The St. Petersburg subway that is called "Metro" in Russian is certainly worth a visit. The first plans to build a metro in St. Petersburg were drawn in 1899, but were not implemented due to the outbreak of WWI and then the Revolution of 1917. In 1941, 8 years after the Moscow metro was opened, construction work began on the Leningrad metro, but a few months later the U.S.S.R. was forced to enter WWII. Following the war, the construction work resumed and the first metro line (from Avtovo to Ploschad Vosstania) was opened on November 15, 1955, linking all the five railway stations of the city.
From the moment it opened it was acclaimed as one of the best in the world, not only because of its efficiency and cleanliness, but also for its architecture. Today, it is the quickest, safest, most reliable and comfortable means of travel. Most of the stations are equipped with escalators and the older stations are richly decorated with polished granite, marble of various colors, stainless steel, bronze, aluminium, synthetic materials, glass, various mosaics, bas-reliefs and sculptures. The new stations are mostly simple and modern in design, but not less impressive. Each station has its own unique design. The St. Petersburg Metro is also the deepest subway in the world with some stations located more than 100 meters underground.
Following a thirty minute metro ride, a short transfer will bring you the main street of St Petersburg and certainly one of the most well-known streets in Russia - Nevsky Prospect. Since the 18th century it has been the very center of this bustling, rapidly growing city. The street is lined with some of St. Petersburg's most impressive buildings, including beautiful palaces, theaters and churches, but no doubt Nevsky prospect is known as the main shopping area for the citizens and guests of St. Petersburg.
Approximately three hours of free time will be provided for you to experience the unique opportunity of absorbing the local atmosphere of St Petersburg in-depth. Upon arrival to Nevsky prospect you will have an orientation briefing with your guide who will advise of the meeting time and place for rejoining your tour group, then you are free to set-off on your own. Perhaps explore the famous Gostiny Dvor - the city's biggest department store. The two-storied yellow-and-white building of Gostiny Dvor is familiar to all the locals due to its prime downtown location, along with having the reputation of being one of the world's first shopping malls occupying a whole city block.
You also won't want to miss this chance to visit the "Passage", an elite department store located on the other side of Nevsky prospect which opened its doors to customers for the first time at the end of the 19th century and was one of the first of its kind in Russia. The name Passage came from a vast gallery between Nevsky Avenue and Italianskaya Street which provided the main passage through the mall. "Passage" today is not only a part of St.Petersburg's historical heritage, but also a prosperous contemporary business enterprise. More than 10,000 customers visit "Passage" daily. Currently, it is the largest center of boutique trade with an established professional team, traditions and outstanding reputation. Nearby is the newer Grand Palace with rows of Italian and French couture boutiques and an expensive chocolate shop.
Another must-stop on a stroll along Nevsky prospect is Eliseevsky Grocery Store, once an impressive showcase for an ambitious family business. The stunning interior of the store had seen some rough times but fortunately, has been recently restored to its full art-deco magnificence. The store itself offers a huge variety of delicatessen items to suite many tastes. There is a charming coffee-shop located right in the middle of the Store where you can comfortably relax and enjoy actual American-style cup cakes. Other sites to visit or view include Dom Knigy (The House of Books), numerous jewelry stores, fur stores, street art vendors, and a large variety of cafes & restaurants. Your day will surely become an unforgettable experience for you of exploring St. Petersburg's everyday life on your own.
Please note: Walking on this tour is mainly at the guests' discretion during free time. The tour is not available to wheelchair guests and those with mobility concerns are cautioned to carefully evaluate their personal level of stamina and ability. Weather appropriate clothing; sun cap; sunglasses; and flat, comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Photography and video are prohibited in the metro stations and on the metro itself. Your free time on Nevsky Prospect is non-guided and any meals or entrance fees are not included. Guests should be aware that the areas visited on this tour are crowded and guard against possible pick-pocketing.