St Petersburg Wheelchair Accessibility Guide
Travel can be hard work, especially in an unfamiliar place such as Russia. Naturally, exploring St.Petersburg can become a frustrating duty, especially if you or any of your family have a disability.
In this article, you will find essential information about most popular museums, sights, and public transport, as well as our Index of Accessible Museums.
Considering a Wheelchair-Friendly Tour in St.Petersburg? Check out our Custom Private Accessible Tour!
Is St. Petersburg Wheelchair Accessible?
It is not a secret that Russia is not the most wheelchair accessible country in the world. The main reason for the lack of elevators in St. Petersburg is that most of the museums are more than 200 years old. Buildings themselves are protected for their architectural and historical heritage, and are forbidden from being altered.
Not all museums and venues are wheelchair-friendly, which means it’s vital to plan ahead.
Generally, if your party needs wheelchair accommodations, you should consider booking a private wheelchair-friendly tour so that your needs and pace might be better accounted for.
Going on a group tour, especially during the Summer tourist season may lead to unnecessary stress due to the crowds. Furthermore, some of the museums visited in general group tours are unfit for wheelchairs, EPW, and scooters.
Which Sights and Museums in St. Petersburg are Wheelchair-Accessible?
If you are traveling to St Petersburg and do not wish to go on an organized tour, we recommend you first check which museums would create obstacles for touring, and which venues are available for Wheelchair-Friendly Tours.
For your convenience, we have compiled a color-coded list the most and the least accessible attractions of St. Petersburg with some details you should know before you go.
Marked in green: Those venues that are independently wheelchair accessible. “Green Sights” will not need you to call for staff assistant to either open the gate, unlock something, or operate a machine.
Marked in yellow: Those museums that are wheelchair accessible, but would require you to call for staff assistance or communicate your needs with a museum worker, are
Marked in red: Museums that are not wheelchair accessible.
The most wheelchair accessible attractions
Peterhoff Fountain Park has two big ramps bringing tourists to the base of the main fountain. Expect to have a short bumpy ride (5 min) on the cobblestones before getting to the ramp. Besides those two ramps the park is completely flat.
Church on The Spilled Blood is easily accessible by the small ramp, no obstacles inside. This is our favorite Museum, and we include it on each of our Group and Private Tours!
Peter and Paul’s Fortress is a flat space with sightseeing points easily accessible. However, fortress’ grounds are laid with cobblestones. So expect an about 30 minute bumpy ride, depending on what things you would like to see on its territory.
Peter and Paul’s Cathedral is located at the center of the fortress. So getting there would involve a bumpy ride across the cobblestone Fortress’ square. The cathedral itself has a small ramp to help you get through the steps by the entrance.
Faberge Museum has an elevator and is wheelchair accessible. Furthermore, the staff is very nice and helpful! All staff members speak English, so if you need anything, they would be happy to assist you.
Wheelchair accessible places in St Petersburg which require assistance
St. Isaac’s Cathedral is easily accessible by the ramp. However, in order to use it, you will need a Russian-speaking friend to find a staff member that would unlock the ramp’s gates. Otherwise, you would get stuck halfway out. There are no obstacles inside the cathedral though, the floor is completely flat.
The Hermitage Museum has 3 easily accessible elevators that would take you to the main exhibition and back. Also, it has special electrically-operated ramps that you will need to use in some halls. In order to use those ramps, you would need to call a special phone number. This way a staff member will arrive to operate the ramp for you. Electric Ramps can’t be used without a staff member! You would need a Russian speaking friend to summon help.
Catherine’s Palace has only one elevator which is out of sight and is away from the entrance. This means that you will need assistance to get to where the elevator is located. However, it is not crucial that you don’t speak Russian. With some patience and explaining things on hands you will be able to make it on your own. Expect to spend about 20 minutes (from the moment you get into the building) to get to the elevator, operate it, and get to the exposition rooms. Also, large crowds in Catherine’s Palace can make it difficult to get around.
Mikhailovskiy Theater is a wheelchair accessible venue, but you will need a little assistance from a friend or staff member. The theater’s staff is very nice, so don’t worry about having to ask for help.
Museums and Palaces that are not wheelchair-friendly
Peter and Paul’s Bastion Prison is not wheelchair accessible.
The Hermitage Cloak Room is not wheelchair accessible. There is a set of very small but really steep steps, with no ramp. If you have a thick winter jacket or a huge backpack, make sure to have a friend take care of it before getting into the line to enter the exposition.
Pavlovsk Palace is not accessible, there are no ramps or elevators.
Peterhoff Grand Palace is not wheelchair accessible, there are no ramps or elevators.
Public Transportation in a Wheelchair
The St. Petersburg Metro is not wheelchair accessible, none of the stations have elevators. Many stations have ramps, but those ramps generally don’t fit wheelchairs.
Public Transport, Buses, Trolleys, Trams are mostly wheelchair-inaccessible . However, some of the buses have small wheelchair signs on them. Which means that they are wheelchair-friendly, so look out for a wheelchair logo by the doors.
Please be aware that there aren’t automatic ramps in the buses. Usually, a driver gets out of the bus, uses a special tool to pull out a ramp, and waits for a wheelchair passenger to get on. After that he folds the ramp, and returns to his seat.
So before you arrive to your stop, you will need to call a conductor, or get to the driver to explain that you will be getting off soon. Obviously, it can turn out to be quite a hassle, so if you have a Russian-Speaking friend, bribe them with a slice of cake, and take them with you. (P.S. Russians love cakes and pastries!)
The Streets and Stores of St. Petersburg can be challenging for a person in a wheelchair, EPW, or a scooter. Though nowadays most of the stores and restaurants have ramps, some places that can’t provide ramps. Such places have special “accessible call” buttons or “accessible phone number” written next to it.
So basically, if you need help, you call this number or press the button, and staff member would come out and help you out with getting in or out. Having a Russian-speaking friend accompany you would be very useful too. (Use the cake bribe again!)
Don’t expect to see automatic doors or sliding doors in St. Petersburg. You won’t find them anywhere except for fancy hotels or boutiques.
Wheelchair-Friendly Tours and Accessible Shore Excursions in St. Petersburg
When getting around St.Petersburg on a wheelchair you will very likely need a private vehicle to get to the various museums. If you book a Private Tour with Experience Russia, we will provide you with a special wheelchair-accommodating van, which would allow you and your friends to enjoy St Petersburg’s beauty stress-free.
Experience Russia’s Private Tours are 100% Wheelchair-Friendly, upon request. If you are interested in a Wheelchair-Friendly tour, please contact Experience Russia and we will be more than happy to customize an unforgettable stress-free experience for you and your friends!
Contact us about a Customized Private Tour and let us know what type of Mobility Equipment you use and your tour preferences. We will get back to you with an itinerary to consider. With one of our Fully-Licensed guides and a wheelchair-accommodating van, You won’t have to worry about a thing!