On the Baltic Sea, St. Petersburg is a Russian port city. The city remains Russia’s cultural center, with venues such as the Mariinsky Theatre hosting opera and ballet, and the State Russian Museum displaying Russian art, from Orthodox shape paintings to Kandinsky works.
1. The Winter Palace
Everyone knows the State Hermitage Museum, Russia’s most significant art collection. It housed in the most appropriate place – the Winter Palace, built for the Imperial Family over 250 years ago. There can be no excuse not to visit if you happen to be in St. Petersburg.
Make sure you go inside and try to see as much as possible because you won’t be able to view everything: It is a city within a city containing over three million exhibits in 300 rooms. Incidentally, not all of the collection is in the Hermitage.
2. Nevsky Prospect
Nevsky is the city’s main thoroughfare, planned in the early 18th century, which now has one listed building after another. The best time to go for a stroll on Nevsky Prospect between 7-9 o’clock in the morning when the great panorama of the “real” St. Petersburg is not obscured by crowds of visitors.
From here you also can observe the city’s majestic cathedrals: Don’t miss the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, the best view of which opens up from Nevsky Prospect.
Peterhof is the former summer residence of the Russian tsars, 29 miles from St. Petersburg. It is the Russian Versailles with its golden fountains, palaces, pavilions, and extensive gardens. In front of the castle, you will see the spectacular view of the Grand Cascade and the Golden Statue of Samson spurting silvery jets of water 213 ft high. A real challenge will be to go to Peter the Great’s excellent place, the Monplaisir Palace, with its open-air stair on the shores of the Gulf of Finland.
Plan to devote most of the day to this marvel, and it is fine to avoid weekends.
4. Saint Isaac’s Cathedral
The cathedral offers the most irresistible panoramic view of the city. It is of colossal proportions, and from its arcade, you can see how canals dissect the town into small islands. But brace yourself for a climb. You’ll have to climb all 262 steps to get to the top.
To enter the arcade, you will need a separate ticket (the entrance ticket to the cathedral doesn’t count), which you can buy at museum ticket offices, vending machines at the entrance or online.
5. The Mariinsky Theatre
A cultural icon and showcase for St. Petersburg’s opera and ballet, the Mariinsky Theatre (informally known as the Mariinka) are on the must-see list, along with borsch and matryoshkas. In tsarist times it was the premier venue for the country’s ruling class and high society – members of the Imperial Family, wealthy heiresses and famous authors like Alexander Pushkin used to come here.
Traditional Dishes You Should Try in St Petersburg:
- Beef stroganoff
- Leningradsky rassolnik
- Skobelevskie bitki
- Pancakes with caviar
- Sterlet in champagne
One of the world’s most beautiful cities, St. Petersburg has all the ingredients for a memorable tour experience: high art, lavish architecture, wild nightlife, an outstanding history and rich cultural traditions that have inspired and nurtured. From the mysterious twilight of the White Nights to world-beating opera and ballet productions on magical winter evenings, St. Petersburg beauty and entices in every season.