Explore St. Petersburg
There are hundreds of reasons to explore St Petersburg. Aside from being the second largest city of Russia, the City of Tsars also boasts of a number of landmarks and attractions. But any exploration in the city would need some research and planning – especially if you are intending to stay for more than a day.
A basic thing to think about before coming to St Petersburg is your accommodation. Where do you want to stay in the city? Would you splurge on hotels and apartments or keep a budget by staying on hostels? The next would be the means to get to the city. How do you get there? Should you take a train, a bus, or a plane? It is also important to learn about the various transports to get around St Petersburg or get a list of the companies offering car rental services for your convenience.
Aside from the accommodation and transports, it is also important to research the various tour services offered in St Petersburg. Should you get a guided tour or explore the city by yourself?
Finally, since St Petersburg is a non-English speaking city, it would also be wise to think about learning Russian before you go to the city. Additionally, if you intend to stay longer, it would be good to consider enrolling yourself in a language school in the city.
Answering these questions would help create the experience you will have in St Petersburg. So make your plan carefully.
Travel to St. Petersburg
There are many ways to get to the city of St. Petersburg. You can get there through air travel, or by use of their various transport systems: railways, waterways and their different means of public transport.
There is one thing that you need in your travel that is a bit complex though, and that is their visa requirements. But this shouldn’t worry you too much as there are a lot of visa services that can help you out in this matter. And as soon as you have this taken care of, then it’s time for you to get familiar with the travel options available for you.
Through air travel
If you decide to get there by plane you will be arriving at Pulkovo Airport. This airport handles domestic as well as international flights. For international flights, Terminal 2 is used and Terminal 1 is reserved for domestic flights. There won’t be any problem getting to the city once you’ve landed at Pulkovo Airport. You can use the local bus lines that service the airport: Line 39 if you are from Terminal 1 and Line 13 if you’ll be riding from Terminal 2. You can also use the taxi service available at the airport. They follow a fixed rate price system and you can just go to the arrival hall to order the service. If you wish to save on your taxi fare though, you may call other taxi services by phone and not get the taxi services that are at the airport. You just have to have a phone with you and be able to speak Russian.
Use of Railways
St. Petersburg was home to the first-ever railway that was built in Russia. Ever since the first one was built in 1837, the city has continued to develop ways to keep up with the city’s development. Now the city is the final stop to many suburban and intercity railways and it is served by five railway terminals. If you wish to travel to St. Petersburg through their railway system, you can get a high-speed Allegro train from Finland or get a high-speed Sapsan train from Moscow to the city.
Use of Waterways
If you wish to travel by sea to St. Petersburg you may try their ferry services available. There are also different summer cruises that you can try out. If you want to try out the summer cruises though, you may want to check with the cruise lines first as they tend to change their schedule from time to time. You will find that the major cruise lines like the Carnival, Celebrity, Holland America, Norwegian, MSC, Princess, and Royal Caribbean have itineraries for St. Petersburg.
Getting around in a foreign city may be a bit difficult especially if it is one’s first time in the place. But as long as you are well informed with the different transportation options that are available in the city then you have nothing to worry about.
In St. Petersburg, the most important thing to remember, especially if you will be out at night, is that all of the city’s main bridges are drawn up at certain scheduled times to allow the boats to pass through. So it is important that you get to the other side of the river before the scheduled time so you won’t be stuck on the wrong side until the morning.
It is also important to note that subways in St. Petersburg are closed from 12:00-5:45 AM.
The subway is perhaps the least expensive and the most effective way to travel around the city. It can even be a good tourist attraction because of the decorations that they’ve put up in the stations. Before taking pictures was prohibited, but now they have allowed this so now you can take a memento of your subway trips in St. Petersburg. Going to the city’s metro would cost 25 rubles. This is per entry and is regardless of the distance you will be traveling. If you will be frequently on the subway, it will be good to stock up on tokens as lines will be long and there are even times when the stations run out. Know there are maps on every train car and though most of them are in English, you may find some written in Cyrillic alphabet.
Use of tram
A cheaper way of traveling around the city is by tram. This costs only 21 rubles. It is much slower than using the metro though. But the great thing about using the tram is that you get to see the beautiful scenery of the city while traveling to and from a certain destination.
Use of bus and trolleybus
Buses and trolleybuses are also an inexpensive way to travel around St. Petersburg. Around the city, it will cost only 21 rubles. Going to the suburbs will cost you more though. This will be about 19 to 36 rubles depending on the location. Be sure to hold on to your ticket. If you are caught without a valid ticket you will fine 100 rubles.
Use of train
You may also use the local train service to get around the city. Fares vary depending on the distance you will be traveling but if it is within the city limits it would cost around 30 rubles.
By route taxi
A route taxi is another way to get around St. Petersburg. You may want to note though that a route taxi is different from the taxi you may be used with. A route taxi is a 14-21 seater van with a letter K and the route number on it. Usually, you’d need to pay between 20-27 rubles. If you wish to make a stop you must tell the driver to make the stop and if you wish to get on a route taxi you would need to hail it while you are on the roadside. This is because there are no regular stops on the route taxi, much like a regular taxi that you are used of.
When flying to the beautiful city of Saint Petersburg, you can opt for Pulkovo International Airport or to the three smaller commercial airports within the area. It was in 1931 when Pulkovo International Airport started serving tourists and local citizens. For domestic flights and some selected international charter flights, you can directly go to terminal 1. The terminal also serves to low-cost airlines. Terminal 2, on the other hand, serves international connections.
According to sources, the airport is about 17 kilometers south of the city’s center. Pulkovo is noted to be the fourth busiest airport in Russia and it is famous as one of the modern airports found in the Russian Federation.
Pulkovo has great facilities and is ideal for family trips since it has children’s playroom which is found at the Chillout Lounge, VIP lounge—perfect for those who want to stay long in the airport to wait for their flights and clean toilets. You can also browse the net in the area since it has Wifi internet access.
From the airport to the city, travelers will not find it hard to reach their destinations since Pulkovo has two local bus lines. One can also ride in a taxi for a more comfortable and convenient way of reaching the city. Based on reviews, the usual taxi would could around 600 rubles excluding luggage surcharges if your destination is within the city’s central district. Russian speakers will have the advantage to order a taxi and can save more just by calling a taxi company.
When you are in Finland, Lappeenranta Airport provides a low-cost alternative going to Pulkovo Airport. It is just 2 kilometers away from the central part of the city and it is famous as the oldest airport in Finland since it was established in 1918.
With the fast development of Saint Petersburg, the means of transportation has never been a problem to its citizens and most especially to travelers. According to sources, the first Russian railway was put up in the city in 1837. Saint Petersburg is also noted to be a major rail hub and based on reviews the most relaxed way to reach the city is through the three and a half-hour train ride from Helsinki, Finland.
There are five major stations in Saint Petersburg and these include the Moscovswkii Station. It is built to reach Moscow, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Samara, Ufa and other major cities of Europe. The station is found in Ploshchad Vosstaniya and Mayakovskaya.
For destinations bound to and fro Belarus, Czech Republic, Hungary, Ukraine, Romania, Estonia, and other cities, one can ride on the Vitebskii Station in the Pushkinskaya Metro. In Baltiiskaya Metro, a traveler can settle on Baltiskii Station which reaches to Petrodvorets, Gatchina, and Lomonosov. Ladozhskii Station is also among the primary stations in Saint Petersburg which is built to reach Ekaterinburg, Omsk, Astana, Helsinki, and Novosibirsk. For high-speed trains, one can begin a journey in the Finliandskii Station which reaches to Helsinki. It is located in Ploschad Lenina and it has two daily departures from its destination.
From Moscow, a tourist can get to the city through a Sapsan high-speed train which would only take 3 to 4 hours. It has six daily departures and the tickets are sold at about 2400 rubles. It is also advised that one should take the night trains since these are cheaper and tickets would only cost about 1700 rubles.
When strolling around Saint Petersburg, you can definitely save a lot when you ride on a bus. Tickets are usually sold by conductors who are just sitting on the bus and if there are no conductors, the drivers themselves sold the tickets to passengers. Within the city, bus rides only cost 19 to 36 rubles. If you are not familiar with the city, you should take note of the routes and street signs and generally, bus stops are marked with the letter “A” which means autobus.
In Saint Petersburg, there are different kinds of buses. Regular buses have conductors where you can pay your tickets in cash. There are some travelers and citizens who prefer to have the monthly passes so these can also be shown to the conductor on board.
Taxi buses or commonly called t-buses do not accept passes and the charge is comparatively more expensive than a regular bus. These buses do not get crowded easily and they only accept cash.
Express buses or also known as e-buses are faster as well as they are more comfortable to ride on. According to sources, these buses charge twice than a metro but you can reach your destination on time especially when there is nobody who wants to board or exit.
Costing from 2 to 3 rubles, you can already ride on a marshrutniye taksi or simply marshrutki. These are the city’s vans which are famous in the newer districts of Saint Petersburg. Visiting a beautiful landmark is easier when you ride on a marshrutki since you only have to pay cash to the driver and instruct him on your destination. This means of transportation do not take unnecessary stops and they are less crowded.
There are some travelers who do not want to use public transport and want to travel own their own, at their own pace. They find that they are able to enjoy the city more as they are not dictated by the metro’s schedules and stops and do not need to line up just to get tickets. If you are one of these, then renting a car to go around a city is a great alternative for you.
There are different car rental options available in St. Petersburg. The most popular of which are Europcar and Hertz. With these international car rental companies, you’ll be assured of the best quality of cars and the best service as well.
For Europcar, you may choose from their assortment of vehicle brands and car types available. Volkswagen, Audi, Volvo, Ford, Toyota, BMW, Renaut, Peugeot, Opel, Iveco, and Firt are some of the car brands that you can choose from.
Europcar categorizes their vehicles according to the features available. The Mini vehicles can seat up to 2 adults and 2 children. These are 3-door or 4 door-cars. The Economy vehicles can also seat up to 2 adults and 2 children and these are 3-door or 5-door cars but they are bigger inbuilt. The Compact and Intermediate vehicles can seat up to 4 adults and are 3-door, 4-door and 5-door cars. It can also fit up to 2 suitcases, up to 2 small bags and up to 4 golf bags. The Standard vehicles can seat up to 5 adults, are 4-door and 5-door cars and can fit up to 4 suitcases, while the Full-Size vehicles can seat up to 6 adults. While the Premium and Luxury vehicles can only seat up to 5 adults, you will be traveling in the utmost luxury in cars like the Mercedes E-class and the Mercedes-Benz ML. There are also mini-vans and multi-purpose vans available for rent. All of the vehicles come with power steering and central locking.
For Hertz, they categorize their vehicles into Cars or Convertibles, Wagons or Estates, and SUVs and Minivans. You may get optional coverages in renting a car from Hertz. These are coverages in case of an unfortunate occurrence that will lead to damage. Theft Protection limits your liability; Collision Damage Waiver limits your financial responsibility; Super Cover waives your limited liability, and you can also get Personal Insurance.
Hertz also offers an option for online check-ins. You will only need to provide your driver’s license and date of birth and you’re good to go.
Other car rental services
There are also other car rental services available in the city. Most of these you will find online. Just be sure though to check reviews and testimonials left by previous customers and do a bit of research to be sure that you get your money’s worth.