Visiting St. Petersburg for the First Time? Here's What to See and Do
Russia's second-largest city is brimming with architectural marvels, world-renowned museums, and royal palaces, but with so many must-see sights, it can be hard to know where to start. To help you get the most out of your trip, here are our top tips for first-time visitors to St. Petersburg.
Take a skip-the-line tour
Make the most of your first trip.
St. Petersburg’s most popular attractions have the queues to match—you could be waiting an hour or more at busy times. Book a skip-the-line tour instead and admire the views from St. Isaac’s Cathedral, explore the Fabergé Museum, or visit the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood.
Visit the Hermitage
It's a must-see for a reason.
One of the largest museums in the world, the Hermitage is a top destination for art lovers with more than three million items in its collection. Prebook skip-the-line tickets to avoid the long queues and explore with a guide to make the most of your time and ensure you don’t miss any of the highlights.
Cruise the canals
Take in the city from the water.
Set sail along St. Petersburg’s romantic canals and discover why the city is nicknamed the Venice of the North. Glide along the Neva River and beneath the city’s famous bridges on a day tour; opt for a night cruise and admire illuminated landmarks such as the Peter and Paul Fortress and Mikhailovsky Castle; or experience the White Nights of St. Petersburg on a midnight summer cruise.
Explore the Peterhof Palace
It's a must-do day trip.
If you only have time for one day trip, make it a tour of Peterhof Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ride the ferry across the Gulf of Finland from the Hermitage, and then spend the rest of the day exploring the seafront palace and gardens where Peter the Great once lived.
Sample Russian vodka
When in Russia...
You can’t visit Russia without trying the national drink. Head to the Russian Vodka Museum for a vodka and caviar tasting, or visit one of the city’s many ryumochnaya bars and order a shot and a snack.
Ride the metro
Practical and picturesque.
Riding the subway in St. Petersburg doubles up as a sightseeing trip—venture underground to admire the grand architecture and elaborate mosaics beneath the city. A tour of the city’s metro stations covers the most impressive, including Avtovo, Zvenigorodskaya, and Pushkinskaya stations.