The centre of Saint Petersburg may as well be one big palace as it is simply stunning. There is so much to see and do here that a week is not enough time to truly explore this city, nevertheless it is possible to see a variety of attractions within that time frame.
Things to see and do in winter- with prices in Russian Roubles:
- Palace Square
- The Hermitage Museum and the Winter Palace- 600 R
- Saint Isaac’s Cathedral 250 R and the Colonnade (300 steps up to see the view of the city)- 150 R
- Church of our Savior on Spilled Blood- 250 R
- Peter and Paul Fortress (Prices vary depending on what you want to see)
- Nevsky Prospekt (a long street filled with churches, cathedrals, history, shopping, architecture and restaurants)
- Kazan Cathedral- free entry
- Various underground stations (further details below)
Touring the Metro:
The Metro stations in St Petersburg are incredible and a visit to St Petersburg without checking out the underground would be completely crazy. It’s 35R to get on the Metro and as long as you don’t exit the stations you can ride around for as long as you need and change lines, which is plenty of time to check out these underground wonders.
Stations to check out:
Places others recommend:
- Russian Museum
- Peterhof Palace (a day trip)
- Mariinsky Theatre
- Going to a Banya (Sauna variation)
Places to eat and drink:
- Cafeteria No1 (On Nevsky Prospekt and various other places around the city) £
- Mama Na Dache (On Nevsky Prospekt) ££
- Chroniki Bar (on Ulitsa Nekrasova) is a pretty cool bar that serves a variety of vodkas from Russia, Finland, Sweden and Denmark. A visit here is definitely worth it.
Food and Drink to try:
- Borscht (Beetroot soup)
- Shchi (Russian style cabbage soup)
- Oledi (Pancakes)
- Russian Salad (More boiled veg than a traditional western salad)
- Pelmeni (Dumplings)
What to wear in Russia during winter:
You may have googled this question and found several pages that insist that all Russians wear fur coats, fur hats and heels in winter. However, this isn't the case, you will see some who dress this way but you will also see others in Ski jackets, Down jackets, Parkas, Snow boots, Hiking boots, bobble hats and all sorts of various outerwear.
Just be smart and layer up with thermals, but otherwise you can pretty much wear whatever you like here as long as you're warm, nobody is judging you.
N.B- Yes, a lot of women wear heeled boots here in the snow and can walk on 4 inch black ice in these heels. They are impressive and have had years of practice... please don't try this, the streets are treacherous in snow boots let alone heels... unless you're Russian of course.
You will have heard the stereotype that Russians are unfriendly and that Russia isn’t a safe place to visit and I can tell you that it simply isn’t the case. Despite a rough start to my Russian experience in St Petersburg where upon checking in to my hostel I was asked for a Russian Immigration card which I didn’t have, was told that I was in the country illegally despite having a valid VISA, had immigration called on me, got told that everyone gets an immigration card at the airport and that I must have lost it (I didn’t, I was never given one), that I can’t stay at the hostel or in Russia without official papers, I will be fined and that I need to make my way back to the airport otherwise I will have difficulty leaving the country…
Long story short: I explained that I wasn’t given anything and that I flew into Russia from Belarus. There are no borders between Belarus and Russia and so my Immigration card from Belarus was valid, allowing them to check me in and officially register me at the hostel and in the country… There may have been some serious waterworks from a very terrified Kavita at some point during this event.
Nevertheless, I fell in love with St Petersburg and the Russian people. The city is stunning and there wasn’t a single moment where I didn’t have something to do. I also had the pleasure of meeting some really awesome Russians at the hostel who taught me how to brew my own alcohol (Recipes can be acquired upon request through the ‘Contacts’ page), I was invited out for a vodka breakfast which consists of cold herring, fried potatoes and a shot of vodka, I experienced some serious vodka tasting, was shown an old USSR movie called "Kin-Dza-Dza" with English subtitles and the real highlight of my trip has to be meeting up with NL who I briefly met in Warsaw, Poland and by briefly I mean that we spoke for about five minutes before exchanging contact details (in true traveler style). But meeting her again was fabulous, we went to various bookstores, a beautiful library, had dinner and chatted as though we had known each other for years and in all honesty, it felt as though I had known her for years… Saying goodbye to NL was quite emotional despite the short time of knowing each other.
The people in Russia may come across as cold but once you get to know them they are the warmest people who will openly smile, hug you, have some of the most hilariously bizarre stories that are truly Russian, and are incredibly generous and friendly. So, if you get a chance, don’t hesitate to visit, it genuinely is magnificent!
…From Russia, with love