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Visiting St Petersburg in July..suggested tours? Food tours? Must see?

Visiting St Petersburg in July..suggested tours? Food tours? Must see?

Old May 22, 16, 9:16 am
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Visiting St Petersburg in July..suggested tours? Food tours? Must see?

Hi,
I've just added St Petersburg to a European vacation this summer.

I'd like to get a guide for one or two days of a 4day/5night stay, and hoping to have "skip the line" access, since I've heard it's inundated with cruise ship passengers.

Any tips and suggestions for a first time visitor? Anything in particular that would be better with a guide/ or better without one? Trip advisor mentioned bicycle touring, that sounds fun. A food tour would be great, especially the first day or two. Any suggestions or contacts from you foodies?
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Old May 23, 16, 11:32 am
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I can't recommend a tour guide, though I imagine one would come in very handy. I had a wonderfully witty guide when I visited the Hermitage, but that was part of a tour and I can't remember her name.
I think (and this is just my opinion) most galleries and museums are better with a guide, as they add to the experience and can give so much more detail (and in somewhere as massive as the hermitage can take you to all the right places, as it would take many days to explore it all). While the palaces are OK without one, as I like to take in the grandeur of it all, and can get the required historical info from my guidebook.

Things you must do (In my opinion)
- Hermitage (This one has the greatest queue)
- The Russian Museum (Only if you are an art fan)
- Peter and Paul Fortress
- Church of the Spilled Blood and St Isaac's
- Stroll down Nevsky Prospekt (From the Hermitage to Ploschad Vosstaniya)
- Catherine Palace in Pushkin
- Peterhof.
- A good palace to visit during the peak summer season is Gatchina. It's not quite as grand (though no worse!) as the others, but it is much quieter as it's a bit further out.

Also, I would also recommend visiting Veliky Novgorod. It's quite far from SPB, at around two hours by train, but it is a remarkably interesting city. It can be done as a day trip from SPB, but you would definitely need a guide to show you around. I again can't recommend one, as I have a friend who was from the city who showed me around.

St Petersburg isn't really a food lovers city and I'm not aware of any food tours. Though there are some good restaurants. I love Dom Restaurant, which serves Russian food.
As a general rule avoid anywhere which prominently advertises an English menu, as these places are invariably tourist traps.

I hope you find this useful.
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Old May 23, 16, 9:35 pm
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Originally Posted by TravelDream View Post

I hope you find this useful.
Yes, yes I do find it useful. I don't know anyone who's been to St Petersburg, so any further tips or anything else you think of, please chime in. I'll sit down and go over your list of suggestions. Thank you so much.
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Old May 23, 16, 10:33 pm
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+1 on all of the above suggestions but I'll add one more. A Russian friend of mine told me about the Museaum of Artillery, Engineers and Signal Orps when I was going to St. Petersburg for the first time. It is one of the lesser known attractions and sounds like a strange choice, but turned out to be incredible and definitely worth a visit. And this from a female, non-military-geek type. It is just across the canal from the Peter and Paul Fortress.

http://www.saint-petersburg.com/muse...illery-museum/

Of all the above, Peterhof was probably my favourite with Church on Spilled Blood and St. Isaac's a pretty close tie and definitely not to be missed.

We did not have a guide and did it all ourselves, mostly using public transit. But I had read up a lot on it beforehand so I knew where to go and how to get there.

Edit: I found this book particularly good:
DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: St Petersburg: DK Publishing: 9781465427373: Amazon.com: Books DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: St Petersburg: DK Publishing: 9781465427373: Amazon.com: Books

Last edited by Finkface; May 23, 16 at 10:45 pm
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Old May 24, 16, 8:12 pm
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My favorite restaurant in SpB is CoCoCo. Reservations recommended, or you won't get a table. My advice to you is to avoid the Ginza project nonsense. ( unless youre more invested in the scene rather than food)

With food embargoes still on ( and also with Turkey) RU is not the place for grand cuisine these days, except local fare.
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Old May 24, 16, 10:36 pm
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Late to the show here but, all of the above posters are correct.

I'd like to emphasize the Hermitage. It is life-altering.

Piterhof, as well.
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Old May 25, 16, 6:05 am
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You could check out if the Mariinsky Theater has something interesting on while you are there :
https://www.mariinsky.ru/en/

I was not very impressed in general with the restaurants I tried and I don't remember most of them.

I enjoyed my visit to this restaurant though:
http://en.orient-express.spb.ru

Mainly because of the decor but as far as I remember the food was quite good as well.

And remember to go for a late evening walk to enjoy the white nights....

Last edited by helosc; May 25, 16 at 6:22 am
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Old May 25, 16, 10:07 am
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Yeah, I can't disagree with anyone above. The military museum was very interesting, but has very limited English info.

The Hermitage is truly amazing. Just to reiterate you should get a good guide, because there is just too much stuff there to see in a day.

I forgot you said July. A cruise during the Neva to see the bridges being raised is a good thing to do. Technically they end on the 2nd or 3rd of July, I think. But it should still be pretty special in early July.

Lonely Planet has a SPB book which I found perfectly usable.

Is there anything specific you want to know about something?
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Old May 25, 16, 10:40 am
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Originally Posted by TravelDream View Post
Yeah, I can't disagree with anyone above. <snip>

The Hermitage is truly amazing. Just to reiterate you should get a good guide, because there is just too much stuff there to see in a day.
<snip>

Is there anything specific you want to know about something?
Thanks all. There's nothing in particular I'd like to know, just general tips for an independent trip, such as you'll are so thoughtfully providing.

I'm now booked for 5 nights towards the end of July, so I'll have some time. I'll do some walking around, see the parks, etc. A day trip such as Travel Dream recommended, is not out of the question. I'll check into that, too. I should be able to see most or all of the suggestions above.

I looked at the Mariinsky Theatre, there are some terrific programs on the evenings that I will be there, and I'm trying to decide which performance I'd like to see: Swan Lake or Romeo and Juliet.

Sounds like the food is rather blah... I'll try the Orient Express just because it looks like fun. Is there any kind of street food or local food that I should look for? In Switzerland I enjoyed many gyros & Kabab sandwiches, the immigrant population there have many restaurants, mostly cheap and yummy. I found most Swiss restaurants to be overpriced and lackluster, so I ate mostly at the kabab stands. Whodathunk? Here in San Diego, we have some of the best "street" tacos in the world. In other words, I'm open to ideas, and tend to like homey over fancy....
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Old May 25, 16, 11:36 am
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Can't one get Hermitage tickets online?

Also, two star cuisines to try are Georgian and Uzbek. San Diego has a couple of Georgian places, but I do not recommend the one in Golden Hill.
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Old May 25, 16, 12:46 pm
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Originally Posted by StartinSanDiego View Post

.......Sounds like the food is rather blah... I'll try the Orient Express just because it looks like fun. Is there any kind of street food or local food that I should look for? In Switzerland I enjoyed many gyros & Kabab sandwiches, the immigrant population there have many restaurants, mostly cheap and yummy. I found most Swiss restaurants to be overpriced and lackluster, so I ate mostly at the kabab stands. Whodathunk? Here in San Diego, we have some of the best "street" tacos in the world. In other words, I'm open to ideas, and tend to like homey over fancy....
Well, there is the fast food chain 'Teremok' serving blinis with different fillings:
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teremok

And Kroshka-Kartoshka, a chain of street-food stalls serving baked potatoes with different toppings.

Add: I bought tickets for the theater directly on its own website with no issues at all.

Last edited by helosc; May 25, 16 at 1:07 pm
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Old May 26, 16, 7:35 am
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Originally Posted by BuildingMyBento View Post
Can't one get Hermitage tickets online?

Also, two star cuisines to try are Georgian and Uzbek. San Diego has a couple of Georgian places, but I do not recommend the one in Golden Hill.
Yes you can: https://www.hermitageshop.org/tickets/
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Old May 26, 16, 8:28 am
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Thank you! These are all terrific suggestions. Love these tips!

If I buy a Hermitage ticket online, would it make a difference compared to hiring a guide (who might provide tickets)? Should this be done at my hotel, online through trip advisor, or ??? Or, are the guides generally milling around the entrance, waiting to be hired? Any idea how the "skip the line" privileges come into play? How long are the lines, generally?

I looked at the Teremok menu... caviar fast food blinis! That's a first...

And, BuildingMyBento, I promise to avoid the Georgian restaurant in Golden Hills.
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Old May 26, 16, 10:31 am
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The tickets are 1200 roubles online or 600 roubles in person. Okay, it's not much - but why pay extra when you don't need to?
If you get a licensed tour guide, they'll provide the ticket.
Don't find someone milling around. If you go on an individual tour, organize it beforehand. If you want a group tour, go on an official one organized by the Hermitage.


Russia doesn't really have street food and most Russians don't eat at a roadside kebab stalls (which do exist, but not in any place tourists commonly go. They are mostly found in poorer suburbs).
Termok is the Russian equivalent of McDonalds. Interesting to visit and try out, and some of their blinis are quite good - I really like the farm one. Kroshka-Kartoshka is pretty poor IMO. Both have English menus, so you can just point at what you want.

SOmewhere else to go to see 'the real Russia' is Udelnaya market. It's a large flea market in the north of the city next to the metro. It's pretty interesting.
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Old May 26, 16, 5:52 pm
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First, I would not recommend to eat kebab on the street
Second, now with USD/RUB having dropped by more than twice, everything in Saint-Petersburg is quite cheap, in particular, eating out (comparing to Switzerland).. Still in Moscow u theoretically may find yourself in an overpriced/posh/expensive restaurant just by occasion.. But in St Petersburg they just do not exist. I mean even superfancy restaurants will not cost you much nowadays, say 100 USD pp at most

So, just relax)
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