Guide Tips for Your Tour of St. Petersburg

As a tour guide in St. Petersburg, I have developed this list over the years to help people prepare for their visit.  I created it so that you can come well prepared and let nothing stop you from having a wonderful experience!

1.  The most important thing is to have a wonderful time during your visit to St. Petersburg!!!!

2.  It is possible to use credit cards in many restaurants and stores, but always be sure to ask before you assume they take them, even if they have credit card stickers in the window.  Some restaurants will have menus in English or with pictures, if they don't it's best to select a different restaurant or come back with the assistance of your St. Petersburg tour guide.

3. The Alphabet in Russia is completely different from the Latin alphabet in English.  This means you won't be able to "sound out" the words on many road signs, maps etc.  This and many other reasons means it is a really good idea to hire a tour guide in St. Petersburg.

4.  Don't hale a cab on the street.  Most drivers won't speak English and it is not safe.

5.  St. Petersburg is on 42 islands.  At different times of the year they draw the bridges up for the night.  This can mean it is impossible to get back to your hotel!  This is another very good reason to hire a tour guide in St. Petersburg as they'll be able to tell you in what area you should stay so that you don't become stranded.

6.  Unless you are with your tour guide in St. Petersburg, it is best to stay in the main attraction areas such as Nevsky Prospect.  If you'd like to see the city where everyday life happens in the city, I'm happy to escort you as your tour guide in St. Petersburg. 

7.  A visit to St. Petersburg is no different than traveling in any other big city such as Los Angeles, Toronto, Bangkok, or Rome. You should always be alert and make sure to keep money in a secure place.  There are a lot of pick pocketers, so I suggest using a money belt under your shirt that is held tight to your skin.  Always keep your credit cards and cancellation numbers on a paper separate from your credit card in the event they are lost or stolen.  

8.  If you plan on using a Debit Card or Credit Card, be sure to inform you bank in advance, otherwise they may see withdraws as fraudulent and not allow them.

9.  There are lots of places to convert your currency into Rubles.  Be sure to ask me as your St. Petersburg tour guide where the best rates are as they can vary widely from bank to bank.  Usually you will need your passport to convert currency.

10.  Tipping in restaurants is approximately 10% and is based on the quality of the service.

11.  I always suggest that people carry a copy of their passport and visa in a pocket other than the one where there passport is located.  I also suggest that you carry your passport in the money belt that is held closely to your skin under your shirt.  A copy can be very helpful if you something happens to your passport.

12.  There are several taxi companies in St. Petersburg, but the drivers and the dispatcher will not speak English.  For this reason, be sure to ask the assistance of your hotel concierge or me as your tour guide in St. Petersburg.

13.  It is a good idea to have small bills rather than just several big bills, as change can be difficult to obtain.  For example, if you have a 1000 ruble mark and are visiting a public restroom for 20 rubles, this is similar to offering a $50 bill for a pack of 50 cent gum.  The attendant may or may not have the change and will probably be unhappy regardless because they have to part with so many of their smaller bills that are not so easy to collect.

14.  It is a very good idea to carry my phone number as your tour guide in St. Petersburg as well as the phone number to the embassy of your country and the phone number of your hotel.