Last week I travelled to pretty St Petersburg in Russia for the second time. This city seems to still to be little secret compared to many other big European citys even If it gets plenty of visitors these days already. St Petersburg is one of my favourites so I want to help you to get around it too.
How to get there? Best ways to move around? Worried about the language? Read this for my tips.
When you start planning your trip to Russia first thing to do is to apply for a visa. Do this on time since it takes a while to arrive. The application be made directly to the embassy or by travel agency what ever feels the most comfortable for you.
The visa is quite pricey at around 80€ for single entry so If you live close or plan to visit more frequently it’s worth to consider the yearly visa for ~120€. My visa is the yearly one since I live super close and it ables me to go any time withouth much planning.
This isthe biggest thing to do since Russia requires visa for majority of the visitors. You can find more information on the Russian embassy page here
Arriving to St Petersburg, Russia
Once you have sort out your visa it’s time to go!
Depending on departure destination flying might be the easiest way to arrive. Since I liv enear y in Finland I’ve made both trips from city by train in just 2 hours and 30 minutes.
If you wan’t to visit multiple destinations I recommend adding Finland to your trip. The direct train departs from Helsinki making it easy to visit both. I saw travellers on the way back going for Helsinki.
Whit the train you will arrive to Finlyandsky Railway Station (Finland station). The station is one of big railway stations in St Petersburg so it’s well connected to the city center. The metro is just behing the corner and will bring you to the town in just few stops.
Check in advance how to reach your hotel since you don’t want to using your mobile data here!
If needed you can chanege money on the train or in the city after arriving.
Best way to explore the city
Walking in my opionion is the best way to go in the city center. This is the area that has many of the sights and is favoured by the tourist. You will get kilometers without even noticing and I’m telling you the streets are long!
The Nevski Prospekt is the huge main boulevard which you can use as a land mark. The Nevski starts from the banks of Neva River next to the Eremitase winter palace and go on staight through the city. You can find 5 different metro stations fitted along Nevski Prosket to help you to get around.
Along the Nevski you can among the many interesting places to check out Russian national librady, Gostiny Dvor department store, Stroganov Palace and many others.
Now that we mentioned the metro it’s worth to talk about it too.
The metro system is fairly simple and each line has it’s own colour. The signs and station names are all marked also in Latin alphabets to make it easier. For just few trips during your joyrney you can use metro tokens made for single trips. The tokens can be bought from the machines or from the ticket desk. I’m sure that there are different kind of travel cards for more trips.
I recommend just walking around since the city is full of suprises and things to se behing every corner.
Along the canals
You will notice that water is hugely present in St Petersburg. The canals go through the city in multiple places which creates a little Venice-like vibe.
One fun thing to try is to take part in a canal cruise! This will give you a different kind of perspective of the city. There are multiple different company’s offering tours and you can find the most active ones promoting along the main street.
In couple of hours you will see different corners of the city and get to cruise on the big Neva river that the city is build on.
Let St Petersbburg suprise you!
Language worries when travelling to Russia
This is a concern for any destination that speaks a foreign language you don’t know but I’ll focus on Russia here. My Russian is very limited to few basic words and sentences. I would love to learn more i the future and I’m already making plans for this.
This trip I made with someone who’s vocabulary was much more wide than mine so we got the basics sorted. I would recommend to learn atleast few simple greeting and thanking. This will make an impression on the very polite Russians.
We mentioned the metro already that has the station names written out in both ways. Unfortunately this doesn’t go for the street signs which are in cyrillic letters.
During the last trip we met many young people that spoke English well and we’re happy to use it. On the other hand there we’re some nice people who with the discussion fell short without a language in common.
Few little things learned in advance and positive attitude will bring you far!