs of the city are a contrast to those with which
you may be familiar. Nevsky Prospekt is the most 'Westernized'
street in the city and would be more familiar to Westerners
traveling to Saint Petersburg. If you are from a Western country,
you will find this either shocking or amusing.
Petersburg is plagued by a number of mosquitoes during the summer,
especially in June, as the swampy surroundings of the city give the
mosquitoes excellent living conditions. In budget accommodation with
few countermeasures against the mosquitoes, this can be a problem at
night, putting your well deserved sleep at risk. Less of an issue in
the city center, mosquitoes can be much more numerous on the
outskirts. They are not dangerous, though, just a nuisance.