ST. PETERSBURG TRAVEL GUIDE
St. Petersburg is easily the most beautiful city in Russia with the city’s architecture reflecting a seamless amalgamation of Russian and European styles. Even though the youngest of all European cities, St Petersburg has witnessed many tragic events that has shaped the city into being the beauty that it is today. The picturesque canals connecting the city, the neo-classical and baroque style architecture incorporated into the city’s scape can be owed to the renowned European architects who designed this Russian city. With over 200 museums, art festivals, world-class ballet and opera, contemporary galleries and hip eateries, St. Petersburg has enough in store to keep its visitors enthralled and entertained.
We have curated this travel guide to get you all caught up with the best things to do in St. Petersburg and all the places that you must visit while you’re here! But before we jump into the juicy details about all things touristy, let’s address a few important questions –
Best Time to Visit St. Petersburg?
The best time to visit the city would be during the summer which extends from June to August. During this time the weather is pleasant and perfect for exploring the city, taking long walks and enjoying boat rides. On 21st and 22nd June, the night is the shortest and these days are popularly referred to as White Nights by the locals. A number of art festivals, cultural shows and parties go on all night long. This is definitely the peak tourist season when the city receives the maximum footfall. If you prefer to travel when the city is less crowded, we recommend you to visit in September right after the holiday season ends. It is a bit colder but far less crowded!
How big of a budget would you need?
St. Petersburg is relatively cheaper than Moscow, with prices on a similar level to most major European cities when it comes to sightseeing, nightlife and eating out. To save a few more bucks, you can book your stay in hostels. Travelling by the metro is the cheapest option as you have to pay just once to enter, and after that you can spend as much time as you wish and change as many trains as you want without any additional payment. Many of the attractions and tourist places do not have an entry fee, and the ones that do, aren’t too high either. Additionally, you can save a few more pennies by cooking a few of your meals as groceries are very cheap and easily available!
Now that the whens and hows have been answered, let’s get started with the Ultimate St. Petersburg Travel guide.
Must visit places in St. Petersburg-
1. Peter and Paul Fortress
Peter and Paul Fortress is the original citadel of the city which was built in 1703 when the city was founded. The fortress houses many museums such as the Museum of History of the city, the Museum of Cosmonautics and the Medieval Torture Museum, among others. The best part about the fortress is that the entry is free, however, to get to know more about the history and the story about the several museums within the fortress, we recommend taking a guided tour. Another interesting fact about the fortress is that there exists a tradition wherein every day at midday a cannon fires a blank shot!
2. Summer Garden
The summer garden was built by Peter the Great in 1704, when the city was founded. It is a beautiful green oasis set amidst a bustling city. Pack a picnic and head to the garden for a relaxing stroll. The garden also has many marble statues that are quite admirable.
3. The Winter Palace and The Palace Square
The Winter Palace is yet another beautiful landmark for you to admire in St Petersburg. The exterior of the palace is quite a sight to behold, with its perfectly symmetrical design that is painted in a striking combination of green and white. The famous Hermitage museum is situated inside the Winter Palace.
4. The Hermitage Museum
The Hermitage Museum is probably the most famous place in the city and rightly so as it houses one of the most prestigious and largest art collections in the world! It has over 3 million pieces of art and sculptures made by artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Monet and Van Gogh! The Hermitage museum occupies a large complex of six historic buildings which has more than 1,500 rooms! You can easily spend an entire day here learning and admiring the prestigious art collection and its luxurious and grand Russian interiors.
5. Kazan Cathedral
This grand cathedral sits on Nevsky Avenue, which is the city’s main connecting road and also the busiest. As you walk down the path, it is difficult to miss the gargantuan Kazan Cathedral, standing tall and mighty against the clear blue sky. The entry to the cathedral is free, making it all the more necessary to check out and admire the architectural beauty of the grand Kazan Cathedral.
6. The Saviour on the Spilled Blood Cathedral
One of the most iconic structures in the city has to be this vibrant and spectacular looking cathedral on Nevsky Avenue. This cathedral is located right next to a canal and is a short walk away from the Kazan Cathedral. The cathedral has a stunning exterior and an even more spectacular interior! The entire cathedral is decorated with colorful tiles, huge portraits of saints, shimmering chandeliers and intricate designs. The best time to visit the Cathedral would be early in the morning when the place is not thronged by tourists.
7. St. Isaac’s Cathedral
St. Isaac’s Cathedral will have your jaws dropping in awe in no time! The exterior of the cathedral is just as striking as its interior. The large domed ceiling of the cathedral is decorated with colorful and very impressive murals, golden statues of saints and intricate golden carvings and designs! By paying a few extra RUB, you can make your way up to the top to the tower’s balcony where a breathtaking panoramic view of the entire city awaits you!
8. Mariinsky Theatre
If watching ballet and opera performances are your thing or even if it is not, the shows hosted at Mariinsky Theatre are not one to miss! The performances are gripping and will have you fall in love with it in no time. Moreover, the theatre in itself is an architectural marvel with its grand and ornamental interiors and historic exterior which was all constructed in back in 1860! Do book your tickets in advance as you definitely do not want to miss out on watching an opera or ballet show here!
9. Trinity Cathedral
Another one of St. Petersburg’s stunning cathedrals is the Trinity Cathedral which is characterized by its striking blue domes emblazoned with golden stars. A major fire had caused the biggest dome to collapse completely in the year 2006 after which it was restored to look even more striking than it did before! Do visit the Trinity cathedral while you are in the city!
10. Peterhof and Pushkin Palace
Peterhof is a summer palace located a little outside of St. Petersburg. The palace consists of several of palaces, perfectly manicured gardens and the Grand Cascade which has numerous water fountains. This palace is definitely a must visit if you’re in the city during the summer when the fountains are operational.
Outside of summer, we would recommend you to visit the Pushkin Palace which houses the Catherine palace and several beautiful gardens. The place looks simply magical during winter and autumn!
Apart from the above, you can visit the State Russian Museum which houses numerous paintings, take a boat ride through the city’s canals or perhaps even book a night boat tour across the river which will give you an entirely different perspective of the city! St. Petersburg is a city of beauty, culture and history with a dash of modernism. The city offers truly unforgettable experiences to all its visitors! All of these unforgettable experiences that you’ve created deserves to be captured in the best manner possible, and for that we recommend you to hire professional vacation photographers from Travographer. Our photographers are the best at what they do and are locals; hence they'll know all there is to know about the best locations for an incredible photoshoot! So go on and hire one of our photographers to follow you around as you create beautiful memories in this vibrant and fascinating city!