St. Petersburg Travel Guide

Russia  #11 in Best Cheap European Vacations

Getting Around St. Petersburg

The best way to get around St. Petersburg is public transportation; otherwise, you can walk around  Nevsky Prospekt, the main thoroughfare. There's an extensive bus and metro system with lines that run throughout the center and into the city’s outskirts. Tram or trolley is best for short journeys through downtown. For trips to the suburbs, try the metro system. Rental cars are available at the Pulkovo Airport (LED), but acquiring the proper driving documents can be a hassle. Taxis are also a prevalent (though at times, unsafe) way to move around.

Taxi The taxis can be convenient, but risky. Some tourists have been robbed and drugged by unlicensed cabbies posing as drivers, so it's best to call a taxi company directly instead of flagging a vehicle down off the street. Drivers do their best to not use the meter, so it's important to insist or at least negotiate your fare before getting in the cab. The average fare starts at around $5 USD, with an additional fee for calling ahead. And remember, it isn't customary to tip the driver too much; rounding up to the nearest ruble should be enough.
On Foot You can also get around St. Petersburg by foot, especially if you're checking out the sites along the Nevsky Prospekt. If you cross the river at any point throughout the city, be aware that the drawbridges rise at several points in the early morning hours, typically between 1 and 3 a.m.
Metro

Although an inexpensive way to get around -- tickets are about $.6550 USD no matter how far you ride -- the city's metro stops are set far apart from each other, so be prepared to do some additional walking. But the metro is worth experiencing -- it's the deepest metro in the world.  Also, the stations' unique horizontal lift doors into the subway cars would echo back to the Stalin years if it weren’t for the themed décor and local artwork. Maps and metro stop signs are only in Cyrillic, and transfer stations sometimes have multiple names, so it's best to pick up a copy of an English map from the tourist publications available at most hotels.

Bus and Trolley The bus and trolley systems are efficient and cheap -- tickets sell for about $.60 USD and are available with the conductor or driver. Service runs from around 5:30 a.m. to midnight, and vehicles tend to be severely crowded during rush hour. Although the maps posted in the buses and trolleys are in Cyrillic only, stations are clearly marked with yellow signs marked with "A"s for buses and white plates with "T"s for trolleys.
Tram While the trams aren't as timely as the metro or buses, they are the more scenic way to get around St. Petersburg. But due to traffic problems, a handful of lines have been removed from the city center, making most tourist spots inaccessible by tram. Tickets are still cheap however, around $.60 USD per ride, and like the buses and trolleys, are available for purchase from the trams' conductors.
Car Driving can be a hassle, the poorly maintained roads, reckless local drivers and almost non-existent or hidden signs exclusively in Cyrillic. But if you really must rent a car, remember to carry your passport, international driving permit and your American license at all times. Rental companies will only rent to drivers that are at least 21 years old and who have been driving for at least a year.

Explore More of St. Petersburg

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