Do you have questions about Saint Petersburg Russia? If so, you've come to the right place.
If you're about to travel to St Petersburg, surely you must have lots to ask. After all, who doesn't have questions when traveling somewhere!
For the benefit of you and our other enthusiastic visitors, on this page, we have compiled some of the most frequently asked questions from our visitors, organized them in categories, and answered each of them in a comprehensible way.
We tried to answer every question you may have, but honestly speaking, we can't think of everything.
So, if you don't find the answer you're looking for or there's something else about Saint Petersburg Russia that you want to know - please ask your question here.☺
you can find a list of top answers to common questions about traveling in
Saint. Petersburg Russia. To get started just click in the category that most suits your question. We hope you'll find the answer you are looking for!
Q. What is the best way to fly to Russia from the USA?
A. The best way to fly to Russia from the USA is to land in one of the main European cities first like Paris, London, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Berlin, or Riga. From there, you take a second flight to St. Petersburg or Moscow. You could also book a round trip flight to Tallinn or Helsinki and then take a train or a bus to St. Petersburg. Another idea, maybe the cheapest one, would be flying to Kyev, and then to Saint Petersburg Russia with Ukraine International Airlines.
For more information, please see our dedicated page, Flights to St Petersburg.
Q. What is the best way to fly to Russia from Europe?
A. The best way to fly to Russia from Europe is with EU national air carriers such as SAS, AirFrance, Lufthansa, British Airlines, Transaero and Aeroflot. They have direct flights and often, depending on the season, attractive discounts, especially Aeroflot which is the flag carrier and largest airline of the Russian Federation. However, there are also a number of discounter airline companies like AirBerlin, GermanWings, or AirBaltic worth checking that also offer good deals, but only if you book well beforehand (normally 3 months ahead).
Q. What is the cheapest way to fly to Saint Petersburg Russia?
A. The cheapest way to fly to Saint Petersburg Russia would be flying with Ryanair (the controversial and still popular low-cost airline company in Europe) to Lappeenranta in Finland or Tallinn in Estonia. From there, you can take later a bus, a marshrutka, or a train to reach St. Petersburg.
Q. Can I travel from Helsinki to St. Petersburg or the other way around by train?
A. Of course, you can! That would be an alternative and great way to enter Russia. From Helsinki to St. Petersburg or the other way around, you can find daily trains offered by Finnish and Russian railways. However, according to what you choose, the price, quality, and speed will vary. The most popular train used both by Finnish and middle-class Russians is currently the Allegro. It is faster, well equipped, and up-to-date, but not cheap!
For more information, please see our dedicated page, St Petersburg by Train.
Q. I will travel to Saint Petersburg Russia by ferry, do I need a Russian Visa?
A. If you're traveling to Saint Petersburg Russia on a cruise ship or a ferry round trip, and you stay less than 72 hours, you don't need a Russian visa. However, in order to go ashore, you must have a tour voucher issued by a licensed tour company, which you have to show at the passport control upon your arrival at the port terminal. You can buy a tour voucher, also known as a blanket visa, with the shipping company you're cruising with (not your best option), or with a local private tour company of your choice (Recommended). In both cases, by Russian law, you need to stay with your assigned or chosen tour guide for the whole time you're in the Russian territory.
For more information, please see our dedicated page, St Petersburg Shore Excursions.
Q. Can I visit Saint Petersburg Russia without a visa?
A. Yes, technically you can! The majority of foreign citizens who wish to enjoy a stay in Saint Petersburg Russia can visit our city for 72 hours without a visa (visa-free) if they arrive on a ship cruise. If you arrive in St. Petersburg by air or by land (train, bus, or car) you will need to obtain a visa beforehand; However, cruise passengers arriving at Russian ports can visit the city for a period of up to 72 hours without needing a visa.
Q. Do I need a visa to enter Russia?
A. The answer is YES for nationals of most countries. However, recently Russia established a visa free travel with several European, Asian, and South American countries. To check if the visa free travel is applicable in your case, you should contact the Russian consulate in your country. In all other cases, no matter what the purpose of your visit, you will need a Russian visa to enter the Russian Federation.
For more information, please see our dedicated page, Russian Visa.
Q. Can I get a Russian visa on arrival?
A. No! Russian visas can only be issued at Russian Consulates and at designated agencies sub-contracted by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or since 2020 online by filling out an online electronic visa application form. Please note that based on your nationality, you may not be able to apply for a Russian visa in any consular department. Generally, Russian consular departments will only issue visas to nationals who can prove that they are entitled to live in the country where they are applying for at least six months. So, before starting to apply, make sure you know where you are going to make your visa application.
Q. What type of Russian visa do I need?
A. There are several types of visas available depending on the length of your stay and the reason of your visit. For example, if you are planning to stay in the country for no more than 30 days, then a single-entry Tourist Visa is all you need. While if you plan to stay longer, then you'll need to apply for a private/home or working/business visa.
For more information, please see our dedicated page about the types of Russian Visas.
Q. Can I Get a Russian Visa Online?
A. Yes, you can! Since October 2019 tourists intending to visit Russia for a short-term stay can now apply for Russia e-Visas, a much faster and more practical way to obtain a Russian travel authorization than the traditional Russian tourist visa. Currently, e-Visas are available for specific Russian regions. In order to visit the regions of the Far East, Kaliningrad, and St Petersburg, it’s no longer necessary to present supporting documentation at a Russian embassy or consulate.
For more information, please see our dedicated page, St Petersburg E-Visa (coming soon).
Q. How I can get a Russian visa?
A. To get a Russian visa, you first need to obtain an invitation (visa support) issued by an authorized organization (hotel or someone living in Russia). Then you should fill up an application form (now downloadable online) with all your travel information and take both the documents, including your passport, to the nearest Russian consulate in your country. However, according to what type of visa you apply for, different documents are required, plus since 2019 you can also apply for a Russian visa online if your stay is going to be short. Please note that not all foreigners are eligible to apply for a Russian Visa online.
For more information, please see our dedicated page about Russian Visa.
Q. What documents do I need to apply for a Russian Visa?
A. You need to have a passport valid for at least six months and two blank pages, plus show evidence that you have health insurance valid in Russia for the duration of your stay. In addition to that, you will have to complete and submit an application form (the US and Georgian citizens have to make a special form), and give recent passport photographs (again, the number and format may vary from consulate to consulate).
However, as requirements vary according to your nationality and where you are applying, you should always check with the Russian consular department where you plan to apply for your visa. Lastly, now passport copies, online application form, and other documents required for the visa can be submitted online if you apply for an e-Visa Russia for short-term stays only.
Q. What are Russian visa support documents?
A. Support documents are specific documents (paperwork) you need to prepare before applying for your Russian visa. For instance, if you decide to make a Tourist Visa, the visa support documents you need are a Tourist Confirmation and a Tourist Voucher confirming that you have booked accommodation for your stay in Russia. Also, your tickets (train, bus, plane tickets) are support documents because they might be requested during the visa registration. However, keep in mind that if you choose to submit an e-visa application, different documents apply.
Q. What is visa registration?
A. The visa registration is an old practice to notify the immigration authorities about the place of your stay while you're in Russia. So upon your arrival, the company or individual who has provided you with visa support documents and/or is providing you with the accommodation must register you with the local authorities within seven working days, excluding holidays and weekends.
Q. What do I do if my Russian visa is lost or stolen?
A. In case you lose your passport during your stay in Russia, you should first contact the nearest consular department for your country of origin and then go to a police station in order to obtain an official form confirming the loss or theft of your travel documents.
Q. How long will it take to get a Russian visa?
A. This varies from Embassy to Embassy and according to what type of visa you apply for. To give you just an idea it can take from 7 days to 14 days, sometimes even more. For your information, since October 2019 most foreign passport holders intending to visit Russia for a short-term stay can now apply for Russia e-Visas, a much faster and more practical way to obtain a Russian travel authorization than the traditional Russian tourist visa. Personally speaking, if you pay and let someone else do the visa application on your behalf you will get it faster with no hassle!☺
Q. How much is a Visa to Russia?
A. Visa price varies according to the type of visa you want to do. For more information, please see our dedicated page about Russian Visa.
Q. What is St Petersburg Russia known for?
A. St. Petersburg is a mecca of cultural, historical, and architectural landmarks. Founded by Tsar Peter the Great as Russia's “Window on Europe,” it bears the unofficial status of Russia's cultural capital and most European city. St. Petersburg's near 24 hours of sunshine and White Nights celebrations during the summer months are also important things for what is St Petersburg known for today along with, of course, the famous Hermitage State Museum and the city's canals and rivers, or its turbulent history.
Q. How long to spend in Saint Petersburg Russia for the first time?
A. For your first time, visitors should spend between five or seven days to get a great taste of the city without rushing into things. Less, like two or three days, would be a little short but also acceptable. Please note that in the city of Peter the Great there are a lot of things to do and see, so we always suggest staying at least five days. Of course, the more you stay, the more you see!
Q. What is the best way to get to and from Pulkovo Airport?
A. There are several ways to get from Pulkovo Airport to the city. If you're on a low budget you can take the express city bus number 39A or 39Ex as well as the Marshrutka K39. However, when taking the bus you won't arrive straightaway in the city, but only at the Moskovskaya Metro Station. So, if you want to reach the city center, from there you'll have to take the blue metro line to Nevsky Prospekt Metro Station. Another option, if you don't mind spending more, could be to take a taxi upon your arrival at the Taxi Pulkovo Counters or, much better, book an airport transfer with us before you come and be greeted at the airport.
For more information, see our Pulkovo airport page.
Q. When is the best time to visit Saint Petersburg Russia?
A. St. Petersburg is a city for all seasons, so it really doesn't matter when you come, but it is true to say that the best time to visit the city is from the end of May to the beginning of September. In the winter, however, there are few tourists around the city because it is cold and fewer things to do (December and January is the best time to come if you want to experience the snow, the new year, the local festivities, and much more). The months for which we highly advise to come are May, June, July, December, and January. Summer in St Petersburg is short but surely the best time to come!
For more information check our dedicated page about Weather in St Petersburg.
Q. Is it safe in Saint Petersburg Russia?
A. Traveling to Saint Petersburg Russia is generally safe for anyone. Apart from petty theft carried out by beggars or gypsies you are unlikely to be victims of a crime. As in any country, you should use your common sense and avoid wandering alone in deserted places. Also, over the years there is been only one terrorist attack in St. Petersburg (The unfortunate metro bomb attack in 2017), but for the rest, it has been pretty quiet here, and still, it is up to now. If you're concerned about Covid-19, well, that is an issue which has affected all the world and in St. Petersburg as for the whole country of Russia, the government is taking the same precautions as in your country such as using social distancing, masks, gloves, sanitary products, and so on. With that being said, don't worry and come!
Q. Is Saint Petersburg Russia a good place to live?
A. Yes, it is! Apart from the bad roads and some of his old fashioned infrastructures as well as the unpredictable weather, we believe St. Petersburg is one of the best vibrant and interesting cities to live in Russia as well as one of the greenest and safest. The city is a large and great cultural, historical, and scientific center. It offers numerous places for entertainment, relaxation, eating, and shopping, including plenty of green zones to play and walk. Also, the cost of living is still cheap if compared to Europe and, best of all, you have the most beautiful and educated girls in the world - plus a good urban environment to raise your kids if you want or have some.☺
Q. Tour Guide vs Solo Sightseeing, what to choose?
A. Saint Petersburg Russia is a safe place, so you can tour the city easily on your own and do many things, including a visit to the famous Hermitage Museum or other Museums in the city with tickets purchased online in advance. However, when touring alone you'll miss the chance to see the city from the local perspective. You'll not get an insight into the history of the city and its cultural and political life. Plus, as not all places are the same or located close to each other, and English is not spoken everywhere, you might face some difficulties in going or seeing everything you want.
Our advice is always the same: go for a one or two day tour with a private local guide to get an overview of the city and feel more oriented, and then leave another day or two to do things you like that can be done on your own. This way you'll get the most out of your stay and have a stress free visit.
For more information, check our page dedicated to Private Tours.
Q. Is Saint Petersburg expensive?
A. Saint Petersburg Russia is surely cheaper than Moscow, with prices on a similar level to most major European cities when it comes to sightseeing, nightlife, and eating out.
Q. Is English Spoken in Saint Petersburg Russia?
A. Russian is the official language of St. Petersburg, but English is spoken but not everywhere and not by everyone. It depends where you go and who you go out with. The downtown, where the tourists hang out, is an area where working staff at restaurants, cafes, museums, and shops do speak a little English. The Russian language uses the Cyrillic alphabet, but many signs in tourist areas feature both Russian and English.
Q. What is Russia famous for?
A. Russia is known all over the world for its thinkers and artists, including writers like Leo Tolstoy, Pushkin, Dostoevsky, composers such as Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, and ballet dancers like Rudolf Nureyev or Anna Pavlova. Also, it is known for the Kremlin in Moscow, the famous Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg as well as for its vast nature and resources. Nowadays, Russia perhaps it has become known even for the longest, pragmatic, and smart President of the country Vladimir Putin.
Q. What is the Russian currency?
A. The Russian currency is the ruble or rouble (RUB). Rubles are issued in coins in amounts of one, two, five, and ten rubles. Banknotes come in values of 10, 50, 100, 500, 1000, and 5000 rubles. Small stores, kiosks, and many other vendors have difficulty changing large notes, so when visiting Saint Petersburg Russia make sure you have small notes or coins with you!
Q. Do people speak English in Saint Petersburg Russia?
A. Yes! Some do, others don't. But only the majority of younger people do speak and understand English at varying levels as well as other languages, such as German, Italian or French. Unfortunately, we cannot say the same for the middle-aged or elderly people.
Q. Are Russian people friendly?
A. Generally speaking, Russian people are not particularly friendly with strangers, so common courtesy in some cases can be lacking. Conversely, they can be very helpful if you ask for directions or information. Also, their hospitality is amazing, and once they get to know you they become very loyal friends.
Q. What are the most important facts about Russia?
A. Below you can find 5 top facts everyone must know about Russia:
Q. How much money do I need to take when visiting Saint Petersburg Russia?
A. Saint Petersburg Russia is less expensive than Moscow, so tours, food, entertainment activities, and transport are significantly cheaper than the capital. Of course, this doesn't mean you will find many bargains, but if flexibility is not a big issue for you then it is possible to live frugally. For instance, if you don't mind taking public transport like the metro, and looking for "cheap eats" restaurants, and sleeping in hostels, then you can save lots of money. To give you some numbers, with 30/40€ per day per person, excluding hotels, taxis, and shopping, you will do well.
Q. Can I use Euros in Saint Petersburg Russia?
A. For your information, in Russia, it is illegal to pay for transactions directly using euros or US dollars. However, in spite of this, few big hotels and businesses, including private tour guides will accept payments in euros or dollars if you ask.
Q. Can I use my credit card in Saint Petersburg or Russia in general?
A. Yes, you can! Credit cards, especially Visa and MasterCard, and various debit cards are widely accepted in hotels, restaurants, and shops. You can also use your credit card to get a cash advance at most major banks in Saint Petersburg Russia or elsewhere in the country.
Q. How to stay in touch with family while on vacation in Russia?
A. In this digital era staying in touch with your family when you're away is easy. You could buy a SIM card on arrival (the best one is Megafon), make a phone call with Skype or Viber, or use the famous phone application WhatsApp, if you own an iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Android, or Nokia.
Q. Should I look for a hotel or flat when in Saint Petersburg Russia?
A. If you're going to stay less than a week, booking a hotel or a hostel is ideal. But, if you're going to stay longer, then renting an apartment would be a much better option. Basically, it all depends on how long you will stay, what kind of comfort you're looking for, and what is your budget.
Q. I would like to try Russian food, what restaurants would you advise me to try?
A. Recommending a place to eat isn't really that easy in Saint Petersburg Russia. Here there are more than 4000 restaurants to choose from, each one offering different cuisine, style, and service. However, if you want to try Real Russian food we advise you to go to Masha and Bear restaurant (for a taste of old Russian Cuisine) or go to the Russian Vodka Room restaurant (for a taste of the best Russian cuisine and ambiance in town).
For a complete list of restaurants please see our dedicated page, St Petersburg Restaurants.
Q. What Russian souvenirs should I buy?
A. Apart from the famous Russian dolls (Matryoshka) and fur hats, you could also buy lacquer boxes, birchwood crafts, Pavlovo Posad (Russian shawls/scarves), Shapka Ushanka (a Russian fur cap with ear flaps), Valenki felt boots (old winter Russian boots), Vodka sets (a bottle of vodka with a set of decorated glasses), Gzhel Crockery (sets of porcelain, decorated with festive blue designs) or Telnyashka (a soviet style sweater with dark blue stripes).
For a complete list of souvenirs & gifts to buy from Russia please see our dedicated page, Russian souvenirs.
Q. What Russian ballet to watch, where to go, and how to get ticket?
A. The most famous ballets are Swan Lake, Giselle, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and our favorite one Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky. They all are played in a classical setting at the two most famous theaters: Mariinsky Theater and Mikhailovsky Theater. Regarding the tickets, you can buy them in advance online, at the ticket office of the theater, at any kiosk selling the tickets (usually near the metro stations), or simply at the entrance of the theater. We always recommend buying tickets before you go.
For more information, see our dedicated page, theatres in Saint Petersburg Russia.
Q. What is St-Petersburg-EssentialGuide.com?
A. St-Petersburg-EssentialGuide.com is an independent online travel guide that offers information about the history, culture, and modern life of the city of St Petersburg. Also, it offers great tips, private tours, visa support, airport transfers, accommodation, Skype travel consultation, and other ground arrangements for anyone who wishes to visit Saint Petersburg Russia.
Q. Who works for St-Petersburg-EssentialGuide.com?
A. Our staff is made up of one foreigner (native Italian and English speaker, that's Me Davide) and two locals (native Russian and English speaker, that are Anastasia and our good friend Julia). If you want to know more about us please visit this page!
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A. At St-Petersburg-EssentialGuide.com we work along with experienced local businesses and licensed independent workers. Also, we're partnering with some affiliates programs which offer additional products or services related to the travel industry.
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