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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 10 attractions in St Petersburg

#1

St. Isaac’s Cathedral (Isaakievskiy Sobor)

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With its gigantic golden dome coated with over 220 pounds of gold and an impressive red granite portico, St Isaac’s Cathedral looks more like a palace than a cathedral, and it’s no surprise that the eye-catching masterpiece is among St. Petersburg’s most visited attractions. Commissioned by Tsar Alexander I in 1818 to mark the defeat of Napoleon, the magnificent cathedral took over 40 years to build and still ranks among the largest domed cathedrals in the world, with a capacity for up to 14,000 worshippers. Set on the banks of the Neva River, the cathedral’s extravagant design was the work of French architect Auguste de Montferrand, blending Renaissance, Baroque and Neoclassical elements, and sparing no expenses. The cathedral interiors are equally lavish, featuring painstakingly sculpted reliefs, grand bronze doors and a colonnaded iconostasis adorned with semiprecious gems.More
#2

State Hermitage Museum

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The State Hermitage (Государственный Эрмитаж) is one of the largest and oldest art and cultural museums in the world. The museum was originally built privately under the orders of Catherine the Great, housing her ever-growing collection; however, in 1852, the doors were opened to the public, since acquiring enough art to fill its six magnificent buildings residing along the Neva embankment and near the Winter Palace. The museum displays an array of work, with pieces that exhibit the development of world art from the beginning of recorded history through modern day. The museum shows perhaps the most impressive displays of primitive art, archaeology and cultural pieces, as well as work from the Soviet era. There are also large Western European art exhibits that feature sculptures, applied arts and paintings from the 13th century onward, as well as Egyptian antiquities that bring the life and culture of ancient Mesopotamia to life.More
#3

Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood

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Possibly the most iconic site in St. Petersburg after the Hermitage Museum, the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood stands out with its multicolored façade and onion-shaped domes. Sometimes called the Church of the Resurrection of Christ or the Resurrection Church, it was built on the site near the Griboedov Canal where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated in 1881. Completed in 1907, the church’s design was inspired by traditional Russian styles, as well as St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow and the Vladimir Cathedral in Kiev. The interior, designed by some of the most popular Russian artists at the time, features more than 7500 square feet of mosaic tiles covering the walls and ceilings. The church endured significant damage over the years, first in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution and later during the Siege of Leningrad during World War II, when it was used as a morgue.More
#4

Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan (Kazansky Sobor)

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Completed in 1811 and standing at an impressive 203 feet tall (62 meters), St Petersburg's Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan exhibits Russian classical architecture, having replaced a wooden church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary. The cathedral took 10 years to construct and today encircles a small square with a double row of beautiful columns, while the interior is adorned with the works of some of the country's greatest artists and sculptors, such as I.P. Prokofyev and F.G. Gordeev, with reliefs on the facade by I.P. Martos, S.S. Pimenov and I.P. Martos. Among some of the cathedral's other beauties are the Tsar's silver-casted gates and a golden frame decorated with precious stones, made specifically for the Icon of Our Lady of Kazan. The site has served as the setting for many of Russia’s historical events, including Tsesarevish Pavel Petrovich’s marriage and the celebration of many Russian military victories.More
#5

Nevsky Prospekt

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Nevsky Prospekt (Не́вский проспе́кт) is the most famous street in Russia and main street of St. Petersberg, spanning from the Admiralty (Адмиралтейства) to the Alexander Nevsky Monastery (Александро-Невской лавры). As a major central street in the city, Nevsky Prospekt is oft the stomping grounds for many holiday, national, and other celebrations, such as Victory Day, and Day of the City, hosting events from festivals to parades. The street is also home to many sculptures that captures both Russian heroes and historical figures including Nevsky himself, Catherine the Great, city hero of Leningrad Obelisk, Kutuzov, and one of Mikhail Barclay do Tolly, located in the Kazan area.More
#6

Peterhof State Museum-Reserve (Muzeya-Zapovednika Peterhof)

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Petrhof (Петерго́ф) or “Peter’s yard” is considered the fountain capital of the world and is in the eyes of any visitor, an absolute gem of environs in St. Petersburg. Consisting of 64 fountains, 255 sculptures not to mention the Grand Palace (Большой дворец), and other historic palaces Monplaisir (Монплезир) and Marly (Дворец Марли), as well as the pavilion known as Hermitage (Дворец Марли). In the upper garden resides the Fountain of Neptune (Фонтан Нептун), cast in lead with a majestic portrait of Neptune on a pedestal as well as horses and dolphins.). The lower park spans over 102 ha contains the famous monplaisir Palace located in the eastern part of the park, and was considered the favorite of Peter I. The lower park also houses Catherine’s body (Екатерининский корпус), built by Rastrelli and containing 2 buildings connected by a gallery.).More
#7

Fabergé Museum

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Peter Carl Fabergé was born in St Petersburg in 1846 and went into the family jewelry business. Appointed to serve the Russian court in 1885, he became the darling of the ill-fated Russian Imperial family for his intricate golden eggs, jewelry and ornate carved clocks. Following the assassination of the Romanovs in 1918, the Bolsheviks stole the Imperial jewelry collection and Fabergé fled to Lausanne, Switzerland, where he died two years later. In over 35 years of Tsarist patronage, Faberge, his diamond cutters and goldsmiths created 54 gold eggs for them to mark significant occasions from coronations to royal weddings; of these, only 47 are accounted for. Post Communism, Russia has been quietly buying back its cultural heritage, and as the most famous name in Tsarist decorative arts, the fabulously bling Fabergé eggs were deservedly awarded their own museum in 2013.More
#8

Peter and Paul Fortress (Petropavlovskaya Krepost)

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No visit to St Petersburg is really complete without spending a few hours at the site where it all began – the Peter & Paul Fortress. This is the original citadel of the city, built on Hare Island near the north bank of the Neva River between 1706 and 1740. And this is where you can get a feel for St Petersburg’s more than 300 year old history, from royal tombs to prison blocks to historical museum exhibitions. The Peter & Paul Fortress was originally built to protect Russia’s new capital from a possible Swedish attack, but it never really served that purpose. Instead, it soon became a prison for high-ranking and political prisoners, beginning with Alexey, the son of Peter the Great. In 1872, a new prison within the walls of the Trubetskoy Bastion was built and over the next forty years, it held thousands of prisoners who were considered to be enemies of the state.More
#9

Neva River (Reka Neva)

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Long upheld as the lifeline of the city, the Neva River runs straight through the heart of St Petersburg, with its many tributaries and canal ways crisscrossing the city center. For visitors to St. Petersburg, following the path of the Neva River makes a popular route for walking tours and sightseeing cruises, with many of the city’s top attractions lining its banks. The grand façades of the Anichkov Palace, the Winter Palace and the Mariinsky Theatre, the Classicist buildings of New Holland Island, the historic Peter and Paul Fortress and the lush Summer Gardens all face onto the waterfront, punctuated by iconic drawbridges like the Peter the Great Bridge and the Palace Bridge. The most romantic time to stroll along the Neva River is in late June or early July during the city’s famous ‘White Nights’, a phenomenon caused by the city’s high latitude where the sun never sets.More
#10

Catherine Palace and Park

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Catherine Palace (Екатеринский дворец) is one of Russia’s former imperial palaces and summer residence to its tsar’s built on the orders of Catherine I. Now a museum, the baroque style palace has a neoclassical interior that exemplifies Russian wealth and extravagance. The palace is best known for the grand suit Golden Enfilade (анфилад), which was designed by Bartolomeo Rastrelli, containing the ballroom known as the Grand Hall or Hall of Lights, and Art Galleries (Большому залу и Картинной галерее); with an immaculate ceiling painting, and sprawls out with distinctively decorated smaller rooms. Outside the palace is the divine Catherine Park (Екатеринский парк), comprised of 2 parts including the old garden and English Park (Английского парка). Designed by master Dutch gardeners Jan Roosen and Johan Vocht during the 18th century, the garden contains various elements including the Vangaza stream, which flows down to the Upper and Mill ponds.More

Trip ideas

How to Tackle St. Petersburg as a First Timer

How to Tackle St. Petersburg as a First Timer

Top Parks and Gardens in St. Petersburg

Top Parks and Gardens in St. Petersburg

Top activities in St Petersburg

Small Group Two Day St Petersburg

Small Group Two Day St Petersburg

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From
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Recent reviews from experiences in St Petersburg

star-5
Excellent experience & service
Katrina_S, Feb 2021
3-Days in St Petersburg: All-inclusive Private Tour with Professional Guide
We would never be able to see so much without guide and personal driver.
star-5
Great overview of the city
Brenda_G, Dec 2020
2-Day Group Shore Excursion in St Petersburg with Faberge Museum & Boat Cruise
This was a great tour to see St Petersburg from land and water.
star-5
Awesome experience :)
Fmicheviz, Mar 2020
2-Day Private Tour of St Petersburg with Peterhof & Catherine's Palace
It was an awesome experience, Nadia has lots of knowlodge of everything in St Petersburg, she took me even to see one Catholic church wich was not in the itinerary, because i said i wanted to see.
star-4
St Petersburg 2 day tour
tonyk328, Sep 2019
Shore Excursion: 2-Day St. Petersburg City Tour
There is a lot to see in St Petersburg so any 2 day tour needs a balance of seeing sights and not being too hectic.
star-5
Great excursion
eleanorawhitney, Sep 2019
Mini-Group 2-Day Shore Excursion of St Petersburg Must-Sees and Boat Cruise
she was spectacular and knowledgeable about russian places and history and life and spoke excellent english.
star-5
excellent excusions, wonderful gudie
BKD6611, Aug 2019
Discover St Petersburg in 4 Days with Private Guide
She avoided the big crowds in the Winter Palace which was a blessing.
star-5
Good
chsimon2019, Aug 2019
St Petersburg 2 Day Mini-Group Tour Introducing All Highlights of the City And Its Suburbs
Cover many attractions.
star-5
Amazing!
Curiosity222878, Aug 2019
Private Shore-Excursion: 1-Day Fully Flexible St Petersburg Tour
There's a lot to see in St Petersburg on one day so take it slow and don't rush,you won't make everything anyway but whatever you see, enjoy it and take you time.
star-5
St. Petersburg
FidelizAnnA, Jul 2019
Shore Excursion: 2-Day St. Petersburg City Tour
Our tour guide Nina went above and beyond to cover important sights to see and she was very detailed and knowledgeable about facts and history of the place.
star-5
St Petersburg
Discover37107346072, Jul 2019
2 Day Top-Guided Mini-Group Shore Excursion Introducing The Best of Saint-Petersburg And Its Surroundings
This is the way to visit st petersburg.
star-5
Great experience!
21Daleen, Jul 2019
Small-Group St Petersburg Hermitage Museum Tour with Skip-the-Line Entry
I plan to visit the Hermitage again during my stay in St Petersburg, so this tour was an excellent introduction and orientation to the museum.
star-5
Lovely place, brilliant guide!
steverose47, Jul 2019
2-Day Group Shore Excursion in St Petersburg with Faberge Museum & Boat Cruise
Our tour guide (Alina) was brilliant, very friendly with excellent knowledge of all the attractions in St Petersburg.
star-5
Wonderful St Petersburg Tour
damplion, Jun 2019
St Petersburg 2 Day Top-Guided Optimized Mini-Group Tour Introducing The Best of the City And Its Suburbs
Olga was a wonderful tour director with excellent English skills and knowledge of the area.
star-5
Best way to see both palaces
402judithz, Jun 2019
St-Petersburg Imperial Suburbs: Peterhof & Catherine Palace Tour.
Without Maria I don't think we would be able to see both places in the same day.
star-5
Saint Petersburg two day group tour with city break
Adventure35426414789, May 2019
Mini-Group 2-Day Shore Excursion of St Petersburg Must-Sees and Boat Cruise
I had great fun and enough time to see most of the things that I was interested in.
star-5
incredible 2 days in St Petersburg
meyerfam2125, Aug 2018
2-Day City Highlights Tour of St. Petersburg
Her English was perfect, and her love of her city was obvious.
star-5
This was a great way to see St...
mbuggie01, Sep 2016
St Petersburg Shore Excursion: Visa-Free 2-Day Tour including the Faberge Museum
This was a great way to see St Petersburg without having to get a Visa.
star-5
Wonderful time in St Petersburg with...
Elaine Duns H, Oct 2017
St.Petersburg 2 Day Visa Free Shore Tour
Visited the main attractions of museums,churches palaces and gardens
star-5
Would highly recommend this tour as...
sheena.ellis, Sep 2017
St. Petersburg Shore Excursion: Small-Group 2-Day Visa-Free Tour Including Boat Ride
Would highly recommend this tour as a great way to see the major sights of St Petersburg in 2 days with a small group.
star-5
We had an excellent guide, Elene...
John L, Jul 2017
St. Petersburg 3-Day All-Inclusive Tour
We had an excellent guide, Elene, and an english speaking driver, Alexis.

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