St Petersburg

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Travel Guide Europe Russia Northwestern Russia St Petersburg

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Introduction

St Petersburg (Caнкт-Петєрбýрг) is the second-largest city in Russia and the fourth largest in Europe. The city is the capital of the former czarist Russia. It has often been called "the gateway to Europe". Speaking about this city, people often mention that Venice lies on 116 islands, whereas St.Petersburg lies on more than 40 islands. That is why St.Petersburg is often called Venice of the North. "Venice of the North" is the largest port of the country, the city that has everything and more to make your stay a pleasant one.

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Neighbourhoods

  • Central St. Petersburg - Situated between the Neva in the north and the Obvodny Canal in the south and crossed by the Fontanka and Moika rivers. It includes the Hermitage Museum and the main avenue of the city, Nevsky Prospekt, and is full of architectural monuments of the late 18th-19th centuries.
  • Vasilievsky Island - The eastern part of the Vasilievsky Island has long been the center of the city's academic life. Many examples of the 18th century architecture as well as the famous early 19th-century ensemble of the Spit of the Vasilievsky Island are there. The more western parts have been gradually developed since 1850.
  • Petrograd Side - It hosts the site where the city was founded in 1703 and includes the Peter and Paul Fortress dating back to the first half of the 18th century, but the rest of the borough was mostly built over in the late 19th-early 20th century and is rich in notable architectural monuments of that period.
  • Northern Saint Petersburg - Mostly an urban commuter area of monotonous and often ugly Soviet-era apartment blocks. There are some notable landmarks scattered across it, such as the Academy of Forestry with its park, Military Medical Acedemy, Polytechnical University and Buddhist Datsan.
  • Southern Saint Petersburg - This area boasts gorgeous industrial architecture and magnificent Stalinist buildings. A former industrial borough, it was the place of strikes preceding the revolution of 1917, and the scene of the siege of Leningrad during WWII.
  • Right Bank - Very little visited, this area hosts historical gunpowder factories, a few beautiful churches and parks, the Ice Palace hockey arena and the Ladozhsky Train Station.

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Sights and Activities

St Petersburg is simply put one of the greatest sightseeing cities on earth. No visit can do it justice - you'll have to move here to really be able to see all the sights. Really, budgeting a month of full-time tourism would not be unrealistic. And that's after all dramatic events of the 20th century that took place here! Perhaps no other city outside Italy can compare in sheer volume of beautiful, grand things to see. As the center of the Russian world for 200 years of the Romanov Dynasty, the city reaped the rewards of Peter the Great's impossibly grandiose and tyrannical vision, and the Empire's extreme inequality. The wealth of the wealthy in Imperial Russia was almost unfathomably extreme, and led to the extreme opulence of the palaces and ecclesiastical buildings throughout the city center, as well as the suburban palaces at Peterhof, Lomonosov, Strelna, Pushkin, and Pavlovsk. The greatest concentration of sights is found within the huge area of the center inside the Obvodny Canal, along the south embankment of Vasilievsky Island, and in the southern half of Petrogradsky Island.

The most obvious destination is the Winter Palace on Palace Square (right by the Admiralty and the Bronze Horseman), which houses the Hermitage Museum, and which was the winter residence of the Romanov Tsars and essentially the center of the Russian Imperial government. The Hermitage Museum is easily one of the top five art museums in the world, but even if you don't care about art, wandering around the enormous palace itself is extremely rewarding. The nineteenth century, whimsical Church on the Spilled Blood nearby is another internationally recognized icon of the city, with a spectacular setting on the Griboedov Canal near the Mikhailovsky Garden, and filled—literally filled—with beautiful mosaics.

Speakings of canals, strolling the palace-lined banks of the Moika, the Fontanka, and the Griboedov Canal in the historic center is a must. During the summer months, you can also enjoy this magnificent architecture from the boat by joining any of the popular (albeit expensive) "channel tours," or opt for a budget boat trip along the Neva river on a so-called riverbus, which is a tiny boat zooming along the river on several routes that are integrated into the system of public transport.

In the same neighborhood, walk down Nevsky Prospekt, which serves as Saint Petersburg's main grand avenue for shops (especially the historic mall of Gostiny Dvor), theaters, and another realm of palaces and cathedrals, most notably the massive Kazan Cathedral. The Kazan Cathedral is functioning, so its easier to visit than the other big cathedrals (no lines, entrance fees, etc.). In the same neighborhood, but off Nevsky, are the Square of the Arts, where you'll find the Russian Museum - an absolute can't-miss for art lovers. The Mariinsky Theater is one of the world's most beautiful performance venues, and you should check it out even if you can't see an opera or ballet performance. Mammoth Saint Isaac's Cathedral, with its impressive balcony views, is another obvious sightseeing destination.

Across the Neva River are more can't-miss sights. The Peter and Paul Fortress on the Petrograd Side is easily one of the city's top three attractions. Aside from its sheer beauty, visit it for its immense history as the final resting place of the Romanov Tsars, as well as its role as a notorious prison for the most high-profile political prisoners under their rule. On Vasilievsky Island, you must at least take a taxi over to the Strelka for the views by the Rostral Columns, across the street from the Old Stock Exchange, home to the Naval Museum, surely one of the best of this kind on the planet. Then take another ride along University Embankment before heading back across the river. Better yet, stop along the way at the weird and wonderful Kunstkamera museum of ethnology, home to Peter the Great's bizarre collection of oddities.

Complicating the desire to see the city's highlights in a short period of time are the magnificent suburban palaces at Peterhof, Pushkin, Lomonosov, Strelna, and Pavlovsk. Any tourists who visit Saint Petersburg and don't see neither the Tsarskoye Selo palaces at Pushkin, nor the Bolshoi Palace at Peterhof, really should be a bit ashamed of themselves. It's like going to Paris and skipping Versailles. Of the three, the Pavlovsk Palace would be the least unforgivable to miss, but if you have the time - go.

The center has a world of more sights. Mars Field with the Memorial to the Revolutionary Fighters and the Eternal Flame, the Circus, wonderfully baroque Smolny Cathedral, Peter the Great's Cabin, the rolling parkland of the Tauride Palace and Gardens, Alexander Nevsky Monastery, the Yusupov Palace where Rasputin was killed (if you get the chance to see a performance in the theater inside, jump on it), the neoclassical bust-filled Summer Gardens, Mikhailovsky Castle, the Marble Palace, the small but powerfully heartrending Museum of the Defense and Blockade of Leningrad. Literary buffs should seek out Dostoevsky's local haunts, including the famous "Murder Walk" from Crime and Punishment, which will take you right from Raskolnikov's apartment to the door of the very apartment where the grisly deed was done.

Head back across the river to the Petrograd Side, past the Peter and Paul Fortress, you'll find the Saint Petersburg Mosque, the really impressive Military Museum, the museum-ship of the Cruiser Aurora, the ever... interesting Museum of Political History, and the Botanical Gardens. On Vasilievsky, the whole Neva embankment is filled with great museums and grand buildings. Especially great places to visit (aside from the aforementioned Naval Museum and Kunstkamera) include the Menshikov Palace (run by the Hermitage), the Twelve Collegia, and the Mining Museum. And don't forget to hunt down the some 3,300 year-old sphinx statues from the Theban Necropolis!

Hermitage

St.Petersburg (Hermitage) - Room

St.Petersburg (Hermitage) - Room

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34 Palace Embankment is the address of the world-famous Hermitage that along with the British Museum and the Louvre is one of the leading arts museums of the world. The Hermitage, as its name suggests, is a place of seclusion. Empress Catherine II gave that name to the part of her palace (called the Winter Palace) where she kept unique art treasures. Although founded in 1764, it only opened to the public in 1852. The Hermitage Museum is one of the oldest and most famous museums in the world, located by the Neva river in St. Petersburg. Its collection holds over 3 million pieces, of which around 65,000 are on display in the museum's 125 halls. The palace itself consists of 600 rooms. The The highlights of the Hermitage collection include a number of paintings by Rembrandt, Madonnas by Leonardo da Vinci, sculptures by Canova and several paintings by Matisse. The museum spreads out over 6 buildings along Palace Embankment, including the Winter Palace, the former residence of the Russian Emperors. Of these, only 4 are partially open to visitors. To avoid standing in line, tickets to the Hermitage can be bought online. In recent years, a number of dependencies of the Hermitage have been established, to include the Hermitage Amsterdam in Amsterdam and Hermitage-Kazan Exhibition Center in Kazan, Tatarstan, while Guggenheim Hermitage Museum in Vilnius is scheduled for opening in 2011.

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Events and Festivals

Stars of White Nights Festival

Held in St Petersburg’s Mariinski Theater, this festival kicks off in May and ends in July, highlighting the Russian love of opera, classical music, and ballet with top artists, orchestras, solo musicians, and conductors showing off their talent.

St Petersburg Beer Festival

The June Beer Festival is one of the all-time favorites in St Petersburg, featuring hundreds of brands laid out at the Peter and Paul Fortress. Thousands attend, and there’s live music and food to keep the party going.

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Weather

St. Petersburg has a continental climate with relatively warm summers and cold winters. Average high temperatures in summer (June to early September) are between 20 °C and 23 °C, with a record of 37 °C. From December to February, days are a few degrees below zero but temperatures can plummit at night, with a record low of -36 °C. The average annual amount of precipitation is around 660 mm with about a third of that in the summer months. In winter, the city is usually covered in a layer of snow.

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Getting There

By Plane

St Petersburg Pulkovo Airport (LED) is the main gateway to St. Petersburg. There are numerous airlines serving destinations throughout Europe and further away. It is the main hub of Rossiya which has flights to/from Almaty, Amsterdam, Antalya, Arkhangelsk, Astana, Baku, Barcelona, Beijing, Berlin, Bishkek, Chelyabinsk, Copenhagen, Dubai, Dushanbe, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Geneva, Hamburg, Helsinki, Heraklion, Hurghada, Irkutsk, Istanbul, Kaliningrad, Khabarovsk, Kiev, Krasnoyarsk, Larnaca, London, Milan, Moscow, Munich, Murmansk, Novosibirsk, Odessa, Paris, Paphos, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Prague, Rhodes, Rome, Rostov-on-Don, Salzburg, Samara, Samarkand, Sharm el-Sheikh, Simferopol, Sochi, Sofia, Stockholm, Tashkent, Tel Aviv, Tenerife, Thessaloniki, Tyumen,Volgograd, Yekaterinburg and Yerevan. British Airways offers direct flights from London-Heathrow to St. Petersburg. Alternatively, one can opt to fly on a low-cost airline from the United Kingdom to Riga and onwards take the overnight train to Vitebsky station in St Peterburg. Marshrutkas (minibuses) run on several lines, some of them following the city bus routes (and using matching line numbers). Pulkovo Airport is served by two regular bus lines (no. 13 and 39).

By Train

St. Petersburg has four major railway stations, with long-distance connections to all directions.

  • Vitebsky station - Formerly known as the Tsarskoe Selo Station, it was the first railway station to be built in Saint Petersburg and the whole of the Russian Empire. Architecture: Construction started in 1901 and lasted for three years. Stanislaw Brzozowski gave the new two-storey station an ornate frontage in an assortment of historical styles, with decorative reliefs, floriated Jugendstil detailing, outsize semicircular windows and two regular features of 19th-century train stations: a pseudo-Renaissance cupola and a square clocktower. - However, it was Sima Minash's opulent Art Nouveau interior that established the building as the most ornate of St. Petersburg stations. Minash was responsible for the sweeping staircases, foyer with stained glass and spacious halls boasting a series of painted panels that chronicle the history of Russia's first railway. The building's soaring arches and expanses of glass proclaimed the architect's familiarity with advanced construction techniques of the West. In 2003, the station underwent a painstaking restoration of its original interior and Jugendstil decor. Apart from the replica of the first Russian train, curiosities of the Vitebsk Station include a detached pavilion for the Tsar and his family and a marble bust of Nicholas I. Trains operate to/from Pushkin (formerly Tsarskoe Selo), Pavlovsk, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Moldova, Bulgaria, Germany, Riga (14 hours, from RUB2,200), Estonia Ticket prices (from): Ukraine, Odessa (RUB3,813), Kiev (RUB3366); Belarus,Grodno (RUB2,999), Vitebsk (RUB1,629); Lithuania, Vilnius (RUB2921); 'Local trains': Nevel (RUB815), Novosokolniki (RUB689), Velikie Luki (RUB880), Soltsy (RUB549), and other cities.
  • Baltiysky station (Балтийский вокзал), Nab. Obvodnogo Kanala, 120. This is one of the busiest railway stations in Russia by volume of suburban traffic. The station was modeled by architect Alexander Krakau after Gare de l'Est in Paris. Construction started in 1854. The station was opened on 21 July 1857 as the Peterhof Railway Station. The station retains a glass roof over the terminal platforms and is flanked by two-storey wings. The left one used to be reserved for members of the Russian royalty who went to their palaces in Strelna, Peterhof, Oranienbaum. A glass panel on the façade still features the original clock, designed by Pavel Bure, a celebrated watchmaker to the tsar and the ice-hockey players' ancestor. Trains operate to/from Petrodvorets (Peterhof), Lomonosov (Oranienbaum), Gatchina, Luga. Also used by trains to/from Aeroport station, with connecting buses to Pulkovo airport.
  • Finlyansky station is serviced by the direct international train to Helsinki and other destinations in Finland. There are four daily high-speed trains in each direction between Helsinki and St. Petersburg. These trains take about 3.5 hours to cover the route. Trains also stop in Tikkurila, Lahti, Kouvola and Vainikkala in Finland and in Vyborg in Russia.
  • Ladozhsky station - This is the newest and most modern passenger railway station in Saint Petersburg, designed by architect Nikita Yavein, is one of the largest in Russia with a capacity of up to 50 commuter departures and 26 long distance departures accommodating 4,500 passengers per hour. Built at a cost of RUB9,000,000,000 (US$300 million), the station opened in 2003 for the 300th anniversary of the city's founding. Trains operate to/from Petrozavodsk (RUB835), Arkhangelsk (RUB1,697), Tyumen (RUB3,038), Tula (RUB1,435), Krasnodar (RUB2,839), Murmansk (RUB2,030), Ekaterinburg, Cheliabinsk, Omsk, Novosibirsk, Astana (Kazakhstan), Helsinki (night-train Leo Tolstoi), and other cities.
  • Moskovsky station has an easily recognizable Neo-Renaissance frontage on Nevsky Prospekt and Uprising Square, erected in 1844-51 to a design by Konstantin Thon. Although large "Venetian" windows, two floors of Corinthian columns and a two-storey clocktower at the centre explicitly reference Italian Renaissance architecture, the building incorporates other features from a variety of periods and countries. A twin train station, now known as the Leningradsky railway station, was built to Thon's design at the other end of the railway, in Moscow. Trains operate to/from Moscow, Novgorod, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Volgograd, Kazan, Samara, Rostov-na-Donu, Ufa, Sochi, and other cities.

By Bus

International buses and buses to major cities in Russia all leave from the main bus station (Avtovokzal), near the Obvodny Kanal metro station. Some may make additional stops elsewhere in the city; see below. Buses are the preferred method of travel to/from Estonia and Latvia, but generally do not make sense for travel to Finland or within Russia.

The process of crossing the border by bus takes much longer than when travelling by train or air. Border agents only speak Russian and are sometimes not aware of visa requirements, which leads to delays.

Eurolines provides services to and from Helsinki. Two daily buses provide services to Vyborg and St. Petersburg from Helsinki, one of which originates in Turku. There's also one daily bus from Tampere and three weekly buses from Lappeenranta. Check Matkahuolto for more information about prices and schedules.

By Boat

Germany:

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Getting Around

Down deep

Down deep

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St. Petersburg is huge, and many of its outskirts are not safe for those who do not speak Russian and/or stand out as tourists. But, why bother with them at all, in a city where there is so much to see closer to the centre?

By Car

Taxis are always available but are much more expensive at night. Every private vehicle is a potential taxi. Flagging down a vehicle and paying for a ride somewhere is perfectly normal in Russia and quite popular although ill-advised for tourists. Safety is, of course, an issue. As a rule, you should never get in a private cab if it already has passengers inside.

Refuse requests from the driver to take on more fares unless you reached your destination; if he insists, ask to stop at a safe-looking place, pay and leave. If the driver stops for gas, step out of the car, take your belongings, and get some fresh air while he is fuelling it. Those travelling alone (men and women) should wave off any suspicious ride for any reason whatsoever. Gypsy cabs which linger near popular bars and restaurants at night have been known to be especially dangerous, with several instances of druggings and robberies.

Drivers do not usually speak English. Watch out for overpriced taxis outside Hermitage museum. They have meters that run at 4 times the rate of regular taxis. Negotiate a flat fare before getting on the taxi. If the driver insists on using the meter you should walk away.

By Public Transport

Saint Petersburg's metro system is the second largest in Russia, after that of Moscow. The metro is a cheap and effective way to get around the city, and also a major tourist attraction due to the beautiful decorations of the stations. Amateur photography (without a tripod, etc.) is allowed, although professional photography is prohibited. The trains are fast and run frequently. During rush hour, there are often only 30 seconds between trains. Fares are RUB45 per entry regardless of the distance traveled. Multi-trip passes can be purchased including a 10-trip pass for RUB355 (must be used within 7 days of purchase). The system can be accessed by inserting a brass token into the turnstile slot, by tapping a Sputnik smart card purchased from a machine at the station, or by tapping a Mastercard PayPass or Visa PayWave card on the white circle near the turnstile. Large baggage requires payment of 1 additional fare. Opening and closing times vary; the subway is closed from approximately midnight to approximately 05:45, depending on the station. Metro maps can be found in every train car and always have station names in the Latin alphabet. The station names on the platforms are also in the Latin alphabet, and many other signs are in English. Station announcements on the train are only in Russian, but if you listen carefully you will hear the conductor announce the current station name and the next station as the doors are closing. Stations are deep underground, and transferring trains at transfer stations involves long walks that can take up to 10 minutes. Trains can be extremely crowded during rush hour. Be aware of your belongings and expect to have to push your way out of the train upon arrival at your station.

Buses and trolleybuses run frequently and cover much of the city. Trolleybuses are indicated by the letter 'm' (the lower case version of the Russian letter 'т') on the stops, and diesel/gas buses by the letter 'A'. Both buses and trolleybuses may show the same route number, but the trolleybus route in this case is frequently shorter, and can vary in some minor respects. Trams (трамвай – "tramvai") are not common in the city center due to traffic issues but are available outside the city center. Tickets (RUB40, more to the suburbs) are sold by attendants on board the vehicle. They usually only speak Russian and prefer exact change.
Buses and trolleys on main routes are frequently overcrowded. If you are caught without a valid ticket, you will be fined RUB300.

By Bike

The city is not bicycle-friendly. There are some designated lanes, but they are rare and don't form a network. Cycling alongside car traffic is very dangerous and cannot be recommended to anybody not used to the local habits of driving.

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Eat

Nothing, absolutely nothing, tastes better than hot Russian crepes (bliny/блины, pronounced blee-NYH, or just bleen for one) with caviar, mushrooms, caramel, berries, or what have you with a cup of tea on a cold winter street. Teremok (Теремок) is the street-corner kiosk "chain" for bliny but it now has indoor fast food spots around the city, along with Chainaya Lozhka (Чайная ложка) and U Tyoshi Na Blinakh (У тёщи на блинах).

The other really tasty local offerings for street food/fast food include pirozhki (one: pee-rah-ZHOK, several: pee-razh-KEE), shawarma (шаверма), and pyshki (пышки). Pirozhki are fried buns stuffed usually with beef, vegetables, potatoes, and mushrooms, and are easy enough to find, but not quite as widespread as in Moscow. Shawarma is a decidedly Saint Petersburg phenomenon (i.e., you won't find much of it in other Russian cities), served mostly by Azeris, and is everywhere - in cafes and on the street. Russians swear up and down that the street shawarma is either made of rats or will just make you sick, but by God, the street vendors cook up the most delicious kababs you'll ever find. Pyshki are Russian doughnuts, wonderful with coffee, and are strongly associated with Saint Petersburg. The place to get them in the center is named, naturally, Pyshki, at Ul. Bolshaya Konyushennaya 25.

For restaurant dining, offerings are diverse. Forget whatever you've heard about Russian food - it's delicious. A pretty unique place to eat Russian cuisine would be the attractive restaurant on the grounds of the Peter and Paul Fortress. International, Western European, Asian fusion (Russified Chinese food is really good, but requires a culinary dictionary to order), etc. are just as easy to find as Russian, and sushi is very popular. Some of the most exciting food to try comes from the former Soviet Republics. Georgian cooking, despite its obscurity, is one of the world's great cuisines, and should not be missed. The Central Asian (usually Uzbek) restaurants are a lot of fun too.

Here is a comprehensive list of some restaurants in historical districts which can give an insight of St. Petersburg gourmet diversity: Eating out in St. Petersburg

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Drink

The city acts as a beer destination for Moscovites visiting St. Pete for business or vacation reasons--hence its pubs frequently have a much wider choice of beers than an average pub in Moscow (not to mention other cities in Russia). St.Petersburg, being the fatherland of the most popular beer in Russia - Baltica (Балтика), is considered the beer capital of the country, while Moscow is more of a Vodka Capital. Baltica, by the way, comes in a large variety of numbers. Numbers 7 and 8 (seem-YORK-uh, vahs-MYOR-kuh) are the most popular: seven is a lager, eight is a Hefeweizen-style wheat beer.

Saint Petersburgers know how to party. There is a wide and excellent selection of great clubs that will satisfy all tourists looking to spend the night out. The city hosts clubs of all music. Rock, pop, jazz, hip hop/RnB, and a lot more.

Because of the difficulty in operating gay clubs and the social stigma associated with visiting gay clubs, many young men prefer to use gay iPhone applications like Hornet, Grindr and Tinder to arrange to meet at coffee shops and more discreet locations. This change in technology and the new political issues in St. Petersburg is transforming how gays meet, from nighttime dark watering holes to public straight venues during the day. At the same time, there are several small, rather dirty gay clubs in the city: The Central Station (Центральная станция), Priscilla/Blue Oyster (Присцилла/Голубая устрица), Cabaret (Кабаре) and Malevich (Малевич).

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Sleep

The best area for a tourist to stay in is generally considered to be near the Nevsky Prospekt Metro. Indeed, one of the nicest hotels in the city (Evropa) is right there. You'll be able to walk to most of the main attractions, and there are tons of restaurants, shops, cafes, clubs, etc. right on Nevsky. Staying off Nevsky along one of the beautiful canals, though, would also be a fabulous idea.

  • The Swiss B&B swissSTAR is located in the historical centre of the city, close to metro station "Sennaya Ploshad". swissSTAR has a total of 8 rooms, 5 of which with ensuite bathroom. Accommodation from €40 per night incl. breakfast. Tel. +7 911 929 2793. Email: info@swiss-star.ru.
  • 5th Corner Hotel (Отель Пятый Угол), Zagorodniy avenue 13 (metro: Vladimirskaya or Dostoevskaya, trainterminal: Moskovskiy Vokzal), ☎ +7 812 380 8181, fax: +7 812 380 8181, e-mail: booking@5ugol.ru. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: noon. Business hotel in a restored building from the 19th century. Al the rooms are decorated in warm autumn tones and equipped with AC, TV, and mini-bar. From US$66.
  • Acme on Malaya Morskaya Str ("Акме" отель на Малой Морской, 7), Malaya Morskaya ulitsa (Малой Морской), 7 (M Адмиралтейская), ☎ +7 812 600 2080, +911 127 0999 (cell), fax: +7 812 312 9542, e-mail: info@acme-hotel.com. Check-in: 14.00, check-out: 12.00. Stylish, modern design. Rooms come with a fridge, TV-set, tea/coffee makers, and WiFi. Non-smoking. RUB2,500-10,000.
  • Acme on Rubinsteina str ("Элегия" отель на Рубинштейна, 18), Rubinsteina str(улица Рубинштейна) 23-81 (M Достоевская, M Маяковская), ☎ +7 812 575 8233, +7 911 008 0099 (cell), fax: +7 812 575 86 53, e-mail: info@acme-hotel.com. Check-in: 14.00, check-out: 12.00. An elegant, small luxury hotel in a nice neighborhood off the main drag. Rooms come with LCD TV-sets with satellite channels, tea/coffee makers, WiFi, DVD players. Non-smoking. RUB2,300-10,000.
  • Comfort Hotel herzen-hotel, Bolshaya Morskaya Ul.25 (M Адмиралтейская, - 2 blocks off Nevsky Prospekt between the Moika and Admiralty), ☎ +7 812 570 6700, e-mail: info@comfort-hotel.org. Small expensive hotel (18 rooms) with attentive service. Breakfast buffet included. English-speaking staff. RUB3,200-10,000.
  • Dom Dostoevskogo (Отель "Дом Достоевского"), naberezhnaya Griboyedova Kanala (набережная канала Грибоедова), 61/1 (M: within 2 minutes walk: Sennaya, Sadovaya, and Spasskaya.), ☎ +7 921 947-7656, fax: +7 812 314 8231, e-mail: info@ddspb.ru. Check-in: 14.00, check-out: 12.00. A small and comfortable mini-hotel in the centre, in the same building where the famous Russian writer Dostoevsky used to live. 10 cozy rooms with plasma TVs. RUB2,900-4,500.
  • Ermitage Hotel (Мини-отель Ermitage ****, Отель Эрмитаж), Millionnaya st.11 (метро Невский проспект 1km S), ☎ +7 812 571-5497, e-mail: info@ermitage.spb.ru. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. A small four star hotel with genuine St. Petersburg spirit. Located in the historical centre. Offers 4 double rooms that allow usage of a fully equipped study and a magnificent hall with fireplace - and with the whole staff of the hotel at your disposal. RUB4,600-10,800. edit
  • Herzen House, Bolshaya Morskaya ulitsa, 25, ☎ +7 812 315-55-50, e-mail: info@herzen-hotel.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. 20 rooms of different types, TV, bathroom, phone, air-conditioning in each room. 24-hours English speaking reception. Excellent breakfast (buffet) included. From RUB3,100.
  • Kamerdiner Hotel (Камердинер-отель), Ozernoi Pereulok (Озерной переулок), 6 (Metro: Ploschad Vosstaniya, from the Moscow Railway Station: Walk along Ulitsa Vosstaniya from Nevsky and take first right after small park.), ☎ +7 812 273-0113, +7 812 272-5027, e-mail: info@kamerdiner.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Small cosy hotel- Seven rooms in lavishly restored former mansion looking onto monastery, very friendly service and attentive staff. Continental breakfast, satellite TV, fridge, safe, air-conditioning, 24-hour security, visa support, theatre bookings, guided tours, airport transfer. RUB5,200-6,500.
  • Matisov Domik (Мини-отель «Матисов Домик»), Matisov Island, Priazhka river emb. (наб. Реки Пряжки), 3/1 (метро «Сенная площадь» — minibus #К1 or from метро «Гостиный двор» — bus #22 or from метро «Приморская» — bus #6, #6К from метро «Нарвская» — #2; near the Mariinsky Theatre), ☎ +7 812 495-0242, e-mail: hotel@matisov.com. A small, cosy hotel. Excellent service. Large, clean rooms and sat tv. RUB3800-6800.
  • Hotel Moscow (Гостиница «Москва»), Alexander Nevsky pl.(Площадь Александра Невского) , 2 (Metro Ploschad' Alexandra Nevskogo Площадь Александра Невского,), ☎ +7 812 274-4001, e-mail: welcome@hotel-moscow.ru. Incredibly gargantuan concrete monolith that continues to carry forward the Soviet traditions of former monopoly operator, Intourist. Ugly and soviet in style, but the location right above a metro station is excellent and the price can be right, especially if booked in a package. Single: RUB4,300; Double: RUB4,500-6,000.
  • Nevsky Express Hotel (Невский Экспресс Отель), Goncharnaya ulitsa, (Гончарная ул. 6), Nevsky pr.93 (Moscow Railway Station 0.2km West; Metro: Ploschad Vosstania), ☎ +7 812 717-1888, e-mail: info@nevskyexpresshotel.com. 3 star hotel. RUB3000-3600.
  • Nevsky Forum Hotel, Nevsky pr., 69 (0.8km East Moscow Railway Station, M Маяковская 0.1km), ☎ +7 812 333-0222, fax: +7 812 571-6443, e-mail: office@forumhotel.com. 24-hours receptions. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. 29 rooms different categories. All with bathroom with bathtub or shower, sat TV, telephone, air conditioning, mini-bar, electronic safe-box, hair-dryer. Room-service, business & conference facilities, transport & excursion service, visa support & registration service, laundry. From RUB5,000.
  • Nevsky Grand Hotel, Bolshaya Konyushennaya ulitsa, 10 (M метро Невский проспект 0.6km SW; Just around the corner from Nevsky Prospect, 5 minutes from the subway and a 10 minute walk from the Hermitage Museum.), ☎ +7 812 703-3860, fax: +7 812 703-3860. Air conditioning in every room. Rooms are very small, but functional. Staff speak English well, and breakfast is included (available 7AM-11AM). Shortcomings: no fridges in rooms; steep staircase at the entrance is difficult for a stroller. From €80.
  • Nevsky Hotel Moyka 5, naberezhnaya Reki Moyki (наб. Реки Мойки), 5 (метро Невский проспект 1.0km S, near to the Hermitage Museum and Palace Square), ☎ +7 812-6010636, e-mail: info@nevskymoyka5hotel.com. 3 star hotel. Buffet breakfast. While the cheapest rooms are a bargain, you get what you pay for. Get a room with a jacuzzi and sauna.
  • Northern Lights (Гостиница Северный Свет), Bolshaya Morskaya ulitsa, 50/6 (M Адмиралтейская), ☎ +7 812 571-9199, fax: +7 812 570-6409, e-mail: info@nlightsrussia.com. Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 12:00. A small, beautifully designed hotel. Services are up to the highest international standard. Continental breakfast, visa support, airport transfers. RUB3200-6300.
  • Old Vienna, Malaya Morskaya ulitsa, 13/ Gorohovaya 8 ( Малая Морская ул., д. 13 / Гороховая ул., д. 8) (Metro: Адмиралтейская), ☎ +7 812 314 3514, e-mail: vena@old-spb.ru. Check-in: 13.00, check-out: 12.00. A both stylish and "home-cozy" mini-hotel of business class level, located in the centre. All 14 rooms with: air con, bathroom, sat TV, telephone, mini-bar, hair-dryer, DVD. Breakfast (buffet) included in the price.
  • Rachmaninov, Kazanskaya 5 (Next to the Kazan Cathedral, in the city centre), ☎ +7 812 571-78-97, fax: +7 (812) 571-76-18, e-mail: office@hotelracmaninov.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Art-hotel. 24h reception Single RUB4,300-6,300; Double: RUB5,000-9,600.
  • Rent Room, 5-ya Sovetskaya ulitsa, 21 (M Площадь Восстания 0.4km, Маяковская 0.7km), ☎ +7 812 923 05 75, e-mail: info@rentroom.ru. Check-in: 12.00, check-out: 12.00. A cozy Swiss-managed bed & breakfast in a nice neighborhood off the main drag. Rooms come including breakfast, with TV sets with satellite channels, tea/coffee free, WiFi. Non-smoking. €45-65; Double: €65-85; Triple: €80-95; Quad: €95-110.
  • Sabrina (гостинице "Сабрина B&B"), Bolshaya Morskaya ulitsa, 21 (M Адмиралтейская), ☎ +7 812 448-4957, fax: +7 812 314-7602, e-mail: reception@sabrina-hotel.ru. 09:00-20:00 (phone). A family-run bed & breakfast 1 block from Nevsky Prospect and the Hermitage. Basic, but very clean and comfortable. A bit difficult to find as it is on the fourth floor of an apartment building. Code for building entrance: 2230#. - Bdget hotel chain. Other units: Sabrina Apart Hotel, Bolshaya Morskaya str. 53/8; RUB2,000-3,300.
  • Safari (гостиницы Сафари, мини-отель), Uliza Babushkaya (ул. Бабушкина), 47к3 (15km South to stop 'Улица Дудко' by Bus 95; M Елизаровская 1.6km N). Check-in: 13.00, check-out: 12.00. Good service and you might be able to negotiate a better price. Looks bad from outside, but from the inside is fairly new and clean. RUB2,200-2,500.
  • Swiss Star B&B, Fontanka Embankment 93-26 ap.26, ☎ +7 911 929 2793, e-mail: info@swiss-star.ru. Check-in: 14.00, check-out: 11.00. A Swiss managed bed & breakfast in the historical centre of the city. Stylish, safe and very clean. 8 rooms (5 with attached bath) and a big, fully equipped kitchen. Free breakfast and tea/coffee. Non-smoking. English speaking staff. Single: €40-90; Double: €50-110; Russian invitation: €35-45.
  • Vera, Suvorovsky prosp. (Суворовский проспект ) 25/16 (close to Grand Hotel Emerald) (M Площадь Восстания 1.1km S), ☎ +7 812 702-7206, toll-free: +1-866-969-2939, fax: +7 812 271-2893, e-mail: info@hotelvera.ru. Check-in: 14.00. Up-to-date and cozy rooms; 4th to 6th floors of an old building. Staff speak English by default, not Russian, which is quite rare. 6th floor features mansard windows. Some rooms have poor sound isolation from the corridor (eg. 514, 604). Free internet over wire, cable supplied. Breakfast: no frills; no hot plates but fresh fruits; no espresso, only American coffee. €90-180.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Russia is a huge country, and excess to the internet varies a lot. The main cities and tourist places have (free) wifi excess at lots of places, like restaurants and cafes (McDonald's is always a safe bet). Internet cafes are present in larger places as well. Rural areas and especially if you venture into remote and/or mountainous areas have little excess at all. Most travellers will find connections though when using their phone or tablet.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

The emergency number is 112. The country code for Russia is 7. Russian phone numbers have an area code with three, four or five digits (according to their province), followed by an individual number with, respectively, 7, 6 or 5 digits, always yielding 10 digits in total. The three digit code 800 is used for toll-free calls. Mobile phones always have three-digit "area" codes and seven-digit numbers. Calls within any one area code may omit the area code (except in Moscow). Inter-area code calls within Russia: 8 (wait for tone) full Russian number including area code. The international access code for dialling outwith Russia is the sequence of 8 (wait for secondary tone and then) 10. International calls to Russia, as always, replace the plus sign (+) in the international phone format with the local international access code for the country you're calling from, followed by Russia's country code of 7 followed by the individual Russian phone number including area code.

You will require a SIM-unlocked GSM 900 / 1800 compatible international cell phone when buying a Russian SIM card. If you do not have your own international cell phone, it's best to buy a cheap cell phone with some value on the card. Foreigners can purchase a local SIM card by showing your passport. BeeLine is considered to be the best in terms of reliability and connections quality. However Megafon's services can be a bit cheaper.

Post

Russian Post is the national postal service of Russia. It's English version is currently under construction, but mainly involves the track&trace system. The domestic post is reasonably reliable, and sending international mail is fairly reliable but slow, taking at least a few weeks to European countries, longer to the USA or Australia for example. The delivery of mail sent from abroad to Russia is highly unreliable, and people or companies tend to use foreign adresses, from where a private carrier sends it to Russia. Alternatives like poste restante are non-existent with Russian Post. Most cities and large towns in Russia have a Central Post Office (Glavpochtamt), which also sells stamps and envelopes, and usually has fax services and Internet availability, though the latter mostly not in smaller places. Also, many hotels have postal services, including mail boxes. Post offices tend to keep long hours, usually from 8:00am or 9:00am until 8:00pm or 9:00pm Monday to Friday, and closing earlier during weekends. The main central post offices in the biggest cities keep even longer hours. For sending parcels, you can also try services by DHL Russia and FedEx Russia. For all mail you can use the regular alphabet, though maybe include the country's name in Cyrillic. For sending post to Russia (or trying to receive it) note that addresses should be in reverse order: Russia, postal code, city, street address, name.

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Quick Facts

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Population
4,661,219
Coordinates
  • Latitude: 59.939039
  • Longitude: 30.315785

Accommodation in St Petersburg

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This is version 55. Last edited at 9:09 on Jan 10, 19 by Utrecht. 14 articles link to this page.

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