St. Petersburg might not yet be at the level of Amsterdam or Berlin when it comes to cycling infrastructure, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a ride downtown, in one of the city’s many parks, or even closer to nature, beyond the city’s limits.
Where to get your trusty vehicle
There are two ways that you can approach this question: you can either rent a bike or purchase one. Thankfully, renting is quite an accessible option these days, as the city has many parking areas with light-green SmartBikes readily available as soon as you download the respective app (iOS, Android). There is also the option of season pass, which includes unlimited rides under 30 mins (with every additional minute costing 1 ruble). However, if you want a more convenient bike that can shift gears and is more suitable for rough terrain, you can turn to the city’s rentals.
“At KronBars, we usually partner up with Skate and Snow for ITMO’s Bike Ride with the Rector and I can really recommend them: the bikes are awesome and the service is good. You can find other bike rentals in a special post we made on KronBars VK page,” shares Ekaterina, a social media manager at ITMO’s KronBars Sports Club.
If you were to decide to invest in your own bike, Alexey, a student at the Faculty of Engineering Research, recommends the VeloDrive chain of stores for their accessible prices and a free warranty service. You can also choose to support Shulz, a local foldable bike brand, and purchase one of their stylish, light, and very dorm-friendly bikes (they, too, offer repair services). Another option is to look up used bikes on Avito, the Russian eBay of sorts. This will require some knowledge of Russian (or assistance of your Russian friends), as well as some experience in choosing a good bike.
Where to cycle
If you are only beginning to cycle, Ivan, a Bachelor’s student at the Faculty of Control Systems and Robotics and an experienced cyclist, recommends the designated bike path along the Fontanka River that starts on the Kutuzov Embankment. Not only does it go through most of the city’s center, covering some of the most picturesque spots, it can also be part of your daily commute to ITMO’s Lomonosova campus. By the way, you will find convenient bike parkings near all campuses. Ivan also adds that you should be mindful of water drainage and curbs if you choose to cycle on sidewalks.
Ekaterina shares her favorite route to avoid the summer crowds:
“In the summer, one of the best times to cycle is evening or late evening: there are not so many people and you get to ride through the entire city center, soaking in the views. As a bonus, you can stay around to do some bridge watching and complete your St. Pete summer must-dos. During the day, Krestovsky Island and its Primorsky Victory Park in particular are the best places to enjoy a comfortable ride.”
Apart from Primorsky Victory Park, which also boasts a designated bike path, you can opt for Yelagin Island, Sosnovka Park, or the 300th Anniversary Park to replace the cityscape with a view of nature instead. Finally, to take it up a notch, Alexey shares his secret tip for proficient cyclists:
“For my atmospheric bike rides, I prefer going out of the city to Vyborg or Roschino. There, I love cycling down forest paths, surrounded by peaceful nature. You need to be cautious and rather skillful on the bike for that, so you can also opt for Vyborg’s Monrepos Park – it is quite picturesque, too, and the entrance is free in every season except summer.”
Mending a broken bike
Just as any other vehicle, bikes require care and somewhat regular maintenance. Here is a list of places you can turn to, generously recommended by Ivan and Alexey:
- Birota has any parts you need but can be a bit pricey. The store also has its own professional service center, as well as a list of other approved service locations on their website.
- VeloDrive tends to have lower prices and also offers repair and storage services.
- Bike78.ru, located near ITMO’s dorm on Lensoveta St., is a personal favorite of Alexey for their good-quality services at a keen price.
We hope you enjoy your biking adventures in the city and beyond!
If you are looking to pick up more sports in the summer, check out our article on summer outdoor activities in St. Petersburg. And you can always find more fun ideas for things to do in the city in our Explore St. Petersburg tab.