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2 days in St Petersburg - tour guide recommended?

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Rockville, Maryland
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2 days in St Petersburg - tour guide recommended?

Hi - Our group of 5 adults will be in St. Petersburg for 2 days as part of a Princess cruise in early September 2010. While we typically prefer independent travel on other trips we've taken, we have occasionally used private tour guides.

Through my research so far, there seem to be many options catering to cruise passengers - i.e. 2-day tour packages. I'm curious if any cruise passengers have had positive experiences splitting their time between organized tours and more independent self-tours. Other than the visa issue, are there significant downsides to NOT using a tour guide (e.g. travel/logistics, language, access to major points of interest)?

Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks!

St Petersburg Russia
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1. Re: 2 days in St Petersburg - tour guide recommended?

If you have modest goals in getting around, you should not have problems, the metro now has signs in English. The city will be rather busy still with tourist until the 2nd week of September so if you plan your transportation well and destinations I see no reason why you would need assistance. But do not expect to see much, most of your time will be spent getting around unless you know the area and traffic patterns, bus connections etc.

If you stay in the very city center, however, you can cover more on foot and not worry about getting to further out destinations. Visas are a major expense for one day of self directed exploration however. About $1100 total for the 5 of you.

Why not, for less money hire a van with guide and driver from one of the authorized tour companies, and do your own thing, just tell the guide where you want to go, and save the $1100?

Edited: 29 April 2010, 07:51
Rockville, Maryland
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2. Re: 2 days in St Petersburg - tour guide recommended?

Thanks, stanj - this is helpful.

Is there a source that identifies the "approved" tour operators that would exempt us from having to get a visa?

Also, I've aread about some of the recommended tour operators - do most operators provide private vans and cater to smaller groups like ours?

St. Petersburg...
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3. Re: 2 days in St Petersburg - tour guide recommended?

Yes. there is: reestr.russiatourism.ru. but unfortunately it is in Russian. All the major companies, mentioned here, are in this list, if you aren't sure, just ask your company's MBT-number, if they have it, they are registred tour-operator.

Try to compare proposals of different companies, established and new ones, as DenRus, Anasatasia, Alla, Shorex.ru, Maxibalttours, TourDeForce, etc. Some of them have lots of reviews, other are quite new, btut in fact all of them seem to be the same - so decide on your preferred program and mail them to check the prices

St. Petersburg...
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4. Re: 2 days in St Petersburg - tour guide recommended?

To check that the company is a tour-operator, having MBT number provided, just go to the page I posted in the previous message and put the number in that space.

And be suspicious to those "independent-guides", who tell you they can arrange you the tour, but don't represent any established tour-company with this MBT number, as this may be illegal.

Rockville, Maryland
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5. Re: 2 days in St Petersburg - tour guide recommended?

Thanks, shorex - sounds like good advice.

6. Re: 2 days in St Petersburg - tour guide recommended?

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