St. Petersburg Stories and Tips


The usual sources of tourist information have dire news about public restrooms in Russia. On the whole,
we found the facilities better than we expected.

Some charged a fee, 5-8 rubles (20-30 cents). Many were free. All were clean, but many look shabby.
They ranged from squat toilets* to Austrian quality.**

Be on the lookout for the location of the toilet paper. It was quite common for there to be a single roll for
the entire restroom located somewhere outside the stalls. You have to tear off what you think you will use
and take it into the stalls with you. Error on the generous side. Remember to check– this is not a lesson
you want to learn the hard way, or perhaps I should say, the messy way.

All our a bus tours included restroom stops, ranging across the full gambit of quality per above. If you are
on your own, look to McDonald’s or the lobbies of the better hotels.

The larger tour buses are toilet equipped, but we were not encouraged to use them. At least some were
locked, necessitating a request to the bus driver through the tour guide to open the thing.

Always carry a pocket/purse pack of Kleenex and Immodium.

If you are changing planes at the Frankfurt airport, be sure to visit one of their restrooms and watch what
happens when you flush the toilet– it washes and dries the seat.

WC is widely used as an identifier in the tourist zones. A Russian letter than sort of looks like an X with a
vertical line through the center often is used to mark the ladies room, as is a symbol that looks like an
upside down V (a skirt). In Russian, look desperate and say, "twah-let".

* The stall contains a hole in the floor with two raised footrests on either side. Squat and let loose.
** We have found on our travels that Austria has, on average, the nicest public restrooms of any country.

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