The key to getting on line is so that you can use your helpful travel apps from your phone without Wifi. Data is super cheap in Russia.
Mobile shops require your passport to buy a sim card. Megafon, Beeline MTS are some of the providers. Ask a local where to find a shop as there are many across the city. It is really helpful to be connected and reception is strong throughout the city. I found my reception does dip inside some old stone buildings .
I recommend drawing cash on arrival , use the main Russian bank ATMs Sberebank, its the green one. Find at the airport. Instructions are in English.
The most cash you can draw per transaction is 5000 Rubles , which means not every shop is willing break your 5000 into smaller notes, here metro stations are helpful , or high cash shops. Its very useful having cash on you for Bus/Metro Fares/Tokens , and food, wares on the street. Your Master or Visa Card will work too. I always Google Currency conversion rates before I buy something.
Screenshots of info on your phone is very handy when traveling , especially remembering Bus Numbers and Metro routes and stops. Offline maps are helpful when navigating to for instance the start of our tours. Also advisable to take a screenshot of your Uber Ride ,driver name plates and car make.
Here are 3 essential apps to have on your phone when travelling to Saint Petersburg. (Or anywhere)
First off, get Google Maps which is most useful for getting bus numbers and metro stops under the “directions” function/button. This little trick I learnt while travelling in neighboring Georgia recently, and also useful for navigating to new parts of town. If you have an iphone the native map app I find more useful when typing in place names in Russian “English”
Google translate is super helpful when trying to communicate with regular Russians. Most can speak English but it is typical to have a voice note automated voice conversation when discussing more complicated needs or topics.
Uber does operate in Saint Petersburg and is useful when you need get to obscure places and don’t want to use public transport. It is handy if you’ve had a few drinks and can’t be bothered to face the metro in most cases. Also useful for when public transport is unavailable after 24:00