On your trip to Russia, you cannot miss a step through its ancient capital, and to make the most of those days, we are going to tell you what to do in st petersburg. Founded in the early 1700s by Peter the Great, who understood that looking towards Europe was essential for the development of his beloved Russia, Saint Petersburg is one of the great jewels of the country. Petrograd before, Leningrad after, the city’s history is relatively recent, but not at all boring. Peter the Great wanted to bring together the best of Europe here, so he relied on excellent architects and artists to create the most beautiful city in the world from scratch. The result is a monumental and elegant open-air museum that almost overwhelms the visitor.
What to do in st Petersburg?
Now, this is what we recommend you visit in Saint Petersburg:
- The Hermitage Museum is not only one of the city’s greatest attractions but also one of the best museums in the world. In its innumerable rooms (through which you are likely to get lost several times), you can admire millions of works of art, from Egyptian, Greek, or Roman times to paintings of the Italian Renaissance. The Hermitage is in the Winter Palace, the former residence of the Russian tsars, and just to visit the palace itself is worth entering, as all its rooms are true masterpieces. Allow at least 3 hours for a visit and be careful because it closes on Mondays.
The entrance is relatively cheap: it costs 700 rubles, about € 10 to change. You can buy it online, to avoid queues, but you have to know that it costs a lot more (we went in the afternoon and didn’t even have to queue buying at the automatic machines). The guided tour option in Spanish is also recommended (with a skip-the-line ticket included).
- If Moscow has Red Square, St. Petersburg has Palace Square, a huge esplanade with the beautiful green facade of the Hermitage. It is one of the key places in the history of Russia: it was at this point that the Bolshevik Revolution began, when the people, tired of the privileges of the tsars, changed the destiny of Mother Russia.
- From Palace Square, one of the most important shopping streets of the city and its main artery: Nevsky Prospekt. Walk it up and down a few times, and remember to enter the Singer House, which hides a beautiful bookstore with a cafeteria inside. Hoot: from there, the views of the Kazan Cathedral are nothing short of breathtaking.
- On the same street are also the Yeliseev Stores. This gastronomic store is worth visiting, especially if you want to buy a typical product, such as caviar or vodka (although it also has a cafeteria and an irresistible sweets section). And if you feel like shopping more, go to the nearby Passage galleries that will not have the charm of Moscow’s GUM galleries, but they are a piece of the city’s history.
- The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is the religious protagonist of the city. It is reminiscent of Saint Basil’s Cathedral, thanks to its domes in the shape of colored onions. However, if you visit them until 2021, you may be disappointed: it is under construction and some parts are covered with scaffolding. What a pity! Curiosity: did you know that he rose to pay tribute to Tsar Alexander II right in the same place where he was assassinated? That’s where its name comes from.
A word of advice: on the outside, it is beautiful, but on the inside, it is amazing (admission costs 350 rubles). It’s packed with extraordinary mosaics that blow your mind. It is one of the most beautiful churches we have ever seen.
- But this is not the only remarkable temple. In St. Petersburg, there are great churches and very different from each other. One of them, of Orthodox religion, is the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan, which with its impressive colonnade of 96 columns, gives air to Saint Peter of the Vatican. It is the city’s main church, and inside an icon of the Virgin of Kazan is fervently venerated.
- There is another cathedral that competes in dimensions with the previous one. We are talking about Saint Isaac’s Cathedral. What is most striking is the characteristic golden dome (they say that it is the largest golden dome in the world), which rests on a huge circular colonnade with a panoramic terrace, which you can climb. It is not the typical Orthodox cathedral since inside it is austere and has dark tones. It costs 250 rubles to enter and for an extra price you can go up to the terrace (it is not at the top).
- Not only Orthodox cathedrals and churches live in the city… one of the most amazing things to see in Saint Petersburg is a mosque! The Saint Petersburg Mosque has an imposing yet delicate appearance, with its mosaics of blue and green tones, its high minaret and a striking dome. You can visit the prayer area for free.
- Some call it the Barbie church. Others say it looks like a wedding cake … Chesme Church, with its white and pink tones, is different from the rest. It is a bit far away, so you will have to get there by public transport.
- If you are not very convinced to go there, there is another reason that can make you change your mind. Very close to this church is the House of Soviets, a building in the purest Stalinist style, which today houses administrative offices. In front of him, in the huge Moskovskaya Ploshad (Moscow Square), Lenin stands an immense 17-meter statue, apparently the largest in the city. Tip: a line of shuttles leaves and arrives from this square that goes to the Catherine Palace, so you can go there that same day and kill two birds with one stone.