Hello! How lucky you are if you go to Saint Petersburg soon!
As you may know, MeetnGreetMe supports the upcoming World Cup in Russia and helps tourists with every question or issue on their way to the 2018 Championship. This detailed description will help you to discover the best of this iconic city & navigate you on the most important FIFA points. If after reading it you still have any questions, feel free to ask us in comments.
What part of the upcoming trip bothers you the most? Regardless of the answer, just keep calm, as in this guide we provide detailed information about all travel aspects:
- Basic information about St. Petersburg;
- FIFA World Cup in St. Petersburg;
- Match schedule;
- Arriving in St. Petersburg;
- Transport system;
- Where to stay in St. Petersburg;
- What sights to see;
- Where & what to eat;
- Where to shop;
- What to visit near St. Petersburg;
- MeetnGreetMe services in St. Petersburg.
So, from the very beginning:
Introduction to Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is Russia’s second-largest city (after Moscow) with five million inhabitants, situated on the Neva River, at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea. It is one of the most modern cities of Russia, as well as its cultural capital, as locals say.
This city has changed its name multiple times: from 1914 to 1924 it was called Petrograd; from 1924 to 1991 – Leningrad and from 1991 till today it is St. Petersburg. To Russians, it is known simply as ‘Piter’.
And have you ever heard that one of the nicknames of St. Petersburg is the Northern Venice? St. Petersburg is known for its rivers, canals, and bridges – internal waters occupy about ten percent of its territory.
FIFA World Cup in Saint Petersburg
Of the 12 venues used, the Saint Petersburg Stadium will be used most and will host 7 matches. Krestovsky Stadium (officially – Saint-Petersburg Stadium, or even Zenit Arena) is a retractable roof stadium in the western part of Krestovsky Island in Saint Petersburg, which serves as a home stadium for FC Zenit. The stadium with a capacity of 67,000 people is a brand new one – it was opened in 2017 just in time for the FIFA Confederations Cup.
Saint Petersburg Stadium is located on the western tip of Krestovsky Island in the north-west part of the city. The stadium lies about 7.5 kilometers away from Palace Square in St. Petersburg’s downtown. The nearest metro station is Krestovsky Ostrov on the purple line 5, which runs right through the center of Piter. Note that it is still a 25-minute walk from the station to the stadium through Maritime Victory Park. Bus 10 and 25 stop a little closer to the stadium, but still require a 15-minute walk. Bus 10 runs through central St. Petersburg while bus 25 runs through the northern parts of the city.
Address: Football alley (Футбольная аллея), 1, Krestovsky Island (Крестовский Остров).
Match schedule in Saint Petersburg
- 15 Jun 2018 – 18:00 – Group B – Morocco VS Iran – Saint Petersburg Stadium
- 20 Jun 2018 – 00:00 – Group A – Russia VS Egypt – Saint Petersburg Stadium
- 22 Jun 2018 – 18:00 – Group E – Brazil VS Costa Rica – Saint Petersburg Stadium
- 27 Jun 2018 – 00:00 – Group D – Nigeria VS Argentina – Saint Petersburg Stadium
- 03 Jul 2018 – 17:00 – 1F VS 2E – Saint Petersburg Stadium
- 10 Jul 2018 – 21:00 – W57 VS W58 (Semi-Final) – Saint Petersburg Stadium
- 14 Jul 2018 – 17:00 – L61 VS L62 (Play-off for the third place) – Saint Petersburg Stadium
To buy tickets, first set up your account at the FIFA website. You can use your email address to do so or simply link your social media account to your login. After logging into your account, you just have to submit a ticket application and choose a payment method. Here you can find the tickets’ cost. The price of tickets for the semi-final match starts from $75.
Arriving in Saint Petersburg
The majority of football fans will come to St. Petersburg either by air or by train. There is only one airport in St. Petersburg – Pulkovo, located 23 km away from the city center. It used to have 2 separate terminals, but in 2014 a new terminal was opened which now caters for all flights – both domestic and international, which made it super easy for visitors.
There are several options to get from the airport to the city, but the cheapest is to take buses 39, 39Э or a minivan taxi (‘marshrutka’) K39 that run from the airport to the nearest Moskovsky metro station (it is on the blue line, and you can get right into the historical heart of the city without having to change lines) every 20-35 min. If you are a bit frightened by traveling to the country for the first time, hire a local to meet and greet you right at the airport and help you get to your accommodation safe and sound.
In case you want to travel to Saint Petersburg from other Russian cities by train, take into account that there are 5 train stations in St Petersburg: Moskovsky Vokzal (Vokzal means station in Russian; it is the main long-distance train station in the city located on Nevsky Prospect, right in the downtown), Vitebsky Vokzal, Ladozhsky Vokzal, Finlandsky Vokzal and Baltisky Vokzal. The first 4 stations serve long-distance passenger traffic as well as local service and the Baltisky Vokzal offers local services to nearby suburbs. The metro stations are located in the train stations which makes it easy to get around.
Just forget about public transport and go by foot, if the weather allows you to do so (here we must admit that a good weather pleases St. Petersburg citizens quire rare). Nothing (yes, and your comfy Uber too) can beat a reflective stroll along one of the city’s many picturesque canals.
That has been the ideal variant. But in real life, such obstacles as long distances and heavy bags may arise, so you need to know that Saint Petersburg has an extensive city-funded network of public transport (buses, trams, trolleybuses) and several hundred routes served by marshrutkas. The best way to track public transport services on a map in real time, know exactly each vehicle’s time of arrival, plan your journey by public transport or on foot is to use a free Yandex.Transport App.
Saint Petersburg Metro now has 5 lines with 67 stations, trains run every 3 minutes (on average) and the metro’s coverage is quite good. St Petersburg’s metro exhibits many typical Soviet designs and features exquisite decorations and artwork making it one of the most attractive and elegant metros in the world.
If you decided to visit multiple matches and multiple Russian cities during your visit, you will probably go there by train. Here you can obtain a free ticket for trains between 11 FIFA 2018 Cup host cities. The right of free travel is granted to FIFA 2018 Cup visitors having a game ticket for the respective city and a Fan ID. Mind reading a ‘FAQ’ section and booking the tickets in advance as their number is limited.
Where to stay in Saint Petersburg
There are many accommodation options in St. Petersburg, so the main criteria are the price and proximity to the center and/or metro station. However, we recommend you to ignore all the offers of major chain hotels like Ibis or Radisson, as their standardized approach will not immerse you into the atmosphere of this unique city.
Here are the trustworthy and interesting options advised by local MeetnGreeters (note, that you can always ask them to find you an accommodation tailored to your needs and budget):
- Soul Kitchen is a wonderful budget hostel in an old building close to the main attractions.
Address: Moika Embarkment (Набережная реки Мойки) 62/2 app 9.
- Taiga Hostel is a friendly, welcoming spot with white plank floors, exposed brick walls, a small chillout lounge and pieces of art around. Guests rate Taiga highly for its helpful, English-speaking staff.
Address: Zagorodny Prospekt (Загородный Проспект) 21-23
- Nevsky Grand Hotel is one of the best 3* hotels located right in the heart of the city.
Address: Bolshaya Konushennaya str. (ул. Большая Конюшенная) 10.
- Angleterre Hotel is a cozy 4* hotel adjacent to St Isaac’s Cathedral and close to the famous Hermitage Museum.
Address: Ul. Malaya Morskaya (ул. Малая Морская) 24.
What sights to see
According to the UN rating, St. Petersburg occupies the eighth place in the list of the most attractive cities in the world for tourism. And MeetnGreetMe knows why! This city is all about culture! Its unique architecture, historical monuments, and museums account for the world fame of St. Petersburg. These include the Hermitage, the Russian Museum, the Mariinsky Theater, the Academy of the Russian Ballet, the Philharmony, and the parks and palaces of Peterhof, Tsarsoe Selo, and Pavlovsk.
As information about the major sights of St. Petersburg can be easily found in Google, we want to suggest you less obvious (but no less interesting!) places. Here is our top 5:
- Fabergé Museum. It was opened only in 2013, but gained fame among both locals and tourists very quickly: the museum contains the world’s largest collection of works by Carl Fabergé, including nine of the famous Imperial Easter Eggs, regarded not only as the finest jeweled works of art, but also as unique historical artifacts. One note – it is better to buy tickets in advance (or ask your MeetnGreeter to buy them beforehand and add this place to your itinerary).
- F.M.Dostoevsky Literary Memorial Museum just in case you read some of his world famous novels, including Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, The Brothers Karamazov, and would like to see how Dostoevsky lived and worked.
- New Holland – This educational and cultural space under the open sky occupies the whole island in the center of St. Petersburg. Come here for festivals, concerts, lectures, and exhibitions. Here you can find a calendar of the events.
- Yes, few visitors of St Petersburg think that it is a right destination to discover the contemporary art. But it is a wrong tactic. Pop into Erarta Gallery – the largest private museum of contemporary art in Russia for an unforgettable experience.
- The Name Gallery – a place to find St Petersburg artists, displaying many up-and-coming talents.
And if this is not enough for you, or you just turn off these beaten tourist paths, order a personal city guiding service from one of our English speaking locals. They know the city inside out and they can simply create a route tailored to your interests and tastes. And there is also an option if you want to discover the city on your own – you can just ask local guides to create and optimize the route for your interests and then send a detailed description to you.
Where & what to eat
This city is an exact place where you would probably like to order a gastronomic tour. So choose a local person to show you the best places depending on the cuisine and dishes you want to try. This experience will be truly unforgettable, as St. Petersburg has a lot of undiscovered culinary gems, for example, like this places:
- Patties cafeteria (Пирожковая). Yes, it is not a fashionable and instagrammable place, but it truly reflects the atmosphere of the city. Come here to try patties, pastries and other desserts that are cooked using old Russian recipes.
- Cococo is a Russian cuisine restaurant owned by a famous local singer Shnurov Sergei. The menu is a reflection of Russian tales, sayings and all kinds of the national culture and the dishes are served in an unpredictable and truly instagrammable way!
- Stolle (Штолле) is a café chain that serves traditional pies of all kinds: with cabbage, meat, fish, gooseberry or cherry – it is difficult to choose!
- Pelmenya restaurant (Пельмения), as there is no more Russian dish than pelmeni!
- And Ukrop café (Укроп) is a perfect cozy spot for vegetarians.
Where to shop
Shopping centers of St. Petersburg can be divided into historical ones (they actually serve as popular beautiful sights, as well) and modern malls.
The first group include such must-visit places as Bolshoy Gostiny Dvor (Большой Гостиный Двор, the largest and oldest department store in Saint Petersburg, it is a good place to purchase various products from clothes to postcards) and Passage (Пассаж, the most elegant shopping center on Nevsky Prospect located right across from the Gostiny Dvor).
The second group is represented by Grand Canyon Shopping Mall (Гранд Каньон) – the largest modern shopping mall in St. Petersburg. It is located close to the metro and offers all of the big Russian chain stores including Savage and other European lines.
The main shopping streets of the city are Nevsky Prospekt (Невский Проспект), Sadovaya street (ул. Садовая), Vladimirskiy Prospekt (Владимирский Проспект), Bolshoi Prospekt of Petrogradskiy district (Большой Проспект Петроградской Стороны), Sredniy Prospekt (Средний проспект) and 7th line of Vasilievskiy island near the Vasilyeostrovskaya metro station.
If you need something more creative and slightly underground – head to designer Freedom Store or vintage Off. And if you are looking for something unique, MeetnGreeters can carry out each request and find a shop/item of every kind especially for you.
What to visit near Saint Petersburg
While St. Petersburg itself has more than enough to keep visitors entertained and absorbed for countless days of sightseeing, the city’s surroundings are also rich in places of interest.
For example, you can explore two centuries of history and architectural splendor at St. Petersburg’s magnificent Imperial estates. They include:
- Peterhof. The world-famous ‘capital of fountains’ or ‘Russian Versailles’ was founded by Peter I. In 1918, the main summer residence of the Russian emperors became state property and by 1941, ten museums of art and history had been opened on its premises. Peterhof is probably the only place that should be visited outside of St. Petersburg if you can afford just one day out of the city during your stay.
The cheapest way is to get a marshrutka or bus from metro station Avtovo. Or, take the electric train from the train station ‘Baltiysky’ and get off at Noviy Peterhof (about a 20-minute walk from the palace).
- Pushkin. Pushkin was founded in 1710 as an imperial residence named Tsarskoye Selo. This museum complex includes the Catherine Palace, the Alexander Palace and other buildings and associated parks; it is a major tourist attraction of the area and is included in the list of the monuments protected by the UNESCO.
To get there, take an electric train from the train station ‘Vitebsky’ (‘Pushkinskaya’ metro station) or from ‘Kupchino’ metro station. There is a number of marshrutkas to Pushkin that run from metro Moskovskaya – 286, 299, 342 and K545.
- Pavlovsk. The Pavlovsk palace museum and beautiful parks surrounding it are very popular with both the residents and guests of St. Petersburg. Keeping with a long-established tradition, concerts of classical music are held regularly in the Grecian Hall.
To get there, take the marshrutka No. 286, 299, 342 or K545 from the”Moskovskaya” metro station.
Because of the language barrier and bad infrastructure of the suburb, ensure that you are accompanied by a local person who will deal with some arising issues, if any, and guide you around these gorgeous sights.
MeetnGreetMe services in Saint Petersburg
As we would like your Saint Petersburg stay to be as bright and exciting as possible, let us recommend you top 5 services that may be handy in this vibrant city during the World Cup:
- Planning a trip – why? Because reviews can be irritating to get through, information on transportation can be outdated or wrong, and it can be a full-time job just to keep an eye on all different offers and deals available online (especially in such a large city as St. Petersburg where good deals fly away really quickly).
- Meeting upon arrival – just to make sure everything goes smoothly and you arrive at your accommodation safe and sound (and feel welcome in the foreign country, which is more important).
- Providing 24h information support – it is like an English speaking guide in your pocket ready to explain and help you during the day.
- Booking/buying tickets to events – yes, your probable visit to the Singer’s house becomes even easier and pleasant.
- Booking accommodation – it implies that the MeetnGreeter is to find or book accommodation on your behalf taking into consideration all preferences and budget. Isn’t it convenient if you look for something special?
Enjoy Saint Petersburg and don’t forget to share your adventures with us!