These tips for tourists in St Petersburg will ensure you travel comfortable, safe, and with maximum enjoyment.

For your convenience travel as light as possible. Keep your passport, VISA, important papers, ticket vouchers, prescriptions, and money in your carry-on luggage as airlines have the right to open your checked bags.

Don’t forget to take:

  • Toiletries and pharmaceuticals
  • Suitable boots or shoes
  • Umbrella
  • Photocopy of your passport, VISA, and migration card (white piece of paper used for your registration) in the event the police stop you to verify your registration status. They have the right to check everyone in Russia but this rarely happens to our guests.
  • Warm hat, coat, clothes, and gloves in winter. Interiors are usuallywell-heated, so dress in layers.
  • A power converter and adaptor. Russian electricity standard is 220 Volts AC, 50 Hertz. If bringing a laptop or other electronics from US, bring an adaptor for the Russian plug, preferably with two sockets. Please note that some special electrical equipment such as hair dryers might not convert to 220 volt and you should always check the electricity settings to make sure it is safe to use without an electrical converter.

How to get to St Petersburg

By plane

There are no direct flights from USA or Canada, but major European carriers offer one or two stop flights from many US gateways. Alternatively, you may wish to travel to a European city and make your way by land from there. Helsinki is the closest foreign capital to St Petersburg – you can travel from Helsinki to St. Petersburg either by plane, train, or ferry. From Montreal and 5 US cities you can reach Moscow by Russian Aeroflot company and arrive from Moscow to St Petersburg on the same day by plane (1 hour) or by night train (about 8 hours). There is also a fast train from Moscow to St. Petersburg called Sapsan (4 hours).

Here is a link for Flights to St Petersburg Russia

River Cruise

You can see St Petersburg being aboard a river cruise ship between St Petersburg and Moscow (we highly recommend Viking River Cruise Company) which gives you a chance to spend 2-3 days in St Petersburg.

Ocean Cruise (Baltic countries cruise)

or take The Baltic Cruise with any cruise company (1, 2, or 3 days in St Petersburg depending on your ship)

About the Russian Visa

In order for travel to Russia you have to obtain tourist visa (but we arrange visa free excursions for cruise ship passengers and those arriving to St Petersburg from Helsinki by ferry — Princess Maria or Princess Anastasia). We can provide you with a visa support letter (visa invitation letter) for receiving a visa in the Russian Embassy/ Consulate. For this you must show proof of a pre-booked accommodation in Russia for the entire period of your stay and know exact days you will be in St Petersburg.

Upon arriving in Russia you have to be registered within 7 working days at the Russian Visa and Passport Service (if you stay in a hotel they will do this for you but sometimes it is not free).

Stay Healthy & Safe

As in any big city (alas!) we have pickpockets. We have to admit that they are hard working people and know their business very well. So when you are in the downtown or attending a public event be careful: don’t keep your valuable private belongings in the back pockets of your trousers or in any other place they can be seen and accessible to everyone. Keep an eye on your expensive cameras and be attentive using Metro and overcrowded (in high tourist season) public transportation. Actually it is enough to use your common sense and everything will be OK!!

If you have some health issues you can use the services of the local “American Medical Clinic” ( Or “Euromed” clinic (

They will charge you in full but if you have a medical insurance you will be provided with all necessary papers to be reimbursed later when you return back home.

Food and Restaurants

Restaurants mushroom in St Petersburg every day. Of course we have “McDonald’s” and “Subway” restaurants, not mentioning numerous Italian, Japanese, and Chinese establishments. But while walking in the downtown if you are hungry try delicious pancakes with different stuffings at “Teremok” – or Russian pies at «Stolle» — fast, cheap and very tasty.

Russian pickles, Borsch (traditional beetroot soup), Solyanka (a delicious meat soup), and beef stroganoff are available at the highly recommended ‘Na Zdorovie” and “Chekhov” restaurants.

Be ready that in many restaurants it is allowed to smoke although the city has started arranging non-smoking zones.

We recommend to drink bottled water which is available everywhere ($ 2-3 per bottle).


Be ready that in many places they don’t accept credit cards, but fortunately we have plenty of ATM’s which are available everywhere (you can find them in the entrance of many metro stations), so you can get local currency, RUBLES (one ruble is 100 kopecks). The exchange rate is 1$ = 30 rubles, 1 euro = 40 rubles. You can see the current exchange rate on our website. When bringing traveler’s cheques expect to pay up to 3% commission for getting cash (not every bank accepts them). We recommend Raiffeisen Bank — Moyka Embankment 36, in the center of St Petersburg, working hours are from 9am to 6pm).

Touring Tips

St Petersburg is one of the most beautiful and elegant cities in the world – but while surfing the Internet for its numerous museums keep in mind:

— Museum opening hours (10-11am — 5-6 pm, each has its own day off, but it is practically never Sunday or Saturday + an extra day off at the end of each month for cleanup day)

— No discounts for senior citizens, only for children and students upon showing ISIC (international student identification card)

— Some museums have special opening hours only for Russian speaking tourists and separate hours for foreigners, hours for individuals and hours for the organized groups.

— The St Petersburg downtown area is very vast and if you are limited in time and wish to see as much as possible just hire a driver with a comfortable car, not only a guide, as all sites of interest are situated rather far from each other (otherwise the city tour will take 6-8 hours and this is without entering museums).

— May through the middle of September is the high tourist season in St Petersburg and there are long lines in many museums — plan your time in advance or try to buy tickets on-line (though not all museums offer this possibility)

— Only the Russian Museum, Hermitage, and St Isaac’s Cathedral offer special services for handicapped tourists

— The most famous theatre in St Petersburg (if not in Russia) is Mariinsky (formerly Kirov Theatre) Theatre of Opera and Ballet — it is possible to book tickets (don’t forget to register first) on-line but keep in mind that tickets for foreigners are more expensive (the idea is that the cost is the same for everyone, but locals receive a discount).

— Museum rules sometimes surprise foreigners: they ask you to leave your jackets, raincoats, umbrellas, bags, and even bottles of water in a cloak room. If you didn’t pay for taking pictures you must leave your camera in a cloak room safe box (this is what they demand in the Hermitage for example).

Public Transportation and Taxi Services

Public transportation is wide spread, cheap, and doesn’t depend on the distance. You have to pay inside a bus, trolleybus, or in the metro station entrance, the cost is less than US $1. Stops are relatively few and far between, so getting off at the wrong stop can mean a lengthy walk. Please beware of pickpockets! Registered taxis are run by many different companies They are usually a Russian Volga or a Ford, painted bright yellow with a chequered logo on the doors.

Most Russians eschew taxis in favor of hitching rides in private vehicles, which enables locals to earn extra money as chastniki (moonlighters). You simply stand near the road and flag down any likely looking vehicle heading in the right direction. When a car stops you can show a written note with your destination and what you are willing to pay the driver. They might haggle a bit, but there is so much competition that it’s a buyer’s market.

Making Calls Abroad

Mobile phones are widely popular in St Petersburg. Europeans using the GSM system can use their own phones in the city, but Americans must rent a special phone from their cellular dealer before leaving; in their case calls will be expensive. Anyone intending to use a mobile phone extensively, or over several months, will save money by buying or renting a SIM card from a local dealer and using a Russian network. We recommend MTS ( or MegaFon ( Always keep in mind the time difference when calling from Russia.

What Gifts to Buy

— A very good idea is to buy St Petersburg porcelain (the factory was founded in 1744). Prices vary greatly from cheap up to very expensive, but quality is invariably very high, not mentioning the beautiful design.

— Lacquer boxes made of paper-mache and belonging to different schools will strike your imagination with their beauty

— Amber

— A set of Christmas toys

— Imitation of Faberge eggs (though not loved by everyone)

— Matryoshka dolls or nesting dolls

Dress Code of the Country

Nothing special — keep a European style, but when attending a church service try to cover your head (women) and naked parts of your body (so gentlemen no shorts please). When in the theatres (ballet or opera performances) you can be dressed casually, but be sure there will be many (mostly foreigners) dressed more formal.

Kazan Cathedral is one of the grandest churches in St Petersburg with its colonnades of 96 columns embracing Nevsky prospect like the outstretched wings of a gigantic eagle. Kazan Cathedral was  designed and built between 1801 and 1811  by Russian artists, (despite being modeled on St Peter in the Vatican) to house a venerated icon, Our Lady of Kazan.

Chinese Palace which was created at the time of Catherine the Great. It is a unique rococo style residence with a famous bugle work cabinet. It is the only palace in the vicinities of SPb which survived World War II. It is one of the private residences which means that only chosen ones could come there, be one of them. Enjoy this unique architectural miracle, much more impressive inside than from the façade. Feel special as it’s only the second season when you can take pictures inside.

This stunning pavilion was created for the wife of Nicholas I which could relax after grand receptions there. It is located on a man made island and decorated in the style of Pompeii and XVIII century Italian country houses. The pavilion is a dream about Italy, an oasis of Southern paradise in the North of Russia. Only the chosen ones could come here. Join them!

There is a chance to drop to the Amber Workshop to see how masters responsible for the restoration of Amber Room keep creating other masterpieces; there will be a chance to take pictures in the workshop as it is not allowed to do that in Amber Room itself.

A special treasure room with ambassadors’ gifts and private belongings of Russian Tsars-all made of gold and covered with diamonds, rubies and emeralds; it is possible to visit it with the museum guide only, should be booked well in advance

One of the most famous collections of French impressionists and post impressionists outside France is situated in the General Staff Building in St Petersburg – just opposite the main Hermitage Museum Complex ( across the Palace Square) – let us know if you are interested and we will book tickets in advance.

We offer unique, once in your life time experience, which proved to be a climax of St Petersburg visit for many of our guests: a lunch with Russian family in their apartment. Enjoying home cooking and speaking with your host and hostess you will learn and understand a lot about Russian culture, traditions and lifestyle, see the way local people live and discuss with them everything under the sun!

The Pavlovsk Park and Palace ensemble is among the finest royal residences in the environs of St Petersburg. Unlike other famous royal residences Pavlovsk has the unique charm of a private estate. The palace was designed in reserved classical style and will be highly appreciated by true art connoisseurs. During a tour of Pavlovsk Palace you will not only be able to witness stunning state rooms used for official ceremonies and festivities in the palace, but also some private rooms where the family could gather together in the evening.

An interactive museum of Soviet arcade machines that are the core of the collection. There are over fifty of them on display. The ticket includes some tokens to play. The museum will help you to go back in time and learn more about the Soviet Russia. As for your kids, they will be curious to learn what was interesting for their fathers and grandfathers.

One of the coziest and most hospitable museums of our city.

Museum has 12 halls of art space. Interior dolls, theatre dolls, fairy-tale dolls, dolls depicting customs and traditions are on display there. All in all, the museum has over 40000 exhibits. It is guarded by purring spirits – 3 cats that appear when the museum is closed and dolls wake up… The only disadvantage is that you can’t play with the dolls, you can only look at them.

A unique and the first one in Russia art space where exhibits of shadow art are on display. You will learn the history of our city in light and shadow language there, meet Peter the Great, its founder, and even face your own shadow. Are you ready to look at everything and even yourself from a different angle?

Unique monument of the XV century built in Western gothic style. The only civil building in this style that survived in our country. There ambassadors were received, the Novgorod parliament and court sat and the grand dinners took place. Now the Novgorod jewelry collection of VI-XVII centuries is on display there.

Enjoy 14 halls with over 250 Novgorod icons of XI-XIX centuries. Novgorod is one of the centers of icon painting in our country. This exhibition is one of the best collections of Russian icons as it allows to follow the history of icon painting in our Russia.

Stretch your legs and enjoy the public boat ride. You will see views of the Volkhov river and the lake Ilmen which is called the Slavonic Sea because the area round is so flat. It takes 1-1.5 hours.

Kremlin is the heart of the city, the fortress in its center. During the tour you can see St Sophia cathedral, the oldest temples of our country made of stone, the monument to the Millennium of Russia and the place where merchants used to trade which is called “Yaroslavovo Dvorische” – Prince Yyaroslav court.

A functioning Russian orthodox monastery. It was founded in the XI century by Yaroslav, the grand duke who was baptized by St George, hence the name. St George cathedral, a gem of Russian medieval architecture, has unique frescoes and even an ancient graffiti.

Kazan Cathedral  one of the grandest churches in St Petersburg with its colonnades of 96 columns embracing Nevsky prospect like the outstretched wings of a gigantic eagle; it  was built between 1801 and 1811 to house a venerated icon Our Lady of Kazan by Andrey Voronikhin (a serf of Count Stroganov).

Divo Ostrov (the name means Wonderful Island in Russian and the attraction is really located on an island) is the best amusement park in Russia. It was founded in May 2003 and had 17 attraction rides then. Now there are 46 of them. Some of the amusement rides are for adults, some for families and some for kids. Divo Ostrov gives unique impressions to people of all ages. Every adult gets a ticket to his childhood and every child finds himself in the world of his dreams and fantasies.

If you are a passionate train lover, this place is your paradise: it’s the biggest railway museum in Europe, a sort of “Technical Hermitage”.  You can practice driving a train with the help of the simulator here: enjoy 6 real life scenarios! If you come with small ones, there are game zones especially for them. If you finally get bored of trains, you can take a selfie with a sad peasant  in the cold carriage or to practice Morse code with a plaster telephone operator.

Russian museum is the biggest museum of national art in the world and a unique architectural ensemble of the historical center of Saint Petersburg. With its 400000 exhibits it covers the history of Russian art from X century icons  up to XX-XXI century avant-guard art  and soviet  painting. You can see Ilya Repin, Mikhail Vrubel, Mark Shagal, Vasiliy Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich and many others there.

An annual festival of sand sculptures on the territory of Peter and Paul Fortress; international team of sculptors from different European countries create sculptures from special sand on the given subject which varies every year; the exhibition will be of great interest for you and your little ones

St Petersburg boat tours offer a perfect way to see the city under a bit different angle – sailing under numerous bridges along rivers and canals, and listening to curious stories from your guide. St Petersburg boat tours are especially majestic during the White Nights season in St Petersburg.

This private museum is a model of Russia made at the scale 1:87. The model is 800 square meters and symbolically shows all regions of our country. It’s the biggest model in Russia and second biggest in the world (after Minjatur Wunderland in Hamburg). It took 100 people 5 years to complete it. The model is interactive, so your children will be delighted to press buttons there.

It’s a museum inside the other museum. This section has 2400 exhibits which makes it one of the most prominent collections of this kind. Our country had the biggest Jewish population in the world at the end of the XIX century. So, this exhibition shows how the Jews lived in the Russian empire. You will know everything about traditional costumes, books, things used in everyday life, holidays, crafts the Jewish took part in, holidays they celebrated, etc.

These stunning pavilions were created in 1830-40 for the wife and daughter of Nicholas I (the daughter’s name was Olga). There the tsarina could relax after grand receptions.  They are located on manmade islands and decorated in the style of Pompeii and XVIII century Italian country houses. These pavilions are dreams about Italy, an oasis of Southern paradise in the North of Russia. Only the chosen ones could come here. Join them!

Agate rooms are a two-storied bath house. The first floor was used to take a bath and the second one had famous rooms where guests could relax afterwards. Their walls were decorated with agate – hence the name.

This unique complex was built by Charles Cameron for Catherine II in the 18th century and was restored only after WWII. It managed to preserve almost intact. Fortunately, this treasure is not as popular with mass tourism as Catherine palace, so if you want to enjoy something truly authentic and not overcrowded, this is definitely your choice.

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The Faberge Museum has the world-class collection of Faberge Masterpieces (including 14 Easter Eggs), gift boxes, Russian enamels etc.The collection is situated in 9 beautiful rooms of Shuvalov Palace. It was opened in November 2013 and founded by the “Link of Times” Cultural Historical Foundation, established by Russian entrepreneur Viktor Vekselberg to repatriate lost cultural treasures to Russia.

The fourth tallest dome construction in the world. St Isaac’s Cathedral used to be the main Russian Orthodox Cathedral of the Russian Empire. The enormous decoration of the interior of the cathedral, was created in the Russian Academy of Fine Arts.Gilded bronze, malachite and lapis lazuli together with countless paintings, columns, mosaics, will take your breath away.

One of the best private palaces in the Europe .Its real gem is a home theater. Outstanding Russian singers and dancers performed there.In this palace young Felix Yusupov, the heir of the family, and other conspirators assassinated Grigory Rasputin.  During a visit to the palace you will learn about the plot of Felix and how it was brought to life.

Peter and Paul Fortress here our city was founded in 1703.Peter the Great started a fortress to protect the lands won back from Sweden. Now it is one of the most important 18th century fortresses in Russia and Europe.St Peter and Paul Cathedral is the burial place of almost all Russian Tsars from Peter the Great up to the last Russian Tsar Nicholas II and his family.

Many metro station vestibules and platforms are adorned with marble, granite, bas-reliefs and mosaics which makes them look like underground palaces. The very first 10 stations appeared after WWII and have various military and Soviet symbols reminding visitors about the glorious victory over Nazi Germany. Owing to the city’s swampy subsoil, most of the lines were built extremely deep underground.

Peterhof is definitely “a must-see” for any first-time visitor to St Petersburg.It is often called the “Russian Versailles”: it is a real “kingdom of fountains” and true paradise for little children (as well as adults) with amazing cascades, a variety of unique and playful fountains, Grand Peterhof Palace, and other small ones.

Catherine Palace Is a must to visit. Inside you will find a succession of interconnecting rooms in Baroque style and somewhere in the middle of that enfilade is the famous Amber Room which was called by contemporaries “the eighth wonder of the world”. The palace was badly damaged during WWII and amber panels were stolen by the Nazi. But they started restoration in 1979 and finished it in 2003.

St Petersburg Siege Memorialcommemorates the hardship that Leningrad‘s (the soviet name of our city) citizens endured during the siege which lasted 900 days (1941-1943) and took away about 1.5 mln lives. The most striking part of the memorial are the tableaux of soviet citizens facing south towards the enemy. It was designed to be viewed from a distance. In the subterranean memorial hall are relics from the siege.

Offers fresh food from all over the former Soviet Union: melons, tomatoes, farmhouse honey, pickles, sour cream, ham and gherkins, not to mention imports such as kiwi fruit. Most vendors offer the chance to taste a sliver before buying. Outside the market are “babushkas” (pensioners) who sell things they have grown at their dacha (summer cottage) or gathered in the forest.

Hermitage Museum one of the most important and oldest museums in the world. It has one of the largest collections of paintings. If you spent one minute viewing each exhibit of the Museum it would take you11 years to see everything. The collection of the French Impressionists is exhibited in the General staff building which is located opposite the Winter Palace.

Most famous for almost 21,000m² of mosaics that cover both the interior and the façade of the building. The mosaics were created in Russia, which makes them even more valuable. It is the only building in our citybuilt in the style of Moscow churches. The church was built on the place where Alexander II was assassinated, hence the name.

St Petersburg boat tours offer a perfect way to see the city under a bit different angle – sailing under numerous bridges along rivers and canals, and listening to curious stories from your guide. St Petersburg boat tours are especially majestic during the White Nights season in St Petersburg.

Alexander Palace was commissioned by Catherine II for her grandson, future Russian tsar Alexander I and later became the summer home of a succession of Imperial heirs, each of whom left their mark on the building.