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Tips for travelers

The most suitable time to visit Saint-Petersburg
 
It is a hard question, because every season is special. End of May up to the end of June is our famous 'White nights' season, when it is so light during the night that one can read a book outside. July and August are the warmest months of the year in the city. They are also the dampest - it might rain one day in three. So if you want to avoid the crowds and the rain, try to travel during the non-season period: from October till April. St Petersburg is very beautiful under snow.
 
Customs and Duty Free
 
Duty-free regulations within the CIS are liable to change at short notice. The following should be used as a guide only, and travelers are advised to contact the Russian Embassy or Consulate for up-to-date information. Goods that may be imported into the Russian federation by people over 16 years of age without incurring customs duty:
 
200 cigarettes or 100 cigars or cigarillos or 250 g of tobacco; 1 litre of spirits; 2 litres of still wine and 2 litres of sparkling wine; a reasonable quantity of perfume for personal use
 
Prohibited imports: Military weapons and ammunition, narcotics, pornography, loose pearls, fruit and vegetable, live animals.
 
Prohibited exports: as prohibited imports, as well as annulled securities, state loan certificates, lottery tickets, works of art and antiques (unless permission has been granted by the Ministry of Culture)
 
 
How can I get to the St Petersburg centre from the airport?
 
If you are in St Petersburg for the first time, we strongly recommend you to order a transfer service. If you feel comfortable in a new-language environment, here are some tips:
 
St. Petersburg has two airports: Pulkovo-1 (flights within Russia and from some of the former Soviet republics) and Pulkovo-2 (International flights). Beware of the taxi-drivers! They may ask you to pay an unreal price of something like 60-70 USD (1800-2100 rubles). The maximum it costs to get to the nearest metro station is 20-30 USD (600-900 rubles), try to negotiate. If you want to use public transport, here are some options available:
 
From Pulkovo-2: Buses N113, N213 (19 rubles) and mini-buses (marshrutkas) K13 and T113 (20-30 rubles) leave the arrivals terminal for Moskovskaya metro station every 15 minutes. From Moskovskaya you can get on the metro (22 rubles) or catch a taxi here, which will be of course a lot cheaper than from the airport.
From Pulkovo-1: Mini-bus (marshrutka) K39 leaves the arrivals terminal and goes to Ladozhsky railway station via Moskovskaya metro, Moskovsky railway station and Hotel "Moscow".
 
How can I get to the St Petersburg centre from the railway station?
 
There are five railway stations in St. Petersburg. All of them are next to the metro. There are taxi stands outside every station and the drivers there usually charge less than the ones on the platform, so take an effort and walk a little further.
 
Can I drink tapped water?
 
No, better not. Water quality varies widely across Russia. It would be best if you drink only boiled or bottled water. Be careful to avoid frozen and raw food and vegetables.
 
How can I get around on a local transport?
 
St. Petersburg has a well-developed transportation system, which includes buses, trolleybuses, trams, taxis, cars, metro and a railway system, connecting the city with its suburbs. On buses, trolleybuses and trams you buy a ticket from the conductor (19 rubles).
The most popular is metro: you should buy a token (22 rubles) to get in. Here are some of the words you should know when using the metro:
 
In English
How it is pronounced by the Russians
Entrance
Vkhod
Exit
Vykhod
Exit to the city
Vykhod v gorod
Interchange station
Perekhod
Next station
Sleduyushaya stantsiya
Caution, doors are closing
Ostorozhno, dveri zakrivayutsa
 
When you arrive at a station, it can be difficult to see where you are. You will hear the arrival station announced, followed by the name of the next stop. This can be confusing, so it's best to count your stops. Beware of the pickpockets, especially on "Nevsky Prospekt" and "Gostiny Dvor" stations.
 
Marshrutkas are mini-buses which follow a fixed route. They go just about everywhere within the city centre and out to the suburbs. When you see the number you want, just hail it down like a taxi. To pay, hand your fare (15-25 roubles) to the driver or to the person in front of you right after you get on. When you want to get off, yell out loudly "ostanavites pozhaluysta" ("stop please") and the driver will stop.
 
Tipping in Russia
 
The average tip in Russia is about 10-15%, but it is always at your discretion.
 
Money
 
The national monetary unit is the Russian ruble. One rouble is made up of 100 kopecks. At the present time, coins denominating 1,5,10 and 50 kopecks, as well as 1,2,5 and 10 rubles are in circulation, in addition to paper banknotes denominating 5,10,50,100,500,1000 and 5000 rubles. In St.Petersburg, as well as in Russia in common, payments for all goods and services are to be made in Russian rubles or by credit (debit) cards. It is possible to exchange money at any bank, at exchange booths, and at the majority of hotels and large department stores. In Russia the following credit (debit) cards are accepted: VISA, Master card, Euro card, American Express, Diners Club, Maestro.
 
How much money shall I most likely spend daily in St. Petersburg?
 
It depends on what living standards you got used to, but on average here are the prices:
Public transport: from 19 rubles (one way),
Museum entrance tickets: 250-350 rubles,
Opera/Ballet (front seats) tickets: from 1500 rubles,
Mineral water/soda: 30-40 rubles,
Beer (0,5 liter bottle): 50 rubles,
Light snack in Cafe/bar: from 200 rubles,
CD/DVD: 100-200 rubles,
Dinner in a good restaurant (not fancy one): from 1000 rubles,
 
Clothes. What should I take with me to be prepared for any weather?
 
Whatever the season, it is wise to bring your umbrella and a windproof raincoat or jacket. You will do a lot of walking in St. Petersburg, so think carefully about your footwear. Depending on the time of the year, you will need warm boots with a non-slip sole, waterproof boots/shoes, comfortable sandals. In winter it can get very cold outside, but hotels and homes are reasonably well-heated. In spring it might be chilly at times, but in mid-May it gets warmer. You can wear shorts in summer, though these might prevent you from entering churches. Bring a sweater or a light jacket for the chilly summer evenings. It is in autumn that you are most likely to use your umbrella and waterproof boots, though a Russian version of an Indian summer (around mid-September) can be mild and fairly dry.
 
Time
 
Time is GMT +3 for both Moscow and St. Petersburg. So if it is 6 pm in London, it is 9 pm in St. Petersburg and Moscow.
 
Medical Care
 
Remember to bring the medications you may need. Check with your health insurer before you depart to ascertain your coverage in the event of emergency. Many insurance providers offer specialized riders which can cover emergency evacuation.
 
Is it safe in Russia?
 
Despite existing stereotypes, visiting St. Petersburg is no more dangerous than visiting any other European city. It is about having common sense: do not carry all your documents and money with you, do not walk alone at night. And please do not worry about the famous Russian mafia.
 
How do I contact you with more questions?
 
Write to us. We are here to help. You will get a response within 24 hours.
 
 
 
 
Information last updated on November 15, 2010.
  
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