St. Petersburg Travel Tips
As you might expect of the world's most northerly big city St. Petersburg is pretty darn cold from October to April, and really bitingly cold from December to February/March. You might think leggings are for girls, but then you probably haven't experienced temperatures in excess of minus thirty degrees...
If however you're coming to St. Petersburg during summer, be sure to nick some of those funky eyepatches on the plane over. Could come in handy for sleeping during the White Nights!
You thought your hassles with your visa were over? So naive! You must register your visa with the OVIR (Russian Visa and Registration Department) within 3 working days of your arrival - or there may not be a departure. The good news is that if you're forked out more than a tenner for your accommodation then you should find that your hotel registers your visa for you. If not, rather than experience the joys of Russian bureaucracy first hand, we suggest you go to a travel agency and pay a fee for them to do it.
Beware the bridges! St. Petersburg's three hundred spans may contribute to the city's beauty, but they can also be a banana-skin for the unsuspecting nightowl. If you plan on returning home late at night and need to cross the River Neva then make sure your bridge isn't being raised to allow passing barges to get by - or you could be stuck waiting for the first metro home.
Although stories of Police harrassing tourists are highly exaggerated, spotchecks can happen. Always carry your passport and valid visa with you - and best have the number of your embassy handy in case they claim your documents are out of order. You will also need your passport when exchanging currency.
Everyone knows Russians love to drink vodka - what's more they often consider it rude if you don't join in! In social situations a mixture of indulgence (so as not to offend anyone), diplomacy (to avoid doing too many shots), and caution (to remember you can't handle too many shots) is needed. If you don't like vodka then munching on a gherkin/cucumber can take the sharpness out of the aftertaste!
Above: Make sure you know how to use one of these...
Below: ...Before you get stuck in one of these!
Russians were taught to be suspicious of foreigners during Soviet times, and shouting at them in English won't go down well. Break some barriers by learning a couple of Russian words. It also might be worth brushing up on your Russian sports stars, if you want to turn a potentially nasty situation with some dodgy geezers into one of drunken camaraderie. The schedule below is subject to change, but gives you a rough idea of when the key bridges are out of action.
Most Alexander Nevskogo 02:35 - 04:50; Liteyny Most 02:10 - 04:40; Bolshoy Okhtinsky Most 02:45 - 04:45; Dvortsovy Most 01:35 - 03:05 and 03:15 - 04:45; Troitsky Most 02:00 - 04:40; Tuchkov Most 02:20 - 03:10 and 03:40 - 04:40; Most Leytenanta Shmidta 01:55 - 04:50; Most Birzhevoy 02:25 - 03:10 and 03:40 - 04:40.