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6 days in St. Petersburg

Seattle, Washington
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6 days in St. Petersburg

My 16 y.o. daughter and I (her mom) are planning 6 days in St. Petersburg in July. I contacted TJ travel because they had lots of good reviews on this site. What I am wondering is this: do we need a tour guide for the entire stay or will it be safe and fun to spend a few days on our own? I also have been talking to a travel agent who has companies that offer a "tour" that includes hotel and airport transfers. This will get me a very good deal but I am afraid that I cannot depend on the quality of the guide. Any advice?

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St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg
Northwestern District, Russia
St Petersburg Russia
Destination Expert
for St. Petersburg
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2,713 posts
26 reviews
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1. Re: 6 days in St. Petersburg

There is no reason to need a guide at all in 6 days. Hotels will be on the high side at that time, actually all the time. All the destinations in the city center can be seen without assistance and without even getting transportation since everything is within walking distance from each other. Visiting outside the city will take a little more planning however or just buy tickets on one of the daily English language excursions to Catherine Palace. You can go by yourself to Peterhof, the easiest way is using the high speed and fun Hydrofoil boats that leave from two piers near the Hermitage on the Neva River.

It is a fun walking around city and there a great deal that would be of interest to a 16 year old. Much of the activity in the city center is by young people, they fill the shops, theaters, sushi cafes, clubs and the sidewalks, from 16 to about 24. No kid would ever get bored here if they were at all social, since the kids are very social here and communicate in more than one language.

If you want to save a little money rent an apartment so you can cook at least one meal a day and have more privacy than a hotel. There are small Mini-hotels all over the city center that are lower cost and offer many fewer services than a regular full service hotel.

Packaged tours are less attractive because they usually use lower grade tourist hotels far from the center, and don't often reflect your real interests unless you create a fully customized itinerary, which would be more expensive and not possible with a travel agent in your city.

TJ is a pretty new small company that promote apparently primarily by creating fake reviews. A number of people have complained about it, but it does work as free advertising regardless of how misleading it is.

Those posts are highly suspect because there is little chance to have the number of almost identically worded and structured reviews using language that is NOT native speakers in light of how new they are considering how few customers they had last year meeting them in the port, their first real year of activity.

The same sort of spamming the forums occurs with hotels and restaurants. If you look at the "user" ratings of hotels you would think the best hotels are 6-10 room mini-hotels, which out rank the best hotel in the world(according to the international travel industry that awarded the Grand Hotel Europe the 2009 title of best hotel in the world. These rave reviews just don't make any sense to someone who knows the hotels and also the tour companies. So, be a cautious consumer when ratings and reviews are concerned.

Get a good guide book and both of you read it before arriving and plan some major activities, but allow for a lot of unstructured time because you will find more to do than you will have imagined based on the books.

For an excellent overview of the history, arts and politics of the city from its founding until the post Soviet era, I have not found a better book than "St Petersburg, the First Three Centuries" by Arthur and Elena George. It is a wonderfully balanced story, that puts daily life, the court. the arts and personalities in to their proper contextual relationship. You will get so much more from your visit.

Also get a good guide book that puts you into the mood to explore. Some are too dry, all are out of date in this fast changing society, but there is one that strikes a great balance between mood and info. It is really a pretty book with great photos and just enough text to be informative and not bore you with facts. It is the D&K Eyewitness St Petersburg.

There some I actually think are not helpful such as the Rick Steeves book and some that are too filled with detail that means nothing is remembered or cared about such as the Lonely Planet or Rough Guide. Both have a lot of information but nothing tells you what is or isn't significant to be more important to remember. There are pages of details of bus and trolley data that is 100% wrong because they are not updates as often as the whole society changes.

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Peterhof
Peterhof
Petrodvortsovy District, Russia
St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg
Northwestern District, Russia
2. Re: 6 days in St. Petersburg

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