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St Petersburg, Russia

Peter and Paul Fortress
Peter and Paul Fortress


Introduction

With canals and royal palaces, St Petersburg is a mix of Venice and Versailles on the western end of Russia. Most Baltic cruises spend two days here.

Visas

Citizens of most nationalities will either need a visa or be on a tour from a government authorized operator. For independent tour companies, SPB Tours, Alla, DenRus, and Red October are recommended. You may need to fill out a customs card. For those on overnight visits, your passport stamp will give you entry the second day.

Where You're Docked

Large cruise ships dock at the new Marine Facade complex three miles northwest of the city center. You will need to clear customs in the cruise terminals here. There are ATMs, and some small shops though the terminals are a fair distance from the residential areas. Smaller cruise ships sail up the Neva river and dock at either English Embankment or Lieutenant Schmidt Embankment much closer to the city center. Marine Facade website with ship schedule here http://www.portspb.ru/en/

Marine Facade Map

Cruise Ships Docked at Marine Facade

Marine Facade

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English Embankment

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Lieutenant Schmidt Embankment

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Money and Tipping

Currency in Russia is the Russian Rouble (RUB) though tourist shops and markets may take Euros. A small tip (around 10%) is appreciated when dining in restaurants. There are ATMs (some with currency exchange capability) available in the cruise terminals at Marine Facade.

Local Transportation

There is an extensive metro network in St Petersburg though it may be difficult to get around if you can't read or speak Russian. When taking a taxi, have your destination written in Russian since most taxi drivers don't speak English. Taxis can be booked from desks inside the cruise terminals. Private vehicle drivers may offer to take you to your destination for a fee. For your safety, it is recommended to only use legitimate taxi companies.

Bus 158 travels between Marine Facade and the nearest metro station, Primorskaya, about 2km to the east. The bus departs approximately every 30 minutes between 7am to midnight. You will need local currency and the fare is 30 RUB. Take the metro with it's opulent stations two stops to Gostiny Dvor. To ride the metro, a token must be purchased for 35 RUB (Apr 2016)

Hotels

Search hotels in St Petersburg here

Must See Sights

Because of the expense of a visa and difficulties with language (both spoken and written), most cruise ship passengers will opt do do a tour. Here are some sights you may visit. Prices updated Mar 2016.

  • Hermitage Museum - This former royal residence now houses one of the world's greatest art collections. Open 10:30-18:00, Wed and Fri til 21:00. Closed Mondays. Cruise ship tour groups may have the main galleries open for them before regular opening times and on Mondays. Buy tickets online to avoid waiting in long lineups. http://www.hermitagemuseum.org/
  • St Isaac's Cathedral - You can climb up to the dome of this ornate church for a separate fee. Entry 250 RUB. Open daily at 10am. Closed Wednesdays. http://eng.cathedral.ru
  • Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood - This onion domed Russian Orthodox Church has elaborate mosaics inside. Entry 250 RUB. Open daily at 10am. Closed Wednesdays. http://eng.cathedral.ru
  • Catherine Palace - This palace was the summer home for Russian royalty. Be sure to visit the famous Amber Room. Entry 400 RUB. Closed Tuesdays and last Monday of the month (off-season only). See official site for hours but generally opens at noon. http://eng.tzar.ru/
  • Peterhof Palace - Famous for the gravity fed fountains in the back. May open early and during closed days for tour groups only. Fountains turned on around 11am. Entry 600 RUB. Grand Palace closed Mondays and last Tues of the month. Can be reached by hydrofoil service by the river behind the Hermitage. See official site for hours http://www.peterhofmuseum.ru/?lang=eng
  • Peter and Paul Fortress - Under the tall spire of the cathedral are the tombs of Russian Tsars. Entry 350 RUB - cathedral only. Open 10:00-18:00. Closed Wed. http://www.spbmuseum.ru
  • Yusupov Palace - Famous for being the location of Rasputin's murder. Can only be visited on a pre-arranged tours.
  • Kazan Cathedral - A large cathedral on Nevsky Prospekt. This church is usually not visited by tour groups. Free entry.

Overnight Tip

If you depart from the UK, you will have three hour forwards when arriving in St Petersburg. Tours usually start early in the morning to make the most out of your day. Most people that book evening tours on an overnight don't show up because they are too jet lagged and tired.

Shopping & Restaurants

Nevsky Prospekt is the city's main street where you can find Gostiny Dvor. It is the oldest, and largest department store in St Petersburg taking up an entire block. There are markets behind it on Sadovaya and the surrounding streets. Two malls adjacent to each other can be found by Sennaya metro station two blocks to the southwest. There is a souvenir market beside the Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood and some stalls on the south side of St Isaac's. Off Nevsky Prospekt across from Gostiny Dvor is Malaya Sadovaya, a short pedestrian street with a Kugel ball.

For Russian fast food, try a Blini (a russian crepe) at the chain restaurant Teremok. For the non-adventurous, you can find Subway, Starbucks, McDonalds and Carl Jr's here.

Head to the soviet-era cafe Pyshechnaya (Bol. Konyushennaya ul. 25 - off Nevsky Prospekt near the Church of Spilled Blood) for coffee and russian style donuts, pyshki. These donuts can also be found at various bakeries along the main street including Sever (44 Nevsky Prospekt), Bakery Volkonskiy (15 Nevsky Prospekt), and Bakery Michelle (114 Nevsky Prospekt).

Try a piroshki (baked pie with meat or dessert version with fruit) at Stolle (multiple locations, including 11 Nevsky Prospekt by Hermitage). Popular with tourists. http://www.stolle.ru/

Post Offices

Some of the terminals at Marine Facade have post offices. The Central Post Office is at 9 Pochtamtskaya Ulitsa about a block west of St Issacs Cathedral.

Internet

Cafes and malls may provide free wifi for customers. Cafes inside the cruise terminals may have paid wifi. An internet cafe may be setup just outside the terminals and full of crew.

Maps (right-click to save)

Weather

St Petersburg Weather Forecast

Find more about Weather in Saint Petersburg, RS
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Climate and weather http://www.saint-petersburg.com/weather/

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