Tickets, Saint Petersburg
Russia still has a sort of dual-pricing system, according to which foreigners are charged often 3 to 10 times more at theatres, museums or sights than Russian citizens.
This price system is a relic from Soviet times when tickets for Russians were said to be subsidised.
The photo shows the entrance fees at the Church of the Saviour on the Spilled Blood, where foreigners are charged 270 Rubles, whereas Russians only pay 100 Rubles.
Fun Alternatives: If you are with Russian friends then you should let them get the tickets for "local" prices. This procedure seems to be quite common ...
Pay big attention when queueing at the Hermitage. You will likely lose a huge amount of time in this process.
The way I have purchased my tickets was very similar to the way I manage to buy football tickets at a derby match in Romania. That is by pushing big time.
I have attached some photos I have managed to take while visiting the Hermitage.
This queue formed in less than 2 hrs.
Fun Alternatives: Try getting as quickly as possible to the front of the queue. There is havoc at the counters. Most of the people there will be the russians from the guided tours who know very well their way around.
There is no such thing as an order.
Not many people know about it, but the first Thursday of each month is free admission in the Hermitage Museum and associated museums. Here you see the long line in January to get into the museum. The line is clear across Palace Square and takes about 3 hours to get into the museum!
On normal days when you buy a ticket the line is much shorter. If you come about 11 am on a normal day you may have to wait an hour to get in. Go earlier!
Unique Suggestions: The museum opens at 10:30 inthe morning. Go at 10 and get in line.
They limited how many people go at one time because the cloakroom cannot handle too many people at one time.
Fun Alternatives: The Hermitage has many subsidiary museums also free, and no lines or crowds. If you find a long line on the Palace Square to go to the main Hermitage Museum, just cross the square to the General Staff building and see that part of the museum with no crowds.
I am ashamed to say that Mariinskij Theatre officially discriminates by the citizenship. Foreigners are to pay at least triple prices than the locals to watch a famous ballet or an opera. The prices are public and are displayed near the cash box inside the Theatre.
Since there is a belief that one can purchase a 'local' ticket and then pass for a local, many foreigners get into the trap of purchasing tickets from dealers. Even though the price is not exactly a Russian one and with a heavy markup, it is still much cheaper than the price for foreigners.
Inside the Theatre there is a very-very strict face control. Being a frequent theatre goer I have never seen that a foreigner would succeed passing for a local.
The result: embarassment and a loss of money.
To enter the Theatre a foreigner would needs to go to the cash box and pay the difference between the official prices - in roubles.
Note: There are no ATM machines in the lobby.
Bottomline: The loss is a markup on the 'local' price for the ticket.
Unfortunately, even travel agencies sell tickets for 'local' prices + a markup to foreigners.
Unique Suggestions: Avoid buying tickets anywhere except official theatre cash boxes (there are two on Nevskij Avenue, near Gostinuj Dvor metro)
Avoid paying the 'local' price since eventually the ticket will cost you more than the price for a foreigner.
Fun Alternatives: I
Some of our group went to see Giselle at the Hermitage theater. Our group was charged $55 per ticket, someone I know who recently took a cruise there got socked with $135 per ticket.
Fun Alternatives: Tickets are probably even cheaper if you book ahead with the box office or even go directly to the box office and purchase there