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:
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 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.
As in many other countries, in Russia it is customary to tip at the restaurants, 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.