Going ashore in Saint Petersburg, Russia

St. Peter and Paul's Fortress Winter Palace

Saint Petersburg is Russia’s second largest city and biggest port, situated in the NW part of the country, at the head of the Gulf of Finland, in the Eastern most part of the Baltic Sea. The city is located on the banks of Neva River and on a number of river islands.

Only few big container ship vessels reach this far end of the Baltic Sea and this is an excellent chance for seafarers to step out of their daily routine and venture into the city as regular tourists do. Most of the city’s visitors arrive into the city on board big passenger vessels and they have only one day available for wandering around.  So, if your vessel arrives in Sankt Petersburg you should not miss this rare opportunity and try to go out of the port and into the city for a short visit.

Going out of this port is quite challenging as seafarers need a few directions and info which most of the port authority’s employees fail to provide, due to their lack of language skills.

Walking inside the port is permitted. To reach the gate, you have to walk on designated lanes – following the pier. The most difficult part of the journey starts at the gate, after you finish with the regular checks. If you are lucky and you find somebody there speaking English, he can help you with the directions you need and he can call up a taxi to take you to the centre or to the nearest metro station.

You can also walk your way towards the town and find a taxi under way. Be sure you have your destination written in Russian on a piece of paper as most of the people do not speak any word of English. You can ask the agent to provide you with all the desired info written in Russian and the address of the port for you return as well.

The cheapest and fastest way to arrive in the centre of Saint Petersburg is by taxi  – only up to the metro station – and continuing by metro.

The metro station closest to the port is called Avtovo (Red Line). From there, you have to change the metro at the Station Tekhnologicheskiy Institut (4 stations) and take the Violet Line up to Nevskiy Prospekt (2 stations).

Nevskiy Prospekt Boulevard is Saint Petersburg’s main avenue and one of the most famous streets in Russia. It hosts some of the most important buildings and landmarks of the city and it is considered to be its heart of cultural, social and economical life.

You can have a walk down this boulevard and have a stop in front of its most beautiful buildings:

– the Kazan Cathedral;

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– the Church of Our Savior of the Spilled Blood (Spas na Krovi);

The Church of our Savior of Spilled Blood Saint Petersburg

St.-Petersburg-Souvenir-market

– the Admiralty Building.

Continuing down the Nevskiy Prospekt Boulevard and towards Neva River, you will reach the Palace Square where some other very important buildings and city landmarks are located:

– the Winter Palace (winter residence of the imperial family);

Saint-Petersburg-Palace-Square-Alexander-Column

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St.-Petersburg-inside-Winter-Palace

– the Hermitage Museum (located within five interconnected buildings, including the Winter Palace);

Saint Petersburg Winter Palace Hermitage Museum

– the General Staff Building (which hosts permanent and temporary art exhibitions, including the French Impressionist painters);

St.-Petersburg-General-Staff-Building

St.-Petersburg-French-Impresionism-Exhibition-General-Staff-Building

– the Triumphal Arch;

St. Petersburg Triumphal Arch Palace Square

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– the Alexander Column (a 26 meter high monolith of red granite which supports a statue of an Angel holding a cross – the general height of the column is 47 meters).

Saint Petersburg Palace Square Alexander Column

The Neva River is crossed by more than 300 bridges. The most famous of them are the ones situated close to Nevskiy Prospekt Boulevard – Dvortsoviy Bridge and Troitskiy Bridge.

St. Petersburg Neva River

Troitskiy Bridge St. Petersburg

If you cross the Dvortsoviy Bridge you will step onto Vasilyevsky Island, one of the oldest part of the city where you can admire the beautiful Strelka Building and the two great Columns decorated with carved ships’ prows.

St. Petersburg Column on Vasilyevsky Island

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The most popular island in Saint Petersburg is Zayachy Island, considered to be the nucleus around which the city was constructed. In 1703, Peter the Great laid the foundation stones for the St. Peter and Paul Fortress which is located on Zayachy Island and in the middle of this island there is Saint Peter and Paul’s Cathedral – the burial place of all the Russian emperors and their families.

St.-Peter-and-Pauls-Cathedral-Peter-the-Great-tomb

St. Peter and Paul's Cathedral St. Petersburg

Zayachy Island St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg Extreme Sailing on Neva River

St. Peter and Paul's Fortress St Petersburg

If your time allows it you can have a walk in the Summer Gardens – which are located in front of the Summer Palace – or you can enjoy a boat tour on the Neva River and its numerous canals.

St.-Petersburg-boat-cruise-down-Neva-River

Summer Palace St. Petersburg

Useful Information:

– You can change money in exchange offices in town and you can withdraw local currency from the ATM machines located inside the metro station;

– You can use your credit card almost everywhere in town (in restaurants, big shops, in the ticket offices of important tourist attractions);

– The Hermitage Museum is open every day except Mondays ( from 10.30 to 18), but the ticket office closes half an hour before;

– If you want to skip long lines for entering the Hermitage Museum, you can buy a ticket from the automatic machines situated in front of the entrance. These tickets are a little more expensive than a regular simple ticket ( 600 rubles – ~ 8 euros), but it will allow you free entrance to 5 different museums located in the Palace Square or in the vicinity. Even if you do not have time to visit all 5 museums, this ticket offers you the possibility to skip lines and save a lot of time;

Saint Petersburg line for entering the Hermitage Museum

– The ticket to the St. Peter and Paul’s Cathedral costs 330 rubles (or 380 rubles with entrance to the Prison of the Trubetzkoy Bastion), but if you want to go up in the Tower you have to buy a separate ticket from inside the cathedral (150 rubles). You can buy the 330 or 380 ruble ticket using the credit card (from the ticket office located in the Boat House), but you can pay for the Tower entrance only by cash and only after you paid for the Cathedral;

– You will find the same prince for souvenirs almost everywhere in the city centre. If you want better deals for souvenirs, you will find them in the big mall – called ‘yellow house’ – up Nevsky Prospekt Boulevard (magnets 60-120 rubles, Matruska dolls can cost 100-800 rubles depending on size, but their prices can go as high as few thousands rubles if they are decorated;

– Taxis are very cheap in Saint Petersburg, but the drivers do not speak English. It would be better if you have your directions written in Russian language;

– One Metro ticket costs 31 rubles and it can be bought from the machines or from the ticket office;

– You can find free wireless internet in all cafes and restaurants in town;

– At the date of our visit (August 2015) the parity euro – rubles was 1 euro = 7.8 rubles.

Recommendation for eating:

On the island of Zayachy, you will find a very good restaurant – Koryushka – with a wonderful view over the Neva River and a very diversified menu (European and traditional Russian food).

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The prices for food and beverages are quite low (taking into account the location), although the prices for drinks are almost the same as those for a first menu course:

– roast chicken with Georgian sauce – 790 rubles

Koryushka Restaurant St. Petersburg (2)

– roast potatoes with mushroom – 540 rubles

Koryushka Restaurant St. Petersburg (3)

– turkey meat balls with mash potatoes – 540 rubles

– chicken with garlic sauce – 790 rubles

Koryushka Restaurant St. Petersburg (1)

– beer – 450 rubles

– water 0.75 ml – 540 rubles

– pepsi small bottle – 180 rubles

– cappuccino – 380 rubles

One Response to Going ashore in Saint Petersburg, Russia

  1. mary says:

    oh such great photos of the food, Oana, I could really taste those mushrooms and the garlic sauces.. you have made St Petersburg even more exciting and attractive than ever – thank you for so much detailed and valuable information, even from your own brief visit there!

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