How safe is Saint Petersburg for foreign v

Is it safe to travel to St. Petersburg in 2019: tips, accommodation and alcohol

Travel to St. Petersburg is safe enough. The city is no more dangerous than Madrid or Seattle, and according to the World Travel Awards rating, Petersburg is one of the best destinations in Europe.

There are many surveillance cameras in the city. High-resolution cameras with recognition and data analysis were installed before the World Cup 2018 in Russia. The system allows recognizing faces and car numbers in real time. Cameras are able to detect the danger of emergency situations. Video surveillance network covers the entire transport infrastructure, including the metro. But be careful, there is no video surveillance in the subway cars, and pickpockets take this advantage.

The Ministry of the Interior maintains several law-and-order forces, all of them armed and with a high profile on the streets. Foremost are the regular police, is in dark blue uniform with red bands on their caps, or jumpsuits and parkas in shades of blue. You can find policemen at the metro stations. Not all of them speak English, but they are obliged to help you in case of an emergency.

The emergency service can be reached by dialling:

01 – fire department

02 – police

03 – ambulance

There is also a combined number, 112

There is an English Tourist Helpline in St Petersburg, which should also be able to provide assistance.


Phone number


Despite the fact that St. Petersburg is a safe city, there may be situations that can ruin your vacation. We have compiled several tips to help you avoid some problems.


Take care among the crowds on Nevsky prospect and in the metro. Pickpockets can be avoided by not carrying money in open pockets or displaying large sums of money in public. Your bags should be kept apart from foreign currency and credit cards. It is advisable to carry a small sum of money for purchases and to keep the rest in the hotel.

pickpockets in Petersburg

If you do have property stolen, you will need to report it to the local police station for insurance purpose. Take all your documents including passport, visa and migration card with you. You may also be asked to write a statement. In this case, ask your hotel for assistance or call the Tourist Helpful – they should be able to help provide the interpreter.


The best way to get a taxi is to use Uber. It is very cheap and safe enough. However, sometimes drivers may not park where you are waiting for them. But this is 3 out of 10 of these cases — you have to look for the car on the application map. Drivers usually won’t speak much English, but just hand over the money on arrival – you don’t need to tip.

Be cautious about taking taxis late at night, especially near bars, clubs that are in an isolated area. It’s always best to call a taxi or use Uber rather than get on the street if you are alone and don’t speak Russian.


There are always a lot of cars on the streets of St. Petersburg, especially during the White Nights, when a huge number of tourists come to the city. Traffic is heavy and many motorists act like rally drivers, swerving at high speed to avoid potholes and tramlines. Be careful when crossing the road. And by the way, you don’t really need a car in St. Petersburg because public transport is cheap and efficient.

Flat rental

If you’re going to be in St. Petersburg longer than a week you should consider renting a self-contained apartment to save money and enjoy more privacy than a hotel. But really cheap accommodation is hard to find in high season. The most frequently used variant is when you pay a fee to a real estate agency whose task is to find an apartment for you and deliver information about you to an apartment owner. Sometimes, when comes the time for a meeting with the owner it somehow happens that the owner disappears and doesn’t respond to calls.

If you book through an agency that also provides visa support, your registration should be handled automatically. But be sure to verify that this is so. There have been instances where agencies failed to follow through with the paperwork, landing their clients on a bureaucratic nightmare.

Most apartments in St. Petersburg have a sturdy, often steel-plated, door with two or even three locks, while the door from building or yard onto the street may be locked by a device which requires you to pinch in a code.


Winter in Petersburg

You shouldn’t be daunted by Russia’s long winters. In St. Petersburg temperature falls to around -10ºC, between November and late March. The city is well equipped with an army of snow ploughs and street cleaners.

But the more snow falls the worse. Because mostly snow ploughs transport piles of snow from place to place. It is better to come when winter isn’t very snowy. Although the snow-covered St. Petersburg is beautiful.

Icicles are a dreadful danger. Be careful on narrow roads — every year several people die from falling ice from the roofs of buildings.


Icicles in Petersburg

Icicles in Petersburg

Icicles in Petersburg


  • Keep a distance from the buildings with icicles, unfortunately, these are almost all the buildings in the historic center
  • It is best to travel by public transport or taxi, and if this is a sightseeing tour use a bus or a personal driver. The fact that the walking tour is cheaper is a mistaken impression.
  • Note that sturdy footwear, warm layers of clothing, hats and scarves are a must

Is it safe to drink tap water in St Petersburg?

Drinking Water in St. Petersburg is not very good. Of course, nothing will happen to you during the weekly voyage, but it is better to avoid drinking tap water, especially without boiling and filtration. Although the city’s water supplier, Vodokanal, insists that the water in St. Petersburg is safe to drink.

It’s probably safe to accept tea or coffee at someone’s house, and all restaurants and hotels have a filtration system. Bathing, showering and brushing your teeth cause no problems at all.


Vodka is the national drink which is produced from grain, usually wheat. Normally served chilled, it is drunk neat in one gulp, followed by a mouthful of food, such as cucumber or mushrooms. Taste isn’t a prime consideration: what counts is that the vodka isn’t bootleg liquor. At best, this means that buyers find themselves drinking something weaker than they bargained for. At worst, they are imbibing diluted methanol.

Ordering any alcohol in the bars and restaurants of the city you risk nothing, except for the known harm to health from alcohol.

Shops in the city center also sell more or less worthy strong alcohol, the main thing is not to take the cheapest. As a rule of thumb, avoid anything costing less than 150 rubles for a half-litre.

Mosquitoes and ticks

St. Petersburg’s waterlogged basements are an ideal reservation for mosquitoes, present throughout the year in most buildings and particularly noxious in summer. The best solution for a good night sleep is to buy an anti-mosquito device that plugs into an electric socket, which is sold at local pharmacies and supermarkets.

More seriously, forested areas such as the Karelian Isthmus near St. Petersburg are potentially infected with encephalitis-bearing ticks during May and June. Locals take care to cover their head, shoulders, and arms at this time of the year when walking in forests, so you should do the same. If you find a tick on your body, press around its neck with tweezers, grab it and gently pull outwards. Avoid pulling the rear of the body or smearing chemicals on the tick, which increases the risk of infection and disease.

How big are your chances of something happening with you in St. Petersburg? If you will be attentive, close to zero.

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Hi! I'm an editor of PetersburgExpert blog. We look for the most interesting places in St. Petersburg and tell you about them.
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  • 0

    This summer I will come to St Petersburg. Unfortunately, I couldn't find anybody for the

    company. How safe to travel on my own in St Petersburg? I'm planning to rent an apartment

    near the Cazan Catedral.

  • 0

    Hello Lisa! We discussed the taxi in the previous comments.

    You can book Uber or Яндекс.Такси. In this case, you needn't get cash because you can use your credit card. It’ pretty easy and safe at night. Don’t flag down the car on the road in the evenings. It’s may be not secure!

  • 0

    We're arriving in St Petersburg late at night. I'm wondering whether we will need to get some cash in order to pay a taxi to our hotel. Where is it safe in St Petersburg to catch a cab?

  • 0

    Hello Ella! Women are pretty safe in St Petersburg. You have nothing to fear especially if your hotel

    is located in the centre.

    Walking by the Nevsky Prospect you will hear English spoken by groups of tourists and students who come from all over the world here. So you wiil feel yorself like in ordinary European city. By thew way, there are a lot of different restuarants in historical part of St Petersburg.

    Watching drawbridges is a very popular entertainment. You can walk along the embankment but it is better to book a boat tour. After 11 pm the city is safe enough, especially in the case of Nevsky Prospect.

  • 0

    Hello! Does anyone know if St Petersburg is safe for a woman travelling for a long weekend

    alone? My hotel is located in the centre of the city, not far from Nevsky Prospect. Is it safe to

    walk around at night, for example, looking for a restaurant? May it better to have dinner in the

    hotel? I want to watch drawbridges but I'm not sure. How safe is St Petersburg at 11 pm for


  • 0

    By the way, Яндекс.Такси is also the cheapest option. The taxi ride will cost, on average, just 3-5$.

  • 0

    Hello Thomas,

    Don't worry St Petersburg is really safe.

    It's a modern clean city, no different than any large European cities. You can walk with friends in the historical part of the city even at night. But remember, it is not so safe in the commuter town in the evenings.

    As for taxi we recommend to use Яндекс.Такси app. You can get a taxi and pay for a trip with a credit card. It is the safest choice. Use this link

    Don’t flag down the car on the road. It’s may be not secure!

    There are a lot of entertainments in our city in the evenings, especially during White Nights. You can book St Petersburg by night bus tour or a boat tour and see how beautiful the city in night lights. 

    It doesn't matter where are you from. A lot of tourists from all over the world visit St Petersburg and bring home wonderful memories. We hope that your holiday will be unforgettable!

  • 0

    Hi guys! My girlfriend and I are going to visit St Petersburg this year. We live in the USA and it will be our first trip to Russia. All our friends are trying to scare us away from going to St Petersburg. One tells us that using a taxi in Russia is not very safe. Another claims that we should walk through the city during the day only. How safe is St Petersburg for Americans? By the way, what do you recommend to do in the evenings? Are there any entertainments?