St. Petersburg Travel Tips
St. Petersburg Travel Tips
St. Petersburg stands at the geographic and cultural borders of the west and east. And though the city is inspired by the intricate and ordered architecture of Western Europe, it is still infused with a vibrant and persevering Russian spirit. St. Petersburg largely owes its dualistic nature to its founder, Peter the Great, an unabashed lover of all things European who commissioned the city’s streets and architecture to resemble his favorite western cities. And the results of the Tsar’s great experiment? A grand European-style city, replete with long boulevards, narrow canals and grand public squares. It’s also an epicenter of distinctly Russian culture, as the place where literature and music greats like Dostoyevsky, Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev all found their voice. Moscow might be known for its luxury and decadence, but St. Petersburg offers compromise: between the expensive tastes of Russia’s capital and the often-overrated (and just plain crowded) cities of Western Europe.
How To Save Money in St. Petersburg
- Get a smart cardIf you plan on using the metro often, invest in a smart card at the ticket counter. The plastic cards can be loaded by the trip or the day, saving you between upward of $4 USD.
- Book earlyMaking your hotel reservations up to a year in advance — especially if you intend to visit during June’s White Nights Celebration — can save your wallet some pain.
- Protect your pocketsPickpockets are prevalent in St. Petersburg, so make sure to keep a close eye on your belongings in crowded areas.
St. Petersburg Culture & Customs
English is spoken in major hotels and restaurants, but you’ll find mostly Russian speakers in the more local areas like the market or small inns. Some helpful Russian greetings include the informal hello (priv-EYET), the formal hello (ZDRA-stvooy-te), the informal goodbye (pah-KAH), and the formal goodbye (Dah svih-DA-nee-ye). Saying thank you (Spa-SEE-ba) is always nice as well.
Tipping for service is common practice in Russia, and according to TripAdvisor, the typical tip usually ranges between 10 and 15 percent.
St. Petersburg Dining
You’ll find hundreds of culinary hotspots in St. Petersburg, especially along Nevsky Prospekt, ranging from large luxurious eateries to the sprawling, local markets. Fortunately, food prices are more reasonable than in Moscow. Local dishes include hearty soups, cabbage, beef dishes, and of course, the Russian crepe, or blini. Try this Russian pancake that’s stuffed with butter, caviar or other fillings a treat for the adventurous foodie; its available at fast-food type stands around the city.