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St Petersburg Travel Tips – History Meets The New Russia

st petersburg travel tips
St Petersburg Travel Tips – History Meets The New Russia

St Petersburg Travel Tips. An article sharing travel tips about visiting St Petersburg. How to get there and more…

mark ford

Mark Ford

I’m glad to have you here looking for St Petersburg travel tips. The city of St Petersburg lies around 400 miles west of Moscow, nestled on the Neva river it spreads out from its banks and across a series of islands. 

With a wealth of extravagant palaces, breathtaking cathedrals and magnificent gardens St Petersburg is truly Russia’s imperial city. Its grandiose architecture and picturesque canals were born from glittering ambition of Peter the great, early in the 18th century. 

St Petersburg was known as the Venice of the north, but the 21st century was unbelievably cruel to the city. Bombed, besieged and starved during world war II, St Petersburg was neglected during the Soviet-era and large parts of it fell under the control of organized crime. 

But as Russia began a new chapter in the 1990’s what was once Leningrad became St Petersburg again. And the city wasted no time in returning to its former glory. The most cosmopolitan city in the country, St Petersburg is the perfect ambassadeur for Russia’s past, present and future. 


St Petersburg Travel Tips – How To Get From The Airport To St Petersburg

St Petersburg is served by Pulkovo Airport which is located around 20 kilometers south of the city. It’s a reasonably modern airport, in fact some of the terminals are almost brand new. There’s two layers of security, when you come into the airport you have to go through an initial screening and then you have to go through a secondary screening after immigration. So leave enough time. 

Once you’ve cleared immigration, grabbed your bags and are ready go you have some choices to make to get from the airport to the city. There is no direct train or metro service to and from the airport, but there are a number of buses. The 39 bus will take you to the city center in 35 minutes and costs around 45 rubles ($1).

st petersburg metro

St Petersburg Metro

Alternatively Uber is available from the airport and will cost between 500-900 rubles ($7-$14) depending on which part of the city you’re heading into. 

Taxis can be booked from the service booth in the arrival hall and fares are fixed depending on the area of the city you’re traveling to. You’ll pay between 1000-1500 rubles ($15-$23) including booking fee.


St Petersburg Travel Tips – Best Ways To Get Around St Petersburg

When looking for St Petersburg travel tips one of the important things to get to know more about is of course the city’s public transport. We all have our own favourite way of getting around the city, some prefer trams and others enjoy buses. St Petersburg offers a wide variety of options on how to get around the city and I will share them with you right now. 


St Petersburg’s metro is a destination in itself, it’s quite literally a work of art. And the system is cheap, efficient and functional. A great way to get around the city. Any trip on the metro regardless of the distance you’re travelling, costs 45 rubles ($1). You can get a 10 trip pass for 355 rubles ($5). You can grab one at the ticket machines in the station or from one of the ticket kiosks. 

Due to the cities unique geology it’s actually the deepest metro system in the world. On average the stations are 85 meters below the surface and it makes for some long escalator rides from turnstile to trains, so plan for that.

st petersburg tram

St Petersburg Tram


In Russia, every single car is a potential taxi. Flagging down a private vehicle and pain for a ride somewhere is perfectly normal in Russia. But it’s not recommended for a couple of reasons. Firstly language. While more people in St Petersburg speak english than any other city in Russia, it’s still not universally adopted. 

So you may be able to get a taxi, but telling the person where you’re going that’s a different story. The second thing of course is safety. It’s never a good idea to get into a random person’s car in any city on earth. 

So if you want to take a taxi take an official taxi. A couple of tips on that:

  1. Negotiate your fare before you begin your journey. 
  2. If a driver insists on using the meter find another one. 

Otherwise it might turn out to be a very overpriced ride around the city. 


The safest and easiest alternative is Uber that has extensive service throughout St Petersburg. Your driver may not speak english and you may not speak a word russian, but the app will of course provide you with everything you need when it comes to location and payment and it will get you from point A to point B without any hassle. 


Best Places To Stay In St Petersburg

St Petersburg has a more european feel and look than Moscow, not surprisingly since it’s located only a couple of hours flight away from Scandinavia and the rest of Europe. Depending on what you are looking to experience in St Petersburg, here’s 3 different areas in the city

st petersburg traffic

St Petersburg Traffic

that are great to stay in St Petersburg is very cheap compared to many big european cities and you can easily get a really great hotel stay in the city center for a significantly lower price than it would usually cost. 

City center: Admiralteysky or Nevsky. If you want to immerse yourself in the city’s culture and stay central near restaurants and tourist attractions this is the place to book a room.

More quiet: Smolny. This is a bit outside the center and still close to the main tourist attractions, without the noise and with a much more relaxed experience.

Budget: Nevsky or Liteyny. For budget travellers this is the place to find cheap hotels. 


What To Eat And Drink In St Petersburg

When digging into St Petersburg travel tips, Russian food just like Russia itself has a rich and storied history. You can eat and drink and get around this city incredibly cheaply and it’s all excellent quality if you’re looking in the right places. When it comes to tipping 10% is more than enough in any restaurant and bar experience. Visa and mastercard is accepted everywhere and there are ATMs all over the city.

The 6 most popular dishes in St Petersburg

fried smelt

Fried Smelt

Fried smelt is fried tiny fish that is a very popular dish in St Petersburg. Try it at the restaurant the Ginza project. 

Rassolik is a traditional Russian soup that can only be found in St Petersburg. It’s pickled cucumbers, meat, potatoes, carrots and onions. Try it at Restaurant Banshchiki.

Shawarma is a middle eastern food that came to Russia in the 1990’s. Flatbread served with meat, vegetables and sauce is a street food that is popular and served all around the city. The russian version is pronounced shaverma and consists of cucumbers, tomatoes, onions and garlic sauce. Cafe Shaverma is where you get the best ones.


Pirozhki are traditional St Petersburg pies served with meat, vegetables, egg, cheese and mushrooms. Try them at Khozyayaushka. 

Pyshkas is a famous doughnut that is served and enjoyed with coffee in St Petersburg. Dusted with sugar it’s fried treat that you will really enjoy. Cafe Pyshechnaya has great ones. 

Leningrad Cake Set. End the eating with a great set of sweets. Known as Lennabor this sweet consists of cream puff, an eclair, cream tube, sponge strips, patty shells with cream and fondant cubes. Try it at Café Sever-Metropol 

hermitage museum

Hermitage Museum


Top 7 Experiences You MUST Have When Visiting St Petersburg
  1. The Hermitage is one of the world’s foremost art museums, located in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The museum has works by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael, among others. Here you will find the largest Rembrandt collection in the world, as well as unique collections by Peter Paul Rubens, Vincent van Gogh, Henri Matisse, Vincenzo Petrocelli, Paul Gauguin and a number of French Impressionists. Majestic and a must when visiting the city. 
  1. The Cathedral of Resurrection is the magnificent church building that St. Petersburg is most known for. The church is also called “The Church on the Blood” because Alexander II was murdered at this location on March 13, 1881. The church was later built in his
    cathedral of resurrection

    Cathedral of Resurrection

    honor. It is located next to the Griboyedov Canal not far from the Nevsky main street prospect. It’s incredible architecture is stunning as it oozes of history and detail. 


  1. Peterhof’s Palace is a complex of palaces with surrounding park facilities, located in the city of Peterhof just outside of the city. The establishment was founded in 1711 by Peter the Great as a royal palace and is included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The official inauguration took place in 1723. The palace and the park were largely planned by Peterhimself, and a pervasive theme in the decorations is Russia’s victory in the Great


    Nordic War. An incredible site that is well worth the visit with it’s beautiful buildings and parks. 


  1. The Winter Palace is a majestic building where the former Tsars resided. The palace is recognizable on its green baroque-style facade. The palace is today part of the complex of buildings that houses the Hermitage Art Museum. Its current design got it between 1754 and 1763 when it was built as a winter residence for the Russian tsars. Located near the water this is one of those beautiful sites that has to be seen with your own eyes. 


  1. Kazan Cathedral is one of the largest religious buildings in St. Petersburg. Built in the 1800’s it’s over 100 meters high and 111
    winter palace

    Winter Palace

    meters long. A large and majestic historical place that has to be experienced to believe it. 


  1. Saint Petersburg Metro has typical Soviet design features such as decorations and art. Due to the geological characteristics of the city, it is one of the deepest subway systems in the world. Every night the subway closes for minor repairs. Going on the subway is an art exhibition in itself and it’s a free cultural experience. 


7. The Amber Room was a gift from the Prussian King Fredrik Vilhelm I to the Russian czar Peter the Great, handed in 1716. The gift was a room with walls of amber and several furnishings of amber. The room was designed according to drawings by Andreas Schlüter. The room was installed at the Berlin city castle but was moved to Russia after the Russian tsar showed his admiration for it. Located in the Katerina

amber room

Amber Room

Palace in Tsarskoe Selo.

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Plus 1 Travel | Travel Tips

Travel Tips

Mark Ford – Founder of Plus1Travel.com

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