Quaint St.-Petersburg Guidebook
From 14 June to 15 July 2018, St.-Petersburg will host thousands of football fans who will come from all over the world to watch their teams do their best for the World Cup. However, the city is not all about football or its renowned palaces and museums. Would you like to see a unique Saint-Petersburg? If so, here is our guidebook with a new look.
Places you will never find in regular guidebooks
Places frequented by the locals
Where to spend a couple of spare days
Saint-Petersburg hosts the FIFA World Cup
Feel at home in a strange city: useful apps
Places You Will Never Find in Regular Guidebooks
The well courtyards are only known to locals and heavy Internet surfers, but now you are one of the few who know about them too! These are the most famous courtyards of the old St.-Petersburg you should see:
- the octagonal courtyard — Maliy Avenue on Petrograd Side, 1b
- flatiron building courtyard — corner of Fontanka Embankment, 199 and Sadovaya Street, 128
- well courtyard at Bolshoy Avenue on Petrograd Side, 106
- the Cappella courtyards — four houses connecting Moyka Embankment and Bolshaya Konyushennaya.
City artists are a special caste. They decorate the walls with bizarre paintings that turn up sometimes in most unexpected places. When you are having a walk, never hesitate to peek into the courtyards – this is where the most curious pictures can be found. You should take a look at the graffiti — portraits of celebrities:
- Sergey Bodrov, a famous Russian actor, at Alexander Nevsky Square
- Albert Einstein, a famous scientist, at Liteyniy Avenue, 37
- Sergey Yesenin, a Russian poet, at Grechesky Avenue, 8а
- Morihei Ueshiba, founder of the martial art aikido, in the Garden of Friendship at Liteyniy Avenue between House No. 15 and House No. 17
- Vladimir Vysotsky, a famous Soviet actor, poet and singer, at, Moskovsky Avenue, 73.
Places Frequented by the Locals
Not unlike tourists, local folks enjoy a stroll in the city on a summer day. However, where visitors choose the Summer Garden, local people would opt for New Holland Island or the Park of 300 Years of St.-Petersburg. Tourists flock to the Hermitage, locals pick the Erarta. After dark, visitors are most likely to hit the bars at Rubinsteina Street, whereas locals would prefer to have a drink at Belinskogo Street, Dumskaya Street, or the courtyards of Konyushennaya Square… Would you like to discover the city through its people? Then pick the right places!
Every visitor needs to try the St.-Petersburg donuts. This is a tradition that simply cannot be broken. You will find the best donuts in an ancient shop at Bolshaya Konyushennaya, 25. Step inside and find yourself back in the USSR with pieces of paper instead of napkins and exquisite coffee with milk… out of a huge urn. They don’t go easy on powdered sugar for donuts here.
Shawarma (called shaurma in Moscow) — an Oriental dish of chunks of chicken meat and vegetables wrapped in thin lavash bread. Simple and delicious. Shawarma is so popular that they serve it in hipster cafes and posh restaurants alike. Local folks, however, claim that true shawarma can only be found in two “joints” at Nevsky, 3 and Liteyniy, 64.
If you arrive in June, you may still be lucky enough to have made it for the pastime most popular with St.-Petersburg residents in the spring and summertime – the Smelt Season. Smelt is a small fish they catch in spring and in early summer. They even have a festival in May dedicated to this fish. Smelt is doused in flour or batter, fried and served with lemon. Order it in any restaurant – with a recipe this simple, one can’t botch the dish.
Ask any Petersburger what they take pride in, and be sure to hear about the heroic blockade survivors of the Great Patriotic War. The memory of glorious ancestors is passed reverently from generation to generation.
In the summer, local folks will naturally mention the famous ‘white nights’ – a time when it never gets dark. One may walk the city all through the night and only see twilight, and then it is sunrise again at 4–5 a.m.
Peterburgers are also fond of their “window to Europe” and often travel to Finland or Estonia for the weekend as one might go to their own weekend cottages. Renting a house in a Finnish forest close to the frontier and talking with friends next to a barbeque grill is as natural here as it goes.
The latest thing for the locals to take pride in — a modern planetarium with a dome 37 m wide – opened in autumn of 2017, it occupies one of the biggest gas collectors in Russia built way back in 1884. The new planetarium can be found at: embankment of Obvodniy channel, 74, Lit. Ц.
Where to Spend a Couple of Spare Days
If your stay in the city stretches out for a few days, you may watch drawbridges opening over the Neva and roam the outskirts of the city. We are not going to suggest all these famous palaces and parks in the suburbia (Peterhof, Gatchina, Oranienbaum) – places where the barkers are going to try and lure you to, wherever you go. We have something entirely special to offer.
Kronstadt. This is the place to start your nautical journeys to the ancient forts and lighthouses. The most renowned of them is the Alexander I (“Plague”) – a fort built back in the 19th century. After it served intended purpose, it was converted into a plague serum production facility.
The Oreshek Fortress. An ancient Russian fortress near Schlisselburg (Leningrad Region) sits on an island where one has to sail yet. No big deal in the summer, really: small boats shuttle back and forth every day. Just make sure to keep track of time, unless you want to miss the last boat of the day. Expect no rescue until the next morning.
The Doroga Zhizni (Road of Life) Museum (Doroga Zhizni Highway, 58) on the bank of Lake Ladoga next to Osinovetsky Lighthouse is the place where you can take a look at the Great Patriotic War military machinery and then enjoy a stroll along the bank of the Ladoga – the lake as big as a sea.
You may be puzzled by the answer of the locals to your question “Excuse me, how do I get there and there?” The Petersburg-Russian glossary will help you out.
Aprashka — the Apraksin Dvor – a big market in downtown, right along Sadovaya Street.
Bolty — subway station “Baltiyskaya” or Baltiysky Vokzal.
Gostinka — subway station Gostiny Dvor as well as the ancient mall on Nevsky Avenue.
Grazhdanka — subway station Grazhdansky Avenue and the so-called bedroom suburb in the northern part of the city next to the same station.
Gribanal — Channel named after Griboyedov.
Katkin Sad — Yekaterininsky Garden, a mini park with the monument to Catherine II between Nevsky Avenue and Alexandrinsky Theater.
Five subway lines run from north to south and from west to east through the city. It’s no big deal, really, to get to any part of St.-Petersburg.
The city also boasts an extensive network of tram, trolley bus, bus and mini-bus lines connecting the downtown area with the suburbs. Some of the lines may well be considered to be tour circuits. Bus No. 24 may take you from Alexander Nevsky Square along the entire Nevsky Avenue, passing by the Vosstaniya Square, Alezandrinsky Theater, Kazan Cathedral, crossing the river Neva over the Palace Bridge and on to Vasilievsky Island with its narrow streets called “lines”.
In St.-Petersburg, they use the travel card Podorozhnik (kartochka in local argot). Top it up to any amount and use it on any means of public transportation – overland and underground. You may also buy an individual pass card for the bus, tram, trolley bus or subway.
The traditional summertime problem when the bridges are open for the night and one cannot cross the river may be solved by the Vantovy Bridge (the only bridge that stays operational overnight) and, naturally, the cabs. Depending on the distance, the night travel will set you back at least RUB 1,000–1,500 but at least you can rest assured you will fall asleep in your own bed.
Saint-Petersburg to Host FIFA World Cup
Built specifically for the World Cup 2018, the new Saint-Petersburg Stadium (Krestovsky Island, Football Alley, 1) will host quite a number of teams.
Take the violet subway line to “Krestovsky Ostrov” station and take a 10 minutes’ walk through the park. Alternatively, walk across the Yakhtenny Bridge to Peterland shopping mall (Primorsky District) and the 300 Years Park (added a link for clarification), where you can take a mini-bus to “Staraya Derevnya” subway station (Violet Line) and to Chyornaya Rechka subway station (Blue Line).
15 June, 18:00, Morocco — Iran
19 June, 21:00, Russia — Egypt
22 June, 15:00, Brazil — Costa Rica
26 June, 21:00, Nigeria — Argentina
Play Off Stage:
3 July, 17:00 — 1/8 finals
10 July, 21:00 — 1/2 finals
14 July, 17:00 — consolation match
Feel at Home in a Strange City: Useful Apps
Accommodations suited to every fancy: hotels and private houses
Restaurants, cafes, tourist attractions:
Watch football everywhere:
Getting along with foreigners: