St Petersburg is known to be the most European city of Russia, it’s one of the most beautiful cities in Russia. It’s a city with great history and culture, you will definitely find something to love over there, something for you.
St. Petersburg was constructed on what originally were more than 100 islands formed by a latticework of rivers, creeks, streams and natural canals that flow into the Baltic Sea at the mouth of the Neva River.
Saint Petersburg city centre is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It was founded by Peter I the Great in 1703 as Russia’s new imperial capital, Saint Petersburg is the ultimate embodiment of artistic talent
It is where the Tsra family used to live 300 years ago, hence why you will find all the splurge royal palaces right there. It’s known as the city of Peter the Great and Queen Ekaterina, in Russia they call it “Peeter”.
St Petersburg is safe, but still don’t roam around in dark alleys on your own. Also, watch for pickpockets, like anywhere in the world. But since it’s going to be the highest of all seasons over there with the World Cup then I suggest you take really good care of your stuff.
Don’t walk around with your passport instead walk with a copy, and keep your belongings safe.
The official currency is the Russian Ruble (RUB) ;
1 $ = 62 RUB (you can get a metro ticket with this dollar)
100 EGP = 350 RUB
Currency exchange offices (called bureaus in Saint Petersburg) are everywhere; they offer better rates along with banks then hotels.
You need to show your passport at banks for exchange (a copy will suffice).
Most places accept visa and MasterCard payment, but for smaller payments I suggest you pay cash. If you want to draw money do so from International banks like Raiffaisen, City Bank etc…)
ATM machines at train station are often out of cash, so have cash before going to the station to get your ticket as they probably won’t accept credit cards.
Budget per pay/per person:
An average meal should cost you around RUB 600 which is the equivalent of 10$ – 171 EGP
Public transportation – metro ticket per trip should cost you around RUB 45 – 0.7$ – 13 EGP
Museum entrance are between RUB 400 – 700 – 12$ – 200 EGP
Coffee – 210 rub ($4)Lunch in a budget place – 250 rub
A dinner in a nice restaurant – 1200 rub per person
A river cruise – 600-800 rub
HOW TO GET FROM THE AIRPORT TO THE CITY CENTER and BACK:
You can get anywhere by public transportation, a little like anywhere in Europe. From and back to the airport, in the city and to the main suburbs.
There’s only one airport in St Petersburg, Pulkovo airport and it’s 23 kilometers away from the city center.
To get to / from airport to city center you have different ways.
- Bus: City buses 39 runs from the airport to “Moskovskaya” metro station every 12 to 20 minutes between 5:30 am and 1:30 am and the journey should take you around 35 minutes for 40 RUB
- Express Bus 399 runs from the airport to “Moskovskaya” metro station every 30 minutes. The ride takes about 20 mins if traffic is good and the ticket also costs 40 RUB.
- By fixed-route minivan taxi (called “marshrutka” in Russian): Minivan K-39 will take you the “Moskovskaya” metro station for the same price but faster, in approximatively 15 mins (if there’s no traffic)
- By Taxi: Will cost you around 700 RUB if you take an Uber (or any of the other alternatives mentioned below). Or you can get a taxi from the taxi stand which will be maybe twice as expensive as the Uber.
Transportation inside the city:
St Petersburg has excellent public transportation, including metro, buses, trolleys, trams and marshurutkas (mini buses mentioned above). Luckily the metro is fully signed in English which will make it easier for you to get around.
St Petersburg is known for beautiful metro stations, and the metro there is very reliable. You will need to buy a Zhetons (metro token) which costs 45 RUB and you can always download their local metro application which will help you with the routes from point A to point B.
Taxis are quite cheap; the normal fare would be 33RUB (0,6$ – 10 EGP) per km. You can always use your Uber app (which is cheaper than a normal taxi)
You can also download “Yandex Taxi” it’s their local Uber; or “GetTaxi” another taxi application that works there.
Before I go any further with this you have to know that Wifi is pretty common in the city (only problem is you might need a local number to connect to the public wifi – or maybe they changed it for the World Cup to make people’s life easier).
Buy a local sim card for internet purposes: The price for internet access with a local Russian sim card will be much cheaper then roaming on your sim card. Also with a local sim, you will be able to use the local Russian services such as taxi ordering, food delivery etc if needed.
There are 3 operators in Russia, from what I’ve read I’d suggest you go with MTS or Megafon.
You can purchase your sim card at the airport or at any mobile shop in the street.
The price will be 900 RUB (256 EGP) for the Smart+ tariff which includes 5GB internet, 1100 minutes of local calls and 1100 SMS.
The Smart Top tariff costs 1500 RUB (428 EGP) for 10 GB internet, 2000 local calls and SMS.
N.B. If you are going to travel around Russia make sure your internet will work in all regions and not only in Leningrad region
Summer is the best season to visit St Petersburg, you get to experience long days, also known as White Nights. You get the feeling like the city doesn’t sleep. The night from the 21st to the 22nd of June is the shortest night of the year.
Weather in June can vary between 15 Celsius degrees to 24 degrees, with quite a few rains.
A few words for you to get by:
Good Morning/Good Afternoon – Dobroje Utro /Dobri Den
Please – Pozhalujsta
Thank you – Spasibo
Goodbye – Do svidanija
Sorry, Excuse me – Izvinite
Where is – Gde
Where is the subway? – Gde metro?
I am lost – Ya zabludilsja
1 Coffee, please – Odin kofe, pozhalujsta
Russian food you should try while there:
Pirogi (Пироги) – pies filled with different fillings either meat or anything else.
Pelmeni – are a sort of filled dumpling
Russian salad (Оливье) – potato salad with loads of mayonnaise
Blini (Блины) – crepes or more of a Russian pancake filled with different kind of
Golubtsy (Голубцы) – stuffed cabbage leaves with minced meat.
Plov (Плов) – it’s a Uzbek specialty made of rice with anything really.
Solyanka (Солянка) – sour and spicy soup
Borsch (Борщ) – it’s a beetroot soup said to be originally from Ukraine.
Beef Stroganoff (Бефстроганов) – no need for description this one I think
Teremok is a Russian fast food chain that offers blinis with all sort of fillings. (around 150 RUB p/p)
Pirogovy Dvorik is another chain for a low budget eat that serves a variety of Russian pies
Stolovaya No 1 is a chain of low cost canteens that’s always busy!
Moomoo Burger is a must try for delicious burgers. (around 500 RUB p/p)
Khachapuri is another restaurant with great reviews that offers Gregorian food.
B&B Burgers has 12 restaurants all over Moscow, it’s another great place for a burger.
Lepim i Varim – also Gregorian / Russian food
Eats on the expensive side:
Kokoko – a modern Russian cuisine restaurant that only uses local farmer’s products. (around 1500 RUB p/p)
As any big city there are a lot of restaurants, I suggest you download the TripAdvisor offline guide to St Petersburg and to check out the restaurants there.
You can head of to Rubinshteina street –on this street you will find awesome bars.
Some great cocktail bars include :
Gastronomika is a must visit with an outdoor rooftop seating area, it’s worth it.
812 has excellent cocktails in a great environment.
Attractions in St Petersburg
- Peter and Paul’s fortress
This is where Saint Petersburg was founded by Peter the Great in 1703. It was later on used as a prison and execution ground for Bolsheviks. Admission to the fortress is free but if you want to visit the museum you will have to pay.
At noon everyday they fire the cannon from the Naryshkin Bastion, it’s a tradition that dates back to Peter’s the Great epoch.
- Winter Palace
It practically includes Palace Square and the Hermitage Museum.
So you can’t visit St Petersburg and not visit The Hermitage Museum; it is known as one of the largest and most interesting museums in the world.
I’d suggest you devote half a day to this complex.
The Hermitage collection includes works of Cezanne, Money, van Gogh, just to mention a few.
Luckily, the majority of St Petersburg’s attractions are within walking distance of the Winter Palace.
- St Isaac’s Cathedral
It has a beautiful view over St Petersburg from its viewing deck.
The Cathedral is closed on Wednesdays but open until 4:30 am on the white nights in summer.
- The Bronze Horseman
Located right in front of St Isaac’s Cathedral, this statue is one of the symbols of St Petersburg and one that locals are very proud of. The statue made in 1782 is modelled on Peter the Great and is said to symbolize the strength of the city and of its citizens.
- Church of the Savior on Blood
This is one of the most iconic building in the city.
- Kazan Cathedral
Located on the main street in the city, if you’ve been to Rome you will notice similarities between this Cathedral and the Vatican, it’s referred to as the Vatican’s little brother.
- Nevsky Prospecy (avenu)
Nevsky Prospekt is a known street that stretches from the Admiralty to Moscow Railway Station. It cuts through the historial center of the city and it’s home to the city’s best shopping, entertainment and nightlife, as well as historic monuments.
- Mariinsky Theather
It’s St Petersburg opera house.
- Trinity Cathedral
- St Petersburg Mosque
It’s the largest Mosque in Russia, it’s worth visiting to have a look at the large dome and beautiful tiles.
For photographers I suggest you check out the old Soviet block style housing (called Khrushchyaovkas). It’s a few metro stops out (usually at the last stops of metro line such as Komandantskiy Prospekt) but you will feel like you’ve been taken to another city and it’s great for shots.
Things to do:
Take a boat ride through the rivers to get different perspectives on the city. It’s a little like Amsterdam, built around canals and channels.
See drawbridges at night, it’s stunning. Locals specially enjoy watching the bridges open. You will find them gathered down by the banks of the river around 1 am cheering on the boats as they pass through the open bridges.
TIP: If you want to see it from land just make sure you are on the right side of the river (the side where your hotel is) otherwise you will have to wait until 3 am for the bridges to close back and open to traffic to get back home.
There is a boat tour that starts at midnight and lasts around 2 hours where you get to see the bridges opening one after the other. The cost is around 1000 RUB (17 $) per person
Don’t forget to Make a wish and throw a coin at Chizhyk Pyzhik, a bird sculpture that was stolen 7 times, found and returned each time.
Explore the city on foot using the below map, it’s one of the most fabulous ways to see everything it has to offer.
Also a quick way to see the city would be to join a free walking tour 🙂
Written for @doubletroubleent and their trip to Russia with @liptonegypt