St. Petersburg Travel Guide: 7 Must-Do Experiences
Saint Petersburg is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful places in Russia. Due to its grand architecture, many people, both travelers and locals, love winding canals, romantic white nights and rich culture, the city.
If you’re planning to visit Saint Petersburg sometime soon, this article is just for you! Take some time to read it and make your trip better with our recommendations!
Start off on the right foot with a free walking tour
Do you know that Peter the Great who constructed Saint Petersburg in 1703 called it the “Window to Europe”? Well, that name is still true.
Compared to many other Russian cities, St. Petersburg is very foreigner-friendly and easy to navigate for a stranger. They usually have signs on the streets and menus in restaurants in English and you’ll probably find someone speaking English in many tourist spots too.
Credit: Carlo Mirante
However, getting around might still be hard at some point. That is why our first recommendation would be joining a free walking tour.
As the tour takes at least 2 hours, you’ll cover a lot of ground with it, which means discovering many great places, including both well-known Saint Petersburg attractions and something off the beaten track. Besides, you’ll get a little bit more familiar with the city itself, which will help you to navigate it afterwards.
Apart from that, you can ask your guide about every little thing you need! Want to know how the public transport works and which card better suits your needs? Interested in ballet but don’t know where to go for the best performance? Looking for a nice dinner place? Just ask your guide and make your trip easier!
Trust us, this kind of tours can be extremely helpful! In addition, they do not cost a lot as you don’t pay anything in advance and just tip your guide if a tour is good.
Spend the whole day in the Hermitage
No one would argue that a visit to the Hermitage tops the list of the things to do in Saint Petersburg. This world-famous museum contains masterpieces of such great artists as Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Picasso, Renoir, Monet and many more!
Free the whole day to spend in the museum and prepare yourself for the fact that even that won’t be enough! As experts claim, you would need no less than 11 years to examine every single collection and artwork presented in the Hermitage!
Credit: Collin Jackson
By the way, the museum offers free admission on the first Thursday of each month and on December 7. Therefore, if you’re lucky enough, you can visit for free!
Discover the best of Russian art
While our St. Petersburg travel guide would be incomplete without the recommendation to visit the Hermitage, we can’t ignore the State Russian Museum either. Therefore, after enjoying the masterpieces of world art, take some time to get acquainted with the works of Russian artists.
The Russian museum contains paintings of Karl Brullov, Ivan Aivazovsky, Ilya Repin, Kasimir Malevich and many others. If you’re into art or just want to know more about the country you’re visiting and its homegrown talents, the State Museum is a must!
Enjoy beautiful architecture of the city
The architecture of Saint Petersburg is one of the proofs that the city deserves to be called the “Window to Europe”. Striving to build the city that would strengthen Russia’s connection with the West, Peter the Great hired some of the European architects so St. Petersburg would be designed in a European manner.
That explains why we can find so many architectural styles here: from iconic baroque buildings to elegant neoclassical structures. Clearly, there are some examples of Stalinist and soviet architecture too.
While walking through the city streets, don’t miss such majestic buildings as Saint Isaac’s Cathedral, Peter and Paul Fortress, Church on Spilled Blood, the Winter Palace and Singer House.
Walk alone one of the most famous streets in Russia
When already tired of art and sightseeing, go to Nevsky Prospekt, the main avenue of St. Petersburg and one of the best-known streets in the whole country.
In addition to beautiful squares, bridges and countless iconic buildings, the street is full of high-quality cafes, restaurants and nightclubs. Actually, Nevsky Prospekt is the very center of the city’s nightlife and entertainment. It is also the most popular shopping street in Saint Petersburg.
Try local restaurants
Do you know what the difference between a traveler and a tourist is? From our point of view, that is an intention to immerse yourself in the local culture.That is why the next part of our St. Petersburg travel guide is some real Russian food!
Even though Russian cuisine doesn’t belong to the world’s most popular ones, you can’t leave St. Petersburg without tasting Pelmeni, thin pancakes known as Bliny or a well-known Russian cabbage soup called Borsht.
Give a try to Russian drinks too! For example, kvass, which is a non-alcoholic fermented beverage, can be very good!
Don’t forget about after dark activities!
Saint Petersburg is famous for its intense nightlife and all manner of evening entertainments, so going to bed early would be nothing else than a crime! Let’s see what you can do instead.
To start with, one of the well-known symbols of Russia is ballet, and St. Petersburg has one of the best ballet halls in the country (if not the best one)! That is the Mariinsky Theatre located very close to Nevsky Prospekt.
Book a ticket to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake or give a try to opera and check out Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin. If you’re into this kind of entertainments, you’ll fall in love with the Mariinsky Theatre’s performances as they’re usually very good.
Apart from that, we would recommend visiting one of St. Petersburg’s nightclubs. Some of them are unique. Griboedov dance club, for instance, is nothing else than a renovated Soviet-era bunker. Sounds very special, doesn’t it?
Finally, if you’d like to try traditional Russian vodka together with some national snacks, there is a nice place called Russian Vodka Room No. 1. It’s basically half a vodka museum and half a restaurant.
This recommendation concludes our St. Petersburg travel guide and all that remains is to wish you the best of luck! Have a memorable trip and stay with us for more travel articles!