St. Petersburg was my favourite city in Russia. The streets were lined with spectacular renaissance style buildings in every colour you could think of! I’m a bit of a history buff and so to step back in time where the Tsar’s of old lived was a bit of a nerd-tastic experience for me. I loved walking around and seeing the history speak through in the palaces, churches and beautiful gardens.
If you’re staying in Moscow and are debating to visit – I’d say it’s worth the four hour journey via Sapsan here.
You cannot miss it!
Here were my top 10 experiences to ensure you make the most of it;
- Cathedral of the Saviour of Spilled Blood
This was the main inspiration for my visit. Not only does it have the coolest name for a church, it’s just such an incredible building. Although similar to St. Basil’s in Moscow with it’s Orthodox design, it has a personality of it’s own and unique spires which are eye catching. If you think the outside looks good, the interior is jaw dropping. All the Christian murals which are inside were made with tile ceramics and each one was hand painted! Must of taken an age and now is a timeless masterpiece. Entrance is around £5 and is worth every penny!
2. The Hermitage Museum
Another amazing building which is one of the oldest and largest museums in the world. It is also home to the Winter Palace and was founded by Catherine the Great in 1764 and opened to the public in 1852.
The buildings and rooms are any magpies delight as they’re full of gold and chandeliers. You can quite literally spend a whole day there musing at the many portraits on the walls.
It is the number one attraction on TripAdvisor and in true holiday fashion, it comes with a lot of tourists and big tour groups so get there early to avoid the crowds!
3. A boat ride on the canals and waterways
No trip to St. Petersburg is complete without a trip down the waterways. After all it is the Venice of the North. Your boat will take you past all the attractions, churches and buildings in the city. Then, you will emerge into the main harbour and into the ocean. Make sure you wrap up though, it can get chilly!
There are countless tour guides which offer you this dotted around the city and are around £6-£10 depending on the service you would like. Some tours only run one English tour a day so its worth checking when this is. But, if you don’t mind listening to Russian as you tour around tours run all day well into the evening!
4. Afternoon Tea at Eliseyevs Emporium
There’s nothing better than an afternoon spent in Eliseyev’s. The Emporium is the perfect afternoon respite and they sell the most luxurious cakes that I have ever seen, gold decoration included!
You can read my full review of the Emporium and what treats are in store for you here.
5. Shopping down Nevsky Prospect
You really cannot miss Nevsky if you’re visiting St. Petersburg. It’s the longest road and leads you directly to most of the main attractions. Plus, it’s a great place to take a stroll, eat and shop!
You will find a wealth of cafes, restaurants and souvenir shops down this road.
I found that there were the coolest little market stalls in the subways as you walked under the roads, they had some great souvenirs at cheap and negotiable prices.
6. Stroganoff at Cafe Palkin
You may have eaten at the famous Cafe Pushkin in Moscow, but I found Cafe Palkin in St. Petes trumped it in every regard. On entering, you will be immersed in true Russian Imperial luxury for the evening and your servers will do everything they can to make sure you have a five star dining experience. They have lots of amazing treats on the menu and will showcase their culinary skills before your eyes.
One of their trademark party tricks is to show you “Russian winter” and set off dry ice in between courses. It’s really quite spectacular and makes the whole experience just that bit more special.
Being a chocolate fiend, I also opted for the exploding sphere of chocolate pudding. It came on my plate as a chocolate ball and as the waiter poured hot chocolate over it, it melted before my eyes!
It may be on the pricey side but it’s well worth splashing out on Palkin’s for the evening if you have the roubles to spare.
7. Sip on White Russians at Rock Pub
Rock Pub is on the main strip and has Freddy Mercury waiting outside to greet you. Similar to the US franchise of Hard Rock Cafe, this Rock Pub is an independent bar which has just as much style. You’ll find cocktails for a fraction of the price and rock and roll plays all night. I would highly recommend the Rock Rocket cocktail which pretty much has all of the spirits behind the bar chucked in a glass and then topped with Champagne. Warning: you may be a little tipsy when you leave!
8. Marvel at the Faberge Eggs
Russia is famous for Faberge eggs and if you were curious to see some of the best, I would check out the museum as it houses the largest collection in the world! I love the intricate unique designs, the colours and the gold!
The museum itself is stunning as you walk around so make sure you take your camera as it’s Instagram gold.
9. Peterhoff and Catherine Palace
I didn’t get the chance to visit either of these wonderful palaces as I had such a short time, but I was envious of those that could. They are around 2 hours out of the city so if you do have some spare time when you’re in St. Petersburg make sure you go to see one. St. Peter supposedly based Peterhoff on Paris’ Versailles with its beautiful gardens and fountain. So, you can only imagine what it’s like inside.
10. Exploring after sunset
I loved exploring St. Petersburg after sundown, it’s probably my favourite time to explore most cities. The sky changes colour and the buildings do too. The Cathedral looked especially wonderful at this time of day and I just had to go back and take (even more) pictures of it – I could never get enough!
Do you have any extra tips for travellers heading to St. Petersburg? Share below!