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The Port of St. Petersburg

History & Culture

St. Petersburg was founded in 1703 by the order of tsar Peter the Great. St. Petersburg remained Russia’s capital for 2 centuries. During the World War II, the city was sieged by Nazi Germany for 900 days. In fact, this is the longest ever siege of a modern city.

St. Petersburg is often called the “Northern Capital” and the “Venice of the North.” This city was inspired by a few European cities like Venice and Vienna. Every piece of this city is soaked in art and culture. The Hermitage was considered the most important art institute during the Soviet era.

Eating/ Drinking

The must-try Russian dishes include Pelmeni (meat dumplings), Kholodets (meat jello), Ukha (fish soup), Shchi (dense soup fish and meat), Vinegred and Stalichni (also known as Olivie) salads. You can also try Borsch, although its origin is debated between the Russians and the Ukrainians.

Make sure to try the variety of Blini (pancakes), Syrniki (flat cakes), and Kissel (jam jello and flour) for dessert.

As for drinks, Kvass is a fermented non-alcoholic drink made from bread. It’s very cheap and is sometimes sold in the streets.

The Russians don’t drink a lot of tea, but when they do, it looks like a ritual. The traditional way of drinking tea includes a Samovar, a painted metal container that is heated to keep the boiled water warm inside.

Be prepared to the Russian vodka phenomenon. Russians do drink a lot, and sometimes it’s better to leave the party the moment you feel your partners are crossing the line. Don’t enter a drinking competition with the Russians, as you’ll most probably lose.

Port Information

Cruise ship passengers are allowed to stay on the territory of Russia visa-free for 72 hours. However, this privilege applies only to those, who travel in a group. This is why you will have to book a city tour with one of the local tour agencies that have state licensing. Their ticket will be your visa for three days. The majority of tour agencies have specific tours for 1-3 days, depending on your cruise length.

Remember that you must have the ticket or any other document that will state about your tour booking. Otherwise, you might not be allowed to step off the ship. Some tour agencies and guides let travelers leave the group for a few hours and explore the city on their own. However, these cases are exceptions and practically illegal, so you’ll need to check the possibility with your tour agency. One-day tours usually start at the price of $160.

If you want to see St. Petersburg independently you will have to apply for a Russian visa beforehand. You will need to apply to the Russian embassy or consulate of your country at least a month before your trip. The length of your stay as a tourist should not exceed 30 days. While the visa cost is different depending on the country, it will most probably start at $150.

Winters in St. Petersburg are very cold and snowy. The River Neva freezes form November to April. February is the coldest month. The temperature never goes below -10 °C.
Summers are warm and humid. The season starts in June and ends in early September. The average summer temperature is 22°C.

Internet Connection
The city has a number of spots that offer free WIFI access. The majority are cafes and bars like McDonalds, Shokoladnitsa, and so on. Cafes will most probably have passwords that will be shared with customers after ordering something. Major hotels, like Hilton, and the Peterhof Park also have free WIFI.

The official and most popular language spoken in St. Petersburg is Russian. English is not very common; only tour guides and a small part of the local youth speak and understand it.

The local currency is the Ruble. You can get some from the ATM located in the cruise ship terminal. Some shops in the city do take dollars and euros, but you’d better not risk it.


The Port of St. Petersburg

About the Port: The port of St. Petersburg is located on the Vasilyevsky Island. It’s a 15 minutes’ drive from the city center. The port borders the Baltic Sea and the River Neva.
The port has two sections: the Sea Port, which hosts ferries and cruise ships arriving from Stockholm, Helsinki or Tallinn, and the River Port, which is meant for cruise ships and boats arriving from other parts of Russia. The terminals of the Sea Port are quite new and contain the essential touristic facilities like a souvenir shop, a tourist information center, an ATM, Taxi Desk, Post Office, a duty-free shop, and so on.

Besides the Sea Port, there are three other cruise terminals in the historic center of the city.

About the City: St. Petersburg, which was once called Leningrad, is one of the most beautiful cities in Russia and the whole world. The city is located on the northern bank of Neva River and is the cultural center of the country with more than 221 museums, 341 bridges and 80 theatres. It’s also the second largest city in Russia. The population is more than 5 million. Politician Vladimir Lenin, writers Mikhail Lermontov, Vladimir Nabokov, poet Alexander Blok, painter Isaak Brodsky, musician Victor Tsoi, football player Andrey Arshavin and many others were born here.
Things to Do
The State Hermitage is a legendary museum and a primary must-see in St. Petersburg. It contains more than 3 million paintings, sculptures and other artworks. The Hermitage is located in downtown and consists of a number of historic buildings, some of which, like the beautiful Winter Palace, are former palaces of Russian tsars. One of the architectural highlights is the Alexander Column, dedicated to tsar Alexander I and his victory over Napoleon. The column was built in 1834. The Hermitage collection contains such legendary names as Da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Tizian, El Greco, Goya, Caravaggio, Canaletto, Monet, Pisarro, Van Gogh, Matisse, and so on.

St. Isaac’s Cathedral was meant to be the main church of the entire Russian Empire. The construction lasted 40 years and ended in 1858. In fact, the cathedral was designed by a French architect named Auguste Montferrand. The 300-stairs lead to the colonnade, where fantastic views to the city are available.

Church of the Savior on Blood displays a typical Russian religious architecture with domes similar to ice cream. It was built on the exact spot, where Russian tsar Alexander II was assassinated. Just like St. Isaac’s Cathedral, this church also shines with a colorful interior of wealth and art.

The Russian Museum was opened in 1895 and displays a huge collection of Russian fine arts. The exhibitions include national costumes, paintings, statues, photographs, and so on.

Peterhof Palace is the ideal place to see the traditions, tastes and preferences of powerful Russian Empire and its emperors. The palace and the gardens are so magnificent that they’re often called “the Russian Versailles.” The palace was ordered by Peter the Great and contains one of the most beautiful fountains in the world, the Grand Cascade.
Besides the above mentioned attractions, make sure to visit the Nevsky Prospect, Peter and Paul Fortress, Mariinsky Theater, Catherine Palace, and Alexander Palace.
Buses are often crowded, which is why the metro is the best option. The network covers the whole city, and the stations are usually beautifully painted and decorated. The one-way transport tickets are very cheap, less than $1.

Taxis can be really expensive, which is why you should negotiate a fixed price before making a deal. Having a paper and a pen would be of great help, if you don’t speak Russian. Also, you can write down the names of places you want to visit or the name of your ship berth, so that you can just show it to the driver and negotiate on numbers.