5 Benefits of Private Tour to St Petersburg
What are your benefits when you ta a private tour to St Petersburg?
Nowadays St. Petersburg is becoming a more and more popular touristic destination. There are lots of ways to explore the city: you can join a group tour or walk the streets by yourself. However, many travelers prefer private guided tours to get their bearings. We are deeply convinced that taking a private tour in St. Petersburg is the best way to explore a new culture.
Private tours are organized for those travelers, who want to see the world from a new angle and in a comfortable way. In this article we are going to review the main advantages of private tours in St. Petersburg with Hello Russia Tours.
Your party only
Private tour is the one organized for a little party only. You get personalized attention from your tour guide and the whole tour is tailored around you. The private tour can be organized even for 1 traveler! Hello Russia Tours assures you that when booking a private tour in St. Petersburg with us it will be just you and your party! No foreigners will be joined to your tour.
Flexibility and comfort
Since there are no other people on the tour you can feel free to ask for specific requests or extra stops during your tour. Take as much time for pictures as you need – you are not pushed by anyone else. You don’t have to go to fixed food places for lunch as you normally have to do when on a group tour. You can choose the restaurant or cafe that YOU like and YOU want! Change the details of the tour to make it most comfortable for YOU: the meeting point, time, duration and the itinerary can be adjusted to your personal needs and interests. Hello Russia Tours would be happy to show you all the aspects of the Russian culture in the way YOU want to see it.
Cultural exchange with a local
Having a private guided tour allows you to not only learn the history and culture of St. Petersburg, but also to get a lot of personal exchange. All of our tour guides are Russians (who speak your language!) and willing to share their expertise, emotions and love to the city with you! It’s a unique chance to ask any questions that concern you. Your local tour guide can share their insider knowledge that no other guidebook will tell you.
Not so many people realize that a private tour is a real value for money. People think that private tours are more expensive than other travel options. However, many travelers are surprised with how advantageous they actually are! If you travel with your family or with a party of your friends you can split the costs and the final price per person will be the same as you’d pay for a shared tour with other strangers. Taking into account everything stated above, you get a unique worthwhile experience that you never get on a big group tour.
Saving your time
When traveling to a new country every moment is precious, since quite often we are limited in time. For this reason, it is highly essential to plan your schedule properly. Instead of putting your energy and time into planning out the program and researching the highlights just contact Hello Russia Tours and let us do it for you. Our team consists of experienced professional. We are eager to share our expertise! We would be happy to handle the whole organization for touring the main city’s attractions and not only. With a private guided tour you get a chance to avoid lines to the major museums of St. Petersburg.
Looking for cheap flights to St Petersburg?
It’s not a secret that when traveling flight tickets become a considerable part of your travel budget. However, there’s a number of tricks of how to get cheap flights to St Petersburg. It this article we’re revealing our secrets how to save money when booking your tickets to St. Petersburg.
It’s time to book your flights!
First of all, figure out the time when you want to come to Russia. When choosing the time of your journey take into account that summer months are the most popular in St. Petersburg, which inevitably leads to the price rise. There are lots of summer activities that people are striving to enjoy! However, we want to highlight that there are lots of fun activities in winter too (check our articles Winter Activities Part 1 and Part 2). February or March is the perfect time to book your cheap flights to St. Petersburg if you want to save some money. In winter due to the low tourist season the ticket prices are reasonably lower (2-3 times lower than summer prices). The prices also differ during the week: on Monday or Tuesday, you may find better prices than on the weekend.
Today it is common not to check one or two flight companies but look though a few travel search engines, such as Google flights, kayak.com or faircompare.com. They show a whole database of thousands of flights around the globe, which makes the search very simple. Even though these aggregators mainly make the same flight suggestions, the prices can vary a lot. They can even be cheaper than the ones that the flight companies offer! Check out a few websites for booking tickets that are popular in Russia:
Low cost companies
There is also a number of low-costs to Russia that offer great deals for traveling. Many people disregard them thinking that the low prices cause low safety level. In reality, the situation is different: the prices are reduced due to other factors, for instance, they do not provide in-flight meals, baggage limitations can be stricter and the tickets can be non-refundable. The quality of the flights is still on a good level. The most popular low-cost to Russia is AirBaltic: it provides cheap flights to St. Petersburg and Moscow from all the major European cities (Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussel and many others). Some other low-cost flight companies are AirBerlin, Wizz Air, EasyJet, Vueling.
Points and miles
Many flight companies (both regular and low-cost) offer to join their bonus programs for frequent travelers. Such programs can really save a part of your budget. The membership allows the participants to earn points or miles, get rewards and receive special offers for different destinations. Aeroflot, being Russia’s largest flight company, invites you to sign up and start getting points for every flight you book with them. Later you can use these points for paying your tickets to St. Petersburg or Moscow. You can pay the whole price or have a reasonable price reduction. One more great thing is that they have lots of non-stop flights straight to Russia (for example, from London, Paris, New York or even Beijing!)
Pulkovo Airport (LED)
If you come to St. Petersburg by plane you inevitably start getting to know the city with Pulkovo Airport (LED). The citizens of St. Petersburg have been traveling via this airport for more than 80 years. From this airport one can get practically to any end of the globe – it serves about 200 domestic and international flights. It’s also one of the biggest airports in Russia – the annual capacity of the airport is 18 million passengers!
In 2013 a new terminal was open and since 2015 both the new and the old buildings have been used. The Pulkovo airport appears to be one of the biggest airports in Russia but still it’s very convenient and easy to navigate. Basically you can’t get lost there – it has clear ways to the passport control, baggage claim and main exit. Signs are everywhere, and the arrivals/departures monitor is easy to find. When leaving St. Petersburg be ready to pass a security check at the terminal entrance.
How to get to St Petersburg airport
The airport is located in 20 kilometers from the St. Petersburg city center (about 12,5 miles).
To get to/from the Pulkovo airport one can use a city bus #39 and #39EX or a marshrutka #39 (marshrutka means a shuttle bus in Russian). All of them run to the nearest subway station called Moskovskaya. It will take you about 20 minutes to get to the subway by the marshrutka, the buses are slightly slower. They will charge you extra for oversized baggage.
Hello Russia Tours provides services in organizing an airport transfer to/from your hotel or any other destination. Contact us to book the airport transfer for you. Please, inform in advance if you have oversized baggage or equipment and a bigger or a handicapped accessible vehicle is needed.
St Petersburg airport facilities
The St Petersburg airport has all the basic facilities on its premises: free and paid parking, postal services, car rental, ticket offices, ATMs, free wi-fi, phone chargers, mobile shop, pharmacy, baby care rooms and a business lounge. The airport is handicapped friendly. For your convenience there’s a number of cafes and restaurants, cafes and bars. After the passport control one can enjoy duty free shopping. To find more detail, check the schedule and flight status, you can go inline and check Pulkovo airport official web page.
Winter activities in St Petersburg
“How do you survive when it’s winter in Russia?’’ – One of the FAQs that every Russian tour guide has to answer. It’s not a secret that it’s pretty cold in winter in Russia (December, January and February) but it doesn’t mean that the life stops. In this series of articles, we are looking through the most popular winter activities in St Petersburg.
December is the time when people get ready for the biggest events of the year – celebration of New Year and Christmas. Even though the days are shorter it’s still bright on the streets all the time! The point is that there are a lot of Christmas and New Year decorations and lights everywhere. In the fairy atmosphere, it is a lot of fun to visit one of the Christmas markets in St. Petersburg.
Fortunately, there is a number of them to choose from or visit the all: Christmas market on the New Holland Island, another one will take place in St. Petersburg Sport and Concert Complex (SKK Peterburgsky). One can visit Christmas fairs in different art spaces, such as Etagi (74 Ligovsky Prospect), Lumber Hall (74C Naberezhnaya Obvodnogo Kanala) and Tkachi (40 Naberezhnaya Obvodnogo Kanala).
In winter in St Petersburg all the rivers are frozen and you can safely walk on the ice in St. Petersburg. It is a great chance for ice-skaters to do their favorite activity! In many city’s parks they organize outdoor skating rinks right on the ponds or lakes. One can go ice-skating to an ice village in Peter and Paul Fortress, located in the heart of St. Petersburg. On December 28, a new skating rink is going to be open right on the territory of the fortress. For those of you how does’t like active winter sports there’s an option to visit the Festival of Ice Sculptures.
“All the world is a stage” – W. Shakespeare said once and was right. No trip will be complete without going to a local theatre. Fortunately, St. Petersburg is the right place for you if you are a regular theatre goer. The theatre season is in full swing in winter. St Petersburg, being the cradle of the Russian classical music (many of the famous Russian composers were born or studied here) provides a lot of theatre options. Best Russian and international ballet and opera artists perform on the stage of the Mariinsky Theatre. Among the most popular performances you can find the Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Giselle, Cinderella, Lady Macbeth, etc. If you’re looking for help to get your tickets feel free to contact Hello Russia Tours!
Find more winter activities in St Petersburg in our article Russian Winter (part 1)
Russian Winter: What to do in St Petersburg in Winter
What to do in St Petersburg in Winter
Still don’t know what is the best time to visit St. Petersburg, Russia? Our city, being considered the cultural capital of the country is beautiful in any season! But for those of you who is looking for a real Russian experience we truly recommend to come to St Petersburg in winter! Described in many books and showed in numerous movies St. Petersburg in winter impresses deeply even the most demanding travelers! See how the city lives on at the coldest time of the year!
Scenic winter views
What comes to your mind first when you think of Russia? Russian colds, of course! It’s by far not a secret that in some parts of Russia the winter temperatures fall down to -40 degrees Celsius (-40 Fahrenheit) or even lower! Surprisingly, in St. Petersburg this is the time when the cultural life of the city goes at full blast! The theaters have already started their best shows and they will run the whole winter, all of the museums relax from summer crowds and remain almost empty waiting for you! Look out of the window of your hotel – the views are amazing! Grab a scarf and nice warm mittens and start your winter experience now!
One of the best advantages of the winter in St Petersburg is that the museums are not that crowded. From November till March it’s a low season for tourism, which means that you can come and enjoy world’s best museums without any stress. There are no lines to the entrances and you can spend as much time face to face with Da Vinci’s Madonna as you like. And there will be no one else in the hall! It is a great chance to visit the Hermitage museum – one of main tourist attractions of the city. Some museums offer special extended itineraries during low season. For example, the Catherine Palace opens extra halls (private rooms of Alexander II) that you will never see during summer. However, it also has a plus – you will not be pushed by huge crowds. These are just a couple of St. Petersburg top museums. There are hundreds of others – and they are all yours!
New Year celebration
New Year is a family holiday for Russians and one of the biggest celebrations at a time. Holiday preparations start long before the day. People buy presents and gifts for friends and relatives, decorate their houses and, of course, the New Year tree. However, different events and celebrations last for the whole New Year’s Eve. Late at night on 31st December families and friends gather together at the festive table and at 11.55 p.m. president’s speech appears on TV screens. And it’s just the beginning! The whole night is brightly celebrated: some stay with their home parties, while others prefer to have fun out. All the main streets and squares are decorated with garlands, ornaments and New Year lights, which creates a spacial fairy spirit. New Year is a national holiday and the first week after that is always very relaxed – many offices and business are closed, people go out to meet friends and relatives, watch New Year shows and fireworks and just have fun activities together. Isn’t it the perfect time to visit St. Petersburg?
Russian banya in Russian winter
The best way to warm up in the winter take is to take a heat session in the Russian banya! Still don’t know what it is? Learn more about the Russian banya in our special article.
Find more winter activities in our article Russia seasons: Winter activities (part 2).
Restaurants in St Petersburg
Where to eat on St Petersburg
Russian classics and more
Nevsky pr., 20, site
Tel.: +7 (812) 312 91 60
Average bill: $– ≈750 rub.
Back to USSR! This place allows each visitor to time travel – around 40 or 50 years in reverse, back to the Soviet era which is conveyed through both interior and menu – with such staples as kholodets (meat with jello), varenikis (dumplings), «dressed herring» (herring with vegetables and mayonnaise) and many more.
Kazanskaya st., 2, site
Tel.: +7 (812) 571 82 87
Average bill: $$- ≈1 500 rub.
Cuisines: Georgian, Caucasian
Heading South! – and trying some of the Georgian best. Our personal favorites include kebabs, khachapuri (cheese-filled bread) and chakhokhbili (chicken with sauce), however, the menu includes dozens more of traditional Caucasian dishes.
Nevsky pr., 22-24, site
Tel.: +7 (812) 640 16 16
Average bill: $$- ≈1 500 rub.
No doubt here: Katyusha is the right place to get acquainted with the Russian food for the very first time, be it the most common classics, like pies, pancakes or dumplings, or more sophisticated options, like sturgeon caviar, carp or moose stew.
Nevsky pr., 47, site
Tel.: +7 (812) 703 53 71
Average bill: $$$ ≈3 100 rub.
Palkin, which dates back to 1874, is one of the oldest restaurants in St Petersburg, having outlived two revolutions, the fall of the Soviet Union and a grand renovation in 2002. A visit to this restaurant is a chance to experience an authentic atmosphere of XIX century St. Petersburg – and of course, try the most renowned dishes, like sturgeon or lamb on bone.
Sadovaya st., 12, site
Tel.: +7 (812) 640 19 00
Average bill: $$- ≈2 800 rub.
Cuisines: Russian, European
Treat yourself to a delicious journey back to the Imperial Russia. Historic interiors with antique accents allow anyone to dive into an atmosphere of the beginning of the XX century. The menu is a unique twist on traditional Russian dishes, like starlet back, veal liver and a set of caviar.
Glinky st., 2, site
Tel.: +7 (812) 903 23 73
Average bill: $$- ≈1 500 rub.
One of the most authentic restaurants in St Petersburg is called Sadko. It will take you through the history of Russian art. Zhostovo paintings, folk flowers and Murano glass lamps – what else would be better for a dinner after your private tour of The State Hermitage? Oh and by the way, make sure to stop by on a Thursday or Friday evening to see the waiters singing!
Sky lounge & panoramic view restaurants
Volga Volga restaurant
Petrovskaya embankment, stairs 1, in front of house 8, site
Tel.: +7 (812) 640 16 16
Average bill: $$- ≈2 500 rub.
Cuisines: Russian, Italian, European, Mediterranean, Japanese
Volga Volga is unique in its essence – the restaurant is located on a boat, which cruises the Neva river during summer and offers an impressive choice of European cuisine dishes – from seafood to a good old pasta and steak. A wine of your choice from a wide choice will be a perfect companion for this cruise.
Pochtamskaya st., 3–5, site
Tel.: +7 (812) 640 16 16
Average bill: $$- ≈2 500 rub.
Cuisines: European, Italian, Russian, Mediterranean, Japanese, Chinese, PanAsian.
Enjoy an absolutely unique view of the Isaac Cathedral from a panoramic restaurant Mansarda. Minimalistic, yet cozy, here, the interior will allow you to relax and enjoy a glass of wine with a meal of your choice. Be it a classic steak or something more original, like a foie gras with apricot jam – get ready for an unforgettable evening.
Kazanskaya st., 3, site
Tel.: +7 (812) 640 16 16
Average bill: $$- ≈2 500 rub.
Cuisines: European, Italian, Japanese, Singapore, Pan-Asian, French, Russian.
This restaurant is located in the very heart of the city and its terrace offers a breath-taking view of the Kazan Cathedral. Best time to visit is on a sunny summer day when the terrace is open. If you do prefer to take it inside, however, you can enjoy the cooking process through an open kitchen.
Bolshaya Morskaya, 16, site
Tel.: +7 (812) 740 70 83
Average bill: $– ≈800 rub.
Bonch cafe is one of the most popular places among students (especially from the St. Petersburg University of Technology and Design located just across the street). Perfect chance to try Russians’ favorite coffee, raf, that was invented in Moscow in the 90s.
Gorokhovaya, 22, site
Tel.: +7 (812) 612 13 29
Average bill: $– ≈1 000 rub.
Zoom cafe has been here for so long, one might say that St. Petersburg was built around it. Breakfasts here have become a good tradition restaurants in St Petersburg, while evenings are typically filled with laughter, board games and music. And its visitors can keep a secret – it is one of the places the locals don’t give out.
On the go
Bolshaya Morskaya, 11, site
Tel.: +7 (812) 363 23 32
Average bill: $– ≈400 rub.
Teremok serves famous Russian blinis (most similar to crepes), rolled up with different fillings. A wide choice of classics include blini with caviar or salmon, as well as sweeter options, with honey or cherries. Teremok cafes are located all over the city and are easy to find.
Nevsky pr., 11, site
Tel.: +7 (812) 314 70 21
Average bill: $– ≈500 rub.
Stolle is all about pies – and takes them very seriously! Try traditional Russian pie Kulebyaka with meat or mushrooms, a salmon or a chicken pie – or end your meal with a sweet pie, with lemon or blackcurrant filling. And remember, the most important thing with pies is to know when to stop (or not, if those pies are as delicious as in Stolle).
Nevsky pr., 65, site
Tel.: +7 (911) 001 08 00
Average bill: $– ≈500 rub.
Pita’s is a place for locals and is yet to be discovered by tourists. It offers an impressive menu built around falafel and shawarmas – two staples when it comes to street food in St. Petersburg. Their special is shawarma with cranberry and the salsa sauce served with the fries – those are to die for.
Marata st., 23, site
Tel.: + 7 (812) 946 30 36
Average bill: $– ≈600 rub.
Ukrop is a go-to destination when it comes to raw and vegetarian food. Pasta, creme soups, ravioli and an impressive choice of desserts for reasonable prices rightfully to make this place one of the most popular vegan restaurants in St Petersburg.
If you need help in making a reservation for you, feel free to contact us!
Russian Fall: What to do in St Petersburg in fall
What to do in St Petersburg in fall
Here, on Hello Russia Tours we strongly believe that the best time to visit St. Petersburg is any time you want! Each season offers a number of exciting activities that will keep your schedule busy. The most bright part of the year is the so-called mellow fall or golden Russian fall. Take your pick – and enjoy your trip!
While summer is typically the most popular season with tourists, St. Petersburg during fall is a completely different city with its own charm and beauty. September through November the city experiences a noticeable drop in temperatures – reaching the October average of around 6C (43F). Note that it rains fairly often and you might want to bring a raincoat or an umbrella. Also, make sure you pack a warm scarf and rainboots – never a bad idea.
Russian fall marks the start of a new theatre season. Indulge yourself into one of the most renowned St. Petersburg experiences and book tickets for an opera or ballet in a theatre of your choice. The choice is wide indeed: the Mariinsky Theatre, the Alexandrinsky Theatre, the Mikhailovsky Theatre and many more always welcome tourists and all those who adore the classic art.
Warm coffeeshops on rainy days
If you still haven’t planned what to do in St Petersburg in fall – just don’t do anything! If your ideas for the day are interrupted by a rain, relax, accept it and make the most of the day! St. Petersburg is known for dozens of coffeeshops around the city center. You can pick a small one, like I’m Thankful For Today or the one with a view, like Mickey’s&Monkey’s. Trust us, drinking hot coffee and taking in the local St. Petersburg atmosphere is sometimes the best sightseeing you can do and a perfect way to make a gloomy and gray day a much brighter.
Pushkin and St. Petersburg parks
Best place for a little getaway in the midst of your trip to St.Petersburg – a small town of Pushkin (Tsarskoe Selo) located an hour away from the city. Enjoy imperial architecture, long walks by the pond and, of course, your private tour to The Catherine Palace. If you are not willing to leave the city, explore the beautiful parks here – The Summer Garden or The Tavrichesky Garden, which you can find in the very heart of St. Petersburg. Fall paints the city all shades of red and yellow – you don’t want to miss it, the views are truly breathtaking!
Russian Summer: What to do in St Petersburg in summer
What to do in St Petersburg in summer
What is the best time to come to St. Petersburg? And to Russia in general? Most of you will for sure say “Summer” and will definitely be right: warm sunny days, green parks, fountains and flowers. What else can a traveler wish for? There are actually a couple of things that can change your mind. Let’s take a look at our list of what to do in St Petersburg in summer. By the way, this series of articles presents an overview of summer, fall, spring and winter activities.
Russian summer highlights in St Petersburg
It’s not a secret that tourism is St. Petersburg is seasonal. Many people take the advantage to visit the biggest northernmost city in the summer time (from May to September). The warmest month in St. Petersburg is July with around +21°C (69,8° in Fahrenheit). Since St. Petersburg is located on the coastline of the Baltic sea the climate is quite humid here. However, constant breeze makes warm sunny days very comfortable and pleasant.
Attractions that you can see in St Petersburg in summer only
The calling card of St. Petersburg are its rivers and canals. Quite often do we call St. Petersburg the Northern Venice. Numerous boats drifting to and fro catch the attention of bystanders. Why not take part in this great activity? It’s a special impression of the city when you observe it from a different angle, pass by great buildings of the Hermitage museum, slip under the bridges and move along curvy canals. Boat tours are a must in the summer!
Russian Summer is really warm. It is the best time to visit one of main St. Petersburg attractions – Peterhof Palace. It is the residence of Peter the Great that later became a big center of the Russian court life. The residence is also knows as the Russian Versailles, and there is a good reason for this. Peterhof is a wonderful ensemble consisting the Grand Palace and Parks spreading along the cost of the Baltic sea. Fantastic fountains and sculptures, flowers and gilded statues make you cast beyond the moon.
White Nights (Beliye Nochi) during Russian summer
The most sophisticated tourists know that the best time to come to St. Petersburg is from mid-June to mid-July – the period of the White Nights. Never heard of that? It’s a natural phenomenon that inevitably attracts a lot of tourists to St Petersburg in summer. Due to it’s location (59 degrees 57′ North) the nights in St. Petersburg are bright. You can easily read a newspaper at 2 a.m. without any lamps. Isn’t it a nice way for the city to save some money on the street lights, huh?
This is by far not the end of the list. St. Petersburg is very multisided – there are hundreds of museums, thousands of restaurants, bars and coffees, theaters, parks, shops etc. in the city. Even the most demanding travelers can find something to their tastes! Russian summer is very attractive for tourists. But if you are planning to come to St Petersburg in winter you can find some ideas here and here.
Travel tips for Russia (part 2)
In a new series of travel tips here on HELLO RUSSIA TOURS we continue to give you a step-by-step guide on how to make it to Russia – and have a time of your life here. Our second chapter is dedicated to some of the most important aspects of your journey – take notes!
Before leaving your hotel aways check for the following:
- offline maps with a option pin your hotel location;
- a business card from your hotel with an address written in cyrillic – in case your taxi driver doesn’t know English. It’s rare, but better be prepared;
- your credit cards and some cash;
- your passport or ID;
- an umbrella or a raincoat – you never know where the rain will catch you (see Part 1).
St. Petersburg Metro
Visiting St. Petersburg, do not miss the chance to use its most convenient means of public transportation. Here are a few travel tips of how to do it. St. Petersburg subway is simple in its minimalistic construction: it only has five lines. The easiest way to travel via subway is with a token, which is valid for one trip (from the moment you go through the gate until you walk out of the station of your destination) and costs 35 roubles (approximately $0.50). You can also purchase a subway pass for 10 rides (in 7 days), 20 rides (15 days), 40 rides (30 days) or up to 70 rides. You will have to buy an extra ticket for your luggage. If you are planning on using other means of public transportation (including buses, trams, etc.) consider purchasing an all-in-one pass called Podorozhnik.
From time to time certain stations can be closed for renovation, for a period from a couple of months to a year or even more. When picking a hotel or an apartment for your stay see if the closest subway station is open during your visit.
St. Petersburg Cathedrals
St. Petersburg Cathedrals are of no less interest than the city’s renowned rivers and canals. Visits to Kazan and Saint Isaac’s Cathedrals, The Church of the Savior on the Blood, and many more are all in a must-do list, but ultimately come with a few strings attached (all of them you can visit during Walking Tour). These sacred places have their own dress-code: women are strongly encouraged to wear skirts and cover their heads (with a scarf, for example) upon their entrance, while men, otherwise, are supposed to uncover their heads (take off hats, hoods, etc.). It is not customary for both men and women to visit churches and cathedrals in revealing and provocative outfits, short skirts and dresses and low-cut tops. Remember to keep quiet and beware that some churches forbid any pictures taken, while some allow it, but with no flash only.
Tipping in Russia
As in many other countries, in Russia it is customary to tip at the restaurants. Many of you would ask how much is the tip in Russia? It is approximately 10-15% of the total in your check. In the absolute majority of cases, the tip won’t be included in you bill. Very few places allow tipping via credit card, so be sure to have some cash on you. Beware that some restaurants include service fee for parties of 6 or more people.
Generally, it is uncommon to tip your taxi driver. Most companies operate on a fixed pricing, although you are, of course, always welcome to leave something extra tips to the driver. If you are using international apps like Uber, you can set up your tipping in the settings. Tipping your tour guide is fairly common and is always very welcomed.
While the traditional Russian doll matryoshka or a bottle of vodka are great Russian souvenirs, we encourage you to explore a few other options. In the biggest bookstore Bookvoed (Nevsky pr., 46) you can find a large selection of funny and original gifts from St. Petersburg: candies in beautiful art packagings, socks embroidered with raindrops, postcards and much more. The Imperial Porcelain Factory has a couple of stores in the heart of St. Petersburg and offers beautifully painted plates and cups with quotes from Russian classic literature, stills from some of the most famous Russian cartoons and more. Those with a sweet tooth and a short trip back home ahead will enjoy chocolates and candies from the Eliseevy Merchants’ Store (Nevsky pr., 56). Hello Russia Tours will make your visit there even more convenient, as a stop at this store is a part of our walking tour. All fashionistas are welcome to stop by the Freedom store, a place that carries many local designers (Nevsky pr., 116). And of course, your best souvenir can be a raincoat or an umbrella, but in this case make sure you find something original.
Useful tips for a trip to Russia
In a new series of articles here on Hello Russia Tours we will be giving you a step-by-step guide on how to make it to Russia – and have a time of your life here. First chapter is dedicated to the prepping stage of your journey – take notes! Here are some trip tips for Russia you can find helpful.
Your trip to Russia starts with your tourist visa (valid for up to 30 days). In order to obtain one you will need: a passport (valid for at least 6 months after your visa expires), a couple of recent passport photos, an invitation (which you can obtain through our Visa Support Service here) and a visa application form (available here; choose English language in the second drop-down menu). Take all of the above to your nearest Russia Consulate, pay a consular fee (starts at $160) and be ready to wait for up to 2 weeks for your documents to be processed. You can also use the services of a local travel agency to submit your papers for you.
When to come
The time of your visit is entirely dependent on your travel preferences. Summer is, of course, the most popular season: gorgeous Peterhof fountains are working, St. Petersburg rooftops open exceptionally beautiful views of the city and on particularly hot days you can always get away from the summer madness with a private tour of rivers and canals. Fall is when the theatrical season starts so for traditional Russian ballet you might want to come in October or November. During winter the number of tourists drops significantly, which will give you a chance to have a completely stress-free visit to The State Hermitage. Moreover, there is no better time to see The Catherine Palace than spring.
Some trip tips for Russia are about money. Russian currency is called rouble. The current exchange rate (as of August, 2016) is approximately 65 roubles for $1 and 75 roubles for 1 euro. While you can pay with a credit card almost everywhere (VISA and MasterCard are most common; AmEx won’t be accepted in the majority of places), it is a good idea to have a little cash on you, in case you want to have something from an ice cream stand on the street or pay for a souvenir in a tiny church shop. Apple Pay has not been introduced to Russia yet, so be sure not to leave your plastic at home.
What to take to Russia
Other travel tips to Russia include information about things that you should take with you to Russia. The list of your travel essentials depends on the time (season) you are visiting. However, make sure you take the following:
- an umbrella will be very useful, since rain in St. Petersburg is an common type of weather all year round;
- a warm jacket for your nights out – even during summers they can be quite cold;
- comfortable choice of clothes will be your best bet, however you will be needing a cocktail attire if you’re planning on going to nice night clubs;
- do not forget to check the compatibility of your electronic appliances with Russian sockets (for instance, those traveling from the U.S. or the U.K. will be needing a power converter);
- make sure to bring your prescription drugs;
- also, download all necessary maps so they work offline (CityMaps2Go app is a good choice), taxi apps (Uber, Gett and Wheely all work in Moscow and St.
Petersburg), metro and public transportation apps (Yandex Transport).