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St. Petersburg travel guide
Useful information, advices, tips about museums, transportation, shopping, safety, money




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Useful information for visitors of Saint Petersburg

Museums: the museum tickets can be bought at the entrance of the museum and should be paid in roubles or by credit card. They usually cost from 2 to 15 € per person. There are discount of free entrance for children and students (ISIC card). Every first Thursday of each month the entrance to the Hermitage Museum is free. Free entrance: Aurora cruiser, all working churches and cathedrals. Before visiting a museum, find out about its day-off (see below). All musems are open on weekend.

Probably, if you travel in summer and wish to visit Catherine Palace in Pushkin (Tsarskoe Selo), you should or find a private guide and ask her or him to book an entrance for you in advance, or book an excursion. During summer time, too many people want to see it because of the "Amber Room" and it can be impossible to enter there for individual tourists. The same information can applied to Yusupov Palace and Petergoff Palace.

Days off at the most popular museums and palaces:

Museum, Cathedral o Palace

Closed

Hermitage Museum Monday
Museum of Etnography Monday
Kunstkammer Monday
Grand Palace at Petergoff Monday
Aurora cruiser Monday, Friday
Museum of Artillery Monday, Tuesday
Navy Museum Monday, Tuesday
Russian Museum Tuesday
House of Peter I Tuesday
Catherine Palace Tuesday
Saint Isaac Cathedral Wednesday
St. Peter and Paul Cathedral Wednesday
Church of Spilled Blood Wednesday
Petergoff Park

open all days

St. Peter and Paul Fortress

open all days

Yusupov Palace

open all days

St. Nicholas Cathedral

open all days

Museum of Political History Thursday
Alexander Nevsky Monastery Thursday
Palace at Pavlovsk Friday

***

Trip to Petergoff: almost all visitors intend to visit Petergoff Parc and Palace complex - one of the summer residences of the tsars, with impressive beautiful fountains (also called "Russian Versalles"). One should know, that the fountains are working from the end of May to the middle of September. The parc and palaces are open during all the year. Petergoff is located at the shores of Finnish gulf, about 30 km from St. Petersburg. The most comfortable and fast way to get to the Petergoff is to take a hydrofoil boat from river Neva embankment near Hermitage. The trip is very pleasant, with great sea and city views and it will take 30 min. Regular price is about 10 €, with discounts for students and children.

Money: Russian currency is Rouble. You can bring US dollars or Euro (banknotes in good condition) and change them in Russia, it is very easy to change them in the city, there are many banks and exchange points. Also, you can get cash from ATM machines and use your credit card. You must pay in roubles or by credit card in shops and restaurants, dollars or euros can be accepted only for some private services, also they are accepted at sovenier markets.

Transportation: you can use public transport (metro, buses, trams, trolleybuses). Usually it is very cheap. Also, there are very popular private "marshrutka" mini-buses, which are fast minivans with fixed route, this is the most populat transport apart of metro. As taxis, there are official taxis from many private companies. They are called by phone (in Russian), the price of the trip can be told by the taxi-operator beforehand. It is the most secured, but of course it is 2-3 times more expensive as "not official taxis" that the people can stop at the streets. So, it is the own choice of everybody which taxi to use. If you decide to do this, always first tell where you want to go and negotiate a price beforehand. To stop it, just wave a hand. Do not enter the car with 2 people inside, or if you do not like a driver. Around Hotels, bars, clubs, and Nevsky prospect there are taxis asking very elevated price, but it is always possible to find another car in the street with honest price.

For your safety: St. Petersburg is generally safe, people are pacific and reserved. But, anyway, it is a big city with all kind of people. Be careful with people you do not know, the first time it is better to meet them on neutral territory: park, cafe. Do not open the door if you do not know a person calling, just do not answer. Hide well your wallet and expensive digital camera when walking, do not use crowded public transportation. You will not meet in St. Petersburg a crime of pulling out your bag or camera and running, but some pick-pockets exist, especially in crowded central areas, Nevsky prospect, shopping centers, subway, public transport, etc. They are very professional and can act in pairs or groups, so, put your wallet, passport and valuebles into the inner pockets, do not have them at your bagpack or exterior pockets. Avoid Gypsy kids and women, if you see them, avoid to walk or stay close to them.

Very important: do not walk at night around Nevsky prospect, especially if you are alone and a little drunk, take a taxi (or private car). If you can afford, hire a guide for the visits, or go with your Russian friend, they will care about you, safe your money and will advice the best.

Electricity: Russian standard is 220 Volts AC, 50 Hertz.

Shops: The most of the shops work every day (including weekend) and do not have a lunch brake. Usually the stores are open since 10.00. till 20.00. or 21.00. Some little food stores, cafes, video and audio stores work 24h. In downtown there are not many big western style supermarkets, you can find them at Passage departmente store on Nevsky prospect, at Vladimirsky Passage, or at "PIK" shopping mall (on Sennaya square). But there are many small food-stores.

Food: You can find description of typical Russian dishes and St. Petersburg restaurants reviews on St Petersburg Restaurants page.

Russian character: Smiling: Russian people smile only when they are really having fun, happy, or very glad. They usually do not smile for cortesy or to unknown people. If you have Russian friends, it is very important to make little presents for them, flowers for women, sweets for children. To make presents it is a strong tradition, they also probably will present you many things. If you are invited to Russian house, do not forget about flowers for the hostess, a cake, sweets, some good vine. Your gifts will be very appreciated and Russians will do the best for you. A Birthday is also a very important day in Russia.

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Catherine Palace at Pushkin

Amber Room at Catherine Palace

"Meteor" to Petergoff, depart from the Neva embakment in front of Hermitage Museum

Winter Palace - The Hermitage

Alexander Column
on the Palace Square

The General Stuff Arch

Image of Passage department store at 1850 year

"House of the Book" - the biggest book shop on Nevsky prospect