Updated: Jun 15
Thanks to its distinctive architecture, one of the most unique places has to be Saint Petersburg, a city located on the occidental side of the biggest country in the world, Russia. It is the second-largest city in the country and has played a significant role in Russian history since its foundation in 1703. In today’s article, I’m going to walk you through the best things to do while you’re there and how to do them. With churches, palaces, and museums, this city seems to have it all, and let me tell you something, every single place you’ll go will take your breath away. Saint Petersburg is one of the most fascinating cities in the whole world; culture, architecture, and food are a few things this city has to offer.
However, Russia is not one of the most touristic places among western tourists due to different prejudices created throughout history. So the first thing you need to know is that Russia, in general, is very safe. The crime rate is very low, so be sure to throw this prejudice away, to enjoy your time to the fullest. Another essential thing to note is that compared to other European cities, St. Petersburg is actually very cheap in lodging, transport, and food, making it an ideal destination overall.
1. The Church of the Savior of Spilled Blood
This is probably St. Petersburg’s most iconic landmark, the church that will appear every time you search for images of this beautiful city. The church is barely 100 years old and still, the infrastructure is magnificent inside and out. This is also the spot where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated in 1881. The church is a museum now; you can book your tickets or buy them while you’re there; however, you must consider that women must cover their hair out of respect for the cathedral when entering the premises. I thoroughly recommend visiting this site to admire the beautiful mosaics you will find inside.
2. Hermitage Museum
Probably my personal favorite building in the whole city (although it’s hard to pick just one), this museum is one of the oldest museums in the world; comparable in content and size to the Louvre Museum. Located inside Catherine the Great’s winter palace, it has more than 1500 rooms with artwork from Da Vinci, Monet, furniture from the Russian Empire’s imperial times, and ancient Scythian gold. Make sure to set aside a fair amount of time to visit this museum because it deserves careful attention since it’s relatively easy to get lost inside. Still, the Hermitage museum will most likely leave you speechless with its grandness.
3. Raising Bridges
Probably the first thing I did when I arrived was to watch the opening and closing of the bridge located in the Neva river for the big boats to pass by. You can observe them from a boat tour or safe on land; either way, it is quite an interesting spectacle to watch.
4. Walk through the city
Although public transport and even private transportation are cheap, I would advise you to take the time and walk the streets of this charming city, especially during the day where you can appreciate the landmarks even more. A must-do is Nevsky Prospek, the main street in St. Petersburg; while you walk down this famous avenue, you will find yourself surrounded by many restaurants and cafes to have a snack or a proper meal. The Winter Palace and Saint Isaac’s Cathedral are an architectural marvel worth seeing on this avenue. Given that St.Petersburg is a canal city, there are also various canal tours to enjoy. Furthermore, the Yeliseev Emporium is the perfect stop for all the foodies because it contains a wide variety of souvenirs and Russian candy that you must try. There is also a cafe inside that you can go to have a little break from walking while visiting the most opulent food store in the city.