Located in the North West region, St. Petersburg is Russia’s second largest city after the capital Moscow and is a must-visit metropolis. Dubbed as the cultural capital of Russia, St. Petersburg is a paradise for lovers of fine arts and East European architecture and if you are planning to take a trip on the Trans-Siberian Railway, allow a few days to explore this timeless city before boarding in Moscow. Here are some useful tips on getting the most out of your visit to St. Petersburg.

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St. Petersburg was built as an alternative to Moscow and is regarded by many as the cultural centre of Russia. There are many waterways - enough to rival Venice - and you can take boat trips that offers stunning views of the unusual architecture. It is recommended to explore the many riverboats that run to all regions of the city, especially along the Moika River. Barge tours run all day and offer a slow and serene ride, allowing you to take in the beautiful buildings on either side. If you are planning to take an iconic train journey, make sure to check out this Trans-Siberian railway map that shows clearly all three lines and their stop-offs.

Bustling Port City

Small Money

Travelling in St. Petersburg is more convenient if you have plenty of small bills, as most establishments won’t change anything bigger than a 500-Ruble note. Change can be found at any bank and you should stock up on 100-Ruble notes, as these are accepted everywhere.

St. Petersburg is a sprawling metropolis that is mostly flat, making it ideal for cycling. The city has a bike sharing program, with many bike stations located throughout the city centre. This is by far the cheapest way to get around and it will also give you the freedom to explore the countless avenues and side streets.

Get on your Bike

Avoid Jay Walking

Always cross streets at the designated crossing points, as most vehicles will not even slow down if you attempt a crossing anywhere else. Take a leaf from the local’s book, who know how and where to make the road crossings and you will avoid a potential accident.

St. Petersburg offers the very best Georgian cuisine, fusing Turkish and Middle East foods, thanks to the Silk Road connection. Dumplings are a local favourite and they do wonderful things with mushrooms and cabbage, both of which can be found in abundance in the cold region.

Sample Georgian Cuisine

Try the Local Beers

Scandinavian influence includes micro brewing techniques and there are many small bars that serve delicious draught and bottled beers, just be aware of the local licensing hours. Beer makes a refreshing change from the traditional vodkas that are served everywhere, with some really good brews available.

If you are planning a once in a lifetime trip on the Trans-Siberian Railway, spend a few days in St. Petersburg prior to boarding in Moscow and you’ll be very glad you did. If you need some help locating a tour operator that specialises in Trans-Siberian Railway tours, an online search will help.