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self guided visits in moscow/st. petersburg

self guided visits in moscow/st. petersburg

Apr 6th, 2005, 10:38 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 2
self guided visits in moscow/st. petersburg

We are visiting Moscow/St. Petersburg in September. How feasible is it to visit sites such as Kremlin, Hermitage, various museums and other sites on our own? Should we book guides/tours for specific places? We have concerns about admissions and waiting in long lines if we are not with a guide.
sabootylowen is offline  
Apr 8th, 2005, 06:42 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,254
Hello. You will love Russia! My husband and I visited St. Pete a couple years ago by ourselves, and had no trouble getting into anything. Yes, there were lines here and there, but nothing extraordinary. I think the longest line was for St. Isaac's Cathedral, about 15 minutes. It's worth the wait! The Hermitage had a line but it went quickly. There was a separate line for all the cruise ships and other tours.

We were in Moscow last summer. It seemed that in order to see Lenin or the Kremlin, most people had guides. And boy, were there lines there, very long lines. But there are many guides hanging around, just waiting to swoop down on you as you approach (very friendly, though). We had several offers, and finally settled on a nice guy who was quite the talker. Told us a lot of stories about "old" Russia. Took it at face value as to whether they were true. But he did get us into the Kremlin and Lenin by bypassing the very long lines (I think they pay off the guards or something - he kept handing them money). I did see people buying tickets at the ticket windows, which had lines as well. How long they stood in line, I can't say. All I know is we got right in.

Also, make sure to double check your guidebooks for opening days and times. We ran into a number of people who missed key tour sites because of closings. And if you can, take a walk through Red Square at night. I'll never forget it!

The hardest part about Russia is, of course, managing the language. Just learning to recognize a few of the letters is really helpful. But we took the train and subway with very few problems.

There are some others on this board who know a whole lot more about Russia than my very limited knowledge. They were very helpful to me in my trip planning. Perhaps they'll see your question and respond.

Happy travels!
kopp is offline  
Apr 9th, 2005, 04:36 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 109
Getting around on the transportation is relatively easy with the exception of negotiating cab fares. (which can be a hassle at times)

Seeing most sites in Moscow can be done on ones own. No need for a guide to see Lenin, go to the Bolshoi, see most churches/museums. Would suggest picking up a guide around the ticket booth for the Kremlin as they are not expensive and most are very knowledgeable about the history, etc.

On our first visit to the Hermitage we decided to "go it alone". After a few minutes we were overwhelmed, however thankfully were approached by a wonderful, intelligent lady who offered to guide us. She did an excellent job and we were thankful we hired her. In fact, we hired her for the following day to go to St. Isaacs, Church of the Spilt Blood, Peter & Pauls fort, the Aurora, etc.

Have fun. They are two good cities to visit.
Mthomp77 is offline  
Apr 9th, 2005, 06:09 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
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We did all of St Pet on our own and had no problems at all. The lines were never more than a few minutes long and everywhere we went (even the ballet) had printed guides or programs available in english.

Cab drivers are quite interesting - but all speak enough english to get you where you're going - and we found several who had also driven cabs in NYC - but were back in russia because they could make so much more (comparatively - not in the absolute naturally.) Buses are also fairly easy to navigatge - we didn;t do the subway - and walked most places because our hotel was quite central.
nytraveler is offline  
Apr 9th, 2005, 05:51 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 253
We visited Moscow/St. Pete on our own 2 years ago. We arranged a guide for our first full day with www.palladium.spb.ru. It worked out great. We had the guide take us via the metro to the city center. She showed us how to ride metro and we were able to do it on our own many times afterward. She took us to Hermitage where we did bypass the line which was nice. She left us after several hours in the museum to tour on our own. Also, we had the same guide and driver to visit Tsarskoe Selo and Pavlovsk. It was well worth it. I'd recommend this approach. We felt comfortable after these two days to venture out on our own for the next 2 weeks. We did not find long lines anywhere (mid May). We toured Moscow (Kremline, art musuems, etc) on our own and all went great. You do need to learn some basic words as we found many people at tourist sites that did not speak English. have fun.
Tuni01 is offline  
Sep 1st, 2012, 04:52 AM
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 1
My wife and I will be in St Pete for two days next May (part of a cruise itinerary with NCL). We are thinking of taking a guided tour sponsored by the cruise ship for the first day to get a general feel St Pete and then going on our own the next day.

As an aside, if you are on a sposored tour, you don't need a visa (on a self guided tour you will need a visa - $90).

Also, if you have not already done so, you may wish to purchase St. Pete and Moscow city maps from Map.com. The maps show city highlights, public transportation systems and other usefull tourist info.
William_Scamuzzi is offline  
Sep 1st, 2012, 06:26 AM
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 290
You can buy tickets to the Hermitage online, there was no-one there when I went in Jan 2007 anyway, but there you go

As for the Kremlin, they might have got their act together since 2007, but when I bought tickets for the Armoury back they were only sold 45 minutes before each timed entry from a little box office in Alexandrovsky Sad. This tiny little ticket office also sold tickets for something else (I think normal Kremlin entrance, can't remember). Anyway, I got there early and was waiting outside for them to begin selling the Armoury tickets. I was letting people go in front of me into the box office because I assumed they were buying the other tickets. However, I eventually realised that they were also waiting to purchase the Armoury tickets. The net result of that was that the box office got crammed with people waiting for Armoury tickets (I eventually shoved my way in there as well) and they weren't able to sell any of the regular tickets until it got to 3 pm or whatever and they started selling Armoury tickets. Madness! Anyway, the point of that story is that's something to watch out for... Also, remember that you only get a limited time inside the Armoury, so don't go too slowly and miss bits!
gwan is offline  
Sep 1st, 2012, 03:47 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 21,072
I visited on my own many years ago and don't think anyone needs to take a tour. You are likely to have an easier time if you learn to transliterate from Cyrillic. They are amazing places - enjoy!
kja is offline  
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