With three days in St. Petersburg, you have enough time to visit all the must-see sights, and tailor your itinerary to suit your interests. Take advantage of money-saving passes and combo tours, explore the city’s many museums, and experience Russian culture. Here are some ideas.
Day 1: Sightseeing in the city
St. Petersburg’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed city center is full of historic monuments and architectural marvels. To make the most of your time, opt to explore with a guide, or take a hop-on hop-off bus tour that lets you pick and choose the attractions that interest you most.
Spend the morning admiring the gigantic art collection of the State Hermitage Museum, including masterpieces by artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Picasso, and Rembrandt. Queues are notoriously long, so be sure to book skip-the-line tickets and don’t miss the gardens, where you’ll find the beautiful Winter Palace.
Next, visit Palace Square and perhaps do some shopping along Nevsky Prospekt, before visiting the magnificent Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood. The St. Nicholas Naval Cathedral, Kazan Cathedral, and Peter and Paul’s Cathedral are all popular photo stops, as is the Yusupov Palace, known as the spot where Rasputin was assassinated.
Day 2: Pushkin and Peterhof
Two of Russia’s most extravagant imperial palaces lie just outside St. Petersburg, and you can visit both on a full-day tour. Start with a guided tour of the 18th-century Catherine Palace in Pushkin, the former summer residence of Catherine I. Inside, the star attraction is the opulent Amber Room, a visual feast of amber panels, gold leaf, and mirrors, while the vast parklands are dotted with pretty pavilions and grottoes.
In the afternoon, visit Peterhof Palace, which was designed by Peter the Great in the 18th century and is nicknamed the Russian Versailles. A tour of the Grand Palace includes a look at the Throne Room, the Ballroom, and the Crown Room, while the idyllic gardens run right down to the seafront. The most impressive view is from the Fountain of Neptune, gazing down along the Grand Cascade.
Day 3: Experience Russian Culture
The Hermitage isn’t the only world-renowned museum in St. Petersburg; the Russian Museum is a must for fans of Russian art, while the Fabergé Museum is home to the legendary Fabergé Eggs. Or you could explore another mainstay of Russian culture with a visit to the Museum of Russian Vodka.
Spend the afternoon enjoying a quintessentially Russian experience: Visit the Yamskiye Baths to enjoy a traditional Russian sauna, learn to cook classic Russian dishes with a private cooking class, or have fun painting your own Matryoshka (nesting) dolls.
For your final evening in St. Petersburg, enjoy an unforgettable night at the ballet. The Mariinsky Theatre and Hermitage Theatre are among Russia’s most prestigious venues and hold regular performances of favorites like The Nutcracker and Swan Lake.