St. Petersburg Shore Excursions

Since it is so difficult (and unsafe) for individuals to tour St. Petersburg by themselves, you will have to join an organized tour group.  This will be the one port where you will want to splurge a little, because you really have no choice, and because of the unique and memorable experiences you will have.  And the plus side of a guided tour is that you will have a running commentary on everything you are seeing.

St. Petersburg is a large city, and there is much to see and do, both in the city and in the surrounding countryside.  Many ships stay in port overnight, giving their passengers the opportunity to spend two full days sightseeing. 

Following are the shore excursions / tours we have taken, and our comments.  We've graded each shore excursion on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best possible value for your time and money.

St. Petersburg Shore Excursions

  1. Hermitage Museum -- Don't miss this tour.  You will hear all about the Hermitage's history and art collection, and then you will have the opportunity to view it yourself.  With more than 3 million exhibits, the Hermitage is one of the largest art museums in the world, and it has one of the finest collections.  If you viewed each exhibit for one minute, it would take you 11 years to see all of the Hermitage.  You will get an overview, with a guide, for about 3 hours, in the most popular areas of the museum.  You don't have to be "into art" to enjoy this one (we aren't).  Highly recommended.  Overall value = 10
  2. White Night's River Cruise -- Glide along the famous Neva River and see St. Petersburg from the water, including the Hermitage and many of the well-known landmarks.  Depending on the time of year, the days may be very long and the cruise may take place in daylight (our 7:30pm to 10:30pm cruise did).  There were only a few of us on deck for most of the cruise.  The rest of the passengers were inside the boat, where they were treated to a Russian folkloric concert with dancers and singers.  Either way, you will be entertained, and it's a great way to spend an evening.  Our tip:  stay on deck as much as you can, and see the city.  And avoid the free champagne, unless you know the glasses were washed in distilled water.  Overall value = 8
  3. Panoramic St. Petersburg Highlights -- Your chance to go all over the city, with several good photo stops.  The guide gave a very good commentary during this tour (all of our guides spoke fluent English), and the stops were at all of the right places.  This is also a good tour for buying souvenirs from the sidewalk stands, but only give them American dollars -- never your credit card.  Our heads were buzzing with all we had seen when this tour was finished, but we wished it would have been even longer, and that's probably the best recommendation we can give.  Overall value = 8
  4. Palaces and Their Owners -- You will begin with a visit to the Summer Palace, which was the residence of Peter the Great and his wife Catherine I, followed by a visit to the Yusupov Palace (former home of a wealthy member of the Russian nobility).  Overall, this one is a yuck.  The Summer Palace is a very (and we mean very) small house set in a park.  The Yusupov Palace is much more interesting, but the problem with this tour is what you will be missing while you are on it.  Since you will only have a limited time in St. Petersburg, ditch this tour and sign up for the Pushkin tour.  Shipmates who went to see Pushkin raved about it.   Overall value = 5









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