St Petersburg is the cultural capital of Russia because of its amazing people and incredible architecture. It’s always a good idea to start your trip by visiting the best museums in town and ending your day in a bar or two or three! We are the home of vodka after all.
If you need some help when you visit St Petersburg, you can always ask locals that you meet on the street or in the shops. People will go out of their way to help you and let you know the best spots to discover.
The architecture of St Petersburg is a highlight just in itself. My favourite building is Singer House located in the heart of the city.
It was built in the beginning of the 20th century and is used today as a business centre. One of the best things to do in St Petersburg is to join a tour of Singer House with a visit to the rooftop. The views are stunning.
I love nothing more than exploring and taking photos of my city, St Petersburg. Whether it’s climbing the most adorable rooftops like the ones near Saint Isaac’s Cathedral or capturing reflections of buildings in puddles at Palace Square. Below are my top 10 experiences:
10 Things To Do in St Petersburg
1. Visit the State Hermitage Museum
Hermitage is one of the most exquisite art galleries in Russia and houses over three million items dating back to the Stone Age. The architecture and design of this museum is a spectacular sight to see!
2. Chill on a Rooftop near Saint Isaac’s Cathedral
Saint Isaac’s Cathedral is the largest and one of the most impressive Russian Orthodox cathedrals in St Petersburg. The cathedral is dedicated to Saint Isaac of Dalmatia who was a patron saint of Peter the Great.
Watching the sunset over the golden dome of Saint Isaac’s Cathedral from a nearby rooftop is always incredible, especially with some food and drinks.
3. Walk along Nevsky Prospekt in St Petersburg
Nevsky Prospekt is the main avenue in St Petersburg and one of the most famous streets in Russia. Walking down the avenue from the Admiralty to the Railway Station to the Alexander Nevsky Monastery sure is a pleasurable stroll.
Nevksy Prospekt is also one of St Petersburg’s main shopping districts with fantastic shops, bars, clubs and nightlife.
4. Admire the Beauty of Peter and Paul Fortress
The fortress has had a varied and somewhat turbulent history as it was once used as a prison and execution ground by the Bolshevik government in the 1920’s. Today it’s an iconic tourist landmark in St Petersburg.
5. Marvel at the Incredible Drawbridges
St Petersburg is known as the “Venice of the North” because of its islands, canals and drawbridges that cross the Neva River.
Each bridge is decorated in artistic motifs which makes the opening and closing even more impressive. You have the option of watching this spectacle from a distance or you can join a river cruise to get a closer look.
6. Enjoy the Quaint Cafes of St Petersburg
Like all great cities of the world, St Petersburg is home to many quaint and trendy cafes. Some places offer a relaxed hangout with cheap and simple food while others brew the perfect cup of strong coffee.
7. Take an Informal City Tour with Locals
A formal tour of St Petersburg is a great way to see the main attractions like the State Hermitage Museum and the Savior on the Spilled Blood.
However, the best way to discover secret hidden gems (like beautiful residential buildings and rooftop views) is to go on an informal tour with a local. Try connecting with locals like myself through social media.
8. Catch the Sunset on Singer House Rooftop Deck
Singer House or House of Books is one of the most famous bookstores in Russia. The six-storey Art Nouveau building was built in 1902 by architect Pavel Syuzor for the Singer Sewing Machine Company.
Visitors can access the rooftop deck which offers stunning views of the city’s major landmarks like the Kazan and The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood.
9. Cruise the Rivers and Canals on a Boat Tour
A boat tour through the rivers and canals of St Petersburg is a must-do activity. Much of the classical architecture is low to the ground which means the best views are often visible from the water.
Cruise the interconnected complex of rivers, canals and channels, and discover secret districts and neighbourhoods that will leave a lasting impression in your memory.
10. Discover the Hipster Side of St Petersburg
One of the best hipster hangouts in St Petersburg which I absolutely recommend is Golitsyn Loft. The loft is located in front of the St. Michael’s Castle with a couple of cafes offering views of the nearby river and castle.
Golitsyn Loft is best described as a creative hub of shops, cafes, bars and galleries where you can enjoy fantastic shopping and eating.
What you Need to Know Before you Go
There are thousands of fantastic accommodation options in St Petersburg but in terms of location I think the best neighbourhood is the historical part of the city.
Places like Vladimirsky or Chernyshevskaya district are amazing. Try finding an Airbnb in the historical houses with timber fretwork interiors.
Start your day in the bakeries with fresh coffee at places like Smena, enjoy supper with traditional Russian dishes at Teremok or Mansarda, and finish with dinner at Duo or Schengen.
Most places in St Petersburg accepts bank cards, so don’t worry too much about carrying loads of cash. Don’t forget to take an umbrella with you as the city is a notoriously rainy destination.
And of course, go on an informal tour of St Petersburg with locals. Feel free to send me an email or direct message me on Instagram!