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Russia - Moscow, St Petersburg and more.

Travel Forums Europe Russia - Moscow, St Petersburg and more.

1. Posted by gom (Full Member 29 posts) 7y

gom has indicated that this thread is about Russia

Hey there,

I’m planning my trip to Russia and have a few questions regarding comunications and places to visit:

1- Which is the best way to get St Petersburg from Moscow?
I’ve checked a little and train is my first option, should I also consider driving? How difficult is driving around in Russia? About trains: should I book my train tickets in advance or they usually have free seats?

2- I’d like to take a 1 day tour somewhere in the Golden Ring. Can anyone suggest a tour? Does anyone know a reliable Tourist agency in Moscow?
3- Is Arbat’s hood a nice place to stay during my stay in Moscow? More suggestions for my staying?
4- Which can be a good area to stay in St Petersburg?
5- After Moscow and St Petersburg, I’ll still have about 5 days days before returning home. What should I visit near St Petersburg. I know Novograd is a good option, but I’d like to visit the real russia (countryside and small villages), any suggestion considering that? How could I do that? By car? By train?
6- Any other tip regarding accomodation, sightseeing, transportation would be highly appreciated.

Thanks a lot in advance for you help / recomendations!!

Gom

2. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3289 posts) 7y

1. Train, hands down. Most trains take about 8 hours, so look at a night train. Trains between Moscow and St. Petes are very frequent and you can usually show up a few hours before departure and book your train ticket at the train station.

3. Arbat is the place to be. I would not consider another region. But then I am an art freak, I couldn't live without art. YMMV.

4. Nevsky Prospect. It is one of the main road through St. Petes city centre, so it can be very loud and noisy. If a hotel is directly on Nevsky Prospect, it is not necessarily a recommendation. But the side roads are good and hostels there are often less pricy.

Can't help with the rest, since I don't drive and thus have never considered driving a car around Russia.

BTW, from what I remember the Golden Ring (esp. Jaroslavl) was too far away for a day trip, at least by train.

I also would think twice about trying to navigate the roads in Moscow with a car. Road signs are non-existent and when they are there they are in cyrillic. You could get lost very easily.

3. Posted by Slakin (Budding Member 20 posts) 7y

I spent 2 months living in St. Petersburg for an intensive language program. In terms of places to stay, I would look for hotels on one of the islands, as Nevsky Prospekt is very expensive. I stayed on Vasileevsky Ostrov. It takes about 10 minutes by Mashrootka to get across the river. Once you are on the main island - travel through metro is very easy if you at least understand how to READ Russian. There are not any signs in English, nor do the loudspeakers over the metro announce in English. Also - you are not permitted to take pictures in teh metro stations. The bridges to the islands close at midnight (maybe 1) for freight to pass through, then open again at 5 am. Unless you are a party animal...make sure you are on the island you want to be on.

There are some amazing restaurants - a great sushi chain with a buy one get one free happy hour - including beer, I do not remember the name, but they are all over and have a big Bonzi tree behind the name. There are also some amazing Georgian restaurants. Stop into foreign food restaurants - they are all awesome. Il Patio, on Nevsky, has a great Happy Hour as well. St. Peter and Paul's Cathedral is a must - you can see all the Romanov graves. I would also recommend you see Peterhof. You can jump on a boat right behind the Hermitage and spend the day. If you have a student ID...bring it everywhere. You can get cheaper prices, often, if you speak the language well enough, they will let you slide. If you research your Mashrootka/Bus routes, I would definitely recommend going to Tsartkoye Selo...it is about a 30 minute Mashrootka ride.

When you walk along Nevsky - take a stroll down some of the side roads - there are hidden treasures and restaurants everywhere. If you plan on going to bars, go to the Red Lion, it is just along the Neva on the main Island. They have ladies' nights on Thursday - free champagne for women all night.

If you are a Western man - be very careful around the police. They are very corrupt and will ask you for your documents. If you do not have them, they will threaten to take you to jail if you do not produce 500 rubles. Also, be very aware of the Russian woman around you - they love Western men :) Women are very well respected, I did not have ANY issues while I was there, but several of my male, Western counterparts did.

Travelling to Moscow is easiest by overnnight train. I believe the train tickets are at Moskovskaya station, if not, they are at Mayakovskaya station. There are always really long lines and they close the ticket windows at lunch, for breaks, and at close - no matter how many people are in line. If you are not familiar with train travel in Russia - I would get the 1st class cabins. The standard tickets put you in metal cots with 4 bunks...it is freezing. The traffic in St. Petersburg and Moscow is horrible. The metros are very convenient - no need for a car. You can also put your hand out and a local will pick you up in their car. You arrange a price before getting in and give them the address. This is NOT recommended if you do not speak Russian well, are travelling alone, or are intoxicated.

Bring change or wipes - they charge you for toilet paper - per square...seriously.

If you have a dual entry visa - I would suggest a side trip to Finland. It is just across the Baltic. I went to Novgorod - you can pick up a bus in front of the shopping mall, there are also several different bus tours you can buy there. They leave as early as 7:00 AM.

I hope this helps. If you have any questions, please let me know, I would be happy to help.

4. Posted by Slakin (Budding Member 20 posts) 7y

I spent 2 months living in St. Petersburg for an intensive language program. In terms of places to stay, I would look for hotels on one of the islands, as Nevsky Prospekt is very expensive. I stayed on Vasileevsky Ostrov. It takes about 10 minutes by Mashrootka to get across the river. Once you are on the main island - travel through metro is very easy if you at least understand how to READ Russian. There are not any signs in English, nor do the loudspeakers over the metro announce in English. Also - you are not permitted to take pictures in teh metro stations. The bridges to the islands close at midnight (maybe 1) for freight to pass through, then open again at 5 am. Unless you are a party animal...make sure you are on the island you want to be on.

There are some amazing restaurants - a great sushi chain with a buy one get one free happy hour - including beer, I do not remember the name, but they are all over and have a big Bonzi tree behind the name. There are also some amazing Georgian restaurants. Stop into foreign food restaurants - they are all awesome. Il Patio, on Nevsky, has a great Happy Hour as well. St. Peter and Paul's Cathedral is a must - you can see all the Romanov graves. I would also recommend you see Peterhof. You can jump on a boat right behind the Hermitage and spend the day. If you have a student ID...bring it everywhere. You can get cheaper prices, often, if you speak the language well enough, they will let you slide. If you research your Mashrootka/Bus routes, I would definitely recommend going to Tsartkoye Selo...it is about a 30 minute Mashrootka ride.

When you walk along Nevsky - take a stroll down some of the side roads - there are hidden treasures and restaurants everywhere. If you plan on going to bars, go to the Red Lion, it is just along the Neva on the main Island. They have ladies' nights on Thursday - free champagne for women all night.

If you are a Western man - be very careful around the police. They are very corrupt and will ask you for your documents. If you do not have them, they will threaten to take you to jail if you do not produce 500 rubles. Also, be very aware of the Russian woman around you - they love Western men :) Women are very well respected, I did not have ANY issues while I was there, but several of my male, Western counterparts did.

Travelling to Moscow is easiest by overnnight train. I believe the train tickets are at Moskovskaya station, if not, they are at Mayakovskaya station. There are always really long lines and they close the ticket windows at lunch, for breaks, and at close - no matter how many people are in line. If you are not familiar with train travel in Russia - I would get the 1st class cabins. The standard tickets put you in metal cots with 4 bunks...it is freezing. The traffic in St. Petersburg and Moscow is horrible. The metros are very convenient - no need for a car. You can also put your hand out and a local will pick you up in their car. You arrange a price before getting in and give them the address. This is NOT recommended if you do not speak Russian well, are travelling alone, or are intoxicated.

Bring change or wipes - they charge you for toilet paper - per square...seriously.

If you have a dual entry visa - I would suggest a side trip to Finland. It is just across the Baltic. I went to Novgorod - you can pick up a bus in front of the shopping mall, there are also several different bus tours you can buy there. They leave as early as 7:00 AM.

I hope this helps. If you have any questions, please let me know, I would be happy to help.

5. Posted by Tory-Vic (Budding Member 87 posts) 7y

Hi, i am Russian i live in St-Petersburg, and i often travel to Moscow.
1. the best way is a train. I heard that the road there is quite ok now, but i dont think its a good idea to drive. first of all cause its a long trip, second is cause you are not used to russian drivers, and it might cost you life.
yes, you can take a ticket the same day, but only in case its not weekend. at weekends its not so easy to get the ticket . there are few kinds of trains, some of them are really cheap and rather uncomfortable, other ones are really expensive and good, i think the best way is to take something between :)
Trains in moscow go from Leningradsky train station. If you sleep well in the train its better to take a train wich parts at about 23.00 and arrives around 8-9 am.
2. we have 2 Golden rings, a small one and a big one. But even a small one needs at least 1 week as all the cities are rather far away from each other.
3. Arbat is expensive place, but rather nice.
4. Nevsky prospekt is a good place for the hotel, first of all cause its more safe to live downtown. There are really expensive hotels there, but its possible to find cheaper but rather nice mini hotels too. This week i had 2 visitors from China, so i placed them in 1 of those mini hotels, the price was less that 123 usd for Nevsky prospect. The hotel was nice and clean :)
5. Novgorod is a nice place to visit. But i dont think its a good idea to drive there as you might not like the roads.
As for other places, in case you go during summer, i think you might love Kizhy. Please google for the pictures :) i think there you will find what you were looking for :) but i think you need some Russian to guide you or just to go with you its the best way and it might help you avoid many problems.
6. When you are here, please keep all the papers from the hotels, all tickets and all the documents. You will need them when police stop you and when leaving. Better to have a copy of your passport and visa with you. In Moscow dont trust taxi drivers, the might charge you 300% more than needed, better check the prices beforhand so you have at least some idea :)
i hope this can help you, and if you have any questions, please ask, i will try my best to help :)

6. Posted by Tory-Vic (Budding Member 87 posts) 7y

Sorry, in point 4. i meant
the price was less that 130 usd which is not much for Nevsky prospect :)

7. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3289 posts) 7y

There is also a hostel close to Nevsky Prospect. See http://www.ryh.ru/ for more info.