10 largest cities of Russia
Location: Saint Petersburg Russia
Hotels, motels and where to sleep
Restaurant, taverns and where to eat
Cultural (and not so cultural) events
Interesting information and useful tips
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
Bridges over the Bolshaya Nevka
Sampsonievsky bridge 02: 10—02: 45 03: 20—04: 25
Grenadier Bridge 02: 45—03: 45 03: 20—04: 50
Kantemirovsky Bridge 02: 45—03: 45 04: 20—04: 50
Bridges across the Malaya Neva
Exchange Bridge 02: 00—04: 55
Tuchkov bridge 02: 00—02: 55 03: 35—04: 55
Bridges over the Bolshaya Neva
Palace Bridge 01: 25—04: 55
The Annunciation Bridge (formerly Lieutenant Schmidt Bridge) 01: 25—02: 45 03: 10—05: 00
Palace Embankment (Saint Petersburg)
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.
On 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.
Saint Petersburg Hermitage (Winter Palace) and Palace Square (Saint Petersburg)
Bronze Horseman & Decembrists’ Square (Saint Petersburg)
Admiralty (Saint Petersburg)
Marble Palace (Saint Petersburg)
Summer Garden (Saint Petersburg)
Summer Palace (Saint Petersburg)
Field of Mars
St. Isaac’s Cathedral (Saint Petersburg)
Horseguards' Manege (Saint Petersburg)
House of Faberge (Saint Petersburg)
Astoria Hotel (Saint Petersburg)
Angleterre Hotel (Saint Petersburg)
Literary Cafe (Saint Petersburg)
Palace of Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich (Saint Petersburg)
Gostinyy Dvor (Saint Petersburg)
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.
Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood (Saint Petersburg)
Kazan Cathedral (Saint Petersburg)
Anichkov Palace (Saint Petersburg)
Mikhaylovskiy Castle (Saint Petersburg)
State Russian Museum (Saint Petersburg)
Subway: Gostinyy Dvor
Lutheran Church (Saint Petersburg)
Nevskiy Prospekt 22- 24
Academic Capella (Saint Petersburg)Moyka river embankment 20
Tel. 314 1058
Subway: Nevskiy Prospekt
Imperial Stables (Saint Petersburg)
Konyushennaya Square 1
Armenian Church (Saint Petersburg)Nevskiy Prospekt 40-42
Tel. 318 4108
Subway: Gostinyy Dvor
Open: 9am- 9pm
Gostinyy Dvor (Saint Petersburg) (Saint Petersburg)Nevskiy Prospekt 35
Tel. 710 5408
Subway: Gostinyy Dvor
Open: 10am- 10pm daily
Open: 10am- 6pm Wed- Sun, 10am- 5pm Mon
Pushkin House Museum (Saint Petersburg)
Vorontsov Palace (Saint Petersburg)
Stroganov Palace (Saint Petersburg)
Anichkov Bridge (Saint Petersburg)
Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace (Saint Petersburg)
Nikolaevsky Palace (Saint Petersburg)4, Ploshchad Truda
Subway: Gostiny Dvor/Nevsky Prospekt
Closed to the Public
Russian Ethnography Museum (Saint Petersburg)4/1, Inzhenernaya Ulitsa, 191011
Subway: Nevsky Prospekt or Gostiny Dvor
Tel. +7 (812) 219-1710
Open: Tue- Sun 11am- 6pm
Mariinsky Palace (Saint Petersburg)6, Isaskievskaya Ploshchad
Subway: Gostiny Dvor/Nevsky Prospekt
Closed to Public
Grand Hotel Europe (Saint Petersburg)Mikhaylovskaya ulitsa 1/7
Tel. 329 6000
Subway: Nevskiy Prospekt, Gostinyy Dvor
Sennaya Ploshchad (Saint 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.
Trinity Cathedral (Saint Petersburg)
New Holland Island (Saint Petersburg)
Railway Museum (Saint Petersburg)Sadovaya ulitsa 50
Tel. 315 1476
Subway: Sennaya Ploschchad, Sadovaya
Open: 11am- 5pm Sun- Thu
Main Post Office (Saint Petersburg)Pochtamtskaya ulitsa 9
Tel. 312 8302
Bus: 3, 22
Trolley: 5, 22
St. Nicholas’ Cathedral (Saint Petersburg)
Yusupov Palace (Saint Petersburg)
Mariinsky Theater (Saint Petersburg)
Teatralnaya Ploshchad 1
Rimsky- Korsakov Conservatory (Saint Petersburg)
Teatralnaya Square 3
Vasilevskiy Island (Saint Petersburg)
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.
Naval Museum (Saint Petersburg)
Menshikov’s Palace (Saint Petersburg)
Saint Andrew's Cathedral (Андреевский Собор) (Saint Petersburg)
6-ya liniya (street) 11
Lieutenant Shmidt Bridge (Saint Petersburg)
Bus: K-62, K-124, K-144, K-154, K-186, K-222, K-350
Kunstkammer (Saint Petersburg)
Rostral Columns (Saint Petersburg)
Zoological Museum (Saint Petersburg)
Twelve Colleges (Saint Petersburg)
Academy of Arts (Академия Художеств) (Saint Petersburg)Universitetskaya naberezhnaya 17
Tel. 323 3578
Bus: 7, 47, K129, K147
Open: 11am- 6pm Wed- Sun
Petrogradskaya (Saint Petersburg)
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 Great.
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.
Saint Peter and Paul Fortress (Saint Petersburg)
Cathedral of SS Peter and Paul (Saint Petersburg)
Saint Peter's Gate (Saint Petersburg)
Bus: 46, K-46, K-63, K-73
Engineer's house (Saint Petersburg)
Tel. 232 9454, 230 0329
Open: 11am- 5pm Thu- Mon, 11am- 4pm Tue
Neva Gate (Saint Petersburg)
Peter the Great’s Cottage (Saint Petersburg)
Artillery Museum (Saint Petersburg)
Kirov Museum (Saint Petersburg)
Kamennoostrovskiy prospekt 26- 28, 4th floor
Tel. 346 0217, 346 0289
Open: 11am- 6pm Thu- Tue
Commandant's House (Saint Petersburg)
Tel. 232 9454
Open: 10am- 6pm Thu- Mon, 11am- 4pm Tue
Trubetskoy Bastion (Saint Petersburg)
Tel. 232 9454
Open: 10am- 6pm Thu- Mon, 11am- 5pm Tue
Engineer's House (Saint Petersburg)
Tel. 322 9454, 230 0329
Tel. 11am- 5pm Thu- Mon, 11am- 4pm Tue
Aurora (Saint Petersburg)
Alexandrovskiy Park (Saint Petersburg)
Kshesinskaya Manstion (Saint Petersburg)
Ulitsa Kuybysheva 4
Tel. 233 7052
Open: 10am- 6pm Fri- Wed
Krestovsky Island (Saint Petersburg)
Kamennoostrovsky Palace (Saint Petersburg)
1, Naberezhnaya Reki Maloy Nevki
Subway: Chernaya Rechka
Closed to the public
Saint Petersburg Suburbs (Saint Petersburg)
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.
Yelagin Palace (Saint Petersburg)
Dostoevsky Memorial Museum (Saint Petersburg)
Smolniy Monastery (Saint Petersburg)
Ploshad Rastrelli 3/1
Tel. 577 142Bus: 46, 136, K0 76
Open: 10am- 5pm Tue- Thu
Smolnyy Institute (Saint Petersburg)
Ploshchad Proletarskoy Diktatury
Tel. 276 1746, 576 7461
Bus: 22, 46, 136 K-15, K-129, K-136, K-147
Trolley: 5, 7, 15, 16, 49
Open: 11am- 4pm Mon- Fri
Chesme Church (Saint Petersburg)
Finland Station (Saint Petersburg)
Piskarevskoe Memorial Cemetery (Saint Petersburg)
Prospekt Nepokorennykh 74
Tel. 247 5716
Bus: 123, 178
Stieglitz Museum (Saint Petersburg)
Solyanoy Pereulok 13
Tel. 273 3258
Open: 11am- 4:30pm Tue- Sat, Aug- May
Sheremetev Palace (Saint Petersburg)
Tavrichesky Palace (Tauride Palace) (Saint Petersburg)
Alexander Nevsky Lavra (Monastery) (Saint Petersburg)
Alexander Nevsky Lavra Cemetery (Saint Petersburg)
Chesmenskiy Palace (Saint Petersburg)
Dostoevsky House- Museum (Saint Petersburg)
Kuznechnyy pereulok 5/2
Tel. 571 4031
Trolley: 3, 8, 15
Open: 11am- 6pm Tue- Sun
Victory Monument (Saint Petersburg)
Tel. 293 6563
Open: 10am- 6pm Thu, Sat- Mon
10am- 5pm Tue and Fri
Closed: last Tuesday of each month
Cathedral of the Transfiguration (Saint Petersburg)
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
There is a local weekly English-language newspaper, The St. Petersburg Times
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.
In 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.
It 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.
The most prominent neoclassical and Empire-style architects in Saint Petersburg included:
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)
In 1810, 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 Triumphal Gate.
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).
With the 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 on Blood).
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.
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.
In 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.
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.
The 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 separate apartments.
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.
Although the 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.
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.
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:
by 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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 (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 other cities.
Tickets for travel originating in Russia 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.
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 good value.
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.
The train is much more preferred method of travel than the bus within Russia. Domestic bus schedules can be accessed on AviaBus.
Lux 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 (Avtovokzal).
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.
St. Peter 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. Fares are 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 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.
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.
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 center.
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.
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.
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).
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 Petersburg.
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 every cafe
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. Petersburg intelligentsia.
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 lingering.
Stolle - very tasty cakes.
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.
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.
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: email@example.com. - 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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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: email@example.com. 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 &
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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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: email@example.com. 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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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: email@example.com. 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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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: email@example.com. 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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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: email@example.com. 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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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: email@example.com. 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. RUB200-1200.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 Kenel. RUB600-2300.
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: email@example.com. 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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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: email@example.com. 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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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, Students: RUB500.
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 at Novokrestovskaya.
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.
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.
Snow cover 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.
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.
Fountains work from May through mid-September. Most trees are in leaf from May through October.
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.
Russian Language and Culture Institute @ Saint Petersburg State University. 12-15 students per class. 4 weeks @ (21) 45-minute lessons per week: RUB33,600.
School of Russian and Asian Studies.
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: email@example.com. (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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 minimum.
ProBa Language Centre, Zagorodnyi prospekt #17 (Subway: Vladimirskaya or Dostoyevskaya), ☎ + 7 812 9061308, e-mail: email@example.com. 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 stores.
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 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, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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.
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.
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 wealth.
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.
Downtown and 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.
Saint Petersburg's 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.
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 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 calling.
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 away.
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 sexuality.
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!
St. 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 happen again.
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: email@example.com. 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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 every summer.
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.
Saint 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.