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 St Petersburg Russia Survival Guide


 table of contents

  1. Emergency numbers
  2. Getting around
  3. English speaking Medical Assistance
  4. Internet Cafes
  5. Calling Abroad
  6. Calling Domestic
  7. Currency
  8. Bridge Schedules
  9. Police
  10. Russian customs and superstitions
  11. Cyrillic Alphabet


Emergency numbers

Locally dialed in St Petersburg
Fire 01
Police 02
Ambulance 03
Gas Leak 04
Police for foreigners 164-9787
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Getting around

    Description   Cost   Oksana's tips

The St. Petersburg Metro is our underground train system and one of the prides of our city.  There are 4 intersecting lines combining for over 110 kilometers with 60 stops.  Ask a St. Petersburg resident where they live and they will most likely tell you the nearest metro stop to their home.  Many of the stations are very ornate (photo gallery) in their design.  The system is the fastest and cheapest way to get around the city.   During rush hours trains arrive every minute.  During non-rush hours, trains arrive every 4 minutes. (see map)

  17 rubles per ride



For non-Russian speaking riders, it's useful to have a map that has both the names in Cyrillic and latin letters.  Also, it is advisable to learn the Cyrillic alphabet (it's not that hard), so you can recognize the station names.   One final thought - men should be gentlemen and give their seats to women, especially older women when it is busy. 






Standard system with hundreds of routes throughout the city.  A ticket seller will approach you after entering the bus.

  17 rubles per ride  

During peak hours, the busses are so overcrowded that you will get to know all around you very (too) well.  Don't lose your ticket while riding or you may have to pay again.






A network of tracked busses around the city

  14 rubles per ride  







Mini-vans that run regular routes.  Passengers announce to the driver when they want to stop.  Each van will have a sign that details destinations and landmarks along its route.  Each van is numbered.  Some vans will require payment when you get in, others when you exit.  Simply pass your money either directly to the driver or to another passenger between you and the driver. 

  15 - 25 rubles  

Much more comfortable than busses, the only difficulty is learning which van to take.  Just ask somebody that knows what number Marshrutka and the rest is fairly simple.  It's not polite to sit in the seat right by the door if there are other open seats as others will have to climb over you to get in and out. 





Licensed Taxi            

There are a number of taxi companies that have licenses and offer metered rides. 




If you would like to order a taxi to your apartment, you can locally dial '068'.  The prices are higher than unofficial taxies but quite reasonable compared with other countries. Be sure that the meter is actually running, or else you will be at the mercy of the driver regarding a price.  Though they claim to speak English, I'm still waiting for an example of it.    A typical ride in the Center costs from 200 to 300 rubles. 





Unofficial Taxi            



A culturally popular paid hitchhiking system.   Essentially, every passing car is a potential taxi, and putting your arm out in front of you invites cars to stop.  Riders tell the driver where he's going and how much he'll pay, and the driver either invites you to sit down or speeds away, sometimes with your head still half way in their window. 


Street taxies are sure to generate interesting stories for your friends back home.  Negotiation is a bit of an art form.  St. Petersburg drivers know that tourists will sometimes pay too much so it's important to know some general guidelines.  Rides within the center should be 100 - 300 rubles.  Never get into a car without an agreed price.  Sit in the front passenger seat.  NEVER get into a car with more than one male in it. 






The process of extending opposite legs in front of oneself in a coordinated manner to produce movement.

  A few calories  

The best way to see St. Petersburg and soak in the culture.  Be careful crossing streets as Russian drivers who feel they have the right of way will not stop or slow down for a mere mortal person, though they may be polite and beep their horn as they accelerate.

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English speaking medical assistance

Each of the clinics below offers a wide range of services including 24 hour emergency service and ambulance.  The facilities are western standard, and the websites have a price list for services.  There are many Russian clinics that will be less expensive, but you are likely to have communication problems. 

  Euromed Clinic Suvorovsky Prospect 60 +7(812)327-0301
  International Clinic Dostoestova Ulitsa 19/21 +7(812)320-3870
  British-American Clinic Grafsky Pereulok 7 +7(812)327-6030
  American Clinic Moika Embankment 78 +7(812)140-2090
  MedPalace Chaykovskova 6 +7(812)272-5291  
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Internet Cafes

There are MANY internet cafes in St. Petersburg.  The following are easy to find in the Center.  Prices range from $1.00 - $2.00 per hour.  Cafe Max and Quo Vadis are open 24 hours.  All provide copying, scanning, and other services.

  Cafe Max Nevsky Prospect 90 273-6655
  Quo Vadis? Nevsky Prospect 24 117-8011
  5,3 GHz Nevsky Prospect 63 314-6009  
  Arka Canal Griboedova 7 314-8250
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Calling abroad

  When in St. Petersburg and using a phone that does not allow direct international dial, you will need to purchase an international pre-paid phone card.  These are sold many places, but one common place will be the newspaper and magazine stands in metro stations.  Since there are cards that can only be used to call domestically, be sure to say the name of the country you are calling.  Russia's phones use a pulse dialing system.  To use calling cards, you will need to use a phone that can switch between pulse and tone.  Cards will vary, but the usual directions are to  1) With your phone on pulse, dial the local 7 digit number listed on the card for St. Petersburg.  2) Change your phone to tone and dial the pin code on the card. 3) Dial "10" then country code, then full number you are dialing.  Don't get frustrated if it takes a few tries.


Calling Domestic


Land based phone to Land based phone
    St. Petersburg has the area code 812.  If you are dialing any other phone number with this area code, only the last 7 digits are required.  To dial another area code such as Moscow (495), the caller must first dial  8 and then pause for a new dial tone.   Thus phone numbers are usually written as  8,(812)###-####.  A few notes.  1) Sometimes an outside line will not be available and will take several attempts.  During major holidays, the wait can be quite long and frustrating.  2) Many owners who rent their apartments to tourists will block the 8 from their phones.  In this case, if you want to call another city, you will need to buy a pre-paid phone card similar to what is described above for international calls. 
Land based phone to mobile phone
    When customers open mobile phone accounts, they choose between a more expensive local phone number with an 812 area code or longer phone number with an area code assigned to their mobile operator.  All of the mobile phone operator area codes begin with a 9 such as 911.  If calling from a landbased phone to a mobile phone number with a local St. Petersburg number, then only the last 7 numbers are needed, the same as if dialing a land based phone.  If the phone uses a mobile phone operator area code, then the caller needs to dial an 8, pause for a new dial tone, and dial the full 10 digit number.  Please be courtious of the person you are calling as very few users have unlimited accounts and mobile calls are quite expensive here still. 
mobile phone to Land based phone
    Regardless of the mobile phone account's area code, if the caller is dialing a local 812 St. Petersburg phone number, only the last 7 digits are required. 
mobile phone to mobile phone
    If dialing a local St. Petersburg number (812) or a number with the same mobile phone operator area code, dial only the last 7 digits.  If calling any other mobile phone area code, it is necessary to dial an 8-3 digit area code and then the 7 digit phone number.  

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Currency & money exchanges

  The Russian currency is the Ruble.  There are 100 Kopecks in a ruble, though kopecks are rarely spoke of because of their nominal value.  Only rubles can be used in stores, restaurants, and other public venues. Most private transactions such as services or those costing large amounts such as apartment purchases are done in Dollars or Euros.  Many  services are quoted in Dollars or Euros such as the services you will see on this website.  Sometimes it will not be clear whether the prices are in fact in Dollars, Euros or Rubles.  For example, a restaurant might list  "Greek Salad  4."  The assumption is that you will know that a salad will not sell for 12 cents so that it must be in Dollars.  Another menu might list  "kuritsa Shashlyk   190"   Hopefully you have not chosen a restaurant that charges $190 for a few pieces of chicken cooked on a grill and served on a skewer. 
    There are literally 100's of money exchanges in the City Center.  Most will require you to have a passport to exchange money.  They generally charge a 30 ruble commission.  After 8 p.m. the money exchanges that remain open will lower the exchange rates by about 3%, so to make your money go further, be sure to exchange money before then.  NEVER exchange money with people outside an exchange office offering you a better rate.  Your attempt to gain an extra 1% on your money is equally likely to result in your losing 100% of your money at the hands of a con artist. 


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Bridge schedules

Palace Bridge during White Nights


St. Petersburg was originally envisioned to be like Venice.  Built on a series of islands, St. Petersburg often requires crossing one or more bridges for getting from point to point.  St. Petersburg is also a port city and requires it's bridges to be opened to allow for merchant ships to pass.  From April until September each year, beginning around 1 a.m. it's wise to know the times the bridges open so you don't get stuck with long waits.   The bridge schedule changes a little every year so it's important to make sure you have current times.  I will update this site as often as possible.  Here are times from the 2007 season.

Perhaps also of interest, the bridge openings during the White Night period  is a social gathering point for people of all levels of sobriety. 

Bridge name Closed
Alexandra Nevskova 01:30 - 05:05
Birzhevoy 02:10 - 04:50
Bosheokhtinsky 02:00 - 05:00
Dvortsovy (Palace) 01:35 - 02:55
03:15 - 04:50
Finlyandsky 01:30 - 05:05
Greganderski 02:45 - 03:45
04:20 - 04:50
Kantermirovski 02:45 - 03:45
04:20 - 04:50
Leyternanta Shmidta 01:40 - 04:55
Liteiny 01:50 - 04:40
Sampsoniyevsky 02:10 - 02:45
Troitsky 01:50 - 04:50
Tuchkov 02:10 - 03:05
03:35 - 04:45
Volodarski 02:00 - 03:45
04:15 - 05:45
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    There is a joke in Russia that goes:  A man is interviewing for a job with the police and asks "how much does it pay?"  The commanding officer replies "Pay? We give you a badge and a gun, go get money yourself!"

Sadly, many funny jokes have a bit of truth in them.  It is not uncommon for police to stop people and find some excuse to fine  them on the street.  It is important to know that if you have your passport and a properly registered visa, and you are not violating any laws such as crossing Nevsky Prospect in the middle, then there is absolutely no reason you should pay a single kopeck to the police.  If you feel you are being improperly harrassed, you absolutely should ask for the police officer's name and badge number.  You should then report this information to your consulate

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Russian customs and superstitions

There are too many superstitions amongst Russians to recap here, but here are a few that might be beneficial to know as you interact with Russians.

1) Do not shake hands over a doorway.

2) Give flowers only in odd numbers.  Even numbers denotes death and are for funerals.  

3) Do not whistle indoors

4) ALWAYS take off your shoes when entering an apartment 

5) If you smoke, you should always smoke in the hallway


Cyrillic alphabet

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 5/23/2019 12:03:01 PM GMT+3   2002-2019 All rights reserved.