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Only have 24 hours in St. Petersburg? No sweat. Here’s the best way to see St Petersburg in one day without missing any of the top attractions!
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’s the perfect way to see St Petersburg in one day.
1. 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, but it’s also such an incredible building.
Although similar to St. Basil’s in Moscow with its Orthodox design, it has a personality of its 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!
This must have taken an age and now is a timeless masterpiece. The entrance is £5 and is worth every penny!
2. The Hermitage Museum
The Hermitage is another amazing building in St Petersberg and 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. It opened to the public as a tourist attraction 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. In true holiday fashion, it comes with a lot of tourists and big tour groups. So, get here early to avoid 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 top attractions, churches, and buildings in the city. Then, you will emerge into the main harbour and into the ocean.
Make sure you wrap up warm though, it can get chilly!
There are countless tour guides that offer boat rides and cost around £6-£10. This all depends on the service you would like.
Some tours only run one English tour a day so it’s worth checking when this is.
But, if you don’t mind listening to Russian, you can take a tour at any time of day!
4. Afternoon Tea at Eliseyev 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 in the city 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. Petersburg trumped it in every regard.
On entering, you will be immersed in true Russian Imperial luxury for the evening.
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 orb 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 Cafe Palkin 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 of St Petersberg and has Freddy Mercury waiting outside to greet you.
Similar to the US franchise of Hard Rock Cafe, Rock Pub is an independent bar that 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. If you were curious to see some of the best – I would check out the Faberge Egg museum.
It houses the largest collection in the world!
I love the intricate and unique designs. I’m obsessed with all the colours and the gold!
The museum itself is stunning as you walk around so make sure you take your camera.
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 the Palais Versailles in Paris with its beautiful gardens and fountain. So, you can only imagine what it’s like inside.
10. Exploring the city 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!
Heading to Russia? See my related posts!
Top tips for securing a Russian tourist visa
How to travel to Moscow by train
The top attractions to visit in Moscow
Saturday 30th of November 2019
Just found out your blog and I loved it! Great posts and photos. Going to Russia next year : )
Saturday 7th of December 2019
Hi Malu, thanks so much for your comment! I loved Russia and I'm sure you're going to have an epic time. Sophie x
Thursday 22nd of March 2018
Just wondering if it costs too much to visit Europe(west)! My friends and I were having a talk regarding a Trip to europe.
Thursday 22nd of March 2018
It’s very expensive compared to India so I’d decide the amount of time you want to spend and price it up. Check on booking.com for hostel prices! But you can do it on a budget by buying food from supermarkets, couch surfing or hostels, camping etc! ????
George, St Petersburg Russia tour guide
Friday 2nd of March 2018
Thank you for such wonderful words about my city! Come to us again! Come as often as you can :) Photos are beautiful.
Friday 2nd of March 2018
Thanks for your wonderful feedback! I fell in love with St. Petersburg so definitely want to plan a trip back :) Thanks for reading. Sophie x