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THREE DAY GUIDE TO SAINT PETERSBURG

Saint Petersburg is gorgeous. It is so underrepresented in guides and online blogs, due to onerous Russian visa regulations, but it is the most unique city I ever visited. Saint Petersburg has everything: beautiful water canals, impressive architecture, rich history, authentic food, delicious coffee, friendly locals, convenient transportation and well planned infrastructure. While two years ago navigating Saint Petersburg without a guide equaled to a suicide, right now it is a modern tourist friendly city with innumerable things to see and do. Being so easy to navigate for English speaking people, Saint Petersburg provides great entry point to Russia, where you can get accommodated with language and culture before you set off to explore some less developed parts of the country.

In three days you will only be able to scratch the surface of the city, but that would be enough to cover must see sights.

Day 1

Nevsky Prospekt  

Main avenue and one of the best known streets in Russia. The facades of the buildings are so breathtakingly beautiful that tourists can’t help but stop in the middle of the busy street in awe and admiration. Also great people watching spot with hundreds stunning russian girls trotting the street in their high heels.

The Church of the Savior on Blood

Even though Russia is filled with all sorts of churches, once tourists visit The Church of the Savior on Blood it remains the most magnificent and favorite site of all. The square in front of the church is always crowded with long lines for the tickets to get inside the church. The Church derives its name from the event of assassination of Emperor Alexander II, who was wounded on this site and consequently died.  

State Hermitage Museum and Winter Palace

This overly embellished with gold and decorative items building is located on one of the widest squares in the city and instantly catches attention. It is one of the largest and oldest museums in the world and hosts extensive collection of history and art pieces

St. Isaac’s Cathedral

Another impressive Saint Petersburg church. It is famous for its golden dome, that you can climb to enjoy the view of the city. I’ve heard the view is overrated, nevertheless the church exterior and interior are worth checking out.  

Day 2

Peterhof

Take a day off from the crowds and visit the Russian Versailles – the palace, that was founded by Peter the Great as a summer residence and that the Tsar used on his way coming and going from Europe. The palace is surrounded by enormous park with occasional fountains and arbors. The tour in the palace and gardens will take up to 4 hours.

Drawing Bridges

The famous opening of the bridges is an event that draws hundreds of locals and tourists everyday from the spring to fall. The bridges are too low for the passing ships so they have to be opened and lifted which is an entertainment as well as a burden for the city’s authorities. Bridges are lit in the night and open at different times with earliest slot at 1.25 am. It is a spectacular scene especially in the middle of northern nights, when it does not get dark almost whole night.

Day 3

Fontanka River Walk

It is just a nice and relaxing walk along the promenade of Fontanka river, which provides extraordinary views of buildings and palaces, many of which are of historical and cultural significance.

Peter and Paul Fortress

Historically the city was founded here, when Peter the Great ordered to build a fortress to protect the city from Swedish attacks, however it was never used for its initial purpose. Despite its popularity with tourists it is a charming and secluded spot and the view of Peter and Paul Cathedral on the main square is truly astounding.

Cabin of Peter the Great

The typical small Russian wooden house that was built for Peter the Great when Saint Petersburg’s was not more than a bunch of interconnected villages. This cute little house represents another, simple, side of Russia, hidden behind powerful grand palaces and excessively ornate churches.

Cruiser Aurora

Russian cruiser known for making the blank shot, that served a signal for Winter Palace assault during October Revolution. Now it hosts Russian naval history museum. Surprisingly, it is still manned by an active ship crew and is planned to be recommissioned as a flagship of Russian Navy in future.

PLACES TO EAT AND DRINK

  • Jack & Chan  – asian cuisine in Brooklyn-like hipsterish setting. Pad Thai is surprisingly good, portions are large and everything is delicious apart from dill, that Russians tend to add to every dish. 

  • Chainaya Lozhka – cheap, yet authentic Russian fast food chain, serving blinis (Russian pancakes) with all sorts of staffings. Might taste a bit strange for a westerner since they put meats and sour cream into sweet pancakes. 

  • Bekitser –  Israeli street food joint/bar, friendly hospitable atmosphere, great customer service and good quality/price ratio, Perfect place to chill with one of the cocktails from the menu.

  • Rudy’s Coffee To Go –   best coffee I’ve tasted so far in Russia. The shop occupies tiniest corner of the street and can easily be left unnoticed. Don’t miss it though, it is close to Fontanka River so a stroll along peaceful river embankment.with Rudy’s coffee in hand is a must.  

Peter and Paul Cathedral

Peterhof Palace

 The view on Hermitage Museum