Winter palace Petersburg

Green Winter palace, yellow Peterhof and blue Catherine Palace – these are just examples of the beauties you can find in Saint Petersburg. St Petersburg is a city, which since its foundation in 1703 by Peter the Great, greatly influenced course of history and not just the Russian one. That is one of the reasons why you can, even today, feel the ghost of past while you walk through the city.



St Petersburg in three days or longer

The most beautiful sights in St Petersburg can be seen just by walking around as everything worth seeing is located in historical center, in the middle of which is Palace square, Winter Palace and the State Hermitage Museum. Some of the most popular sights are for example Church of the Savior on Blood, St Isaac's Cathedral, Peter and Paul Fortress and Cathedral, Admiralty Building, Kazan Cathedral and you can feel the atmosphere of old school days near cruiser Aurora.

The city is interwoven by canals and spreads over forty islands that are connected by over 300 bridges. Even though St Petersburg is often called 'Venice of the north', it resembles Amsterdam more than anything. The main street is wide, four kilometers long Nevsky prospect, which bisects the city center in half and connects twisty banks of river Neva. This river splits near Vasilevskiy island into small Neva and large Neva [Malaya Neva and Bolshaya Neva] and flows into Gulf of Finland. Large Lagoda Lake touches St Petersburg from the east.

St Petersburg Kazan cathedral St Petersburg Church of the Savior on Blood

„Night“ view on Kazan cathedral and Church of the Savior on Blood

Thirty kilometers south from St Petersburg is a magnificent tsar residence Peterhof, which can be quickly reached by a boat. Second tsar residence which should be visited whilst in St Petersburg is Tsarskoe Selo with Catherine Palace. It is also located thirty kilometers from the city and can be reached by public transport.



How and when to travel to St Petersburg

Best time to visit St Petersburg is during summer months and the most popular period in this time are white nights in June.

You can take a taxi from airport Pulkovo, which is about 20 kilometers away from the historical city center [1000 RUR, 45 min], their official stands are located in the arrival zone and near the exit from the terminal. It is not recommended to accept offers from unlicensed taxi drivers and other providers. Another option is to travel from the airport by bus number 39 [40 RUR, 25 min] to metro station Moskovskaya and then continue by metro to center [45 RUR, 25 min]. Bus tickets can be purchased with the driver and one time use chips for metro can be purchased in stands on metro stations.

St Petersburg Cruiser Aurora St Petersburg House of Soviets

Cruiser Aurora, House of Soviets on Moskovskaya square

Ideal accommodation can be found right in the historical center of the city, but it is more expensive. As an example ckeck Life Inn Apartments, which are located five minutes by walk away from Winter palace.



White nights and local specialties

Local rarity are white nights in June. Having a day longer than 20 hours? Why not, the city gets its sunset in June shortly before midnight and sunrise begins at three o'clock in the morning. St Petersburg is furthest north located city and being able to walk around the streets at eleven o'clock at night during full day light is a great experience.

One of the main tourist attraction is also opening bridges. In summer months when the river Neva is floatable, bridges are being opened every night to allow large cargo ships to sail through. For example, Palace bridge near Winter palace is opened at 1:10 in the morning and the event is often accompanied by light show.

St Petersburg Borsch St Petersburg Georgian cuisine

Borsch, popular is Georgian cuisine

Typical culinary specialty is borsch, which can be served hot or cold. You can also try some pirozhki, blini [something like a pancake] or pelmeni [dumplings filled with meat]. You can try more exotic meals in St Petersburg, very popular is Georgian cuisine.

People in St Petersburg are nice and welcoming. If you close your eyes for a second, doesn't matter if you're walking, sitting on a bus or metro, and then open them again and look at the people around you, you wouldn't know if you're in Russia or back home. There is a lot of shows, bands and local artists around the Nevsky prospect and they create an unforgettable atmosphere.



Ten stops on a walk in St Petersburg – what to see and visit

Most of the historical sites in St Petersburg can be seen just by walking around the city. Together with all day trips to further away Peterhof and Tsarskoey Selo, St Petersburg offers amazing tourist destination, where you can easily spend three or more days exploring. What to see when walking through St Petersburg? Have a look at Google route and read about individual stops:


1st stop – Nevsky prospect, Kazan cathedral

First stop is a metro station Nevsky prospect. Whoever has accommodation in the city center can start their walk anywhere on the suggested route. Nevsky prospect is the main vein of St Petersburg and there are a lot of posh buildings such as Stroganov Palace, Anichkov Palace, company building of Singer – House of book, shopping passage Gostinnyj dvor and last but not least Kazan Cathedral.


2nd stop – Winter Palace, Hermitage Museum, Palace square with Alexander Column and Building of the General Staff

At the end of Nevsky prospect is Palace square and Winter palace. It was built between 1752 – 1764 as a winter residence for tsarina Elizabeth I. Today, it is a part of five-building complex of the world known Hermitage museum. Palace square was a place of numerous historical events, including 'Bloody Sunday' in 1905 and the attack of Bolsheviks on the Winter Palace in 1917. In the middle of this complex is Alexander Column which was built between 1829-1834 to honor tsar's Alexanders I. victory over Napoleon Bonaparte. Opposite Winter Palace is the Building of the General Staff.

St Petersburg Kazan cathedral St Petersburg Winter palace

Kazan cathedral, Winter palace

Tickets to the Hermitage Museum [one day ticket 17.95 USD, two-day ticket 23.95 USD] can be booked on the museum's website. Booking them online will save you a lot of time as you won't have to stand in line for hours [300-700 RUR]. The museum is closed on Mondays.


3rd stop – St Isaac's Cathedral

Next stop is St Isaac's Cathedral which is one of the biggest ones in the world. It was built between 1816 – 1858 and contains 48 columns, most of which weigh about 114 tons. It reaches 100 meters and offers an amazing view from the top.

Ticket for the cathedral costs 400 RUR and 300 RUR for the colonnade. It is closed on Wednesdays.


4th stop – The Bronze Horseman

If you walk back from the cathedral across Alexander's Park towards river Neva to Senate square, you'll see the magnificent statue of the Bronze Horseman, which was built by Catherine the Great in 1782 in honor of Peter the Great. Today, it is a popular place for wedding photos of newlywed couples.

St Petersburg St Isaac's Cathedral St Petersburg The Bronze Horseman

St Isaac's Cathedral, The Bronze Horseman


5th stop – Vasilevskiy Island, Strelka

Walking along river Neva, pass Admiralty Building and through Palace bridge, you will reach Vasilevskiy Island, which east point is called Strelka. Here is the place where river Neva splits into Bolshaya Neva and Malaya Neva before continuing into Gulf of Finland. Magnificent buildings were built on Strelka, such as Menshikov Palace, Old Saint Petersburg Stock Exchange and Imperial Academy of Sciences. There are two Rostral columns, each 32 meters high that were used as lighthouses.


6th stop – Peter and Paul Fortress, St Peter and Paul Cathedral

Peter and Paul Fortress is a place where St Petersburg was founded. Its dominant feature is Peter and Paul Cathedral, which contains graves of Russian tsars. Walls of the fortress are surrounded by beaches, which are occupied in summer by brave and cold loving locals.

St Petersburg Strelka St Petersburg St Peter and Paul Cathedral

Strelka, St Peter and Paul Cathedral


7th stop – Cruiser Aurora

Approximately a kilometer away from Peter and Paul Fortress is famous cruiser Aurora. On 25th October 1917 a blank shot was fired to signal the attack of Bolsheviks on Winter Palace and started the Communist revolution. It is ironic that today you can take a picture of the cruiser with a neon ad on it of one of the biggest international capitalistic companies.


8th stop – Summer Garden, Summer Palace

If you walk back from the cruiser Aurora towards Trotsky bridge, you'll get to Summer Garden. It is one of the first parks that was built by Peter the Great. It used to be part of the Summer Palace, first residence of Peter the Great and it was designed to look like gardens in Versailles.

St Petersburg Cruiser Aurora St Petersburg Summer Garden

Cruiser Aurora, Summer Garden


9th stop – Church of the Savior on Blood, Engineer's Castle, Russian Museum

When you walk back from Summer Gardens, you'll pass Mikhailovsky Castle [also known as Engineer's castle], where tsar Paul I. was murdered in 1801. Before you reach the Church of the Savior on Blood, you'll walk past Russian Museum. The Church of the Savior on Blood will amaze you with its gorgeous Russian architecture. It was built in a place of tsar Alexander II. assassination in 1881, which explains why it's called Church of the Savior on Blood [also known as Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ – 400 RUR].


10th stop – Restaurant Chacha

From the Church of the Savior on Blood to Nevsky prospect is a way called Griboedov canal, lined with restaurants. Apart of great food, these restaurants offer amazing atmosphere and great ending to a busy day. One of the popular ones is restaurant Cha Cha, which offers Georgian cuisine.

St Petersburg Church of the Savior on Blood St Petersburg Kazan cathedral from Gribodeyov channel

Church of the Savior on Blood, Kazan cathedral from Gribodeyov channel




Peterhof is a grandiose tsar residence, which was built by Peter the Great in 1714 to 1723 to resemble French Versailles. Its dominant feature is the Peterhof Palace and Grand Cascade which is formed by more than hundred fountains and water streams and more than two hundred golden statues. Peterhof Palace is surrounded by parks and is connected to Baltic sea by a water canal, that allowed tsars to access the palace right from the sea.

St Petersburg Peterhof St Petersburg Peterhof

Peterhof is located 30 kilometers south from St Petersburg on a coast of Gulf of Finland. The easiest access is provided by quick ship of one of the companies that harbor their boats near Palace bridge and Winter palace. Tickets can be purchased on the spot or online and cost 700 RUR [40 min, every 30 min, between 10-18].

Peterhof official website offers only limited number of tickets to the Peterhof palace [700 RUR]. Another option to buy a ticket is to stand in line between 12:00 – 14:00 and 16:15 – 17:45 and hope that the tickets won't sell out before you reach the end of the queue. Ticket to the Lower gardens costs 750 RUR. Peterhof is closed on Mondays and every last Tuesday of the month.



Tsarskoye Selo

Tsarskoye Selo is another Russian attempt to recreate Versailles. It was built in 1752 by empress Elizabeth and her architect Rastrelli and later hugely developed by Catherine the Great. This summer residence of Russian tsars is surrounded by beautiful French and English gardens with large lakes. From 2003 it is a place that hides reproduction of Amber Room.

St Petersburg Tsarskoye Selo St Petersburg Tsarskoye Selo

Tsarskoye Selo is located in a town of Pushkin, approximately 25 kilometers away from St Petersburg and you can get there from Moskovskaja station [45 RUR, 25 min from Nevsky prospect station] by minibus – marshrutka [K-342 or K545, 40 RUR, 40 min].

Just as in Peterhof or the Hermitage museum, Catherine Palace is a tough nut to crack and is only for persistent visitors. There is limited number of tickets online and a two-hour line in front of the palace that stretches over 300 meters. Tickets to Catherine Park cost 120 RUR and to Catherine Palace 1000 RUR. The complex is closed on Tuesdays.




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