An adorable hostel awash with tiny cool details and cute things. I stayed at Friends on Griboedova, but they have some other location in the center as well – somewhere near Nevsky prospect and on Vosstania street. The one on Griboedova is clean, cosy and very comfortable. The staff are really friendly, they just act as friends – no wonder, since they work at “Friends hostel”. Yes, the famous TV show has something to do with the interior design – brick walls, board games, bicycles and homely atmosphere. Staff speak very good English and they help you very good. They have dorms and privates. Shared bathrooms, of course. Lots of biscuits, free tea & WIFI. I really recommend Friends hostel to anyone.
My husband and I did two bicycle tours of St Petersburg with Viktor and couldn't have been happier. We went out to Pushkin and saw everything EXCEPT Catherine's palace - fantastic gardens, bushland, history and then a city tour of St P the next day. It was great riding and exciting to ride the roads and footpaths of St P. Viktor also knows his stuff and can answer all your questions, great English.
This flea market located in St Petersburg, Russia, is a hidden gem and should not be missed by tourists and locals alike. You can buy almost anything here, from Soviet antiques (though beware of fakes) to electrical goods, at rock-bottom prices. Haggling is a must and it's possible to pick up books and items of clothing for as little as 10 pence. Even if you don't intend to buy anything, it's still worth the visit just to see the stalls (and old ladies with blankets covered in items on the floor), which extend as far as the eye can see.
Come out of Udel'naya metro station, turn right and walk through the normal market stalls (this is NOT the flea market). Then turn left and cross over the train track, turn right and pass between the other 'halls' of shops until you reach the flea market.
Google map: bit.ly/isnWyH
I would like to recommend taking a private tour from Tatiana.
My wife and I visited in summer (2010) and were very pleased with Tatiana's services. With her we entered the museums quickly bypassing the public queue. She is knowledgeable - but doesn't show off by inundating you with endless historical facts and figures as some guides have a tendency to do. We feel she struck a good balance between historical information and interesting stories/anecdotes.
You also have the chance to visit places more off the beaten path. For example as a contrast to the grand palaces Tatiana took us to the former private apartment of a communist leader Kirov. We really enjoyed this visit. I doubt that large groups go there, and think it would be difficult to do independently unless you speak Russian.
Snow is part of Russia's job description. It's all about wrapping up in a big coat, an enormous hat and exploring a place which looks familiar and feels completely alien. St Petersburg gives you bling into the bargain, which makes it just right for a Christmas escape. Better still, with the Russian Christmas falling in January, everything is open on our Christmas day. Head for the Hermitage for an epic world art trawl in all the grandeur you could possibly want, the Russian Museum for Russian painting, sculpture and decorative art, the Museum of Political History for a leap back into Russia's Communist era and Gostinny Dvor to take the retail pulse of the city. On my last day, I discovered Rosphoto, a small photography gallery tucked away amongst apartments and offices – well worth the search.
The best city to visit in winter is St Petersburg, Russia. People enthuse about the White Nights in midsummer, but winter is the time when the sky really is white (or pink or orange or purple) at night from the reflected snow lying on the ground. The combination of pinky skies and light-blue Baroque and yellow Neoclassical architecture under a blanket of white snow (which hides all the dirt you would otherwise see in other seasons) makes for a truly magical sight. The theatre season is in full swing, so this is the best time to catch a world-class opera or ballet at the Mariinsky every night, when prices are at their most reasonable (no festivals to inflate the prices). That nip of vodka or tea round the samovar is all the more welcome when it is freezing outside. The summer residence of Peterhof is actually best visited in winter, when the fountains are switched off and there are no crowds at all in the gardens – only you and the silent pavilions next to the frozen sea, a white blanket extending as far as the eye can see, to the other side of the Gulf of Finland. Rainer Maria Rilke was so entranced when he saw the Grand Palace in winter that he exclaimed: "Das ist ja das Schloss der Winterkönigin!"
St. Petersburg is surprisingly easy to get around in on a bike (and nobody minds if you cycle on the sidewalks). Cycling along the Neva in the light rain on a white night is something I'll never forget. Nearby destinations like Pushkin are full of nice trails. It's a great way to beat the crowds in the summer.
I went on Peter's walking tours last April having read information about them before leaving. This was the best tour I have ever taken. The guides are incredibly knowledgeable and informative.
The tours take you around St Petersburg using public transport and take groups to unusual sights (we visited an apartment block with art installations and a large bomb shelter) as well as lots of the expected destinations. They even tailor make the tour to suit the group and will happily throw in something extra at a walker's request.
St Petersburg is a great literary city.
Walk the streets of Dostoevsky, like in Crime and Punishment, following the footsteps of Raskolnikov. There are even special tours which visit the places. See the fading yellow buildings, looming large, driving to madness. The squalor and poverty he personally experienced is reflected in his novels. There is also a Dosteovsky museum where he used to live.
Walk alongside the mighty Neva, with it's granite embankments, so glorified by Pushkin. Or the Bronze horseman depicting city founder Peter the Great looming large over the city. Pushkin house is a museum.
Walk down Nevsky Prospekt.
'All powerful Nevsky Prospekt' said Gogol in his sketch bearing the name of this famous street.
Imagine yourself in Petersburg to be in a Gogolian nightmare. This is the little man pittted against the big artificial city with it's structures of power and insane obedience to rank and status.
Watch the sheer artificiality and pre planning of old Petersburg as Tsar Peter dragged Russia forward with a European capital as a window on the west, the facades, ensembles, baroque and the squares. Built on cold rationale as a complete antithesis to the Russian soul. As Dostoevsky said--'the most abstract and artificial city on earth'
Anna Akhmatova was a Soviet poet, who variously lost husband and son to the Gulag camps. You can visit her apartment.
Petersburg- city of words. This is a map of the city with literary quotations from people associated with it.
Alexander III decided to put together a collection of Russian art. Nicholas II, his son, founded this museum in his honour in 1895.
I really enjoyed it. It may not be as famous as the Hermitage, but it is a far more authentic Russian experience as it only has Russian art. The queues are far shorter as well, which is a bonus!
After the Revolution, the museum benefited massively from state confiscations of privately owned artworks. The museum's collection includes over 400,000 artworks covering the complete history of Russian art, from 11th century icons to work by contemporary artists.
4 Inzhenernaya Str.
It's not open on Tuesdays.
There are many places to get souveniers in St Petersburg, but just don't go to a souvenier supermarket. They charge twice as much as the street vendors and treat you like a potential criminal.
There was even a man at the entrance with a walkie talkie reporting everyone who entered and exited the shop. Outside there were about 3 or 4 coaches full of American tourists. They were totally unaware that they were being ripped off.
The main one to avoid is next to Peter the Great's Cabin.
Next to Peter the Great's Cabin. Don't shop there.
The Metro is the underground. It is very cheap compared to London. A single ride on it (ie. as far as you like without leaving the station) costs 20 rubles, which is about 40p.
The routes can be confusing, but there aren't as many lines as there are in London, and the maps on the trains themselves are in Russian and English.
The main thing is the same as always in Russia, and that is not to look conspicuous. Most people on the Metro keep quiet, and speaking english might get you unwanted attention.
Look on maps and signs for a blue M.
When I was there, quite often museums or cathedrals would not be open on the day I planned to visit them. Most places seem to have at least one day off a week and are usually shut on the last Thursday of every month.
Everywhere seems to offer a cheaper price for Russians than it does for foreigners, though there are ways to pay slightly less. Most places accept student cards and the OAP age is about 50, so if you are old or young you can get a discount.
I was lucky enough to go with Russian speakers, and we just pretended we were Russian usually!
Send your feedback or queries to email@example.com