Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
OperaandMusic —Besides ballet, the Mariinsky and Mikhailovsky Theaters (listed earli-
er) host world-class opera and musical performances (the Mariinsky also stages some per-
formances in its new concert hall—a few blocks beyond the theater at Dekabristov 37).
Your best bet is to peruse their websites to see what's on; unfortunately, the theaters go
dark in August.
Circus —The St. Petersburg circus is a revelation: Performed in one intimate ring, it
has the typical tigers and lions but also a zany assortment of other irresistible animal acts
(ostriches, poodles) as well as aerial acrobats (no nets), impossibly silly clowns, and more.
Its performers have been staging their shows since 1877 in the stone “big top” on the edge
of the Fontanka River. It's just east of the Russian Museum; some maps label it “Ciniselli
Circus” after the Italian circus family that first built the place (tickets 500-2,000 R, box
office open daily 11:00-19:00, tel. 570-5390 or 570-5411, ) .
Sleeping in St. Petersburg
Accommodations in St. Petersburg are expensive. Prices are the highest in June (and some-
times in May and July as well). Winter rates are lower by a quarter to a third. Late summer
and early fall is often a shoulder season with mid-level prices.
There are lots of options in the city center, in all price ranges. I've listed professionally
run, mid-size hotels in appealing locations, as well as cheaper youth hostels. There's no
longer any reason to stay in Soviet-era behemoth hotels, and you don't need to stay in a
five-star luxury hotel to feel secure and get friendly service. All of the hotels I've listed
have helpful, English-speaking staff on duty round the clock and have a reception that is
accessible directly from the street (although not necessarily on the ground floor).
If you search for St. Petersburg accommodations online, you'll find many small “hotels”
with just five or ten rooms. These typically occupy a single floor of an apartment building
that has been remodeled into rooms for paying guests (websites may not be upfront about
this). Bear in mind that such places are usually too small to have a 24-hour reception, and
the front desk, if there is one, is not directly accessible from the street. You'll have to enter
a code, buzz yourself into an entryway (which may be quite dingy), then take the building's
rattletrap elevator to the hotel floor. This makes for an authentic cultural experience, but
can unnerve first-time visitors, who may feel more comfortable at a larger establishment.
Choose accommodations that can (for an extra fee) also organize your visa invitation.
(If you're traveling to several destinations in Russia, you can usually ask just one hotel to
send an invitation for the entire trip. All of the hotels below, except the Cronwell, say that
they will do this.) For more details, see the “Russian Visa Requirements” sidebar on here .
When you arrive at a hotel, the desk staff will register you with the local authorities and
give you a confirmation form, which you should keep with your passport and migration
All five of these listings are on side streets close to Nevsky Prospekt. The first two (Pushka
Inn and Herzen House) are in the heart of downtown, near the Hermitage, and provide
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