A customary picture of empty evening streets of European towns is not typical for Russian cities, especially for Moscow and St. Petersburg. Opening hours of shops, cinemas, entertainment centers, eateries spread long after 18.00 and even 20.00. As well some Russian holidays tend to last up to 10 days which may surprise you during your visit.
Shopping Hours In St. Petersburg
It’s not a problem to buy a vacuum cleaner in St. Petersburg at midnight. Really, we can even send you an address of a shop by e-mail in case you need it. Neither exist difficulties in purchasing other items. Well, we are not sure you’ll be able to buy a piano at that time (though we didn’t try, maybe it is possible), but food, coffee, flowers, medicines (at an ordinary pharmacy, not duty one) – welcome. In most cases, you just need walk a few hundred meters to the nearest shop.
In Russia, there is almost no difference in schedules between workdays and weekends. You’d struggle to find a shop that’s open on Monday-Friday, but closed on Saturday and Sunday. The reasons are that weekends are the most popular shopping time in Russia as well as rather liberal labor legislation.
Shopping centers, malls normally open Mo — Su 10.00 – 22.00, sometimes till 23.00
Food supermarkets usually work till 22.00, smaller shops are often open 24 hours.
Pharmacies are open 10.00 – 20.00 or in a day-and-night mode.
Entertainments: Rocking Through The Night
Cinemas show movies after the midnight even on workdays. In the summer some cinemas can work throughout the night.
Clubs, discos are ready to entertain you until 06.00, bars tend to be open till 01.00\02.00 on workdays and till the morning on weekends.
Working hours of museums are 10.00 – 18.00, depending on an establishment, of course. Museums prefer to work on weekends and be off on Mondays or Tuesdays.
Read our post about 23 entertainments which you can enjoy without the knowledge of Russian language here.
Eateries: Dinner At Any Time
Fast food chains usually open their doors at 10.00 and close at 20.00 or 22.00, many in the city center work around the clock. Restaurants and cafés provide dishes throughout the day without breaks as is the case in some countries. Normal time for restaurants is 12.00 – 00.00, rarer till 01.00 and 02.00.
Services And Transport
In Russia, most services operate without breaks for “siesta” or something like that. Exclusions are state services such as post-office.
Services normally work 10.00 – 20.00. Banks as in general open at 09.00\10.00 until 20.00, some currency exchanges, especially in the city center, operate 24 hours. Public transport as well as private auto transportation passenger companies (“marshrutkas”) starts operating at 06.00 and finishes at 00.00. Railway stations open usually 24 hours with all services running, the same situation with airport Pulkovo.
Post-offices open at 08.00 and close at 20.00 with a break 14.00 – 15.00. On Saturdays the offices work between from 09.00 till 18.00 with a break and Sunday is a day-off. In case of need to send a postcard to mama to Indonesia or Creta, visit the central post-office that’s operating round the clock. Its location is Pochtamtskaya street, 9A.
Public Holidays In Russia
What’s common for all below-listed holidays: they all are days off. Banks, post-offices and government establishments are closed, shops and entertainment facilities are open.
January 1. New Year’s Eve and New Year holidays
The biggest holidays in Russia, including Orthodox Christmas (January, 7). They last from 1 January to normally 10-11 January. Yes, all the days within this period are days off. For example, in 2016 the first business day was January, 11. Many Russians travel abroad or across Russia. Most shops and services work throughout the holidays with 1 January (rarer 1st and 2nd) being a day off. January, 3 is the day when almost all establishments are operating. Exclusions are banks that prefer close their offices for the whole holidays or work only on a few special days. Post-offices are also mainly closed. Entertainments start operating on 1 January.
December, 31 is officially a workday, but in the reality only few people work or study.
February 23. The Defender of the Fatherland Day, aka The Day of Army and Navy
Often referred to as the men’s day, though officially is dedicated to all those who is serving or served in army and navy, including women.
March 8. International Women’s Day
A day when flower traders earn as much as during the rest of the year. Long queues to flower outlets.
Long holidays in early May.
These holidays are made up of two parts: first is May, 1 and “neighboring” days and the second is May, 9, The Great Victory’s Day.
May, 1. Spring and Labor Day
A remake of the International Labor Day, widely celebrated in the Soviet times. Now for most population it’s just an ordinary day off. As in general, 1 May comes on weekends or near weekends and for that reason the government tends to pack these days with 3 and 4 May into one long holiday period.
May 9. The Victory’s Day
The most important day for the nation. While the New Year’s Eve is the biggest, this one is the most moving, touching days. On that day in 1945, the fascist Germany led by Hitler signed the full capitulation act in the World War II won by a group of allies led by USSR. WWII is the biggest phenomena for Russia in the XXth century with almost every family concerned. It’s the day to honor veterans and all killed heroes, time for great military parades in Moscow, Petersburg and other cities. May, 9 usually comes on weekend or near the weekend, for that reason it’s usually united with neighboring days into a rather long holiday period.
Thus the nation gets very long holidays in early May splitted into two periods. For example, for 2015 it was: 1-4 May and 9-11 with 5, 6, 7 and 8 as workdays.
June 12. The Independence Day
In 1990, on this day The Russia’s Independence Declaration was approved. It did not really mean that the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic immediately became independent on the Soviet Union (it became only year and a half later), but the level of sovereignty increased. Though it’s a day off, Russians do not celebrate it widely and usually do not congratulate each other with on it since for the most part of people it’s not a very big event.
November 4. The National Unity Day
In the Soviet times as well as in the 90s the nation celebrated November 7, the Great October Socialist Revolution Day (Russian Revolution). But the new times required new heroes and new events to honor them. In early 2000s, the government chose 4th of November, a controversial date, as a day when Russian militia fought back against the Polish invaders.
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