Saint Petersburg is considered the official cultural capital of Russia. Boasting many centuries of rich heritage and unique architecture, it’s a city that warrants full exploration. But if you simply don’t have time to see all that’s on offer, you’ll need to set your sights on the city’s highlights.
If you need Russian visa support and advice ahead of your visit, it’s worth accessing it at the earliest possible stage. It isn’t usually difficult to obtain a visa for visiting Russia, but it’s still advisable to get a head start.
Other than this, it’s simply a case of making a beeline for the best of Saint Petersburg – 12 examples of which you’ll find below.
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If time is a factor, prioritizing the State Hermitage Museum comes highly recommended. Founded by Catherine the Great all the way back in 1754, this spectacular facility has more than three million items in its collection and ranks within the top 10 museums and galleries in the world.
Probably everyone who sets foot in St Petersburg wanders around the Hermitage Museum. Did you know it’s one of the largest art museums in the world? The whole museum is a complex of 6 important buildings where its visitors can encounter more than 3 million art pieces from different historical eras. If you’re looking to educate yourself about its history, culture, and art, then a visit to the Hermitage Museum is a must. By far the most iconic building in the complex is the Winter Palace, a former residence of Russian Emperors from the 18th to the 20th century. The palace features colorful baroque architecture and you can freely stroll around endless halls and furnished rooms.
The Hermitage Museum is open every day except Mondays. The one-day ticket costs roughly $18.
St Petersburg is widely recognized for its Orthodox architecture and one of the pinnacles of that style is St Isaac’s Cathedral. Did you know it’s the biggest Orthodox cathedral in the world? The stunning fact about its 100m tall dome is that it’s completely covered in gold. The best part of the cathedral is its artistic interior filled with mosaics, thematic art, marble statues, and gold. The art is extremely detailed and probably the most intriguing painting can be found on the inner part of a dome. If you’re looking for beautiful views over the city, you can climb to the top of the cathedral and simply enjoy the views. Fellow travelers recommend visiting the top during the sunset hours as the sun falls over the shiny city of St Petersburg.
The cathedral is open every day except Wednesdays. The entrance fee is roughly $6 while climbing to the viewpoint will cost you an additional $3.
Somewhat smaller but no less impressive, the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood was constructed between 1883 and 1907. Inside and out, a series of spectacular mosaics complement the lavish design of the church.
One of the most recognized architectural buildings in St Petersburg is by far the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood. People usually think it’s the same church as St Basil in Moscow’s Red Square, but this one was built at the beginning of the 20th century followed by the assassination of Alexander 2. The church features iconic Russian architecture characterized by various colors, unsymmetric shapes, and detailed art. Since it’s one of the most visited places in St Petersburg, it’s recommended to visit the place just after sunrise to avoid tourist crowds.
The entrance fee is roughly $6 for adults and $2 for kids and the church is open every day except Wednesday (10.30 am – 6 pm).
As the name suggests, Summer Garden is a huge garden in the middle of the city. People usually escape the hustle of a busy city and relax around the furnished park that features countless fountains, beautiful sculptures, furnished green fields, a small forest, and an artificial lake with white swans. Around the Summer Garden, you can find a few vendors selling soft drinks, coffee, or ice cream. Grab a snack or a drink and just relax around the beautiful greenery.
The park opens every day except Tuesdays from 10 am to 10 pm (free entrance).
Considered the official birthplace of the city, being the first structure to have been built in Saint Petersburg in the early 17th century. The Peter and Paul Cathedral at the heart of the structure is the final resting place of every Russian tsar from Peter 1.
Saint Petersburg is home to a number of stunning squares, though none are more important or historically relevant than Palace Square. This was the site of the October Revolution of 1917 and the Bloody Sunday Massacre.
Perhaps the single most famous and photographed street in Saint Petersburg, Nevsky Prospekt is where you’ll find the finest shops, restaurants, entertainment, and nightlife in the city. Not to mention, some of the most beautiful buildings in Russia.
An absolute must during any visit to Saint Petersburg, Peterhof Palace, and its iconic park is the country’s closest approximation of Versailles. Peter the Great took his inspiration from the iconic French structure, though created something significantly more opulent and imposing.
Inspired by the world’s most famous basilica in Rome’s Vatican City, Kazan Cathedral shares a strong likeness with Saint Peter’s. Construction of the cathedral was completed in 1811, at which point the 80-meter-high dome was one of the tallest in the world.
Also known as the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, this fabulous structure was Russia’s first-ever museum and is one of the world’s oldest by a significant margin. It also remains one of the most fascinating and enchanting to this day, with more than a million artifacts from all over the world in its archives.
Last but not least, you don’t have to be an antiquities expert or a jewelry fanatic to get a kick out of the Faberge Museum. One of the most recent museums to open its doors in Saint Petersburg, the Faberge Museum houses approximately 4,000 incredible works of art, including a group of nine Imperial Easter eggs created by Fabergé with a combined value that’s simply incalculable.
Neva River is a very significant and important place for locals as well as tourists. The banks of the river feature a furnished walking path that becomes extremely lively around the sunset as locals flock there for a daily dose of workouts and socializing. A walk around the river offers stunning views of the city, a better understanding of the local community, delicious local snacks, and much more. There are many must-do things around the Neva River including observing the opening of the Palace Bridge, enjoying a delicious dinner on the boat, and joining a party cruise are just among few.
As you can see, St Petersburg is a beautiful city widely known for its colorful and diverse architecture, rich culture and long history. There are many places to visit in the city so everyone can find their fit.
What’s the most memorable place you’ve visited in St Petersburg?
Once again, if you require a tourist visa for Russian entry, be sure to seek advice and get started on your application as early as possible.