We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Hiring a private guide

colorado
Level Contributor
15 posts
2 reviews
Save Topic
Hiring a private guide

We will be in St. Petersburg for two full days in May. Our hotel is within a short walk of the Hermitage museum. Will we be able to walk to all the highlights and see sights on our own, or would it be best to hire an English speaking guide to help us. If so, do you have any recommendations?

Mentioned in this post
St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg
Northwestern District, Russia
St.Petersburg
Level Contributor
800 posts
1 review
Save Reply
1. Re: Hiring a private guide

I think this matter has been discussed so many time here.

There is no one correct answer.

Yes, or course you can walk around and St.Petersburg is a walkable place. It is surprisingly bigger than most of the European cities but still one can walk to most of the famous sights in the city and even take the hydrofoil to visit Peterhof which is located in the suburb.

Yes, you can visit the Hermitage on your own. To make the visit pleasant you shall book your tickets on-line and get the audio-guide to navigate you through the museum.

On the other hand many people find that hiring a guide in St.Petersburg at least for one tour gives them so much that it worth every cent. Guide makes the city alive for you.

In terms of practical reasons - hermitage is quite difficult museum due to its size and variety of collections. You can spend a day there and still not see the most famous artworks. Guide know it and takes you through the museum in the most comfortable way.

Looking through the forum you will find lots of people's reviews where they recommend a certain guide or a travel company.

Have a pleasant journey!

Mentioned in this post
St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg
Northwestern District, Russia
Peterhof
Peterhof
Petrodvortsovy District, Russia
St. Petersburg
Level Contributor
150 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Hiring a private guide

I’ve just returned back from Moscow. I’m Russian, a professional tour guide of St. Petersburg and I’ve been to Moscow many times (not less than 10). We (me and my friend who is also a professional St. Petersburg guide) got a Moscow private guide for 3 hour tour. You know we got so much so interesting and unique information we weren’t be able to get in 3 weeks exploring Moscow ourselves. Some of the things you would never know unless you live in the city. I was just shocked by the amount of beautiful buildings, unique museums, rich history – and I thought I knew Moscow pretty well!!!

I just want to say there is a huge difference in-between exploring the city yourself or with a good guide  Have a great trip!

Mentioned in this post
Moscow
Moscow
Central Russia, Russia
St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg
Northwestern District, Russia
Cincinnati, Ohio
Level Contributor
4,035 posts
90 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Hiring a private guide

I normally prefer touring on my own because I am a slow sightseer (preferring quality over quantity), and I spend a lot of time before my trips researching online and with guidebooks. Give me a map and good public transportation, and I am happy. (BTW, I love the practical information, walking tours and sight tours in the excellent Rick Steves' series for sightseeing in Europe.)

However, on my two visits to St. Petersburg, I toured with a private guide because I visited both times in the height of the season (June 2007 and June 2011), wanted to see a great deal in a limited amount of time, and really took advantage of the logistical time savings when visiting both very crowded and very large places (with lines, particularly at Catherine's Palace) with a private guide and private transportation, totally outweighing my usual preference for touring DIY. Also, the prices charged are very reasonable compared to the rest of Europe, and there are significant numbers of excellent guides.

Mentioned in this post
Europe
Europe
World
St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg
Northwestern District, Russia
Durham, United...
Level Contributor
5 posts
40 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Hiring a private guide

We are returning to SPB and therefore don't want to hit all the attractions we have seen before. Your idea seems a good one - who did you go with and would you use them again?

Edited: 10 April 2012, 09:50
Mentioned in this post
SPB Tours
SPB Tours
4,285 Reviews
St. Petersburg, Russia
Cincinnati, Ohio
Level Contributor
4,035 posts
90 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Hiring a private guide

Hi, John, we used SPB-Tours and definitely would use them again. They maintain a very good and very transparent website, respond quickly to emails in excellent English and are responsive to your specific itinerary requests rather than dictating what you should do with your time.

I probably should have added in my previous post on this thread that another reason we used a private guide last June was that we were on a cruise ship visit, and with Russian visa costs for Americans totalling about $200 these days, it was very cost effective as well because we fell within the special visa exemption for private tours from cruise ships of less than 72 hours. This exemption would not have been available if we toured on our own.

Mentioned in this post
SPB Tours
SPB Tours
4,285 Reviews
St. Petersburg, Russia
6. Re: Hiring a private guide

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This post was determined to be inappropriate by the TripAdvisor community and has been removed.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

Our staff may also remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason. Thanks for being a part of the TripAdvisor travel community!

Removed on: 12 April 2012, 00:35
Frankfurt, Germany
2 posts
Save Reply
7. Re: Hiring a private guide

Last november we're guided by Lions Tour . I don't remember their site only email- visit at st-petersburg.com. Exellent tour and they render other services. I prefer to visit that city with a guide, more information and friendly company.

Durham, United...
Level Contributor
5 posts
40 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Hiring a private guide

Thanks for your advice, Monika.

Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
1,248 posts
24 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Hiring a private guide

If you are looking to hire a private guide in StP, here's my suggestion for finding a good one:

Read some of the various questions in the St Petersburg forum. Notice who keeps taking the time to provide helpful answers to people like you and me who are planning their trip.

There are several people posting here that are based in St. Petersburg and they consistently (and with great patience) answer our questions, week after week. If you click on their name and go to their profile, you will see that many of these contributors also work as guides. These individuals will not self-promote, since it is against the TA rules. However if you go to their profile, you can message/e-mail them directly for a quote. These contributors behave as professionals.

Other guides will unashamedly self-promote and/or use shills on the TA forum. The Russia forums have a lot of these... So, beware of the "one-post-wonders". (If you look under our names, you will see how often we participate in the TA forums.)

I can say this because I have been following the forums for St. Petersburg and for Moscow for almost a year now. So, why not approach the good people here who really take heart in the fact that we are visiting their city and actively contribute to this forum?

Mentioned in this post
St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg
Northwestern District, Russia
Russia
Russia
Europe
Moscow
Moscow
Central Russia, Russia
Durham, United...
Level Contributor
5 posts
40 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Hiring a private guide

Thanks for your input - that's very helpful.