The city of Peter the Great – St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg bridges

St. Petersburg – Russia’s gateway to Europe. Impressive, majestical, imperious, and just beautiful. Over centuries the centre of political power and until today the literary and cultural capital of the Russian Federation. Traversed by more than 60 rivers and canals, the city of Peter the Great is also called the Venice of the North. Around 340 bridges connect the 42 islands. Golden domes, magnificent facades, grandiose parks, bustling roads have inspired and attracted people over decades.

This short description alone should motivate anyone to pack their bags and travel to St. Petersburg. It is more than worth a trip. But if you are not convinced yet, hold on and keep on reading.

The early bird is catching the worm – sunrise in Piter.
what are the highlights of St. Petersburg

There is a lot to see, and to be honest, it would take you half a week, or even a week (if you are an art fanatic) to discover the city. The city itself is huge and counts as one of the largest in Europe. So at this point, I cannot tell you everything, because when I was in St. Petersburg, my time was very limited. So let me tell you what you need to see in 48 hours.

City Centre:

In the city centre of St. Petersburg, the majestical Winter Palace gives shelter to the State Hermitage Museum. This museum is one of its largest of its kind and enjoys a global reputation. The mist-green, white and gold palace was build in 1754 and remained home for the royals of Russia until 1917.  The Palace Square just in front of the Winter Palace is another remarkable landmark.

River Neva and the Winter Palace

In general, if you walk around the city centre, let your eyes wander and absorb the special atmosphere of this city. Definitely enter the Church on the Spilled Blood. In my opinion, it is the most beautifully and artistically designed church I have ever seen. The paintings on the ceiling are astonishing and breath-taking. I could not stop looking at it, although my neck started to get stiff. The 250 Ruble entrance fee are well spent.

St. Petersburg, Church, Russia
Church on the spilled blood – interior.

Nevsky Prospekt – St. Petersburgs aorta. Walk along this 4km long street which takes you from Admiralty close to the Winter Palace all the way to Alexander Nevsky Monastery. Along the way, there are plenty of options to stop for a coffee, a quick lunch or to get yourself the newest fashion trends. If you reach Griboyedov Canal, to the North you will get to the Church on the Spilled Blood, if you go South you will reach one of St. Petersburgs most beautiful brigdes called “Bankovsky Most.  Also the Kazan Cathedral is on the way and certainly worth a look.

Around St. Petersburg:

I always like to have a look around the outskirts of the city. An excursion to Peterhof is the ideal way to discover the surroundings and at the same time you will visit one of the major Russian sights.

Just 29km west of the city, Peterhof, the “Russian Versailles is located. This is one of the most beautiful parks in the world and is rightly known as the “Russian Versailles”. It is located between the Grand Palace and the Baltic Sea.  Besides the incredible palace, the largest system of fountains can be found here. There are also three major cascades directly beneath the palace.  The park is diverse and wide-reaching. Take your time and enjoy your time here – it is a special place. Although the Grand Palace is not as large as other tsarist palaces, the cascades in front of it and the 30 rooms are well worth a visit. If you are not travelling on a tight budget, consider taking the Peterhof Express, a boat which takes you directly from the city to Peterhof (Return ticket is 1100 Ruble).

Andre’s Travel Tips
  • Stay in the city centre for affordable accomodation (plenty of options for any budget)
  • Go on a pub crawl and experience “Piters” nightlife.
  • Do a vodka tasting (garlic vodka is my favourite)
  • Do a boat tour through the canals of St. Petersburg

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