Top Attractions in Saint Petersburg

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Church of the Savion on Spilled Blood

St. Petersburg is a city with lots of imposing buildings, wide boulevards, gardens and parks. The Neva River, with its numerous canals passing through the city, gave it the name of Venice of the North.

The city was founded by Tsar Peter the Great and was the capital of the Russian Empire between 1713 and 1918. It is considered the cultural center of Russia, due to the prestigious museums in the city, and it is the second-largest city in the country, after Moscow.

St. Petersburg was once known as Leningrad, and now Leningrad is the name of the administrative region whose capital is St. Petersburg.

Visiting the city is very easy, given that most of the tourist attractions are in the city center, at a short walking distance from each other.

White Nights of St. Petersburg (May-July)

The best time to visit St. Petersburg is during the white nights when the sun never sets and the sky is never really dark.

During this period the city is full of life, the museums have a longer program and there are a lot of events, festivals, and concerts.

The Winter Palace and the Hermitage Museum

The Winter Palace was the official residence of the Russian monarchs from 1732-1917 and today it hosts the Hermitage Museum, one of the largest and most famous museums in the world.

The huge building has about 1000 rooms and over 60,000 pieces are exhibited, including paintings by famous painters Rembrandt, Rubens, Vincenzo Petrocceli, Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Paul Gauguin and 2 paintings by Leonardo da Vinci. If you take into account the objects kept in reserve, then the collection has over 3 million objects.

The Hermitage complex consists of several buildings: Little Hermitage, Old Hermitage (Great Hermitage), New Hermitage, Hermitage Theater, the Winter Palace of Peter the Great (it was the official residence of Peter I), the General Staff building, the Restoration and Storage Center, the Imperial Porcelain Factory Museum and Menshikov Palace.

The first paintings were purchased by Ecaterina II in 1764, after which, the collection gradually enriched becoming one of the most impressive art collections in the world.

How was our visit?

We bought the tickets for the Main Museum Complex – Winter Palace, the General Staff building, the Winter Palace of Peter the Great, the Menshikov Palace and the Imperial Porcelain Factory Museum and we chose to visit the museum on Wednesday because the museum closes later (10:30 AM – 9 PM). The tickets cost 700 rubles/person.

Menshikov Palace

Menshikov Palace St Petersburg

We visited Menşikov Palace first because it was on our way from the hotel to the Hermitage Museum. Menshikov Palace is located on Vasilyevsky Island and was one of the first buildings in the city.

The halls of the palace are smaller and darker than those of the Winter Palace and the museum collection includes sculptures, paintings and antique furniture. The exhibition is not very big and we spent a little over half an hour in the palace.

Menshikov Palace is the only building that is not located in the same area with the other buildings in the complex. From the palace, you have to cross the bridge over the Neva River to reach the Hermitage Museum.

The Winter Palace of Peter the Great

The Winter Palace of Peter 1

The Winter Palace of Peter the Great is the second building we visited. This was the official residence of Peter the Great, and the exhibition here is dedicated to him.

The entrance to the palace is on the with the Neva River side, and the palace is located next to the Hermitage museum.

The interior of the palace is not as beautiful as the other palaces we had seen in Russia, but it is worth visiting because there are exhibited objects that belonged to Peter the Great.

Visiting the museum takes about 30 minutes.

The General Staff Building

General Staff Building

The General Staff building is the last building we visited before entering the Hermitage Museum, it is located in the Palace Square, opposite the Hermitage Museum.

Among the exhibits here, there is a collection of Picasso paintings.

General Staff Building Picasso

The Hermitage Museum also called the Winter Palace

We didn’t visit the porcelain factory because we preferred to spend more time in the Hermitage Museum.

In the afternoon, the Ermitaj Museum is less crowded, so we deliberately chose to visit it at the end, after having lunch.

You can enter the museum through the 2 entrances in the Palace Square. The first entrance is for those who bought the tickets online and the other for those who bought them from the museum ticket offices.

The main complex of the museum consists of 5 interconnected buildings (Little Hermitage, Old Hermitage (Great Hermitage), New Hermitage, Hermitage Theater and Winter Palace), but most people regard this ensemble as one building: Hermitage Museum or Winter Palace.

We recommend that you also take an audio guide because this is how you will find valuable information about the collection in the museum.

The fact that you will visit a museum and a palace at the same time makes the experience much more interesting. The palace halls and the exhibitions (paintings, jewelry, furniture) are impressive.

We spent 8 hours in the museum, and we had time to see and analyze the most important objects of the exhibition, but through some rooms, we passed quite quickly, so you will need at least 3 hours to see the most important exhibits.

Opening and closing times:

  • Monday: closed;
  • Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays: 10:30 AM – 6 PM.
  • Wednesdays and Fridays: 10:30 AM – 9 PM;

Entrance tickets:

  • Admission is free for all visitors on the 3rd Thursday of each month.
  • Admission is free for students, and retirees from the Russian Federation.
  • Ticket for the Main Complex of the Museum (Hermitage Museum), the General Staff building, The Winter Palace of Peter the Great, the Menshikov Palace and the Museum of the Imperial Porcelain Factory: 700 Rubles (400 Rubles for the citizens of the Russian Federation and the Belarussian Republic).
  • Entrance tickets for a single building of your choice (General Staff Building, Peter the Great’s Winter Palace, Menshikov Palace or Imperial Porcelain Factory Museum): 300 Rubles.
  • Audio guide: 500 Rubles (300 Rubles in Russian).

How do you get here?

The nearest metro stations are Admiralteyskaya (Line 5), Nevsky Prospect (Line 2) and Gostiny Dvor (Line 3).

St. Isaac’s Cathedral (1818-1858)

Saint Isaac's Cathedral St Petersburg

The dome of St. Isaac’s Cathedral is one of the largest in the world and it is visible from almost anywhere in the historic city center.

The cathedral today works as a museum and its interior is impressive.

Saint Isaac's Cathedral St Petersburg inside

We recommend that you also climb the “Colonnade of the Cathedral” for a spectacular view of the city.

Opening and closing times:

  • October – March: 10:30 AM and 6 PM (closed Wednesdays).
  • April – September: 10:30 AM – 10:30 PM.

Entry tickets:

  • 550 rubles/adult – St. Isaac’s and the Colonnaded Walkway
  • 350 Rubles – Cathedral St. Isaac’s
  • 200 Rubles – Colonnaded Walkway

Kazan Cathedral

Kazan Cathedral

Located on Nevski Prospekt, the architecture of the cathedral with 96 semi-circular columns was inspired by the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Basilica. The cathedral is dedicated to Our Lady of Kazan.

The church can be visited daily between 6:30 AM and 8 PM and admission is free.

Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood

Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood

This grand monument, with medieval Russian-style architecture, marks the place where Tsar Alexander II of Russia was assassinated. Peter the Great forbade the construction of the churches with onion domes in Saint Petersburg, so this church is the only one in town with this unique type of dome.

The exterior of the cathedral is splendid and the interior is beautiful, full of color, although no paint was used, as the paintings inside the church are made of mosaic.

Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood inside

Entrance tickets:

  • Tickets cost 350 Rubles/adult and 100 Rubles children (7-18 years).
  • Audio Guide 200 Rubles.

Opening and closing times:

  • Wednesday: closed.
  • October – March: Thursday – Tuesday: 10:30 AM – 6 PM.
  • April – September: Thursday – Tuesday: 10:30 AM – 10:30 PM.

Peter and Paul Fortress and Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral

Peter and Paul Fortress

The fortress was built at the command of Peter the Great in 1703, today it is a museum of the history of the city. The fortress served for a period as a prison for political prisoners.

It occupies a dominant position in the center of the city, being on the bank of the Neva River, quite close to the Hermitage Museum, on the other side of the river.

In the citadel, there are several museums and the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral.

The cathedral is dedicated to the Saints Peter and Paul and it houses the remains of  Peter the Great and many of the Russian emperors and empresses.

The platform from the bell tower can be visited for a spectacular view of the city.

We only had time to visit the cathedral and the prison.

How do you get here?

  • We walked from the Hermitage Museum and arrived here in about 25 minutes.
  • The nearest metro stations are Gorkovskaya (Line 2) and Sportivnaya (Line 5).

Opening and closing times:

Zayachy Island can be visited daily between 6 AM and 9 PM.

Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul Apostles:

  • Monday – Friday: 10 AM – 7 PM
  • Saturday: 10 AM – 5:45 PM
  • Sunday: 11 AM – 7 PM

Trubetskoy Bastion Prison:

  • Daily from 10 AM-7 PM;

Exhibition rooms:

  • Thursday – Monday: 11 AM – 7 PM
  • Tuesday: 11 AM – 6 PM
  • Wednesday: closed.

Entrance tickets:

  • With the Combined Ticket, you have access to all the buildings below for 2 days: 700 Rubles.
  • Sts Peter and Paul Cathedral: 550 Rubles;
  • Trubetskoy Bastion Prison: 250 Rubles
  • Museum of Space Exploration and Rocket Technology: 200 Rubles
  • History of St Petersburg – Petrograd. 1703 -1918: 200 Rubles
  • Museum of Science and Technology: 200 Rubles.
  • Keramarkh. Museum of architectural ceramics: 200 Rubles
  • History of Fortress Peter and Paul: 100 Rubles
  • Temporary exhibitions: 100-200 Rubles.

Mariinsky Theater

Are you ready to watch a ballet show that will take you to another world? If you come to St. Petersburg and want to experience a unique cultural experience, go to an opera or ballet show at the Mariinski Theater, the most spectacular theater in St. Petersburg!

The Mariinski Theater was named after the wife of Tsar Alexander II – Empress Maria Alexandrovna and it is the most spectacular place where you can attend opera and ballet performances in St. Petersburg.

The tickets prices differs from one show to another, and tickets can be purchased online.

How do you get here?

By metro to the stations Sadovaya (Line 5), Spasskaya (Line 4), or Sennaya Ploshchad (Line 2).

The equestrian statue of Peter the Great/ Bronze Horseman

Peter the Great Statue

The statue, the work of the French sculptor Etienne Maurice Falconet, was ordered by Catherine the Great as a tribute to Peter the Great, the founder of the city of St. Petersburg.

The statue depicting Peter the Great riding a horse, is perched on a red granite pedestal and it is also called the Bronze Horseman, as in Alexandr Pushkin’s poem.

The monument is located in Senate Square, a few minutes walk from the Hermitage Museum or St. Isaac’s Cathedral.

Peterhof Palace

The Peterhof Palace, located in Peterhof – 30 km from St. Petersburg, was built by Peter the Great. The palace complex comprises several gardens, fountains, and palaces and it is also called the Versailles of Russia, given that Peter the Great was inspired by the Versailles Palace when he ordered the erection of the palace.

We arrived here by bus and entered directly into the upper gardens, where admission is free. The upper gardens extend on a smaller surface than the lower gardens, and the color that predominates in the garden is green.

Peterhof Gardens

To enter the lower gardens you will have to pay the entrance ticket. The great palace is located between the 2 gardens, and the access to the palace is made from the lower gardens.

The first thing we noticed after entering the lower park was the splendid Grand Cascade (one of the 150 fountains in the park) positioned in front of the imposing palace. The fountain, decorated with golden sculptures, is the biggest attraction in the complex and work between 11 AM an 8:15 PM in the summer months.

Peterhof Grand Cascade

The park is very large and beautifully landscaped and it is divided into 3 parts: the central part – Grand, the western part called Marly and the eastern part called Monplaisir.

Inside the palace (The Grand Palace) we visited the ballrooms and the other rooms – which contained furniture, paintings or art exhibitions . We greatly appreciated the presence of the furniture, which made the experience more authentic.

Entry Tickets and Schedule:

  • Usually, between October 14 and April 24 most of the fountains in the park are closed. Before scheduling your visit, check on their website what the program is and what events are taking place at the palace.
  • Between October 14 and April 24, the upper and lower gardens can be visited for free between 9 AM and 6 PM, but in the other part of the year, only access to the upper gardens is free.
  • During the summer, entry tickets to the lower gardens cost 700 Rubles, and the park can be visited between 9 AM and 8 PM.

Grand Peterhof Palace:

  • Adult: 1000 Rubles.
  • Audio guide 500 Rubles.
  • Children under 16: free.
  • The program from October 14 to April 24: 10:30 AM to 6 PM.

Royal Church Museum:

  • Adult: 500 Rubles.
  • Children under 16: free.
  • The program from October 14 to April 24:10:30 AM to 5 PM.
  • More details about prices and program can be found here.

How do you get here?

We arrived at the palace by minibus (marshrutka with numbers 224, 300, 424, 424А) from the Avtovo metro station (line 1 – red). The minibus leaves from across the street from the only Avtovo Metro Station Exit and it has a station near the entrance gates to the palace.

Upon returning we took the same minibus, from the station across the street. The minibusse runs every 20 minutes.

We arrived at the palace in 35 minutes and the ticket cost only 70 Rubles/one direction and the payment is made directly to the driver.

You can take the boat from behind the Ermitaj Museum on the Neva River. The ticket costs 700 rubles/person and the journey takes about 30 minutes. The cruises leave every 20-30 minutes.

The taxi costs around 30 Euro in one direction.

The gardens and the Mikhailovsky Palace

Mikhailovsky Palace

Mikhailovsky Park is located in the city center, near the Savior Church and it is a pleasant place for a walk. Here is the Mikhailovsky Palace, which now houses the Russian State Museum.

The museum was opened by Nicholas II in honor of his father, Tsar Alexander III, who had assembled a large collection of Russian artists’ art works.

Entry tickets and timetables:

  • Admission to the park is free and entrance to the palace costs 800 Rubles.
  • Friday – Sunday and Wednesday: 10 AM – 6 PM;
  • Thursday: 1 PM- 9 PM;
  • Tuesday: closed;

Smolny Cathedral (Smolny Convent)

Smolny Convent

The cathedral, one of the most impressive creations of Bartolomeo Rastrelli, is located on the banks of the Neva River and was built by the order of Empress Elizabeth, the daughter of Peter the Great, who wanted to retire to the monastery at old age.

The cathedral can be visited from Thursday to Tuesday between 11 AM and 6 PM (closed on Wednesdays), and the entrance ticket costs 200 Rubles.

The nearest subway station – Chernyshevskaya station (line 1) is about 25 minutes walk from the cathedral. From the Chernyshevskaya station, you can reach the cathedral with buses 22, 46 or 105 and trolleybuses 1 and 15.

Singer House (Dom Knigi/ House of the Book)

Dom Knigi

The bookstore is located across the road from Kazan Cathedral, at the intersection of Nevski Prospekt Boulevard (the main street in the city) with the Griboyedov Canal. Now there is a bookstore and a souvenir shop, where we bought our souvenirs.

Cruise on the Neva:

St Petersburg Cruise

A special way to discover the city is during a cruise on the Neva River.

Trinity Cathedral

Trinity Cathedral

The cathedral is in the city center and it is one of the most beautiful churches in the city, the blue domes of the cathedral are visible from afar.

St. Petersburg Metro

The Moscow Metro is one of the city’s biggest attractions, but in St. Petersburg there are some spectacular metro stations too.


  • 5:30 – 1:00 AM;


  • One-way ticket: 45 rubles;
  • Ticket with 10 trips, valid 7 days: 355 rubles;
  • Ticket with 20 trips, valid for 15 days: 680 rubles;
  • Ticket with 40 trips, valid for 30 days: 1300 rubles;
  • You can find more details here.
  • From here you can print the metro map and here it is an interactive map of the Saint Petersburg metro.

Where to stay?

It is advisable to stay closer to a metro station (if you take the metro). We stayed at the Mark Hotel, which is a 2-minute walk down the Vasileostrovskaia Metro Station. It is a small hotel, that occupies one floor of a building, but very clean and modern, some rooms have a private bathroom and some common bathrooms.

If you want to visit the charming city of Moscow, read in this article about the sights of Moscow, and in this article you will find details that will help you organize your vacation in Russia.


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