I am an American currently studying abroad in Budapest, Hungary. I was hoping to get some tips on how to get a visa for going to St. Petersburg, Russia in late November. I have read that I need a visa, but some sites say I need to have an invitation from a Russian citizen. I was just confused on what I should do. Any suggestions?
You will require a visa - now l am a British Citizen but l needed a visa along with proof of travel and indeed a letter of invitation - this was simply faxed from the hotel we booked which sufficed as a letter of invitation. You will need to check out the Russian Embassy website to see what relates to US citizens. It will be Very cold and grey in Novemeber in St Petersberg - thats the month that l visited too! It was however still very beautiful city.
You need an invite from a Russian citizen if you get a private visa, but these are horrendous to get from both sides (worse for the invitee). For a normal tourist visa, you still need an invite, but you can get them from all hotels, some hostels, and any number of online agencies. Two reliable ones and sources of lots of info are waytorussia.net and visatorussia.com
Be aware that every Russian emabssy has it's own quirks and regulations, and it's worth checking locally what the Budapest one requires as well. Some require proof of insurance, some need the original invitation (others accept copies), some won't deal with certain nationalities (all German embassies/consuilates, for example, ONLY deal with german citizens or people who can prove German residency)