Russia has been on my hit list since I was child, especially after going to cinema and watching the kids film “Anastasia” at the age of 7! I have always been put off by how the much it would cost to come visit. However, I finally bit the bullet and forked out the money to come visit the country that was high on my list.
St Petersburg is rich in imperial history! There is so much to do in St Petersburg you do wonder where you should start. Here is my guide to visiting St Petersburg when you only have a few days to explore this fabulous city!
1. Peterhof Palace
Just an hour out of the city lies the breathtaking Peterhof Palace that was built by Peter the Great. One of the Tsar’s of Imperial Russia. It was Peter’s wish that when he built this place, it was desired to be more grand the Palace of Versalles in Paris, especially the gardens! And his wish came true. The gardens are absolutely spectacular! My favourite part would have to be the trick fountains. Peter the Great invented these fountains to trick his guests and take them by surprise to get them wet. It was well suited to his sense of humour. You will be able to entertain yourself for a day here easily!
2. Catherine’s Palace
Now we move on to Catherine the Great. She would not be outdone by Peter, and has her own large palace not far from Peterhof, however the gardens are lacking in comparison. The inside is extremely grand and still has restoration taking place inside after the occupation of Nazi Germany in World War II. The most intriguing room in the palace is the Amber room. Russia is famous for it’s amber, and yep you guessed it, Catherine the Great had a room made out of Amber and is definitely a sight to see!
3. “The Hermitage” (Winter Palace)
The Hermitage, also known as the Winter Palace of the Tsar’s is located right on the river in the centre of the city. Its very pretty blue, white and gold exterior will have the shutter on your camera going. Inside holds one of the world famous art collections. You could easily spend a day in here looking at all the artwork. Also for you Anastasia fans (ME!), this is the palace the movie is based on. I could not help but take a turn around the elegant ballroom!
4. The Bronze Horseman
Ever read “The Bronze Horseman” by Paullina Simons and it pulled at the heart strings? See the statue from the story by Pushkin in the city centre. Maybe you will be able to find you own Alexander Barrington?
5. Drink Russian vodka
You wouldn’t be truly visiting Russia if you did not shot some of their very strong vodka! Russian vodka is stronger than any other vodka found in the world. If you couldn’t think of anything worse, there is a strategy to prevent that awful taste in your mouth! You simply breathe out, shot the vodka and then sniff/smell bread. Surprisingly it works a treat!
6. St Isaacs Cathedral
St Isaacs Cathedral is a large gold domed Cathedral in the centre that has a stunningly beautiful interior with many emerald panels. You can also climb up to the top of the dome for a good view over the city.
7. Wonder Nevsky Prospect
And shop until your heart is content.
8. Peter and Paul fortress
Take a walk over one of the many bridges to the other side of the city where you will find Peter and Paul Fortress. Within the fortress you can discover the contents of a couple of museums, the tower and a large church.
9. The Church of Spilled Blood
This church would have to be one the best churches I have been into in my time travelling Europe. The exterior is completely different to any church I have ever seen, whilst the interior is decorated all over with small gold mosaic work. Definitely a highlight of St Petersburg!
10. See a show
Whilst in Russia make sure you dive into the arts scene. There are a variety of shows on offer, whether it is folk, the Russian ballet or opera.
11. Boat cruise along the canals
Take an evening cruise along the river to see this fabulous city lit up at night time!
12. Summer Gardens
Located not far from the church of spilled blood is the summer garden. Here you will find many fountains and statues. It is a nice place to take a walk and people watch.
13. Alexander Nevsky Monument
At the end of Nevsky Propsect heading out of the city, you will find this famous monument. Just behind it you will find an orthodox Russian church that is very active. If you choose to go and have a look, make sure your legs and shoulders are covered as this is still a working church. Inside the grounds there is also a large cemetery and craft market place.
14. Visit one of the many other museums
There is a massive variety of different museums that you can pop into whilst in St Petersburg. As a local said to me, you could be in St Petersburg for two weeks as a tourist and still not see everything!
15. Eat Russian Dumplings
If you want to try a local delicacy, go no further than Russian dumplings. There are a variety of fillings on offer, from potato to meat. Make sure you also have them with sour cream!
Anything further to add? Let other MOW readers know your favourite spots in St Petersburg!