Payment Details

For shore excursions, we kindly ask our guests to make a pre-payment of 20% of the total negotiated tour price via PayPal at least 1 month before their arrival date to St Petersburg. In your e-mail you will receive PayPal invoice which can be paid with your card (Visa, MasterCard, AMEX).

The rest of the negotiated total tour price may be paid only by cash on the second day of your tour with us (2-day tours) or at the end of 1-day tour. You can prepare the money in advance or make a stop to withdraw the necessary amount from the ATM when coming back to the ship after the 1st-day tour.

Unfortunately, currently we don’t accept offline payments by cards. If you want to pay only by card the tour price will be 5% higher.

For hotel guests, we negotiate payment upon finalizing your booking. Usually, we request a small deposit as well to purchase entrance tickets and secure them in advance. Sometimes tickets are limited and we have to purchase them as soon as they become available on sale.

A deposit guarantees your tour availability for the requested dates, will reserve your guide and your driver/vehicle and will go towards purchasing your museum vouchers in advance to secure your admission to all museums as per selected itinerary.

Sometimes final prices may be different from what you see on this website. It is due to the fact that museum entrance tickets may be more expansive for some dates. That’s why you don’t pay anything when you make a booking on this website. You only create a request that we will process and inform you about the actual price.

Anyway, we do not add any additional fees or levies on top of the tour price you see. The prices you see in your final confirmation e-paperwork are all-inclusive gross prices that cover all travel services.

While it is advisable to have some Russian currency for small incidentals (did you know that some museums charge money to use their bathroom facilities?), usually it is not a problem to get Rubles from one of the many ATMs located in the area

Due to extremely high demand for premium venues such as the Mariinsky Theater, tickets must be secured as soon as they go on sale (usually 4 to 6 weeks prior to show date). You can see available tickets on the theater’s official website  – https://www.mariinsky.ru/en/ Please be attentive as there are several fake websites. Please do not leave such decisions to arrival date as it is virtually impossible to buy good seats on the performance day!

If you organize a group of 10 people and more, 1 person from this group receives 50% discount from the announced price per person. For children of 6 y. o. and under participating in some tours are free. All children of 7+ y. o. & students will receive $15-25 USD discount or more (depends on tour). Seniors of 60+ y.o. will receive $15 USD discount.

Unfortunately, we are not able to offer military or teacher discounts, because they are not provided for by Russian museums.

Gratuities are not included in the tour price. Our guides and drivers are experienced travel industry professionals and the amount of tips you may wish to leave should be consistent with Western standards. Our recommended amount is 10% of the tour cost for the guide and 5% for the driver, paid separately. Gratuities will not be included in the credit card invoice so please have some cash with you (USD, EUR or RUB) for this purpose. But these are only our recommendations, it’s entirely up to you to decide whether to give tips or not! But your guide will be very grateful if you decide to tip her/him.

If you’d like to pay by bank transfer please contact us and we will send you an invoice with our bank details. All bank transfers should be made at least 14 days before your tour date.

Booking & Cancellation

If you are arriving by plane or train and already have a Russian Visa, then the only information we need from you is your name, your phone number, and hotel name.  This info may be left upon booking a tour on this website. We will use your e-mail to send important documentation (tour confirmation etc.)

Our standard Cancellation Policy (for hotel guests, excluding cruise ship passengers) covers most of our tour products and experiences and allows for a full refund up to 24 hours before the start of the booking.

Exceptions are tour products with Catherine Palace, Peterhof Grand Palace, and Hermitage museum inclusions. Those tour products can be canceled for a partial refund 48 hours before the start of the booking.

Please refer to “Shore Excursions” section on this page to see cancellation police for cruise ship passengers.

Theatre tickets and show tickets, train tickets are non-refundable.

Upon booking a tour with us, you will be receiving either a Tour Ticket (for cruise ship passengers) or a Travel Voucher (for all other guests).

Tour ticket serves as your entry ticket into Russia which you will present to the immigration officer at point of entry. We have to inform the Russian authorities about your entry into Russia before your arrival and going trough immigration will be a breeze! Rarely it is not a breeze but a small storm. 🙂

Travel Voucher is our official confirmation letter of the travel services you will receive.

We are able to provide tour guides in all major world languages for a private tour:

English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese (Mandarin), Vietnamese, Japanese, Armenian, Swedish, Finnish and others!

We may have to apply a surcharge per booking on top of the prices quoted on-line if your tour language is Spanish, Portuguese, German, Italian, French or Mandarin. Surcharge might differ for other languages.

For private small group tours (up to 5 persons) that we do usually there’s no long wait involved. Administrators and security allow small groups to enter before huge groups (25+ persons). The Hermitage strictly regulates admission times and you have to be at the museum at the appointed time on the ticket (your guide keeps track of the timing).
We can arrange a VIP early opening and Monday opening of the museum on request, but there’s always a chance that the museum will not approve. We prefer that our guests are aware of this possibility from the start.

Yes, you can hire a driver, but he will not be able to take you inside any sights for tours and you will have to go on your own, However, this option is not available for cruise ship passengers.
Please note that there is no guarantee that your driver will be able to speak any English. Some drivers do, some do not.

We can send you a visa invitation (sometimes called a voucher) – the main document that you need to apply for a Russian visa. The invitation is needed when you submit your visa application forms to the Russian Consulate in your country. We can issue the visa invitation during 1-2 working days. If you need your visa invitation urgently, we can issue and send it to you on the same day. We usually send scanned versions of the invitations by email but can also send them by fax. Sometimes, Consulates in certain countries require the original invitation. In this case, we can mail you the original by Federal Express or by a cheaper but slower service. Please check with the Consulate to know if you need the original. Postage is an extra charge. Along with the Russian Visa invitation, US citizens can use the following documents to receive their visa: Confirmation of a hotel reservation, a contract for the provision of tourist services, confirmation of reception of the tourist. The above-mentioned documents shall have the register number from the Uniform Federal Register of the Tour Operators of the Russian Federal Tourism Agency and the seal of the host organization.

By Russian Law, the following details are required for Visa Support processing for each tour participant:

Full Name as in passport
Passport Number
Date of Birth
Citizenship
Gender
Arrival date to Russia
Departure date from Russia
All cities that will be visited while in Russia
Hotel names where you will stay
Your personal information is safe with us and is NOT transmitted to any trhird partires unless required by law.

Shore Excursions

In order to book please submit an online booking form on our website. After processing your request we will contact you via e-mail to request the following information is required:

  • Your full name (as it reads in your passport)
  • Citizenship
  • Date of birth
  • Passport number
  • Arrival and departure dates to/from St Petersburg
  • The name of your ship
  • Phone number
  • E-mail address

Your passport details are required by the passport control in the port, so we can issue a blanket visa for you. We respect your privacy and will never use your passport details for any other purpose nor pass them to a third party.

Your reservation is complete and confirmed ONLY when you receive a .pdf file with a confirmation number from us. If you are a cruise passenger you will receive a Confirmation and a set of Tour Tickets (aka Blanket Visas) that are required for successful disembarkation in St. Petersburg, Russia.

A tour ticket is an equivalent of a Russian regular visa for all cruise ship passengers. More details

A valid passport and printed tour ticket (blanket visa) per person (including children), sent to your e-mail by us. Failure to present a printed tour ticket may result in admission denial. We will do our best to solve this problem however no promises can be made. Do not misplace your tour tickets!

Ship Clearance:

It takes approximately 30 to 60 min to clear your ship once it touches its berth in St. Petersburg Port. From the moment the ship is cleared the disembarkation process will begin.

Disembarkation Process:

To disembark from the ship you will need to present the following documents to the Russian immigration official:

Valid Tour Ticket (which you will have received from us upon booking your tour)
Original passport

Meeting Your Guide:

Your tour guide will waiting for you with a sign bearing your name a few meters away from the immigration control point. In case you have difficulty finding your guide please call personal tour manager number or send a quick message from your phone (WhatsApp). We have never lost a single client and for sure will be expecting you on the pier on your arrival day!

We will meet you inside the passenger terminal of a port, right after you pass the customs. Our representatives will meet you with a sign with your name & last name on it. We will be waiting in the terminal at least 15 minutes before the negotiated meeting time. If for some reason you can’t find us, you can call us using the telephone number +7 921 993 18 14 or via WhatsApp.

Many of our past clients reported receiving false information from cruise line personnel regarding private tours. Usually, the story goes 2 ways:

Myth #1: Denied entry to Russia

The claim is that the tour tickets provided by us are NOT a legitimate substitue for visas and “for sure” these tickets holders will not be allowed to go ashore in St. Petersburg.

Upon boarding the ship you may hear things like ” What company? What tour ticket? Sorry but this flimsy piece of paper will NOT get you into Russia. You’d better hurry and sign up for cruise ship tours – unless you want to be stuck on the ship while your fellow cruisers are enjoying St. Petersburg. And do it right now – tomorrow it may well be too late!”

Myth #2: Delayed disembarkation from the ship

Another cruise line’s favourite is a claim that independent tour participants can ONLY leave the ship after the ship organized tour groups have gone ashore. Often 9:30am or even 10:00am are offered as the earliest time private tour guests can start leaving the ship “due to the latest communication received from the St. Petersburg Port Authorities” or simply because “earlier disembarkation by independent tourists causes major delays for ship organized tours.”

Yet, despite these and other similar scare tactics stories we have never had a client who was refused entry to Russia. All our clients with valid tour tickets have gone ashore with no problem!

Your best course of action if faced with a similar communication from the ship is to be prepared.

Please remember the following:

1. Your cruise ship DOES NOT exercise control over your entry into Russia. Only the Russian Immigration Service has such powers under the Russian Law and no commercial cruise line was ever granted the right to decide who can enter Russia and who cannot.

2. Once we send your personal details to the Russian Immigration Service and you get our Tour Tickets, your names will be entered into the Russian Immigration Database so your arrival will not be a surprise to anyone ashore. In fact, the Immigration Service will be expecting you and your disembarkation will be swift.

3. It is not 1986 and there is no Big Brother aboard the ship. Your decision to retain independent tour services does not make you a second-class citizen and so you are free to leave the ship as soon as it clears (usually 30-60 minutes from the moment it docks).

See Visa Section for more information.

Leave your worries behind – Your tour guide is waiting for you on the pier!

In very rare cases (we can only remember a handful in over 15 years!) your ship may be moved to a pier which is different from the originally scheduled one. This may happen due to your original pier being unexpectedly unable to receive new ships. In such circumstances we will act quickly and re-direct our tour team to meet you at the correct location. As one of the very few tour companies having full clearance to arrange visa-free disembarkation in Russia, we have the necessary systems in place to monitor docking schedule of all ships in the St. Petersburg Harbour and you are guaranteed we will not miss your ship! Similarly on our departure day – we will get you back to your ship satisfied, safe and on time!
If you are unable to participate in our tour because your ship misses the port altogether, we will offer a refund.

Certain sights and activities on our tour itineraries are listed as either “Optional” or “Upon Request”. “Optional” activities require advance booking and usually entail a separate fee (e.g. Gold Rooms at the Hermitage Museum, private or public boat ride, etc.). “Upon Request” items are free of charge and can be accommodated by merely discussing this with your tour guide while on a tour.

We guarantee that you will be back to the ship at least one hour prior to the departure. We are always prepared for the unexpected, all of our itineraries take into account the probable unforeseen circumstances which may arise on the way back to the port, so we guarantee that you will be back to the ship on time.

Don’t miss the opportunity to see a Russian ballet or to enjoy an evening of Russian opera in one of the best theatres in St Petersburg. We also highly recommend to see a Folk Show or take a night boat trip along the famous canals. Contact us to request all possible options.

No, as you are Argentinian citizens and hold Argentinian passports then you DO NOT need a visa. If you choose to travel with your American passport then you WILL NEED a visa. Please click here for a Complete List of Visa-Free countries.

5 business days (1 week) prior to your arrival in port. This time is required to process the necessary paperwork to arrange your visa-free entry into Russia. The port authorities require all passport information in advance and late bookings sent in less than 5 days will be rejected.

As we would need to be in receipt of personal information for all group members at least 5 days prior to tour start date, unfortunately it is almost not possible to add new guests you meet aboard the ship. But we can try 🙂

If you wish to cancel our arrangements, we kindly ask you to notify us as soon as possible by sending an e-mail to mail@ithorosho.com. We can only accept written notices of cancellation. Please don’t leave any voice messages with cancellations.

In case of cancellation no later than 2 weeks in advance before the tour date we refund 90% from the deposit amount (the rest 10% were charged by PayPal as commission). In case of cancellation within 2 weeks before the tour date, 90% of the deposit sum can be refunded only if there were no expenses to buy entrance tickets to the museums. For example, we have to buy skip-the-line tickets to the Catherine Palace 1 month in advance before the tour. If they had been already purchased and you decided to cancel our arrangements, we will have to deduct amount spent on tickets from the sum which will be refunded.

There are NO REFUNDS on the museum entrance tickets, theatre, opera & folk show tickets, train tickets if they were already purchased. In this case they become non-refundable at all. We simply will not be able to receive money back according to the terms & conditions of theaters and organizers of the folk show. Usually, we buy all tickets to the shows at least 1 week in advance before your tour. We will send you photos or scans of tickets to confirm that they were already purchased. So, if canceled 1 week before the tour date – 100% refund for tickets; if canceled less than 1 week before the tour – no refund.

If you cancel after receiving the Blanket Visas (Tour Tickets) we will have to void them on the same day of receiving a cancellation notice. You will no longer be able to leave the port of St Petersburg using them.

We will do a refund (excluding museum entrance tickets) if your ship doesn’t dock in the port of St Petersburg at all. No refund is possible for any tour/service in case of a no-show.

No, regular travel visa (stamp) is not required for cruise ship passengers, if you take a tour with an authorized tour company. Our company has the right to issue the tour ticket (also called a “blanket visa”) – this can save you a minimum of $130 per person! We will send you your tour ticket via e-mail, you will have to print it at home and bring along with you to St Petersburg. You will also need your valid passport to pass the customs. More details

Yes, tour ticket is the blanket visa. It contains your name, name of the ship, time/dates of the tour and our contact information. Please note that the name on the tour ticket should be the same as in your passport. You passport information is sent directly to the customs at the port.

The timing for the evening tour is filled into all the tickets automatically (no matter if you have booked one or not), in case you decide on some option last minute. 

Yes, it’s absolutely not necessary to do any shopping. Since you will be an entirely private tour, the decision whether to do shopping or not is entirely yours. However, sometimes guides do technical/toilet stops in the souvenir shops. You don’t have to buy anything there.

General Questions

In the event of unforeseen changes to the itinerary (caused by a museum being off-limits due to official delegation’s arrival or an emergency situation) we will do the best we can to offer a comparable replacement to fill your time with good experience. If you decide to skip a museum or other sight with already pre-paid admissions, we will not be able to refund the cost of such admission as it is not refundable to us.

Some museums in Russia charge a separate fee for the interior picture taking and video shooting. Depending on the museum and type of your equipment, the charge may vary from $3 to $12.

Our tour prices include the cost of such “photo permits” and allow usage of 1 camera per couple or a solo traveler in all museums but the Yusupov Palace in St. Petersburg (where it costs $5 extra per camera). Please note that video shooting is not provisioned for in our tour calculation and should be paid for extra. If you wish to shoot video inside museums please notify us in advance of your arrival and we will make the necessary arrangement beforehand (so as to ensure quickest entry into museums with no delays).

There is a photo fee inside the Hermitage museum if you have a big camera like Nikon or Canon. If it’s a small one and fits into your pocket, then no ticket is necessary.

All our vehicles are clean, Western made (Mercedes, Audi, Setra, Volvo, etc.), air-conditioned and in perfect mechanical condition with all safety features in place. All cars, buses and vans are insured and undergo regular mechanical compliance tests. No smoking is allowed inside our vehicles.

Available vehicle sizes: Sedan (1-2 persons), van (3-6 persons), mini-bus (7-10 persons), medium bus (11-16 persons), large bus (17-25 persons), jumbo bus (26-42).

All drivers undergo regular health tests. Some of them speak English and will be happy to keep an eye on your belongings while you are inside museums.

URGENT VEHICLE REPLACEMENT GUARANTEE:

In the unlikely event of a mechanical failure or a traffic accident, we will arrange for a replacement vehicle or get a taxi for the remainder of your tour day at no cost to you.

The vehicle choice will depend on your exact location and the time we find out about the need to replace the vehicle – if within 3 hours of your ship’s departure your best bet is getting a cab ride back to the ship.

We can arrange child seats for those traveling with infants, toddlers and small kids. Please be sure to send your request in advance to ensure availability.

Please note that most of the vehicles are not equipped with a ramp or lift, so you will need to take a few steps into the van. If it may be difficult for you or someone in your party to walk a few steps, please contact us for a customized tour.

Please note that while we do not offer a wheelchair rental service, sometimes it is possible to get a wheelchair at major museums when you arrive (like the Hermitage, for example). In this case the wheelchair is meant to be used while on a tour of that museum only and must be returned upon exiting the museum.

If you need to use a wheelchair for the entire duration of your tour, your best bet is to rent one from your cruise ship.

We regret that our tour guides are unable to push your wheelchair during the tour and you are strongly advised to either have your group members help you or, should you travel solo, request such assistance from your ship.

We don’t include the cost of lunches in our private programs for small parties/groups because we want to give you more freedom and flexibility. Our guides will recommend you a restaurant or cafe where local Russians frequent, rather than “touristy” restaurants.

If you have any food restrictions, please let us know in advance and we will try to visit the best suitable place for lunch.

Meals are optional to give you the added flexibility to choose your preferred meal option.

Eat-on-the-go: Bring your own packed lunch from the ship

Grab a snack: Enjoy a quick lunch or a sandwich at one of the city bistros. Our tour guides can take you to authentic Russian eateries where you can enjoy real Russian food.

We recommend pirogi at the Stoll Bar, blini at Teremok and U Teschi Na Blinakh, soups and cakes at Shokoladnitsa, etc.

Price: $8-$16 per person.

Lunch reservation: Savour the ultimate in Russian cuisine by pre-booking a table at the leading restaurants.

Price: $25-$80 per person (depending on your wine choice).

IMPORTANT NOTICE FOR TOUR GROUPS: Tour groups of 10 people or more must reserve lunches in advance as it is impossible to eat quickly as a group by simply showing up at a restaurant as there may not be enough tables vacant.

We only choose the most experienced guides with an incredible record of success.  They speak excellent English, are fully licensed, have a good sense of humor, and create excursions that are flexible – depending on your interests and your pace. They are highly experienced in dealing with foreigners with high expectations, families with children and people who need special assistance.

If you travel with us you don’t have to stand in long lines – unlike those tourists who are on their own. This, as you’ll see, is a big time-saver in Russia! The exception could be Catherine’s Palace, the Hermitage and the Grand Palace in Peterhof. Sometimes tourists have to wait to enter the Palaces because the guards limit the entrance.

The Hermitage and the Russian museum have improved their conditions to host disabled visitors. Both are equipped with elevators and special platforms to carry a wheelchair to the upper floors. However, please note that elevators are not conveniently situated and it takes time to get inside.

There is a special elevator in St. Isaac’s Cathedral.

Talking about summer residences, two most important sights visited are the Catherine palace and the Peterhof residence. The Catherine palace is wheelchair accessible and it’s possible to get to the second floor using an elevator. The Grand palace in Peterhof doesn’t have any elevators so it’s not possible to access the first floor. Instead of the Grand palace we can recommend visiting one of the small palaces on the territory of the Lower Fountain Park (it could be Monplaisir or The Bath pavilion).

The Church on the Spilled Blood has several steps up, but there is a ramp.

Unfortunately, the second floor of Yusupov’s palace with the main exhibition is not accessible by wheelchair.

Our standard Cancellation Policy covers most of our tour products and experiences and allows for a full refund up to 24 hours before the start of the booking.

Exceptions are tour products with Catherine Palace inclusion. Those tour products can be cancelled for a full refund 48 hours before the start of the booking.

Shore tour programs can be cancelled for a full refund 72 hours before the start of the booking.

Theatre tickets and show tickets are refundable if cancelled up to 48 hours before the start of the bookings.

Mariinsky Theatre tickets are non-refundable.

We can try to arrange a special van with a lifting mechanism upon your advance request only for the private tours. Our regular cars don’t have any lifting mechanism or ramps for wheelchairs.

You will be met by a driver holding a sign with your name on it. If you arrive on an international flight, you will be met at the airport arrival hall (after luggage delivery). If you arrive by train you will be met near your carriage (you should tell us the number of the carriage) or at the head of the train if you have not indicated your carriage.

Airport pickup: The driver will wait for free up to 1 hour. Usually, this time is enough to get through the customs and to collect the luggage. If the wait is more than 1 hour for each additional half-hour 15 EURO will be charged. Train Station pickup: The driver will wait for free up to half an hour. If the wait is more than half an hour, for each additional half-hour,  15 EURO will be charged. Pick up from Apartment or Hotel: The driver will wait for free up to 15 minutes. If the wait is more than 15 minutes, for each additional half-hour, 15 EURO will be charged. The driver will wait up to 2 hours. If the client does appear within this time frame or does not for any other reasons use the ordered transfer services at the time specified in the order, the order will be considered fulfilled and no refund will be available. Cancellation of transportation must be advised not less than 2 working days before the date of execution.

E-visa

Russian e-visa (Russian electronic visa) is official permission that allows entry to some areas of Russia – Saint-Petersburg & Leningrad region, Kaliningrad & Kaliningrad region, and Far Eastern Federal District regions.

E-visa is issued electronically by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.

To apply for a Russian e-visa, you will only need
– a valid passport with a validity period more than six months from the date of application,
– a recent digital photo that you will attach to the application,
– and a travel medical insurance with coverage in the Russian Federation.
As for the digital photo, you can attach the one taken with the front camera of your mobile phone, with a plain wall of light color in the background. When you complete your e-visa application, you don’t need to provide an invitation, hotel reservations, airline tickets, etc. It’s not necessary to visit a Russian visa center or a consulate. You can request a Russian e-visa yourself from your home computer using one of the following links below:

https://evisa.kdmid.ru/

https://electronic-visa.kdmid.ru/index_en.html

The deadline for the issuance of the e-visa is a maximum period of 4 calendar days from the day of your request. Though it is usually ready in 2 days, you can apply as early as 20 days and no later than four days before the date of your entry to the Russian Federation.
You can monitor the status of your application on the official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation – https://evisa.kdmid.ru/en-US/Home/StatusCheck By using your application number (your ID and your password), you will track the state of your application.

United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia are excluded from the e-visa procedure. But it is yet to be seen which nationalities can request a Russian e-visa from 2021. Today an e-visa can be requested by the citizens of the following countries.