24 Hours in St Petersburg to spare?
St.Petersburg, the second largest city in Russia like any other big city has a lot to offer to its visitors and with visitor amounts expecting to quadruple over the next few years with Visa relaxation. The city has so many activities and attractions that it can get quite complicated to make a decision and choose the best and the most suitable for you things to do in St Petersburg whilst visiting this fantastic city especially if you only have a few days to spare. In this blog post, we tried to combine the must-do things and the funky activities to keep a balance between traditional sightseeing and having fun without being stressed and running around the city trying to tick off all the things from your bucket list. If you are are in the city for just a few days our “Top 10 things to do” should be enough to give you a real insight into this wonderful city.
10 Must-do things to do in St.Petersburg
#1 Dive Into Art
St Petersburg is famed for its museums with two of the most famous in the world any visit to St Petersburg must include a visit to The State Hermitage Museum and the State Russian Museum. The State Hermitage is one of the worlds best known museums where you can see masterpieces of the world’s best artists, the second is all about Russian art from early Orthodox icons to the famous squares of Malevich. The Hermitage is one of the largest museums in the world and it’s a must-visit place even if you have only a couple of hours to basically run around it. as it would take a few years to walk around and discover everything, the museum is located in Palace Square in a fantastic building You can do skip the line tour in the Hermitage museum that includes quick admission and a knowledgeable licenced guide to ensure you get the maximum out of your visit.
#2 Take a boat ride through the canals
St Petersburg is often referred to as the “Venice of the North” And it is easy to understand why! With so many canals criss crossing the city Fontanka, Moika, the Griboedov canal are popular canals to see the city whilst cruising down the canal. For a night boat ride take one of the boats at Neva river embankment to see the opening of the bridges from the water and to go under them. Boat trips average 500-1000 Roubles for a couple of hours. If you’re looking for something more upmarket it is easy enough to book a private VIP boat trip in St Petersburg , whatever you decide taking a boat trip in this fantastic city is a Must!
#3 Admire beautiful cathedrals and churches
Your In St Petersburg , one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, how can you not visit one or several Cathedrals ? Definitely take an inside look at St.Isaac’s cathedral the biggest Orthodox cathedral in the world, it’s simply stunning and a visit to the roof of the Cathedral is a must for probably the best birds eye view of the city it is a long way up so get ready for some exercise The Church of the Savior on Spilled Bloodis tourists’ favorite place, often during the summer months there will be long lines waiting for tickets, if you can buy in advance. Kazan Cathedral is also a must, entrance is free and inside really is spectacular , you are allowed to take some photos inside so you will be sure to have some great memories of St Petersburg.
#4 Watch the opening of the bridges during the evening
If you’re looking for an amazing late evening during the summer months it is highly recommended to watch the bridges raise along the River Neva Nowadays there are 21 drawbridges in St.Petersburg. You can see the opening from a boat (there are many boat tours at night) or from the embankment, the best bridge to watch is The Palace Bridge and its opening with music and lights. It gets opened every night at 1.10am. Taking a boat trip and watching the bridges raise from the river is a truly great experience , some time there will be over 100 boats on the river all waiting for the main bridge to go up, after which their horns will be hooting, tourists will be clapping , music playing as the boats continue up the river. A must see and one of the best things to do in St Petersburg.
#5 Stroll around the Peter and Paul Fortress
The first building in St.Petersburg, the original citadel Fortress, where 318 years ago St Petersburg began the fortress was built originally to keep the Swedish out from their invasions.. Inside the fortress, there are several museums from the Museum of the history of St.Petersburg to the Museum of Cosmonautics and Rocket Technology. The highlight of the fortress is Peter and Paul Cathedral, a stunning Baroque building with a golden spire, 123m height, crowned with a cross and an angel. The angel of the cathedral is the main symbol of St.Petersburg. The best time to visit the Peter and Paul fortress is during the summer months , during this period the area is usually very busy with tourists street musicians will be playing music with stalls lined along some streets selling tourist souvenirs., a great atmosphere and a great place to spend a few hours whilst in St Petersburg.
#6 Watch a Russian ballet or opera performance
You cannot visit Russia without going to the ballet? If you’re not a big ballet fan you can choose an opera or a concert. There are several theaters in Saint Petersburg, two main to watch a ballet and an opera are the Mariinsky Theater and the Mikhailovsky Theater. Many visitors to St Petersburg simply would never dream of visiting the city without at least going to a Ballet or theatre at least one time, Russia is renowned throughout the world for its ballet and theatres and it really would be hard to miss an opportunity to attend a performance.
#7 Go underground to one of the deepest metros and most beautiful in the world
St Petersburg metro is a must-see when visiting the city the metro system is cheap easy to use visitor friendly and information is also in English making it very easy to navigate. many stations look like underground palaces with marble columns, sculptures, wall paintings, and mosaic panels in fact it is hard to figure out some times if your in a Metro station or a museum. The most beautiful stations of St.Petersburg metro; Admiralteyskaya, Avtovo, Buharestskaya, Mezhdunarodnaya, Obvodny Kanal, Spasskaya, Zvenigorodskaya, The best stations can be found on the red line often referred to as the number 1 line.
You can join a 2-hour guided metro tour and get to know some facts and legends about St.Petersburg metro system.
#8 Visit a royal suburb
Have you ever fancied spending a day in a Royal Suburb? There are two main ones in St Petersburg they are Peterhof and Tsarskoe Selo both can be visited as a day trip from St.Petersburg, if you do a tour you can even fit both in one day though it is recommended to spend the day in each suburb . Peterhof park with its fountains is probably the most popular and well known Royal suburb and probably needs a full day to see all the interesting things. The best time to visit Peterhof is during the summer when the fountains are on and the Hydrofoil is operating. The next most popular Royal suburb is Catherine Palace in Tsarskoye Selo which is very impressive especially during the summer months. The famous Amber room and the Grand Hall with hundreds of mirrors and windows are popular with tourists. many tour operators offer day trips to Catherine Palace.
#9 Explore St Petersburg on foot
St Petersburg is a huge city but the good news is most of the major sites of interest are in the centre and all within walking distance of each other so doing a walking tour of St Petersburg is very easy. You can do it during a day as a part of sightseeing stopping for photos and visiting museums and cathedrals. The most popular walking route leads you past almost all main city attractions. A great way to see the city is an evening walk along the embankment at 2 am you’ll see thousands of people; tourists, locals, adults and children along the embankment watching bridge opening, drinking coffee from mobile coffee shops the atmosphere is great especially during the warm summer evenings. If you are feeling energetic you can always take a bike tour of St Petersburg for 3/4 hours. There are many activities in St Petersburg too look out for.
#10 Enjoy the peace and quiet of the city gardens
One of the best gardens in St Petersburg is the Summer gardens which is situated in the centre, recently restored according to the original projects of the XVIII century. A regular garden with copies of Greek sculptures, fountains and flower beds. If you want to relax in the summer then the Summer garden is a great place to just sit down and watch the people. The Summer Gardens do tend to get busy during the warm summer months. Entrance into the gardens is free. If you are looking for a slightly quieter place you could try the Mikhailovsky Garden, located next to the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood. A beautiful garden with many flower beds and a small pond is an ideal place to just sit and watch the world go past.
This top ten list is really just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much to see and do in St Petersburg, you will never have a dull moment. And all the while, the atmosphere will envelope you and have you feeling like you’ve arrived in some magical fairytale land! I hope St Petersburg is at the top of your list of places to visit! I certainly would recommend a Walking tour In St Petersburg.