Residential districts of St. Petersburg
Choosing a place for a short stay and leisure in St. Petersburg, visitors often stick to the city centre and seldom explore the city’s remote parts, the so-called “residential” districts. However, there are also quite a few places of interest in the residential districts of SPB: Viborgskiy, Kalininskiy, Kirovskiy, Krasnogvardeiskiy, Krasnoselskiy, Nevsky, Primorskiy and Frunzenskiy districts.
Tercentenary park of St. Petersburg, Piskaryovskoye Memorial Cemetery, Volkovskoye cemetery and necropolis of people of name, monuments of the Soviet era, Sampsonevsky Cathedral and numerous ancient and modern temples of different denominations. There is a variety of parks, lakes, gardens and squares – leave alone cosy theaters or unusual museums (science, children’s, toys) hidden in the residential areas.
Choosing to stay far from the city center, you would probably miss the vibe and the beauty of the historical part of St.Petersburg. However, still staying within the close proximity to the heartbeat of the city, you may enjoy other aspects of its residential life style. The prices for accommodation are much lower while the infrastructure (shops and local amenities) is well developed. There are plenty of things to do and enjoy your time – vast parks with cycling and roller-blading lanes, lakes with boats for hire, aqua-parks, cinemas, leisure and entertainment centers. Might be a good alternative to slow down after the city-centre hustle and bustle.
The city outskirts landscape may look plain, tame and intimidating in its similarities. A stranger may well face the challenge trying to distinguish Kupchino, Dybenko, Nastavnkov and Kultury areas. They are hard to be differentiated not only within St. Petersburg, but also versus similar parts of Moscow, Novosibirsk or other cities in Russia. Most Soviet cities expanded tremendously in 1960s-1980s, when the young Soviet generation experienced both industrial and baby-boom – the nation needed solid, functional, massive and fast property development. It is now significantly “thickened” with bright spots of the skyscrapers of the 21th century.
You might have noticed similar pattern in many of the outlying areas of the world capitals – residential areas are not really gleaming with architectural ensembles. That’s where residents normally come to wind down and relax after a busy day in the office or a night out – for that very reason they are called the “sleeping” areas.
You may choose to stay here, when on a long-term business trip (at a less expensive hotel or a serviced apartment), to rent a flat while entering or studying at the university, to visit relatives, to work at your dissertation or pass medical tests prior to treatment – i.e. it is a good option when sightseeing is not the main point of your visit.
If you are going to live in such area, make sure you pay attention to the following.
The distance between the nearest subway station and your accommodation, as well as the subway line it stands on. Commuting by public transport may be crucial for your convenience in getting around the city – believe it or not, it will take you only half an hour to get to Nevsky Prospekt by subway from the “remote” Prospect Prosvescheniya, if your accommodation is next to the subway station. On the contrary, if you stay in the relatively close to city-centre Vyborgsky district, where you can see the Hermitage, a bus trip to Nevsky Prospect during the rush hour can easily take an hour.
You may be surprised with the fact that subway stations in St. Petersburg (unlike Moscow or many other world capitals) are deep under the ground and located quite far away from each other. This may be explained by the city’s age (St.Petersburg is one of the youngest capitals) and local landscape (underground water to consider as part of the subway design and construction). In the «sleeping areas» this distance can be measured in kilometers – so, make sure you plan your accommodation and journey well to avoid delays and long queues to catch a bus taking you to/ from the subway station during the rush hour.
When it comes to neighbors and criminal situation, the logic is simple: you are more likely to come across cheaters in the city center with lots of tourists, than in the places with a few of them. In the sleeping areas, you may run into a drunken brawl or an inter-ethnic conflict – same as in residential districts in any other part of the world. According to statistics, it is more likely to meet drug-takers and witness car accidents in the streets of Nevsky District (N.B. not in Nevsky Prospect).
During the white nights season (May-September) the city center stays wide awake almost until the dawn – the streets are crowded with people, as the nights are as bright as the daytime. The residents of suburbs keep living their normal lives despite of the season – you can still enjoy a quiet night without heavy illumination and noise in the streets.
Comfort & Cost
The level of comfort at local apartments and hotels may seem to be very basic, mostly due to low competition. Whereas you may pay a lot for a historical site or a river view from your window in the city centre, suburbs will offer either a street or a green yard view for a significantly lower rate.
Sport & Entertainment
Most of suburbs offer more space to combine cultural events with environmental or sport ones – enjoy large parking slots, shopping malls and leisure centres with entertainment facilities, cafes and fast food restaurants, health care centers and gyms.
To sum it up: choose the right place to stay depending on your visit purpose, term and budget: the city centre will better accommodate a short sightseeing tour, whereas suburbs will pay off for a longer business trip or a friendly visit. Just rest assured, that you will find places of interests and leisure activities to enjoy in any part of St. Petersburg.
Translation by Evgenya Gavrilova
Edited by Svetlana Serebryakova