If you’re visiting St. Petersburg, Russia anytime soon, or even if you’re just planning to visit, you’re probably very excited because you know there are a lot of fun things to do and places to see. Unfortunately, you can’t do and see everything there is in the city in a short amount of time: it’s just so much out there.
It can be disappointing if you’ll miss out on a few local attractions and you don’t want that, right?!
That’s why the key is to be smart and learn to prioritize. Here I made for you a list of the top 10 best things to do in St. Petersburg, Russia – so even if you don’t get a chance to do other things aside from these ten, your trip will be well worth it.
- 1. Visit the Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood.
Don’t leave St. Petersburg without visiting this local attraction known locally as “Spas na Krovi” – the Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood. You don’t need to be religious to appreciate one of the most beautiful churches in Russia. Its old Russian style will surely mesmerize you even when viewed from a distance as far as the other side of the city.
You’ll have to pay a small fee to enter the church as it is a museum. To be honest, it’s not as impressive on the inside and in my opinion, it’s not worth going in unless you are really into the history of this church.
Make sure to take a lot of pictures of this beautiful church and buy some Russian souvenirs outside at the market.
How long to visit: 30 minutes – 1 hour.
Cost: free if you are not going in, 250 Rubles to enter the church.
- 2. Walk along Nevsky prospect.
Nevsky prospect – the oldest and the main street of St. Petersburg. Taking a walk along Nevsky prospect you can enjoy a special atmosphere of the city and see what Petersburg is about. Nevsky prospect is around 4.5 km long – on the way don’t miss a chance to go to one of the coffee shops or sushi bars.
How long to visit: 1-2 hours.
- 3. Climb the steps of the St. Isaac’s Cathedral.
Don’t let the 300 steps intimidate you. Toughen it up and climb the steps and you’ll be rewarded with an amazing view of the city (it is actually the best spot in the city center of St. Petersburg). Make sure to bring your camera to take some awesome pictures.
That’s not all. The St. Isaac’s cathedral itself is a very popular attraction. It has a gold dome and is very decorative. As a trivia, it’s the 3rd largest cathedral with a dome in the whole world.
I recommend you to check out my other post about the colonnade of the St. Isaac’s Cathedral.
How long to visit: 1-2 hours.
Cost: 250 Rubles to enter the cathedral museum, 150 Rubles to climb the steps to the colonnade.
- 4. Check out the State Hermitage Museum and Winter Palace.
The Hermitage in St. Petersburg is one of the best art museums in the world. One look at it and it will be pretty hard to argue against that claim. At the very least, it’s one of the most popular art museums in the world. That’s understandable considering the fact that it has more than 2.7 million quality exhibits. Let that number sink in.
With these many exhibits, make sure to set aside at least 3 hours of your day for you to really appreciate what it has to offer. If you can, set aside at least half a day. Spend more if you’re a lover of the arts.
A lot of tourists are saying that it has the best collection of historical and artistic exhibits that can be found in one place. With this feedback, you just know that a visit to St. Petersburg won’t be complete without a visit to this museum and it is a must thing to do while in town.
How long to visit: 2-4 hours.
Cost: 300-700 Rubles. It is cheaper to purchase tickets at the museum on the day of the visit instead of buying them online.
- 5. Take your family and kids to the Peterhof.
The Peterhof is one of the most popular places in St. Petersburg area – your kids would love to spend a day out here.
The centerpiece is the gold and white palace that’s filled with 18th-century artistic paintings and decorative rooms. Of course, you’ll also get to appreciate the massive 1400 acre park that surrounds it. Your kids and your whole family will enjoy the Great Pond along with the bridges and fountains around it.
A trip to Peterhof (it is located in the suburbs, like 40 minutes away from the city) is a perfect thing to do in St. Petersburg on a nice sunny day!
How long to visit: half a day.
Cost: an entrance to the Peterhof Lower park with fountains 500 Rubles in the summer, free in the winter.
- 6. Watch the Palace Bridge elevate.
The Palace Bridge is a very simple looking bridge. It’s quite ordinary when it’s in place. This is why you have to wait for it to elevate. You’ll be amazed at the view that it will produce, especially with the imposing SS Peter & Paul Cathedral in the background.
This bridge is located on the Neva River. Make sure to visit at night for a better view and make sure to admire it from a distance to capture the SS Peter & Paul Cathedral.
- 7. Enjoy Russian ballet at the Mariinsky Theater.
You haven’t seen ballet if you haven’t seen Russian ballet and the best place to enjoy it in St. Petersburg is the Mariinsky Theater. Here, you’ll see the real Russian ballet.
The theater is particularly popular for the Kirov Ballet. If you’re a lover of the arts, you should watch a performance at this theater.
It also has a historical significance. Before the Revolution, the stage was home to some of the best classical performers that Russia has seen. While you won’t see these performers in action anymore, the atmosphere here is like during the pre-revolution days.
Cost: 3000-8000 Rubles.
- 8. Witness a political demonstration at the Palace Square.
The Palace Square is the favorite place of activists for a political demonstration and for good reason. After all, it has historical significance. In the past, it has witnessed several historic events like the Winter Palace storming and the Bloody Sunday.
It’s still a good place to visit even if there’s no political demonstration happening. This amazing plaza features architectures that contrast one another but put together, they work quite well even with the contrasting looks. You’ll also enjoy the wide spaces so you’ll have room to breathe even if it’s a popular tourist destination.
This should be a short visit. It won’t take you an hour to enjoy this place. Check it out, take a few pictures and carry-on going to the museums and cathedrals.
How long to visit: 15 minutes.
- 9. Wander around the grounds of the Tsarskoye Selo.
Tsarskoye Selo is a similar place to Peterhof. This is a museum, but it’s more known for its serene grounds. A lot of tourists actually plan their itinerary with a visit to the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum to rest and relax. You can just wander around the grounds and take in the sights while enjoying the fresh air. There are also a lot of places where you can just sit down with your family and eat while resting your tired and weary feet.
As a tip, the best time to visit St. Peterburg around the month of October. This is when autumn is in full swing and you’ll get to enjoy the season’s picturesque colors. It can get pretty crowded, though, but that’s okay since it’s still relaxing.
How long to visit: half a day.
Cost: an entrance to the park is 120 Rubles from May to the end of October. An additional cost to enter the Catherine’s Palace – 1000 Rubles.
- 10. Experience prestige at the Mikhailovsky Opera and Ballet Theater.
The Mikhailovsky Opera and Ballet Theater is accepted as the most prestigious musical theater in St. Petersburg. This recognition has been the theater’s “calling card” since 2007. Add that to the fact that it reclaimed its historic and rightful name in 2001 and it’s been a good start to the century for the theater.
The theater is known for its role in helping preserve the musical theater traditions of Russia. It’s a tall order considering the fact that these traditions have been around for centuries.
Plan your visit to St. Petersburg now!
These are some of the best things to do in St. Petersburg, Russia when you are traveling for a short amount of time. You can already see that you’ll be quite busy admiring and enjoying what the city has to offer. Don’t forget that St. Petersburg is also famous for its wild nightlife.
If you plan well, you’ll be able to do most of these things. This is why it’s a good idea to plan in advance. Make sure to check out each activity further and do more research. As a tip, visit them strategically to maximize your time and effort.
Additionally, make sure to book a hotel that will allow you to do these things strategically. Being a popular destination, St. Petersburg has a lot of accommodation options for all budgets. If you book a hotel months in advance, you should be able to choose one according to your budget and preference.
Plan your visit now and enjoy your time in St. Petersburg!
Do you have any questions about St. Petersburg, it’s sights or places to stay? Don’t hesitate to ask your question in the comments, I’ll be more than welcome to help you out! I’ve been to St. Petersburg many times and I can share with you my knowledge and personal experience!