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Best way to visit St.Petersburg....Russia

Best way to visit St.Petersburg....Russia

Old Nov 6th, 2010, 01:47 PM
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Best way to visit St.Petersburg....Russia

Just starting to think about a future trip. We have always traveled in Europe on our own...no group tours or planned sightseeing tours. Would appreciate the "experts" in FODORLAND
to give their opinion on the best way to visit St. Petersburg....and how many days to allow
to see the major sights etc. etc. Any tips & information will be appreciated!
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Old Nov 6th, 2010, 02:02 PM
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On a visit to St. Petersburg, we engaged Olga, who I found through recommendations here on Fodor's. We were very pleased with her in every way. She offers all sorts of services for visiting St. Petersburg.

http://www.tourservice.sp.ru/
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Old Nov 6th, 2010, 06:33 PM
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Have done it twice - once when the only way you could go was with a group - and it was very frustrating. We saw little, spent a lot of time "shopping" and trekking from one place to another on a bus.

Second time we went it was independently. Had no trouble except finding decent food (it's easier now but still not cheap). But traveling around - either foot or taxi (which is very cheap) we saw everything we wanted - including an evening at the ballet. We bought tickets directly at the box office - and got a much lower price as well as seating in with the locals. We shared a box with two local ladies of a certain age. Not too much interaction - since we each had about 25 words of the other's language - but lots of nodding, smiling and good feeling. I think they appreciated that we were dressed appropriately - not in jeans/sneakers. (They were obviously dressed in their best and had been to the hairdresser for the event.)

If you want to visit the palaces on the outskirts you can easily do it by train or boat - any hotel can give you the specific information.

A guide is not really necessary unless you aren;t comfortable navigating a large city on your own.
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Old Nov 7th, 2010, 08:15 AM
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St. Petersburg has so much to see that a week is not enough. On the other hand, most of foreign visitors to St. Petersburg arrive with cruise ships and don't stay longer than two or three days.
If you want to see just the major sights, you could do it in three - four days. Here is a tentative itinerary for a four days' trip:
Day 1 – a panoramic city tour with visits to Peter-and-Paul fortress, St. Isaac’s cathedral and the Church-on-Spilt Blood (approx. 6 hrs.)
Day 2 – a trip to Catherine’s palace in Pushkin (Tsarskoye Selo) and the palace of Paul the First in Pavlovsk (approx. 6 hrs.)
Day 3 – a day at the Hermitage – a tour of the museum and the two Gold Rooms (approx. 5 hrs.)
Day 4 – a trip to Peterhof to visit the Grand Palace, the fountain park, upon return downtown – excursions at Usupov palace and/or the Russian museum (7-8 hrs.)
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Old Nov 8th, 2010, 08:02 AM
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If you prefer to travel independently, there is no reason why you can't do so. As I recall, I spent 5 days there, and thought it would have taken at least one more full day to see the major sites.
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Old Nov 8th, 2010, 08:21 AM
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It's worth getting a visa company to sort your visa for you; it's not something you want to get wrong
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Old Nov 10th, 2010, 06:14 AM
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Thank you for the info,,,guess we'll have to decide HOW we travel...via "cruise" or ?????
How have any of you traveled into St.P.?....train from what city? by plane from what city?
We also have to see if we want to do this trip while we are already in Europe vs directly from USA. Any thoughts or opinions on this?
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Old Nov 10th, 2010, 07:14 AM
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IMO if you have only a couple of days to spend..getting a private guide and either being solely with that person or as we did, in a small (fewer than 20 people total) group and then

cramming as MUCH in as possible (yes, you WILL survive, and yes you CAN get up early, etc., etc.) because you may never return and believe me, when these folks get your visa stuff done for you, get you in at the front of the lines, take you to the most important parts of the Hermitage which has, at last count about three MILLION works...hey, make it really memorable and don't spare any expenses, either. The city is memorable for sure.
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Old Nov 10th, 2010, 08:22 AM
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How have any of you traveled into St.P.?....train from what city? by plane from what city?

Arrived by train from Riga, left by plane to Riga
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Old Nov 10th, 2010, 12:40 PM
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A great number of visitors come to St. Petersburg with cruise ships in the summer. You can also fly to St. Petersburg from major European cities. A lot of people come by train from Moscow or Helsinki. By the way, a new bullet train is going to be introduced on Helsinki-St. Petersburg line in a few days. It will only take 3 hrs.
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