St. Petersburg Private Tour Excursion Reviews
TJ Tours EXCELLENT. The only way to go. They handle everything including visa, driver, English speaking guide, etc! Look no further.
We booked our 2 day Grand Tour with Alla Tours for two main reasons – 1) much cheaper than tours from the ships & they covered more places 2) much smaller groups.
The ship’s tours can have 50 people on them, whereas Alla has a maximum of 20 & we had 14 on our tour. It cost $300 each for 2 days +$45 for tips. Alla arranged it so that we didn’t leave until after the main rush so that it didn’t take us ages to go through immigration on the first day. The second day there isn’t that problem, so we started at 7.30am the second day. The first day we looked at St Isaacs church on the outside & then took a ride on the subway. Yusupov Palace, beautiful, travelled by hydrofoil to Peterhof & walked around the lower fountain gardens & Upper Gardens which were spectacular. Continued to The Tsars Village (Tsarskoe Selo) & Catherine’s Palace & the fabulous Amber room.
Day two we visited a little farmers market, stopped by Kazan cathedral, took an hour’s boat ride on the canals which was delightful, 2 hours in the Hermitage, lunch at the Metropole hotel, visited the Church of the Spilled Blood where the wall paintings were breath-taking & then St Isaac’s cathedral. The latter is huge in every way & the decoration is fantastic. Last stop was St Peter & Paul Fortress, cathedral & Mint. It was a very full 2 days, but so good. Excellent guide named Marina.
I did buy some attractive wooden Christmas tree decorations like onion dome churches.
Total spending per person for 2 days was $345 = £215 in August 14.
As a former travel agency owner with 20 years experience in group travel and tour operators I know a good tour company and good guides. Alex's Tour & Travel is SUPERB! Alex arranged 3 entire days for us and there was not a single misstep or problem. We saw everything as promised, with personalized service, flexibility, fun and had the most knowledgeable and amazing guide! Everything was perfect and beyond our expectations. Our group left the city with greater knowledge of and a deeper appreciation for the city than we ever could have acquired as part of a large group on a motorcoach. All the pre trip planning and communication was extremely timely and responsive. I can't imagine seeing St Petersburg any other way. And our 3 day tour with private guide and car/driver was no more expensive than the 3 day tour offered by the cruise line! Don't let the company name fool you; Alex's Tour & Travel is THE BEST.
we arranged for a private 3-day group tour through Alla Tours. It was wonderful. There were a total of 10 of us from the ship, which was a perfect number. The ship was scheduled to dock at 8:00 am. We met our guide at 8:45 am the first day. Because we did a private tour, we did not have to get Russian visas. We only had to show our tour tickets and passports. Immigration was very quick – less than 5 minutes. We started the day with a tour of the city. Some things on the itinerary had to be changed a bit because they were running the SPB marathon this day and there were road closures and more traffic than expected. We had a photo stop at St. Isaac’s cathedral then went to the Church of the Spilled Blood. Amazing. We were there right when it opened and our tour guide expertly put us at the front of the line. We had lunch included and the service was horrible. We were the last table served, when food came out, it was not hot. We were supposed to have 1 hr for lunch but it took between 1:30 – 1:45. After lunch we went to the Russian Museum for 1.5 hours. Then it was to the Peter and Paul fortress, with a visit inside the church and a 45 min boat ride to wrap up the day. We then went to a souvenir shop to shop and pay for the tour. We had 35 min here. We were a bit late due to traffic issues and were back at the boat at 5:40 pm. I should note there are some nice souvenir stores in the pier. Prices here were very similar to what we found throughout the city. Sunrise was at 4:39 am, sunset 11:24 pm. Some passengers went to the ballet or a folk show this night. There was a very nice hot buffet in the Crystal Cove that started at 11:30 for those returning since they missed dinner on the ship to do this.
Day 2 – started at 8:00 am. We drove to Peterhof for a tour inside and a 1 hour walk through the fountains / gardens. We were there right as they turned the fountains on. We then had lunch. It was much better than yesterday with much quicker service. Then we drove to Catherine’s Palace for a tour inside and a walk through the gardens. We were back at the pier at 5:00 pm. Sunrise was 4:40 am, sunset was 11:23 pm. Many ship passengers went to Moscow this day. For those who went, they left the ship at 7:15 am and returned at midnight. The ship had a very nice hot buffet in the Cove that started at 11:30 pm or midnight for those who went to either Moscow or to the Ballet.
Day 3 – We left the ship at 9:00 am and the day started with admission to the Hermitage. We had about 2.5 hours to tour. Even with the special early admission, the museum was very busy and crowded. We then had a very nice lunch right next to the square outside the Hermitage. After lunch we went to St. Isaac’s cathedral for our inside visit, since we were not able to get in the first day. Then we went to Yusupov palace. We made our guide cut our visit short here because we were nervous about getting back to the ship, given the traffic, and most of us wanted to do some more shopping. We were back at the pier at 4:40 pm. All aboard was 5:30 pm and we sailed at 5:50 pm (early – scheduled at 6:00 pm). Sunrise was 4:41 am and sunset was 11:22 pm. We sent clocks back 1 hour.
Our TJ Travel guide was knowledgeable, spoke good English, answered all our questions
Wonderful local guides, different on each day, who supplied visa without effort and gave wonderful experience of this gem of a city.
Fantastic two days with Maria of SPB Tours. St. Petersburg is not a city where you can go it alone, so an independent tour is highly recommended. Although we were three hours late arriving, which threw off the scheduling, we saw everything we had been promised on SPB's Deluxe Flat Rate Tour, and also had a subway ride as a bonus. Maria was excellent in reorganizing the schedule, shepherding us through crowded palaces, while giving us the background & history of the site, yet we never felt rushed as she always let us know what time was available and what was coming up next. We always knew where the bathrooms were and when the shopping and meals would be coming up. The only minus to the two days were the meals were not what we were used to. Perhaps, they were considered good quality, but the dishes were watery and salty, and barely enough for the group. We had hoped for piroshki and blini and other typical Russian dishes.
I'd give St. Petersburg a 3+. I was expecting it to be my favorite city, because it was the reason we booked the cruise. I think it wasn't for several reasons.
1. You really have to do a tour. Even with a private tour, we would have rather gone on our own. But with Visas and language barriers, it's just not feasible.
2. St Petersburg is opulent. Beautiful. Almost too much. And with all that opulence, it's still a cold city. It's Soviet past is hard to shake. Much is being rennovated, and our tour was awesome, it's jut it lacked, well, heart.
3. There's a lot to see and take in. It's almost too much.
Words do not describe this city. Two days were definitely necessary. Do not book your excursion through NCL. SPb Tours are not only better, but much cheaper. Small vans with private guides. No more than 15 people. We opted to go to the evening Russian Folklore Show through SPb as well. They take care of ALL immigration requirements. DO NOT let NCL try to scare you that you need a visa from the Russian government if you do not go on the NCL excursions. SPb maintained email contact with us in perfect English.
We took the 2-day Russian Treasures tour. Tatiana (Tania), our tour guide gave us excellent information and the schedule was just right. We went to the Hermitage Museum, Catherine Palace, Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, Peterhof Palace, Yusupov Palace, and the subway. Everything was awesome, all the gold, the paintings of the masters, the gardens, and the architecture.
very well educated guide-she packed a lot into our short time with her
Maria at SPB. BEST TOUR EVER!!!
It seems all cruises spend two days at St Petersburg. I have heard that the Russian government requires they stay overnight, but in any event you can easily spend two days there. We treated ourselves, and booked a private two day tour with Alla tours. It was well worth the money. We had a guide and driver for the two of us. We were able to avoid the crowds, stop for a break whenever we need it, and got to chat about ordinary life as well as the history etc. Our guide was very knowledgeable, not just about the history, but also the art in the Hermitage. Our driver was more of a chauffeur - he always seemed to have the car just where we needed it. I would recommend Alla Tours to anyone visiting St. Petersburg.
This was a two-day tour for our group of six. We booked through an agency called Red October. I would not hesitate to recommend them, although I know that the ship and many other tour agencies have these tours and I would think they are probably similar. I would recommend the private tours over a large bus full, however. I would just think it is easier to get around when you are not trying to coordinate the needs of an entire bus full of people. We saw so much in 2 days; the Catherine Palace, St. Isaac's Cathedral,Yusopov Palace where Rasputin was killed, Peterhof Palace, Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, the Hermitage, a hydrofoil ride, and many photo stops along the way, again easier with only six people in a van. My one thought is if the main thing you want to see is the Hermitage, try to go as early in the day as they will let you, even if there are other things you don't see. We arrived at the Hermitage in mid-afternoon and it is just silly to try to appreciate great works of art when you are being herded through a room like cattle in a feed lot. All the other beautiful palaces and cathedrals more than made up for this disappointment, but if your heart is set on the Hermitage, look into other options than one stop on a whirlwind tour.
St. Petersburg is a beautiful city steeped in history, but big, busy, and crowded nonetheless. It was an exhausting couple of days, but worth it to see so much.
Great van, Great guide, saw every major site and had a nice sit-down lunch both days. Only complaint was some confusion on the 1st day in organizing the groups on to the buses which didn't make sense because we had pre-arranged our groups on cruise critic before the trip. Anyway, I'd highly recommend this tour and Masha our guide.
UlkoTours was wonderful. I booked them months in advance and they customized a tour for us. They were quick to respond to emails, were waiting for us at port with our guide and car, sent us a wonderful guide who was knowledgeable and humorous, and took us to a local restaurant where we had delicious chicken Kiev. I recommend UlkoTours very highly.
Exactly as described by SPB Tours. Our guide was waiting for us when we disembarked from the cruise ship. We were the first ones off (long day...much to see!) and sailed right through immigration.
We were able to see twice as much using a private tour rather than a large ship excursion. We only had one day in town so the pricing difference was well worth it.
Our guide (Helen) was personable and professional, her car new and clean, and everything well planned and organized.
In St. Petersburg we used Alla Tours for a 2 day tour and cannot praise them highly enough, or fail to recommend them. We communicated by email on their site and every time we posted a question, a reply came through usually within 24 hours. Every step of the way was very easy to follow, including printing off our tour tickets and our invoice. Unusually, no prepayment was required. In fact, we didn't have to pay until the second day of our tour.
Our tour guide Tanya was a lovely, friendly, helpful and very knowledgeable person, who made our tour so interesting, fun and very worthwhile. They have a maximum of 16 people. On our first day we had 12 people and on the second we had 10. We did the Comfort Tour and saw so much. Lunch on both days was included and the choice of restaurants excellent and although set meals, the food was very good..
The driver of the mini bus was also exceptionally helpful. Always there to lend a hand to everyone getting on and off the mini bus and loading and unloading my mobility scooter.
We toured with SPB tours which we booked ourselves. It was $300 each for 2 full days. They are a very well run company. We had 2 different guides and each was excellent. They had a lot of tours going on at a time of extreme traffic because of an economic forum, and they handled it great.
The guides know their history-for sure.
The museums and Cathedrals are nothing short of amazing.
We did a 2 day city tour with Alla Tours. We were really impressed by them and would highly recommend them to anyone. We were met off the ship by Nada (our tour guide) who was excellent and we travelled on a minibus with 8 other people and this was much better than a Royal Caribbean tour. The itinerary was much better than Royal Caribbean and they were very prompt at getting us around. We had no waiting in lines as Nada was able to take us to the top of the queue for all the main attractions. This was a great advantage, especially on the first day when it rained very heavily.
Excellent tour company and can't say enough about our guide Ana....A+. We booked a private tour for the 5 of us and included everything we wanted to see. TJ Tours.