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The best things to do in St. Petersburg, Russia

St Petersburg: a city full of beautiful architecture, interesting history, and plenty of awesome things to do, see and visit. 

I last went to St. Petersburg as part of a Princess Cruises adventure, when I explored not only St. Petersburg but also Helsinki, Tallinn, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Oslo. And, I loved every minute of it.

Admittedly, I hadn’t considered visiting Russia before this trip because of the high visa costs and the time it usually takes to process. Having said that, St. Petersburg took me by surprise and I’d love to go back and see more of the huge country that is Russia. 

The magical experience of watching the ballet in St.Petersburg was an experience on my bucket list for a while so I feel so lucky that I was able to tick it off.

While Russia is famous for its ballets and operas, there are so many cool and unusual things to do in St. Petersburg so make sure you find time to marvel at the museums, cathedrals, art and more. 

The best things to do in St. Petersburg, Russia...

SIX CITIES IN SEVEN DAYS: TALLIN, ST. PETERSBOURG AND HELSINKI

1. Visit some of the most beautiful churches and cathedrals in the world.

The Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood (pictured above) is absolutely stunning and one of the most popular things to visit in St. Petersburg. You need a ticket to visit, as it is currently functioning as a museum, but both the interior and the exterior are magnificent. The colourful artwork inside is vibrant, featuring gold, intricate mosaics and detailed features. 

SIX CITIES IN SEVEN DAYS: TALLIN, ST. PETERSBOURG AND HELSINKI

Another religious building worth visiting is St Isaac’s cathedral, which is the biggest Orthodox cathedral in the world! 

2. Explore St. Petersburg on foot to see the sights and get your tourist snaps.

St. Petersburg is compact enough to explore on foot! A walking route or guided tour in the city centre will cover all of the main landmarks, such as Nevsky avenue, Kazansky Cathedral, Stroganov Palace, the State Capella, the State Hermitage, Palace Square, Admiralty building, St.Isaac’s Cathedral, the Bronze Horseman statue, the Palace bridge, the Kunstkamera Museum, the Peter and Paul fortress and cathedral, Trinity Bridge, the Marble Palace, Summer Garden, Mikhailovsky Castle and Garden, the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood and the Russian Museum, as well as any little side streets and alleys you find along the way! You could also see the city on bikes if you want to move between landmarks a little more quickly! 

If you want to explore the city by night, time your visit to St. Petersburg with the ‘white nights’ from April to August, where there are only two hours of darkness a night. Plenty of time for exploring on foot in the daylight! 

To perfect your travel photography, check out this blog post.

3. Spend some time learning about Russian history in the many museums in St. Petersburg.

St. Petersburg is famous for its beautiful museums, and one of the best things to do in St. Petersburg is spend some time exploring one or more of them! The best museums to visit in St. Petersburg include…

My personal favourite was the State Hermitage Museum. The architecture was stunning, the interior gorgeous, and the amount you can learn inside astounding. 

4. Try the Russian doughnuts, 'pishki'.

Pyshechnaya (25 Bolshaya Konyushennaya Street) is one of the oldest and most famous doughnut shops in St. Petersburg. It’s as popular with locals as it is with tourists, and I can guarantee that you won’t be disappointed!

5. See the city from the water.

Get a completely new and equally beautiful perspective of the city on a river cruise. During the day, choose a cruise that explores one or more of the Fontanka river, Moika river or Griboedov canal for a unique experience of the historical city centre. By night, take a cruise along the Neva river for a magical evening experience! 

SIX CITIES IN SEVEN DAYS: TALLIN, ST. PETERSBOURG AND HELSINKI

You can also SUP along the Griboedov canal and Moika river, which is something that I definitely want to do when I’m next back in St. Petersburg!

If you’re visiting in the summer, you can also see the opening of the bridges on the Neva River.

6. Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy the green space in gardens, courtyards and parks.

Grab a picnic and enjoy the green space and fresh air in the Summer Garden, Mikhailovsky Garden or Peterhof park. 

Peterhof is particularly beautiful and one of the best places to visit in St. Petersburg (well, about 40 minutes outside the city centre.. Spend some time exploring the palace if you can too! 

7. Marvel at the art, old and new.

As well as the beautiful art in the many museums, St. Petersburg has a lot of amazing street art! In particular, head to the Avtovo metro station to look at the street art there – I think it’s one of the most beautiful metro stations in the world! 

8. Watch a ballet or an opera.

Last but not least, this is in my opinion one of the absolutely best things to do in St. Petersburg. Head to the Mariinsky, Mikhailovsky or Alexandrinsky Theatre and let the performers take your breath away. I think watching Swan Lake at the Alexandrinsky Theatre was my favourite part about my trip to St. Petersburg.

Have you been to St. Petersburg?

What are the best things to do in St. Petersburg? Anything you’d add?

Love as always + happy adventuring,

Mollie.

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