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Russia - Moscow/St. Petersburg in two weeks

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1. Posted by Sio (Budding Member 31 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Hi all,

I am planning a trip to Russia from the UK and would welcome any tips/hints/warnings!
The plan is as follows:

Fly to Moscow
Spend 5 or so days there (with potential day trips?)
Train to St. Petersburg (I would love any train tips available - expected cost for example)
5 days in St. Petersburg and then fly home

I will be staying in hostels, and have been hearing about visa registration but am not fully clear on what that means.

And then the daily cost of food, Moscow being 'the most expensive city in the world', what should I budget for a days eatin and drinkin?

Ta muchly,


2. Posted by Sio (Budding Member 31 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Hi again,

We've changed plan slightly and are now flying to Riga and taking the train to either Moscow or St. Petersburg. Which is a better first destination?



3. Posted by vanessa (Travel Guru 257 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

its hadrd to choose btw Moscow n St P.- they r pretty different n both just great travel destinations.
Riga is absolutel lovely as well! dont miss it.
the main difference btw Moscow and St Petersburg is:
Moscow is more commersial, fun, dinamic
St P. is a lot abt culture, beautiful architecture, bad weather (often)
all depend your plans,
level of security - same ..less or more
have a nice trip!

4. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3290 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

If you are flying out of St. Petes go to Moscow first, otherwise you spent too much time travelling around. Moscow-St. Petes is 8 hours by train, you might loose 2 full days travelling between Moscow and St. Petes if you go Riga-St. P.-Moscow-St. P.

have been hearing about visa registration but am not fully clear on what that means.

I stayed at the HI hostel in St. Petes at 3rd Sovyetskaya ulica, they cooperate with an agency that does it for you. For me registration meant going to that agency, filling out a form, dropping off my passport, paying a fee and coming back in the afternoon to pick my passport back up.

BTW, have you checked how much you are going to pay for the train ticket from Riga to Moscow? I flew to Riga myself a few years ago and took the train, but it would have worked out cheaper if I had flown to Moscow.

5. Posted by LoveRussia (First Time Poster 1 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

the main difference btw Moscow and St Petersburg is:
Moscow is more commersial, fun, dinamic
St P. is a lot abt culture, beautiful architecture, bad weather (often)

Hi! Moscow is really more dynamic and modern, while Saint Pete is a pleasant mixture of dymamism and history. If to choose b/w Moscow and SPb i would prefer S.Pete as you can see a lot of sights almost in one place (around Nevsky Prospekt), e.g. such famous as these: and, while in Moscow places of interest are scattered so to say.

[ Edit: Edited on 26-May-2009, at 00:41 by LoveRussia ]

6. Posted by madpoet (Respected Member 415 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

Moscow doesn't have to be expensive. I stayed in a cheap hostel there, for about US$20, if I remember right.

If you are in Riga, going to St. Pete's, you should go by way of Talinn, Estonia. The Old City is amazing- it looks like something from a storybook.

The hotel or hostel you stay at will register the visa for you, usually for a nominal fee (a few rubles).

7. Posted by citybell (Full Member 419 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

Hi Sio,

To a querry, i received a reply from a russina friend about Registration.Hope this clear and usefu to you:

As for registration you are required to Register where you are staying in Russia within 3 working days of your arrival and within 3 working days of your arrival in every other City you go to. You do not register your Visa, you are registering your presence and location in Russia and at different cities you visit .

If you are staying in hotels it is easy and they will do it whenever you check-in, even if you are there for only 1 night. The within 3 working days means just that - if you arrive on Friday night, then you must have completed your registration by the end of the following Wednesday (assuming Saturday and Sunday were not working days and Monday to Wednesday are working days.

The importance of the 3 working days is mostly for staying in private apartments, when you need to have the apartment owner register you within the 3 working days and if you are not there for 3 working days, then you don't need registration. Hotels are obliged to register you even if you only stay for 1 night.

8. Posted by sofushka (Budding Member 8 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

Hi,Moscow is the capital of Russia,there are alot of historical places,which you should visit there and you'll really endjoy it,but there are alot of mini markets,which spoile the impression,but generally it's greate!As for Snt.Petersburg it's like Europe in Russia!!!But you must be carefull whith russian thiefes,don't belive every body who'd offer you their help!Have a good trip!:)

9. Posted by Slakin (Budding Member 20 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

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 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 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.