St Petersburg is Russia’s second largest city and definitely one of the most beautiful cities in the world to visit. Russia seems like a very exotic place to visit – after all, most of us only know Russia from what we have seen in the 007 movies where the KGB were popping out around every corner. Modern St Petersburg would be quite a disappointment to James Bond fans – it is a modern and cosmopolitan city full of the most astonishing Art and Architectural treasures, and the extensive historic centre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is brimming with attractions. Contributing to the beauty of the place, the city is largely built on waterways, and was once known as “The Venice of the North”.
Main Attractions in Saint Petersburg, Russia
There is just so much to see in the city that it is hard to know where to begin.
The Hermitage Museum
You have to see the Hermitage Museum which showcases a collection of over 3 million pieces and absolutely ranks up there with the Louvre in Paris as one of the worlds’ finest museums.
The Hermitage is located in the Winter Palace which provides an outstanding home for the collection. Be warned – the queues are long unless you are part of a tour, and the building is not air conditioned and can be stifling even on a cool day. Sadly, you never have time to just stop and stare, or walk around on your own…you just have to keep moving along.
The Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood:
This one is a must-see – a traditional style Russian church which was built on the site of Tsar Alexander II’s assassination. It is worth going inside to see the elaborate decorations with thousands of mosaics.
The Peterhof Palace:
For me, this was the highlight of the visit to Saint Petersburg! It is quite pricey to visit the palace, but worth every cent to see these magnificent buildings and gardens – the parks have often been compared to the Gardens of Versaille – I believe they are better! Apparently, Versaille was in fact what inspired Peter the Great to build a summer palace outside St Petersburg. The complex actually contains several small palaces for you to admire and tour, we preferred to walk through the extensive parks and enjoy some of the 176 fountains. The most amazing fact is that the fountain system does not rely on pumps; the water is supplied by a gravity-fed grid of 22 kilometres of pipes that use the slope of the ground to deliver water to all the fountains. There are also some “trick” fountains which just pop up randomly soaking whoever is nearby…quite hilarious provided you are not the victim!
The Potseluev Bridge (Bridge of Kisses)
We came upon this quirky attraction by accident – it is believed to be good luck to kiss on this bridge and newly-weds attach padlocks to the railings, so that they will never be separated from one another.
The Opera, Music and Ballet
St Petersburg has more than enough cultural pursuits to satisfy anyone! A visit to this city would not be complete without attending a concert, ballet or opera. Be sure to book well in advance if you are visiting in summer.
Just one tip
Be very careful about buying Caviar from vendors who approach you on the street; the containers look identical to those you will see in the shops, but apparently the contents leave much to be desired. If you just have to have caviar pay up and get the real thing!
As well as flying there, then you can pick up car rental at Saint Petersburg Airport. This is great for getting around; especially if you have a few nights there. Alternatively Saint Petersburg can be reached on a Baltic Cruise stopover to Northern Europe, departing from Stockholm, Harwich, Southampton, Amsterdam, London or Copenhagen.