10 places to see in St. Petersburg, RussiaSaint Petersburg is a modern, open-minded and friendly city. Russians call it the cultural capital of the country.

It attracts lots of travelers from all over the world. It is the only location in Russia where the annual number of tourists (6,5 million in 2015) exceeds the number of inhabitants (5,2 million).

So what are the most popular tourists attractions in the city? Here is the list of 10 places to see in Saint Petersburg.

10 must see places in Saint Petersburg, Russia

Saint Petersburg’s residents are used to meeting foreign tourists every single day.

Russian people are known to have a serious and gloomy look but it is just their facial expression. Most of them are happy to talk to foreigners and help if they need something.

The girls are also nice and delicate, especially in the big cities which are no less beautiful and magnificent than other European capitals.

St. Petersburg is located in the European part of Russia. It was founded by Peter the Great (Peter I), known for his love and admiration for Europe. The young tsar worked in Holland as a handyman learning to build ships. He led the Russian cultural revolution that brought the country in line with its powerful neighbours.

When building the city’s main architectural masterpieces, Tsar Peter always strived to employ the best of European traditions. That’s why the city is memorable and unforgettable. It embodies the Russian national traditions combined with the best European achievements. The most prominent buildings in the city were designed by Italian architects, as well as several summer palaces in the region.

One of the best ways to admire the city’s attractions is to book a boat tour along its canals. The city is famous for many channels and has been called “The Russian Venice”.

So, if you think about spending a couple of days in Russia with your girl, Saint Petersburg would be the perfect place to meet.

1. The State Hermitage Museum at the Winter Palace

Saint Petersburg is a paradise for those who love museums and art. In the Russian dating culture, it’s considered to be a “promising sign” if a man invites his girlfriend to an exhibition. It shows that he’s probably a serious and educated guy, which is important for women.

The collection of the Hermitage museum comprises of 3 million items. They say it would take 11 years to pay check every exhibit on display. You don’t have to spend there that long. Visit the rooms displaying masterpieces by well-known foreign artists, this would be already a great excursion. Now it’s even easier than ever — load the museum’s application, pick the works you want to see and follow the interactive map. It’s available both in English and Russian.

Funny enough, the museum is home for more than 70 cats that are employed there to control potential mice infestations. Cats have their own rooms that are open for visitors only 1 day in the year, 21 April.

Sometimes cats need to be re-homed for various reasons. It’s considered to be an honor to adopt a hermitage cat. There is even a website for people who are interested to adopt a former “museum worker”.

Hermitage Museum

When in St. Petersburg, you cannot miss the Hermitage museum. Photo: The Palace Square, most famous place in the city.

Winter Palace, St Petersburg.

View of the Winter Palace from the river. Boat tours around the city and to Peterhof Palace are available from the marina.

Hermitage Museum

The stunning ceiling of Hermitage museum. The building used to serve as the winter residence of Russian tsars.

2. Peter and Paul Fortress

You can enter Peter and Paul Fortress (Petropavlovskaya Krepost) for free. If you want to visit museums located inside the fortress, the most expensive ticket (to Peter and Paul Cathedral) will cost you around US $9-10. It is worth noting that the fortress is the first construction in the city, so this is where the city’s history started from.

There is a lot to see inside the complex, e.g. the Trubetskoy Bastion, where the so-called political criminals were kept during the uprising of 1917.

When walking along the fortress, pay attention to Peter and Paul Cathedral. It is one of the main symbols of the northern capital. There is a statue of a golden angel set on top of the spire.

Peter the Great turned the cathedral into a tomb for the entire imperial dynasty. Almost all Russian tsars from the Romanov dynasty were buried here. Peter the Great is buried near the southern wall of the cathedral.

Peter and Paul Fortress (Petropavlovskaya Krepost)

You can enter the territory of the Fortress for free. It’s open until 10 pm.

Peter and Paul Fortress (Petropavlovskaya Krepost)

It’s impossible to imagine the view of the city without this symbolic spire with an angel.

3. Grand Peterhof Palace and Grand Cascade

Peter I was so impressed by Versailles in France that he decided to build his own palace in Russia. The whole complex was constructed under the influence of the European architecture.

It’s located 29 km (20 miles) from Saint Petersburg. It’s one of the most popular day trips among the tourists. You can go there by bus, taxi, or train.

Besides, you can get there by Meteor hydrofoil which starts from the Hermitage wharf in the St. Petersburg city centre. 30 minutes of a pleasant river trip through the Gulf of Finland and you are in Peterhof. It departs every 30 minutes and the price for a 1-way ticket is around 11 dollars (you can book it online here).

Even the most sophisticated tourist will be struck by the awesome beauty of the green parks with exquisite palaces and fountains. An impressive view of a series of more than 140 fountains and canals deserve to be seen.

Peterhof Palace

Peterhof palaces are extremely popular among tourists.

Peterhof Palace

There are more than 140 fountains in Peterhof.

4. Mariinsky Theatre

For a truly unique theatrical experience book a ticket to Mariinsky theatre. This opera and ballet theatre is loved by thousands of tourists all over the world. A cultural program of the evening with dance and music will give you unforgettable emotions of the Russian theatrical art.

The building of the theatre will also impress. It was constructed in 1783. The magnificent interiors of the theatre are the epitome of the Russian imperial times.

Mariinsky theatre

An evening of music and dance would be an amazing ending to a day in St. Petersburg. (Photo: Mariinsky Theatre Facebook)

5. Legendary cruiser Aurora

See the legendary cruiser Aurora to spice up your touring program. St. Petersburg is famous for its ports. Aurora is considered to be the symbol of the city and the Russian fleet.

The cruiser Aurora and its team played an important role during the Russian-Japanese War 1904. But its main legend is linked to the Communist Revolution of October 1917. The cruiser made a blank shot to signal the start of attack on the Winter Palace (now Hermitage Museum).

Today Aurora is a museum where you can experience the marine atmosphere of the city’s history.

cruiser Aurora

A legendary cruiser Aurora is a now a museum. It’s filled with a romantic atmosphere of the Russian fleet.

6. St. Isaac’s Cathedral

St. Isaac’s Cathedral is a grand Orthodox church and the largest Christian temple of St. Petersburg.

Originally it was the city’s main church.

The cathedral is a perfect example of late classicism of the 19th century. Its admirable interiors impress with their elaborate beauty and refined adornments. You can buy the tickets for various excursions inside the complex. Tours in English are also available.

During summer the museum offers night tours to the cathedral’s colonnade, which is 43 meters high. It offers amazing views over the whole city.

St. Isaac's Cathedral

St. Isaac’s Cathedral is one of the greatest Orthodox churches of the world.

 

10 places to see in Saint Petersburg, Russia

Book a night tour to the cathedral’s colonnade to get an astonishing view of the city.

7. Nevsky Prospekt

Nevsky Prospekt is the main street of St. Petersburg, stretching from the Admiralty to the Alexander Nevsky Square. It’s been the most popular promenade of the city since the 19th century.

Taking a girl for a walk along Nevsky prospekt would be a good idea. There are lots of small shops where you can buy some souvenirs, cafes and restaurants offering different cuisine, nightclubs where you can dance till the morning.

The famous Gostiny Dvor department store is also on the way, which can take hours to wander through. Also, take the chance to admire the magnificent Kazan cathedral which is located a couple of blocks pass Gostiny Dvor on your way to Neva’s waterfront.

Nevsky Prospekt, St. Petersburg.

Nevsky Prospekt is a vibrant and exciting place that is full of people any time of the day or night. A walk through the street will allow you to enjoy all the beautiful buildings and architecture. Plenty of cafes on the way to have a quick stop or restaurants to savour great food.

Nevsky Prospekt

28 Nevsky Prospekt is called Zinger House. Photo: Eagle sculpture on the Zinger House.

Sculpture at Nevsky Prospect, St Petersburg.

Another sculpture decorating Zinger House. It’s now home to a famous book shop.

54 Nevsky Prospekt

54 Nevsky Prospekt is the House of Ushakov (also called the house of Demidov or house of Shuvalov, but the names of famous people who owned it at different periods).

Kazan Cathedral, St Petersburg, Russia.

The stunning ensemble of Kazan Cathedral.

St Petersburg street sign in English.

Street signs in English and Russian help tourists to find their way through the city.

8. Cathedral of the Savior on the Spilled Blood

The cathedral was built under the dramatic circumstances. It stands on the place where the Russian tsar Alexander II was killed in 1881.

The son of the killed emperor, Alexander III commissioned to erect a church on that site. He ordered to build a cathedral in a traditional Russian style. It strongly differs from the city’s other structures and bears a resemblance to St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow.

10 places to see in Saint Petersburg, Russia

The magnificent cathedral was built on the place where tsar Alexander II was fatally wounded.

10 places to see in Saint Petersburg, Russia

Take a boat trip along St. Petersburg’s canals and Neva River to see the city’s main attractions.

9. The Catherine Palace

The palace is located in Tsarskoye Selo (now Pushkin), 25 km (15 miles) from St. Petersburg. It’s a very popular place among the locals — they enjoy spending weekends there. So, it is recommended to go to Tsarskoye selo during weekdays.

The Catherine palace is located among beautiful gardens and parks. The palace was loved by the Russian imperial families, especially by Nicholas II who used to live there most of the time.

Its blue and gold facades amaze with the charm of the Baroque style and demonstrate the tsar’s wealth.

The interiors of the palace transmit the exciting atmosphere of the 18th century.

The palace is famous for its Amber room as well. Some tourists go there just to have a look at it. It has its own mysterious story — the room was stolen during WWII by Nazis and its traces were lost forever. The Amber room was later reconstructed from sketches and photos. 6 tons of amber were used to build it. Some people even call the Amber room “The 8th wonder of the world.”

The tours through the palace and the amber room are organized daily and are in high demand.

10 places to see in Saint Petersburg, Russia

The blue and gold facades of the Catherine palace among the numerous green gardens and parks look amazing.

10 places to see in Saint Petersburg, Russia

The locals love to spend their weekends in Tsarskoye Selo.

10. St. Petersburg Cats

There are a lot of sculptures depicting cats in St. Petersburg. They sit on the eaves of houses, rest in parks, and decorate facades of buildings. But why are they so important?

The history holds that cats saved the city during the siege of Leningrad (the former name of the city used in 1924-1991). The siege lasted more than 2 years and people were dying from hunger in the city during WWII.

The city was flooded by rats. Some people say when their colonies were crossing the roads the trams had to stop. When the siege was finally broken, several wagons with cats (!) were sent to the city along with food and medicines. The city citizens were standing in long lines to get a cat. People were sending cats as gifts to their relatives in Saint Petersburg.

That’s why there are so many cat sculptures in the city — these animals helped people to survive and saved the city from an epidemic as well.

One of the most famous sculptures are the monuments of Elisey and Vasilisa located on Malaya Sadovaya street. They were installed on eaves of the houses opposite to each other. Locals believe that if you throw a coin onto the Elisey’s sculpture it will bring you success and good luck. Some say that Elisey helps students to pass their exams.

When you are there, go to a nearby café and have a cup of coffee while looking at students and city guests trying to throw coins into the cat’s paws. They say it’s really difficult to do.

Such small but cute monuments please the eye and create a relaxed atmosphere in the city.

10 places to see in Saint Petersburg, Russia

Locals are grateful to cats for saving the city from rats. Tourists can spot several sculptures of cats while walking through the city streets.

 

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helenlen
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Lovely and amazing city! I have lived there about 20 years and i’m falling in love with this city! I would suggest you visit the state museum of the history of religion. If you want to relax with your child, you must attend the Dolphinarium!

Вика
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I visited Saint Petersburg last summer. I really liked Grand Peterhof Palace and St. Isaac’s Cathedral. I advise everyone to visit them. If you visit this city you must see the drawbridges over Neva River. It is an impressive sight, especially if you are in a small boat under the bridge.

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