Guides in Russia

In planning our trip to Moscow and St. Petersburg in July ’06, I noted three private guides recommended by ITN readers and, after a series of e-mails, selected Alexei Fetisov (Oct. ’05, pg. 122) from Palladium Travel Agency (Artilleriyskaya St. #1, Office 160, St. Petersburg, Russia; phone 7-812 579 6644, fax 6584 or visit to make my arrangements. Of the three, he gave the most detailed itinerary based on my expressed interests.

We found the guides in his service to be highly educated, knowledgeable about the sites visited and passionate about their country.

The rates varied between the two cities and depended upon whether or not a guide alone was needed or perhaps a driver as well. Seeing the most important sites and museums in both cities, we were three traveling together with a guide all to ourselves — the only way to go. We passed long waiting lines to get in, and the driver was always able to drop us off and return to pick us up at the front gate of whatever attraction we were visiting.

We had the guides for three 8-hour days in St. Petersburg and for 20 hours over four days in Moscow. We were picked up from the hotel and returned each day, stopping for lunch as needed.

The cost was approximately $25 an hour for a guide and driver in St. Petersburg and $25 an hour for EACH a guide and driver in Moscow. Admission fees were additional, and pickup and dropoff at the train cost $25 each way — cheaper than a cab, and we were escorted right to our seats so we would not get lost.

Moscow is more expensive, but a car is not needed most of the time. In St. Petersburg, a car is essential since the fabulous palaces that should not be missed are in the city’s suburbs — unreachable for the average tourist who is not fluent in Russian and is not comfortable driving in a very stressful road system.

There are almost no English signs in Russia, and most Americans are not as familiar with Russian cultural history as they are with Western Europe, so the guides are essential.

We saw the most important sites and museums in both cities. It was a truly memorable trip and would not have been so without Alexei. He was fantastic and I highly recommend him.


Sparta, NJ