Looking for some advice on my upcoming Russian mini break. Flights are booked and now just need to sort out the other details! We are flying into Moscow on a weds and flying out of St Petersburg on the Sunday. The plan is to spend 2 nights in moscow, take the overnight train to St P then spend 1 night there before heading home. Does this sound realistic?? I havent sorted out our visas yet as wasnt sure if it was best to stump up for an all inclusive service or to do everything ourselves? Also, is it best to book our train tickets before we go or will we be ok to book them when we arrive - neither of us speak any russian, nor do we know the cryllic alphabet!
Any advice / help would be most appreciated.
Either direction, the rail journey is wonderful and takes between 8 and 24+ hours, depending on what train(s) you take. There is no need to book in advance through agencies, Rail Europe etc. There'll always be space available on whatever train you choose to board. It's Eastern Europe.. A sub-continent that never turns customers or cash away ! !
Both Moscow and St. Petersburg have ticket offices that make the western ones bow in shame. The architecture of their stations is like 5* hotels too. If the queues for tickets/booking are too long for whatever reason, they phone up the local agencies in town and ask them to open up an extra window or two to cope with supply and demand. The system is faultless. The agencies in Russia will charge you exactly the same price as at the stations. If the train to your your destination has just pulled out with you missing it, there will be another one within the hour. It might involve a change, but the staff will work it out with the minimum wait at your connecting station. They take awhile to do the bits n pieces, but they are geniuses at doing it. If you have a little spare back pocket change, I would suggest travelling 1st class. It isn't as flashy as it sounds. It'll only be a little bit more that 2nd class and it could avoid you sitting next to a goat for 5 hours (honest ! ! )
As a recommendation, don't get the overnight trains. They are a little more expensive, but that isn't the reason. It's dark and you miss half the trip, unless of course you are there in June or July when it hardly gets dark at all. In St. Petersburg it's pretty much daylight 24 hours from the 1st week in June to the 3rd week in July.
You need atleast 2days each in Moscow and St.Petsrsburgh. For me, i like to spend more time in St.Petersburgh as it is a lovely city compared to Moscow.
You need one full day to spend at the winter palace(the museum) in St.Pts and better to queue up as early as possible.You need one day each to visit the city and Peterscoff(?) the palace which is outside the city.
If you can decide the dates of your travel, you can book tarin tickets in advance.If you book in advance, the price would be cheaper. If you canot, no need to worry.There are train booking offices in the main shopping street of St.Petersburgh. There are many categories of trains fast, slow etc and the fare depends on it. Some trains takes longer duration and the quickest one takes about 4hrs-4.5hrs but the fare is much higher.
You can do by yourself even i fyou don't know any russian (to read or write) with help of some travel guide or getting assistance from the passers-by.
Suggest youu to ask some one to write down the place where you stay and where you wish to visit on a paper in Russian so that you can be guided correctly.
You will surely enjoy Moscow and St.Ptsb,
Have a nice travel.
i think there are a lot of hotel for budget and short stay travelers, and since you're on vacation you should visit some famous bars that people and natives that really are visited.
I'm a Moscow native, so I will obviously vote for my home town vs. the "second city".
Warnings and advice I can contribute are:
- Getting by without knowing any Russian may be a bit difficult. Even in the central tourist attractions, signs in English are few and far in between. Try to obtain maximum information from your hotel staff.
- Go for guided tours even if your not a fan of them. Take into account that given the VERY limited time you have, its the most efficient way to cover as much ground as possible.
- Consider a private tour - a guide to escort you and your party along the itinerary of your choice. Even if you travel on a budget, the rates are affordable by European/US standards.
Regarding the transit from Moscow to St. P:
- Advance booking is unnecessary.
- Traveling by daylight affords you a nice view, but given your time constraints, I'd go for the overnight express.
I'd be glad to try and answer any specific questions you may have.
Hope you enjoy the trip, and make it the first of many. Five days are way too short a stay.