St Petersburg Russia

Heading there on a cruise will be there for 2 full days. I understand the Visa concept but plan to hire a private tour guide to take us around and to dinner at L’Europe in the grand hotel. Is it worth it or is there somewhere better?

Certainly familiar with the big sites but any other recommendations?

Also, anyone hire a private guide?



I was there last summer , east city to get around, I had no need of a guide. Just take taxis that the hotels call for you and vonfirm price beforehand.

The Hermitage, Faberge museum , restaurants are almost all on ir just off the main road (Nevsky prospect),

We went several years ago, but even then it was easy to get around. The only times we hired a private guide was touring out of the city (Catherine Palace, etc.) and to get easier access and behind the scenes at the Hermitage. In both cases, the private guide was worth it - particularly if you have limited time as we were able to skip all the queues.

You can easily do the Peter and Paul Fortress and Romanov burial sites, Kazan Cathedral, Church of the Spilled Blood, St. Isaacs and any of the smaller museums on your own. We really enjoyed visiting a number of local food and gastronomy shops, having tea in one of the tea shops, and shopping. Russian arts are much, much, much less expensive in St. Petersburg (except for the airport).

For dinner, I’d suggest eating outside the hotels. There are some great restaurants in St. Petersburg. We found that even in the high end hotels, the dining wasn’t worth the price and we were able to really enjoy some great dinners.

As I am coming in on a cruise ship If I don’t hire a private guide I have to apply for a Visa for my wife and i. It is actually cheaper to hire a private guide then buy 2 visas. The guides exempt you from a visa but you have to stay with them at all times. It is obviously a bit of a racket. Still contemplating getting a visa but it is overly complicated and as I said expensive. At least $160pp


Bumping this as I am looking for restaurant recommendations. The hotels seem to have restaurants with a lot of “pomp and circumstance” this is OK as long as the food is good. I would probably prefer something where the food is the focus.