zhivagodr · 11/01/2020 00:13
Looking to book a trip to Russia at the end of March. But, not sure whether to visit Moscow or St Petersburg, or both?
Would love to hear personal recommendations on your preferences! Also, is March and okay time to visit?
CustardT · 11/01/2020 00:21
A visa to Russia costs £150. Unless you come on a cruise ship and stay less than 72 hours.
So the cheapest way is to fly to Helsinki than take a ferry (st peters line) to St Petersburg. And leave in the ferry on 3 days.
However if you can afford the visa Moscow is much better than St Petersburg.
lostsoulsunited · 11/01/2020 00:56
St. Petersburg is lovely, def. do the canal trip if you can.
Funf · 11/01/2020 07:25
We went on a cruise ship, but booked our tours with SPB Tours they are excellent and much cheaper than the ships tours, We went to St.Petersburg, it was excellent I think this was our tour, it was two days and they sort all the Visa stuff for you.
We did the canal tour then took a Hydrofoil to Peterhof it was spectacular
Panicmode1 · 11/01/2020 07:55
If you can, I would do both. They are very different and there is so much to see. I studied in St Petersburg for 4 months and also in Yaroslavl (one of the Moscow Garden Ring cities) for the other half of the year so also spent a lot of time in Moscow. It will be very different now (the last time I was there was for work in c. 2005! ) but it's a fascinating and beautiful place, even if their leader is v. v. scary.
MemorialBeach · 11/01/2020 08:16
I would agree with a PP that if you can, you should do both, as they are so different. I am not sure you can say one is better than the other, it depends on your interests. St Petersburg is newer, and is a planned city, built as a
"window on the west". The planned aspect means that the centre of the city is mainly from the same era, and largely lacking in things like Soviet style apartment blocks. It also feels to me less Russian than anywhere else I have been in Russia. It is however beautiful, with lots to do, and for me is unmissable.
Moscow is much older and grew up organically, so has all sorts of architectural styles in the centre, and in parts is much less attractive than St Petersburg. It is though fascinating and there is loads to do, and I find it more Russian than St Petersburg, and an essential place to see if you want to try understand Russia. That said, if you really want to see "proper" Russia, I would say neither city gets you that - head out to a provincial city, a, small town, or a village in the countryside for that (or all of them!). I also spent 4 months studying in Yaroslavl (waves at Panicmode1!) and have visited several times since (but not since 2010) and loved the country and the people.
nordstrom · 11/01/2020 08:19
I've been both - they are very different. I was surprised how much I loved Moscow! I will definitely return one day.
Panicmode1 · 11/01/2020 09:25
Small world @MemorialBeach! Feels a lifetime ago (well it was really - 1994-5!).
AnotherEmma · 11/01/2020 09:29
I preferred Moscow but you should definitely go to both if you can!
IIRC it was September when I went to St Petersburg and I got eaten alive by mosquitoes. Might not be such a problem in March, but take plenty of repellent just in case.
zhivagodr · 11/01/2020 11:27
Thanks everyone, lots to think about here. I definitely think I should extend the trip and visit both - there just looks like there is SO much to see in both cities!
Kindredskillet · 11/01/2020 11:31
We went last January. Flew to St Petersburg had a couple of days there then took the overnight train to Moscow- called the Red Arrow. We had a private cabin and I highly recommend it. It departs at midnight and arrives in Moscow around 8:00am. We had the full day in Moscow before getting the overnight train back to St Petersburg and then flying home.
chatwoo · 11/01/2020 11:36
Would definitely recommend both. I did an organised tour earlier in the year, and there's so much to see and do in both area. The visa is pain but if you want to go, it's just a bit of extra paperwork to factor in.
MemorialBeach · 11/01/2020 12:50
Very small world indeed @Panicmode1! It was a lifetime ago for me too, I may have been there at almost the same time as you.
BarracudaSharkNose · 11/01/2020 12:58
We went to both. The visa was a pain. We took the fast day train between the two and that was fine.
Loved both. Booked guides in both too which was really good. So she took the six of us round. Loved the tour of the Moscow underground, you can do it yourself but the stories were great.
We did a boat trip with a meal at night in Moscow. We’d been sceptical but it was an absolute highlight, the buildings all lit up are amazing. And the food was fantastic.
St Petersburg Loved the hermitage and the trip out by hydrofoil to the summer palace. Wish we’d had longer there so could have wandered on own more, only had 3 days.
Ate at the idiot on the recommendation of a mumsnetter. Best meal of the trip.
lostsoulsunited · 11/01/2020 14:54
The planned aspect means that the centre of the city is mainly from the same era, and largely lacking in things like Soviet style apartment blocks
There are lots, just most guides are told not to show tourists them.
MemorialBeach · 11/01/2020 19:49
It's been a while since I was in St Petersburg (last there in 2003), but I don't remember seeing lots of the sort of Soviet style apartment blocks I am thinking of in the historic centre. Am pretty sure i saw plenty in the suburbs as I travelled into the city on the train from Yaroslavl, and on the journey from the airport. I could be misremembering, or maybe I just didn't come across them when exploring the city centre (I've never used a guide in St P)
lostsoulsunited · 11/01/2020 22:36
I think they were about fifteen minutes out, maybe the suburbs maybe not !
Dancingfairydreams · 13/01/2020 10:33
I've booked this trip for march, it such good value!!
Worth a look at!
We are in the process of sorting our Visa, can anyone confirm if you need to make an apt at the embassy or if you can just turn up please? We will be going to the london embassy. Thanks
catwithflowers · 05/02/2020 23:09
That trip looks great dancingfairy. Fabulous value for money! Thanks for the link. We are also thinking of a trip to Russia later this year. I found this very useful site about visas. Hope it helps 😊
WilliamTheSecond · 26/12/2021 07:48
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DoryisinCuba · 28/12/2021 15:56
I would visit both as they are so different. We first went to Moscow and St Petersburg in 2013 I think. Moscow would have been difficult to get around without having a friend who lived there. I would definitely hire a guide for a day or so. The Kremlin is just stunning.
We then went again to St Petersburg in about 2018 and the visa process was a lot more onerous. The form took ages to complete us We had to go in Person to the visa place near Farringdon and be fingerprinted (and I had to provide 3 months of bank statements) plus it was expensive for a long weekend.
In the five years between our visits it has changed lots and was a lot more accessible to non Russian speakers. St Petersburg is definitely geared up to tourists in a way that Moscow wasn’t.
We also got the fast train between the two cities.
SetSail · 28/12/2021 16:15
I’ve used RealRussia for visas and train tickets before, highly recommend: realrussia.co.uk/. They also can organise tours. Weather in March will be cold, snow etc. But so worth it! You will have a fabulous time.
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