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The St. Petersburg City Tourist Office is quite modest for such a significant city, with not much more to offer than most hotels. Still, it's worth a visit to find out about festivals or special events that you might otherwise miss. The main offices are at 14 Sadovaya Ulitsa (tel. 812/310-2822), open Monday to Friday from 10am to 7pm.

Maps are available free in most hotels, and for a low price at bookstores and newspaper stands, though sometimes they're only in the Cyrillic alphabet. An easy-to-read and richly detailed map to look out for is the bilingual "St. Petersburg Guide to the City." Avail yourself of the numerous free listings magazines at nearly all hotels and many restaurants. Most are in English and Russian and are heavy with ads but are full of information. Pick up a copy of The St. Petersburg Times, a twice-weekly English-language newspaper, for local and international news.

Surfing the "Ru-net" Before You Go

Soviet programmers created their own interactive "Web" back in the 1980s, and today's Runet (roo-net), as the Russian-language Internet world calls itself, is as vibrant as any online community. More and more Russian sites have English-language pages, and below are a few worth checking out before you go. The sometimes clumsy translations are compensated for by the information and guidance. And, of course, don't forget www.frommers.com, especially the advice from other travelers on the Russia destination forum.

Museums

  • www.hermitagemuseum.org: Official site of Hermitage Museum, good for planning your visit to the museum ahead of time.
  • www.rusmuseum.ru: Site of St. Petersburg's Russian Museum, a good introduction to Russian art.

News

  • www.sptimes.ru: Site of English-language semiweekly paper The St. Petersburg Times.
  • www.cdi.org/russia/johnson/default.cfm: Johnson's Russia List is a compilation of articles and commentary about Russia from the English-language and Russian press, updated daily.

Listings/General Information

  • www.ru: Calls itself the "original Russian Web directory." Information-packed and searchable in English, but rather unwieldy.
  • www.infoservices.com: The Travelers' Yellow Pages for Moscow and St. Petersburg, with searchable telephone and address listings in English, including nearest metro station and opening hours. Not comprehensive but useful.
  • www.waytorussia.net: Company offering advice and listings, aimed at expatriates in Russia but useful for tourists, too.
  • www.expat.ru: Forum for English-speaking expats, mostly in Moscow.

Airlines/Airports

  • www.aeroflot.ru/eng: Site of Russian airline Aeroflot, with schedules and fares.
  • www.transaero.ru/english: Site of airline Transaero.
  • http://eng.pulkovo.ru: Site of St. Petersburg's Pulkovo International Airport, with updated flight information.
  • www.sheremetevo-airport.ru: Site of Moscow's Sheremetevo International Airport.

Visa Information:

  • www.russianembassy.org: Site of Russian Embassy in the United States, with visa applications and information and links to embassies and consulates in other countries.
  • www.myrussianvisa.com: U.S. company that arranges invitations for travelers not with a group.
  • www.visatorussia.com: Can issue invitations for travelers from nearly any country in the world. (Note: Fees for visa invitations -- sometimes called "visa support" -- are in addition to the fees you must pay the embassy for the visa itself.)

Maps:

  • www.infoservices.com/stpete/map/index.html: Maps of St. Petersburg neighborhoods and sights.
  • www.petersburgcity.com/map: Interactive maps of Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.