Country: Russia
Currency: Ruble (RUB)
Peak Season: May-September
Shoulder Season: October-November
Median Temperature: 4.50 C / 40.1 F
Main Languages: Russian, English
Primary Modes of Transportation: Metro, tram, bus, trolleybus, marshrutka, taxi
Recommended Duration of Stay: 4 days
Recommended Pocket Money: $250.00/day
Tourist Passes: St. Petersburg Tourist Card
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St. Petersburg is Russia’s most westernized city and the world’s northernmost metropolis. It’s Russia’s gateway to neighboring European countries, with railways extending to both Germany and Finland. Since being dramatically relieved of pressures of being city-capital since 1918, St. Petersburg has never felt more culturally inclined and dedicated to preserving, expanding, and being a core catalyst of Russian culture to international media and tourism – without being hounded by the tenets of industrialization. Evidence thereof is its many parks that are shaded by a divergent species of trees, the colorful onion-domed churches, and the preservation of neo-classical and baroque architecture incorporated even in presently-constructed buildings.

St. Petersburg is composed of several islands sprawling across the Neva River’s delta. Every island has a unique taste and a different story to tell—and getting here and there is easy with over 300 high bridges and passenger ship ports for everyone’s convenience. There are no skyscrapers in the city, which in turn emphasizes the tall spire of St. Petersburg TV Tower. St. Petersburg has more than 200 museums and 2000 libraries that contain unrestrained information of Russia’s majestic past.

Packing List

  • Local currency (ATM machines are ubiquitous) and plastic; USD is dishonored in nearly all establishments
  • Decent, stylish clothing (coat, jacket, sweater); a head scarf is required for a woman to gain entry to an Orthodox church
  • Layers of clothing, as it never gets too hot in the city year-round; an umbrella in spring/autumn is highly advisable due to frequent/prolonged rainfall
  • Essential medication and toiletries; bring cough medicine, store commodities and pack some canned soups to prepare yourself if ever a blizzard from the North comes by
  • Laptops and portable media that doesn’t contain “subversive” data; a 20kg/person baggage restriction applies on domestic trains, so pack light (door-to-door delivery is at a snail’s pace)

Things to Do

  • Entering the Church of the Savior, which currently holds a world record for its 80,000 sq ft of mosaics; predating its construction, it was Tsar Alexander II’s assassination site
  • Entering the Church of the Savior, which currently holds a world record for its 80,000 sq ft of mosaics; predating its construction, it was Tsar Alexander II’s assassination site
  • Enchanting yourself inside Peterhof Palace; commissioned as Peter I‘s summer residence, it resembles a French manor with its gardens, fountains and palace interiors, exuding of royalty
  • Dropping by Peter and Paul Fortress, which houses several city landmarks: the eponymous cathedral, Grand Ducal Mausoleum, the defunct prison and the city museum
  • Stopping over Yusupov Palace, owned by an opulent family, whose last prince, Felix Yusupov, infamously “attempted” several times to kill the “Mad Monk” Grigori Rasputin inside the palace

DON'T

  • Act dubious or do/bring/buy anything illegal for that matter; authorities are always nitpicking tourists from western countries; just don’t get on the nerves of police officers
  • Tamper local currency—it will be immediately dishonored; don’t pay with foreign currency, especially USD; use your front pocket instead of the back to put off pickpockets
  • Forget to bring/require documentation on important possessions/purchased goods, respectively; it is highly advisable to avoid buying “antiques” or artworks of “cultural significance”
  • Participate in a rally or commotion; wandering late at night may also prove dangerous for people of color, as neo-nazis are still prevalent in Russia
  • Decline a vodka invite from locals—it’s a sign of comradeship; if invited to a residence, do not: act/dress silly, disrespect elders, compliment furniture or visit without a gift