St Petersburg, Russia

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Expect a lot of photos like the above when you come to St Petersburg, the amount of huge and colourful buildings that are dotted around the city is incredible. Museums, Cathedrals, and Monuments are everywhere and all close to each other too, there was plenty of times I walked to a cathedral only to see another strange and colourful building towering in the distance, there is definitely a really big city feel to St Petersburg and was the first city I felt completely powerless in.

Must Visit

    • The Church Of Our Saviour On Spilled Blood – Cost = Free

Probably the most iconic building in St Petersburg and maybe in all of Russia, this Church did not disappoint and I actually visited it twice. Colours were very vibrant and make this one of the nicest churches I have ever seen.

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  • Palace Square – Cost = Free

The Palace Square is again one of the most iconic parts of St Petersburg and for good reason, The Hermitage Museum is actually located in Palace Square and may be why it is so iconic. Palace Square consists of 3 attractions, Hermitage Museum (called winter palace by the locals), Alexander column in the center and the General Staff building opposite the Hermitage museum. As well as these attractions you also have the St Petersburg canals to the right that are similar to Amsterdam’s (I was told by a local that basically the canals were copied from Amsterdam’s and they really have done them justice)

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Recommended

The below places are all attractions I visited in St Petersburg and would highly recommend visiting too, My visit to St Petersburg would not have been so good without doing so.

    • Smolny Cathedral – Cost = Free

Smolny Cathedral was the first place I visited in St Petersburg, I was in awe walking down the street and seeing this massive white building towering in the distance, When I arrived at Smolny Cathedral I had a little perusal and took some photos but on my way out I was absolutely sure I could hear Bloodhound Gang – The Bad Touch , It was later confirmed to me by Masha (Local I was staying with) that there was a good possibility of this as the cathedral is no longer used as a cathedral and is now used to house the arts department of St Petersburg universityimage

    • St Isaac Cathedral – Cost = Free

St Isaac’s Cathedral kind of reminds of the Berlin Cathedral but less Gothic, there is a small park just over the road which is ideal for a quick break or a chance to grab something to eat.

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    • Kazan Cathedral – Cost = Free

It’s pretty much impossible not to get a decent photo of Kazan Cathedral, Another favourite building of mine in St Petersburg.

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    • Bronze Horseman – Cost = Free

The Bronze Horseman is actually located just across the road from St Isaac’s Cathedral and for me was one of the nicest places to visit in the city, in between St Isaac’s Cathedral and The Bronze Horseman is a small park that just adds to the whole feel of both places.

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    • St Nicholas Naval Cathedral – Cost = Free

Visiting St Nicholas Naval Cathedral took a lot longer than it was supposed to, The amazing thing about St Petersburg is there are just so many incredible buildings around the city. when I arrived at the Cathedral I could see 2 others buildings that I really wanted to go and explore as well, so I kept them in mind for when I had finished at St Nicholas Naval Cathedral and carried on exploring. The cathedral was actually similar to Smolney Cathedral but a little less impressive

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    • Sgushenka – Cost – 30-50 Rubles = £0.50-85

You have to try Sgushenka, it’s one of the nicest things I’ve tasted. What’s quite weird though is you can buy it in a tin and eat it like Nutella or in a bag in the consistency of a yogurt, Both taste amazing but personally I preferred the yogurt type. It’s got a very sweet taste and the yogurt taste a little like milky way yogurts, its essentially porn food.

    • Koryushka – Cost – 250 Rubles/Kilo = £4.50/Kilo

According to Masha you haven’t experienced Russia without trying this fish, I’ve got to admit it smells disgusting ( kind of like a fart you only get after a take away) but it’s so nice when cooked and the smell goes away then, I’m not sure how it’s cooked as Masha’s Mum prepared it for us and incredibly well she did. You can eat the bones and I did, it had kind of a salty taste but was delicious.

    • Dumskaya – Cost – 1000 Rubles = £17.16 but if your an alcoholic take more

Dumskaya is the main party strip in St Petersburg, Masha and her friends really wanted me to go and I’m not one to turn down a night out. It was a good night out and I got into all the clubs for free. I ran up to a Russian policeman and got my photo taken (apparently I easily could have been arrested for this, the people shouting for me not to go near them wasn’t enough for my drunk ears to hear) I would recommend a night out when you’re in St Petersburg, I get spoilt in Liverpool as nights out there are always amazing so pretty much anywhere will fail in comparison. All that matters though is good music was played, good company was made and we drank vodka and gin and then I have no idea what else.

Useful Information

  • Currency

£1 = 60.47 Russian Rubles

  • Visa Information

£115 and make sure to have your application form sent off 10 working days in advance just to make sure, you will hear everywhere that you need to register your visa when you arrive in Russia but I never did and had no issues at all. You will need invitation forms too but the company I used did that all for me and was included in the £115 charge. I would recommend using Travel Direct as I had no issues apart from trying to pay online I could only use PayPal or cheque etc. And not my card but that was not much of an issue.

  • Language

Russian is obviously spoken throughout the country, If I was visiting Russia again I would like to learn some Russian as I struggled quite a bit when it came to trying to communicate with the locals, not a lot of people speak English at all (Those that do are usually quite young, I spent my whole time asking pretty Russian girls for directions) There was even a time where I had to put my arms up from my side and swing side to side whilst shouting neeeeeeeeeeeee to ask which train I need for Airport, I just did not expect the train ticket officer to copy me but he did point me in the right direction so cant argue with my results.

  • Cash Machine’s

There was cash machines dotted around St Petersburg but they all just looked too dodgy so i wasn’t going to risk it (i’m sure there fine but I’ll let someone else take that risk) so I just used the cash machines in the Train stations (Metro) Pretty much every station had a cash machine and no additional charges are added, so no issue getting money out in Russia. All machines accepted Visa and MasterCard

  • Currency Exchange

There are plenty of places dotted around the main shopping streets to exchange your money, Personaly i would just use the one at the airport as the rate is not much worse than the high street.

  • Getting to/from the airport

I arrived at Pulkovo Airport and getting to St Petersburg was pretty easy, as soon as you exit the airport there is a bus stop in front of you. It will take about 30 minutes to arrive at the center and costs 40 Rubles, if you need to get the train from there to somewhere else in town then the train ticket costs 28 Rubles. I ended up getting another bus but i just waved my first bus ticket at the woman and she figured i already paid (SCORE!!). Getting to the airport you will need to make your way to the Baltiskaya metro and this will take you to aeroport station, you then get the k12 bus to the airport. It is quite difficult getting around St Petersburg just because it’s so big, but credit to the railway system as it does a really good job of getting you where you need to go and plenty of signs posted.

  • Free Wifi

There was not many public WiFi hotspots in St Petersburg, and those that did have free public WiFi made you sign up or some sort of catch. Only a few times did I actually manage to use public WiFi so I would advise downloading maps for offline use when at your hostel

  • Jabs/Vaccinations

No jabs needed for UK Citizens

Likely Purchase’s

  • Bus Ticket – 35-40 Rubles – £0.60
  • Train Ticket – 28 Rubles – £0.46
  • 500ml bottle of pop – 40-55 Rubles – £0.85
  • Beer – 100 Rubles – £1.60
  • Crisps – 20-30 Rubles – £0.50

Total Money Spent

  • Bus Ticket – Airport to St Petersburg – 40 Ruble’s – £0.66
  • Accommodation – 1 night at Pharaon Hostel – 358 Ruble’s – £5.95
  • Food – Bag of 15 small muffins, 1 Litre ice tea, small bag of crisps – 151 Ruble’s – £2.51
  • Train Ticket x 3 – 2 for sightseeing in the day, 1 in the morning after a night out in Dumskaya – 84 Rubles – £1.39
  • Accommodation – CouchSurfing – 0 Rubles – £0
  • Dumskaya – Good night out, didn’t pay entrance fees couple of drinks – 1000 Rubles – £16.63
  • Bus Ticket – Gave Masha 30 Rubles (she paid for my train and bus) – 30 Rubles – £0.49
  • Total Spent – 1663 Rubles – £27.66

Summary

Safety Rating – 8/10 – Russia kind of has a bad reputation when it comes to safety but as long as you use common sense when out at night you shouldn’t have any issues at all
Type of trip – Architecture, Major City,
Price Bracket – Midrange
Recommended Length of Stay – 5-7 Days

Hitchhiking Rating – N/A – no experience here as transport is very cheap, but I imagine it would be difficult

Couchsurfing Rating – 10/10 – My CS experience in St Petersburg was the best I have had, was made to feel completely at home and there are a lot of Russians who are very active within the CS community

Overall Rating – 7/10 – Have never been in awe of a city so much and still one of my favourite places I have visited. Good nightlife, plenty of colourful, incredible buildings and monuments. nice canals and cheap food and transport.

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