Are you planning to visit the splendid capital of Russia? Or have you already booked a hotel and airplane tickets? You are on the right track! However, you should pay attention to our tips in order to have nothing but a good time.
We believe that our advice will help you to avoid unpleasant situations and hopefully your trip to St. Petersburg will be one to remember for many years to come!
Of course you need local currency. Dollars and euros are not accepted in any restaurant or shop. However, do not hurry to exchange a large sum of money at the airport as the exchange rate leaves much to be desired. Exchange a small amount of pocket-money that you may need (for instance, a taxi or metro tickets).
Taxi in St. Petersburg
Speaking of taxis; if you prefer not to use public transport or are afraid of getting lost, you can always make use of taxi services on our web-site. Our drivers speak English and what’s more, the prices are always fixed! We recommend you don’t flag taxis down because there is no single official service and most drivers do not speak any foreign languages… and more importantly the price may be several times higher than expected!
Tipping culture in Russia
All travellers around the world have a question about gratuity. This tendency is picking up steam in Russia; we usually leave 5-10 % of the bill in restaurants, cafes and bars, as tips are not included. However, the choice is yours!
Speaking English in St. Petersburg
Unfortunately, not many people in St. Petersburg speak English. If people in the street are unable to help you it does not necessarily mean that they are unfriendly, they just did not understand you! Of course, hotel and restaurant staff speak English and even some other foreign languages.
We are friendly!
There is a stereotype that Russian people are unfriendly. Forget it! It is just a myth. We are just not used to smiling without reason, but it does not mean that we have a bad attitude to foreigners or we are unhappy all the time. In reality, we are very friendly people and if we have an opportunity to lend a helping hand we will do it with pleasure.
If you are planning to stay in Russia and wish to keep in touch, then you it might be a good idea to purchase a SIM card at the airport. They are cheap and function all over the country! It is also worth noting that the metro has free WI-FI, as do many cafes and restaurants.
Although St. Petersburg is a big city, it is rather safe. Nevertheless, be vigilant especially when you are in crowded areas.
Should I always bring my passport?
Of particular importance are documents. Wherever you go take your passport (or a photocopy, at least). For example, you will need it when you buy a SIM card. You won’t be alone as Russian people carry their passports everywhere!
Immigration cards that you fill in at the airport or on a plane are one of the most important documents in the Russian territory. It is free of charge, but be careful when filling it out.
Perhaps you are going to visit Moscow or other cities and towns. The railway system is very developed in our country. You can get to any point from St. Petersburg, and some destinations are even accessible via high speed train! Sapsan (to Moscow), travel time 4 hours.
Price levels in St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg is an affordable city with relatively reasonable prices. For instance, a meal in a restaurant is around 10 dollars per person, a metro ticket costs less than a dollar, and entrance to museums is roughly 5-8 dollars.
Wheelchair accessibility in St. Petersburg
If you are travelling with someone who is mobility impaired then please be aware that there are many pedestrian under-crossings that are not equipped with wheelchair ramps. The same goes for some museum and metro entrances. St. Petersburg authorities are working to resolve this problem, that is why we believe that in a short while the situation will improve.
Buying souvenirs in Russia
When travelling back home how can you delight your nearest and dearest? With a souvenir of course! You should certainly buy the Russian doll (Matryoshka), lacquer boxes, imperial porcelain, famous Gzhel and Hohloma utensils. Unfortunately, there are some rules in respect to exports that you should be aware of. Goods that are more than 50 years old (antique icons, for instance) are not allowed to be exported. If you have bought items that are semi-antique, you should get a special document proving that these exported goods do not have any cultural value. If you have decided to export caviar, there are several rules: you can export not more than 5 kilos of salmon roe, and not more than 250 grams of sturgeon roe. What’s more, we do not recommend putting cans in your hand-luggage.