St. Petersburg Travel Guide
After being blessed with baby news I took a break from travelling followed by corona virus outburst that closed borders all together. But we are back! Let’s have a look at St. Petersburg that me and Kaspar visited last year and came back so many times during the year.
For me St. Petersburg has been a very special destination throughout my childhood, teenage years and adulthood as well. I was always looking forward to Petersburg school trips as well as occasional family trips with my mom. Now I have been returning many times and still not getting enough of the city of White Nights.
In this travel guide you will find coolest places to go to and dine without getting into a tourist trap which can easily happen in this almost 5 million city.
When to Go
Petersburg is always crowded but expect most crowds around summer months and Christmas + January (locals have holidays).
Means of transport
Central Petersburg is walkable but you could easily grab a cab when your feet are too tired. Just use Uber or the local Taksovichkof. The subway is well laid and could take you anywhere for just 40 rub but I feel taxi is less stressful.
Where to Stay
This huge city provides all types of accommodation starting from backpacker hostels to luxurious 5-star hotels. As I tend to be a middle range traveller I would recommend Demut Hotel for its price, location and silence (turns out it is really important in a city that never sleeps), Park Inn by Radisson Nevsky St. for great breakfast with freshly squeezed juices and proximity to Galeria shopping mall, Karelinn for its eyecatching room decor in classicism style (but the rooms facing the street can be noisy). Airbnb is a great choice for exploring Petersburg. Be aware that most of Petersburg houses come with history and scary stair halls. I would love to stay at Chao, Mama next time. For luxury stay at Four Seasons Hotel Lion with views of the marvellous St. Isaacs Cathedral.
Where to Eat
For a laid back chill vibe head to New Holland – it is an island (yet reachable on foot) where an old navy prison has been renovated and turned into a restaurant and shop spot called The Bottle House. Try all the pitas at Bekitzer – they are so yum! New Holland has an also outdoor street food and seating area as well. Great place to spot the local hipsters!
For a more sophisticated dinner, yet still reasonably priced, head to KOKOKO. It serves Russian cuisine and everything looks amazing on the plate! I really enjoyed the honey cake that was served in the shape of a honeycomb. KOKOKO was opened by a wife of one of the singers of Leningrad – a scandalous Russian rock band and she has been handling the restaurant in style.
Gustogram on Nevsky avenue serves wide choice of dishes at reasonable prices – good spot for lunch or a laidback dinner.
Pop into one of the many Sever (Север) cafeterias scattered all over Petersburg for an ecler with butter cream inside and chocolate on top. Sever cafeterias and confectionaries have a long history and are considered legendary among locals who pop by for a cup of black tea and cake for lunch.
I also enjoyed Marketplace in the Galeria shopping mall. It is open buffet style with a wide choice of different cuisines – Russian, Italian, Asian etc. I always order the pork shashlik with oven baked rosemary potatoes. Somehow the taste of that smokey meat is really special. Love it!
Have tapas and wine at Nebo i Vino sky bar. It is a hidden gem with a view on the St. Isaacs Cathedral dome – it feels like you could touch it. This bar has both indoor and roof terrace seating and serves selection of cheeses, ham, summer bbq and of course, wine.
What to Do
Let’s go over the classics that are usually on the list of each St. Petersburg visitor and are really worth the hype – visit Hermitage Museum (closed on Mondays) and go for a carriage ride on the Hermitage square (it is actually called Dvortsovaya square). Look up to massive Atlantes on the side of Hermitage.
Take a canal tour from any departure spots along Nevsky Street.
Admire the St. Isaac’s Cathedral (if you’re in the mood you could even take the steps to the tower for a beautiful city view). In front of the exit sometimes freelance tour guides gather and offer guided days for quite low cost. Make use of them – St. Petersburg is even more amazing if you know the historical background.
Buy local sweets, tea and selection of pralines from Eliseyev Emporium on Nevsky. Founded by the Eliseyev brothers this historical food hall offers exotic wines, most beautiful marzipan fruit and has amazing Russian decor surrounded by classical music.
For shopping pop into stores on New Holland Island and along Nevsky. I also really like Galeria shopping mall. For luxury brands you could go to Au Pount Rouge. Again, this merchant house comes with a long history of being the best department store of ready-made garments in St. Petersburg. Even members of the imperial family, including the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, were among the customers.
Take a walk in the Summer Garden founded by Peter the Great.
If you have more time in Petersburg go for a day trip to Peterhof and be mesmerised by the gold fountains. I recommend to take this trip with a taxi as public transportation would require multiple changes.
That’s it darlings – I hope you will soon visit St. Petersburg and get to see this huge city through your own eyes.