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Things to do in St. Petersburg

Things to do in  St Petersburg

Welcome to St Petersburg

Since being founded by Tsar Peter the Great and built on a desolate swamp, St. Petersburg—the former capital of the Russian Empire—has become a national symbol of historical heritage, vibrant cultural life, and sheer beauty. The city’s canals and grand architecture, drawn with bright colors and white light, show why so many of Russia’s famous artists and poets have sprung from the so-called Venice of the North. Taking a city tour with a local guide is a sure way to best explore the city’s highlights and deeply understand their history. Tours explore the magnificent Baroque-style Winter Palace (formerly home to Empress Catherine the Great, and now part of the State Hermitage Museum), the Peter and Paul Fortress on the Neva River, St. Isaac’s Cathedral, the Peterhof Palace, the Fabergé Museum, and more. You could spend years admiring the State Hermitage Museum’s astounding collection of fine art, comprised of works by everyone from Raphael to Rembrandt to Renoir—tackle its 2.7 million pieces on a guided tour. For even more culture, enjoy a Russian folk show at Nikolayevsky Palace. And you can’t miss the Church of the Saviour on the Spilled Blood, which—with its dramatic name and many towers—has become an emblem of this majestic Russian city.

Top 15 attractions in St Petersburg

#1
State Hermitage Museum

State Hermitage Museum

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The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg is the largest art and cultural museum in the world, with more than 3 million items in its collection—only a fraction of which are on display in its 360 rooms. The main museum complex comprises six historic buildings on the Palace Embankment and includes exhibitions of works of art from the 13th to 20th centuries, as well as Egyptian and classical antiquities and prehistoric art.More
#2
Yusupov Palace (Yusupovsky Dvorets)

Yusupov Palace (Yusupovsky Dvorets)

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Rising up from the banks of the Moyka River, the distinctive canary-yellow façade of Yusupov Palace (Yusupovsky Dvorets harbors a rich history. One of four palaces belonging to the aristocratic Yusupov family, it’s known for its remarkably preserved interiors and as the site where Grigory Rasputin was murdered in 1916.More
#3
Peter and Paul Fortress (Petropavlovskaya Krepost)

Peter and Paul Fortress (Petropavlovskaya Krepost)

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The looming yellow cathedral tower and star-shaped fortifications of the Peter and Paul Fortress dominate St. Petersburg’s riverfront, rising up from the shores of Zayachy Island. Built by Peter the Great in 1703, the fortress boasts a long history, having served as a military base, royal burial site, and political prison.More
#4
Central Naval Museum

Central Naval Museum

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Housed in imposing red-brick barracks along the Kryukov Canal, the Central Naval Museum is one of the world’s largest maritime museums and dates back to 1805. More than 700,000 items make up the huge permanent collection, offering comprehensive insight into Russia’s maritime heritage and military prowess.More
#5
Neva River (Reka Neva)

Neva River (Reka Neva)

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Long considered to be the lifeline of St. Petersburg, the Neva River (Reka Neva) flows through the capital city from Lake Ladoga in northwestern Russia, eventually making its way to the Gulf of Finland in the Baltic Sea. Visit this historically important waterway to learn about the region’s history and see the city sites.More
#6
Winter Palace of Peter the Great at the Hermitage

Winter Palace of Peter the Great at the Hermitage

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While the magnificent Winter Palace is now home to the immense State Hermitage Museum, part of the original royal residence—known as the Winter Palace of Peter the Great (Peter I)—has been preserved, allowing visitors a glimpse of the emperor’s grand living quarters and personal items.More
#7
Military Historical Artillery Museum

Military Historical Artillery Museum

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Housed in an imposing horseshoe-shaped brick building, the Military Historical Artillery Museum is an impressive structure. The central courtyard is flanked by armoured tanks, and the Russian flag rises proudly from the roof. Inside, the museum houses one of the largest collections of military equipment in the world.More
#8
Fabergé Museum

Fabergé Museum

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Housed in the suitably opulent Shuvalov Palace, the Fabergé Museum is a tribute to legendary Russian jeweler Peter Carl Fabergé. The St. Petersburg highlight showcases Russia’s treasured series of Fabergé eggs alongside a dazzling collection of Russian art, jewelry, and artifacts.More
#9
Catherine Palace and Park

Catherine Palace and Park

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Once the summer residence of the Russian tsars and now a museum, Catherine Palace was named after Catherine I, who had it built in 1717. The structure was later rebuilt into an elaborately decorated Rococo-style palace in 1756 by Bartolomeo Rastrelli under the direction of Empress Elizabeth, meant to rival the Palace of Versailles in France. Today, the palace is famous for its baroque style and neoclassical interior that exemplifies Russian wealth and extravagance. Its main attractions are the Grand Hall, the opulent Amber Room, which is lined with gilded amber wall panels and ornate furniture, and the 1,400-acre (566-hectare) Catherine Park with its masterful landscaping.More
#10
Mariinsky Theatre

Mariinsky Theatre

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The Mariinsky is St. Petersburg’s most notable theater, home to the Kirov Ballet (now known as the St. Petersburg Mariinsky Ballet in Russia, and a venue for opera and classical music. As well as the 19th-century building, modern additions have added to the performance space. Arts and culture lovers shouldn’t miss seeing a performance, such as Swan Lake or Anna Karenina.More
#11
Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood

Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood

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St. Petersburg’s most iconic site after the Hermitage Museum, the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is known for its elaborate façade and brightly colored onion domes. Officially the Church of the Resurrection of Christ, the magnificent church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated in 1881.More
#12
C-189 Submarine Museum

C-189 Submarine Museum

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A diesel-electric attack submarine from the early Cold War era, the C-189 was built in 1954 and used in the Soviet navy until 1990. Nowadays, visitors can get onboard and explore the docked submarine-turned-museum.More
#13
Pushkin Museum

Pushkin Museum

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Alexander Pushkin was Russia’s most celebrated poet and the Pushkin Museum and Memorial Apartment is a lasting memorial to his life and work. Located in one of the oldest stone mansions in St Petersburg, the apartment museum is just two blocks from Nevsky Prospekt on the banks of the Moika River. A fine example of a nobleman’s apartment in the 1830s, it became a museum in 1925.The carefully preserved apartment is where Pushkin lived in 1836 and 1837 and where he died after being wounded in a duel. The centerpiece of the museum is Pushkin’s study, where objects belonging to his family, friends and contemporaries are on display. Visitors can also see Pushkin’s writing desk, a death mask, a lock of his hair and other personal items. In the basement of the building are exhibits on the history of the house, Pushkin’s life in St Petersburg in 1836, and the duel that killed him.More
#14
Smolny Cathedral (Smol'nyy Sobor)

Smolny Cathedral (Smol'nyy Sobor)

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Smolny Cathedral (Smol'nyy Sobor) is a cathedral and convent located on the banks of the River Neva in St. Petersburg, Russia. It was built in the mid 1700s in a Baroque style, and it is one of the most recognizable buildings in the city due to its striking blue color. It was originally built to house Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great. Since being denied the throne, she intended to become a nun. However, once her predecessor was overthrown, she was able to take her place as the Empress of Russia instead. Work on the cathedral was stopped when Catherine II came to power, and it wasn't until around 1835 when work started again. Due to this, the interior was done in a neo-classical style.The cathedral is laid out in the shape of a cross with four smaller churches in the corners. Visitors can also see the detailed church spires and the clock tower which stands at 308 feet tall. Today the cathedral is used primarily as a concert hall. The surrounding convent buildings are used as governmental offices as well as faculty buildings for St. Petersburg State University.More
#15
Bronze Horseman

Bronze Horseman

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The Bronze Horseman is a statue of Peter the Great on a horse. Catherine the Great had the statue built in the late 1700s to honor Peter the Great as the founder of the city of St. Petersburg. She commissioned the French sculptor Etienne-Maurice Falconet who had spent a long time studying the movements of horsemen on reared mounts. The horse stands on a rock meant to represent a cliff. This huge block of granite weighs more than 1,600 tons and took more than nine months to transport from the Gulf of Finland.Visitors can still see an inscription on the stone that says "to Peter the First from Catherine the Second” in Latin on one side and in Russian on the other side. The statue faces west to represent Peter “leading Russia forward” because he drew inspiration from countries in the west. Legend has it that St Petersburg can never be taken by enemy forces as long as the statue remains standing in Senatskaya Square. You will often see newlyweds having their wedding photos taken in front of the statue.More

Trip ideas

Top Parks and Gardens in St. Petersburg

Top Parks and Gardens in St. Petersburg


All about St Petersburg

When to visit

St. Petersburg fires on all cylinders winter and spring, when its weather hits the sweet spot of comfortably hot and dry. Outdoor events come thick and fast December through June, from holiday-season boat parades and the Firestone Grand Prix in March, to April’s Mainsail Art Festival, and Pride in June. Crowds thin when late summer brings muggy heat and a hurricane risk.

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