The splendid city created by Peter the Great is definitely unlike any other in Europe. Rich history, magnificent architecture and grand beauty will make you fall in love with St. Petersburg right away! Feel like a tsar walking down the gorgeous palaces and strolling the wonderful canals, and although 3 days is not nearly enough to meet the city, here is how to spend them in the best possible way!
We suggest you start your visit taking a walk down the central avenue, Nevsky Prospect, around which most of the sights, and shops are situated. This 2,5 miles long avenue is really long and you can literally dedicate your entire day to exploring it, but since you don’t have that much time, take a stroll, see the most interesting shops and definitely, stop for a breakfast in any of the numerous cafes where you can get it for around 10€.
Continue your walk and stop to see Kazan Cathedral. This amazing construction and one of the largest cathedrals in the city is a half-round colonnade with a grassy yard, very popular among both locals and tourists. Your next stop is when you cross Nevsky Prospect on the other side. Go straight to the Russian Museum, but stop to admire Mikhailovsky Park and the theater on your way. The Russian Museum is right where the splendid Mikhailovsky Palace is and it is one of the largest in the country being the largest depository of Russian fine art. Mikhailovsky Palace was once a place where the most famous poets and writers were coming and its salon gathered the best musicians from all over the Europe.
When you’re done with the museum and ready to continue, take a little time to walk through the beautiful Mikhailovsky Garden. After you soak up the magic atmosphere, continue your walk to the magnificent Church of Saviour on Spilled Blood, built on the place where Alexander II was wounded to death. Its detailed exterior and interior covered in mosaic is fascinating.
At this point you might feel exhausted from all the sightseeing so we suggest you stop for a lunch. You have several good restaurants around the area (low and high budget) such as Tsar (top class Russian food in a beautiful surroundings), L’Europe Restaurant (high-quality Russian food), Gras (fusion kitchen with vegan options) or SB Burger (tasty burgers if you don’t want to spend a fortune).
The best thing after lunch is to take a walk to one more beauty that has to be seen on your way, Summer Garden, the most famous garden in the city where Peter the Great’s first Summer Palace is located too. This is a place where you can simply enjoy the colours, surroundings and relax. The garden is open everyday, 10:00-21:00 in the summer and 10:00-19:30 in the winter (except on Tuesdays).
St. Petersburg is a city of 42 islands surrounded by rivers and canals which is why many like to call it ‘’Venice of the North’’. According to this, you can guess that one of the most important experiences is to explore the city by strolling the canals, and that is exactly what we suggest as a last ‘’to do’’ of the day. A lot of agencies and companies offer the service of cruising with various boat sizes and durances of the trip. However, have in mind that cruising might not be an option if you arrive in the winter months.
Round up your day with a dinner or something of your choice, take a rest and get ready for the next day!
Once again, start the day by walking through the Nevsky Prospect, this time all the way to the River Neva. Right before you will see the famous Palace Square what is considered to be the main city’s square. Many events took place on this historical square such as Bloody Sunday massacre and the October Revolution of 1917. The most notable sight on the square is the stunning Winter Palace, the main residence of the Russian tsars. This beautiful green-and-white Baroque-style building is also known as the main building of the Hermitage Museum, one of the largest and most respected museums in the world. Around 3 million is the number of art pieces that can be seen in the museum making it a home to one of the largest painting collections in the world. Use the opportunity to see the greatest artists such as Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Van Gogh, Monet etc. For all the detailed information about the museum, check their official website.
The lines for the certain exhibitions can take some time, in general, art lovers can spend hours in the museum. When you are ready to continue we suggest you take a break for a lunch. Since you might not find restaurants right around the palace, we will suggest you the ones which are close to your next sightseeing spot, Percorso or Schast’ye u Isaakiya.
If you considered our suggestions, then your next stop is a few meters away – St. Isaac’s Cathedral. This unique masterpiece is the biggest Orthodox cathedral in Russia, and fourth in the world. Also, it is the second tallest building in the city and there is an access to the observation deck which is one of the biggest tourist attractions.
We will stop today’s sightseeing here and suggest you to use a bit more time to simply walk down the river bank because that is one of the most beautiful experiences because it gives you the perfect view on many sights. During the Navigation season (April – November) you get the chance to see the bridges open to let the ships pass.
At this point we suggest you experience one of the top attractions in the city and that is a theater performance. One of the most famous theaters are Mikhailovsky Theater, Mariinsky Theater and Bolshoi Academic Drama Theater. The best option is to check their schedules in advance, before your trip, and pre-book the ticket for your desired performance to make sure this is on your schedule while there. In that case, get back to the hotel and get ready for the glamorous night. NOTE: St. Petersburg Theater Season starts in autumn and ends right before the summer. The best ballets and operas can be found in the winter period.
The third and the last day is dedicated for the area across the River Neva. First head to the small islet situated in the heart of the city. There rises the foundation and the first building of St. Petersburg – Peter and Paul’s Fortress. The fortress actually contains various buildings and museums and the famous Peter and Paul Cathedral. Besides the Cathedral, which is also the burial place of Russian tsars, what you definitely shouldn’t miss is the still functioning Saint Petersburg Mint, Trubetskoy Bastion with its grim prison cells and the State Museum of the History of St. Petersburg. For the stunning panorama walk to the top of the fortress wall from Naryshkin to Gosudarev Bastion. Take your time to explore the islet and if you wish to make a break for lunch, you might not find many so the best option would be to continue to your next stop where you will find a lot of them.
NOTE: To get to the fortress the best option is to take a metro to Gorkovskaya station and then walk around 5 minutes to the entrance of the fortress.
Speaking of your next stop, it is time to head to Vasilyevski Island, also situated across the River Neva. Make sure you don’t go around hungry so treat yourself with one last lunch in places such as Tibilsi, Loza or Dans Le Noir.
Walk to the easternmost tip of the island and wander around Strelka, the landmark of the island. On this spot you have the best view on every sight you’ve seen previously. This is also a place where Peter the Great wanted the city’s administrative to be, so here you will find a line of historically important buildings and museums. The Rostral columns are the true symbol of the city dating back to 1810, especially impressive on public holidays when their 32 meters high beacons are lit on fire.
Now prepare for something bizarre, one more thing that needs to be seen in this area is the first museum in Russia – Kuntskamera. We will warn you that this museum is not necessarily for everyone and that it can be slightly shocking because the collections include things such as jarred foetuses, Siamese twins, tumors, skeletons etc. Peter the Great opened this museum in 1727 in order to educate people about science due to a lot of prejudices and superstitions around the children with disabilities or abnormalities in that period. Anyway, we suggest you visit it because this might be the weirdest museum in the whole Russia.
When you’re done with the Vasilyevski Island, how about spending your last night in St. Petersburg in a relaxing way heading to a bar or maybe a discoteque? The city has a really vibrant nightlife and a lot of various themes, so the best would be to check the programs of certain places in advance. Some of the best clubs and bars in the city are Rossi’s club, JFC Jazz Club, Barrel, Lomonosov Club and Bar, Dead Poets Bar, Raskolnikov Bar, Red Fox Jazz Club and more. No matter what you choose, we believe it is going to be a night to remember and a sweet end to your trip to St. Petersburg.
In case you have the opportunity to stay a day or two more, add a few more attractions such as Peterhof, Lomonosov and Kronstadt.