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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 15 attractions in St Petersburg

#1
State Hermitage Museum

State Hermitage Museum

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The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg is the largest art and cultural museum in the world, with more than 3 million items in its collection—only a fraction of which are on display in its 360 rooms. The main museum complex comprises six historic buildings on the Palace Embankment and includes exhibitions of works of art from the 13th to 20th centuries, as well as Egyptian and classical antiquities and prehistoric art.More
#2
Peter and Paul Fortress (Petropavlovskaya Krepost)

Peter and Paul Fortress (Petropavlovskaya Krepost)

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The looming yellow cathedral tower and star-shaped fortifications of the Peter and Paul Fortress dominate St. Petersburg’s riverfront, rising up from the shores of Zayachy Island. Built by Peter the Great in 1703, the fortress boasts a long history, having served as a military base, royal burial site, and political prison.More
#3
St. Petersburg Palace Square (Dvortsovaya Ploshchad)

St. Petersburg Palace Square (Dvortsovaya Ploshchad)

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Royalty, revolutions, and reformers have swept through Palace Square in St Petersburg, a grand plaza at the foot of the magnificent Winter Palace. Alexander Column dominates the center of Palace Square, which is wrapped by government buildings and remains a favorite gathering place for city-wide celebrations and holidays.More
#4
Alexander Nevsky Lavra Monastery

Alexander Nevsky Lavra Monastery

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Founded by Peter the Great in 1710, the Alexander Nevsky Monastery is not just a tribute and final resting place to one of Russia’s great military leaders (and the patron saint of St. Petersburg), but to many of Russia’s most important cultural figures as well. The grounds comprise two baroque churches, a cathedral, and a pair of cemeteries.More
#5
Nevsky Prospekt

Nevsky Prospekt

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Russia’s most famous street—the Champs-Élysées of St. Petersburg—runs for 3 miles (5 kilometers) through the city’s historic center from the Admiralty Building to Alexander Nevsky Lavra. Some of the city’s most impressive buildings line the street, including the Kazan Cathedral, Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood, and the Grand Europe Hotel.More
#6
Peter and Paul Cathedral (Petropavlovskiy Sobor)

Peter and Paul Cathedral (Petropavlovskiy Sobor)

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The oldest cathedral in St. Petersburg and among the tallest orthodox cathedrals on the planet, the baroque Peter and Paul Cathedral sits on the grounds of Peter and Paul Fortress. The building is home to the St. Petersburg Men’s Choir and serves as the final resting place for many of Russia’s pre-revolutionary rulers.More
#7
Tsarskoe Selo State Museum and Heritage Site

Tsarskoe Selo State Museum and Heritage Site

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Home of the Alexander and Catherine palaces and parks, Pushkin (Tsarskoye Selo) is one of Russia’s most significant and beautiful cultural heritage sites. The imperial family’s former summer residence is a must for first-time visitors to St. Petersburg.More
#8
Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan (Kazansky Sobor)

Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan (Kazansky Sobor)

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Completed in 1811 after ten years of construction, the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan (Kazansky Sobor stands 203 feet (62 meters tall—a stunning example of Russian neoclassical architecture. The structure encircles a small square, and the interior is adorned with the works of some of the country's greatest artists and sculptors.More
#9
Peterhof State Museum-Reserve (Muzeya-Zapovednika Peterhof)

Peterhof State Museum-Reserve (Muzeya-Zapovednika Peterhof)

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It’s easy to see why Peterhof Palace, a magnificent complex of palaces and gardens stretching along the St. Petersburg seafront, is called the Russian Versailles. Fronted by the opulent Grand Palace and displaying a rich variety of architectural styles, this UNESCO World Heritage Site—known officially as the Peterhof State Museum-Reserve (Muzeya-Zapovednika Peterhof)—is one of the city’s most visited attractions.More
#10
St. Petersburg Cruise Port

St. Petersburg Cruise Port

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The Port of St. Petersburg is the largest port in northwest Russia, serving as one of the world's most popular cruise destinations and the primary gateway between the Baltic Sea and Russia. Ships docking at the St. Petersburg Cruise Port do so in the heart of the city, at Vasilyevsky Island.More
#11
Catherine Palace and Park

Catherine Palace and Park

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Once the summer residence of the Russian tsars and now a museum, Catherine Palace was named after Catherine I, who had it built in 1717. The structure was later rebuilt into an elaborately decorated Rococo-style palace in 1756 by Bartolomeo Rastrelli under the direction of Empress Elizabeth, meant to rival the Palace of Versailles in France. Today, the palace is famous for its baroque style and neoclassical interior that exemplifies Russian wealth and extravagance. Its main attractions are the Grand Hall, the opulent Amber Room, which is lined with gilded amber wall panels and ornate furniture, and the 1,400-acre (566-hectare) Catherine Park with its masterful landscaping.More
#12
Mariinsky Theatre

Mariinsky Theatre

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The Mariinsky is St. Petersburg’s most notable theater, home to the Kirov Ballet (now known as the St. Petersburg Mariinsky Ballet in Russia, and a venue for opera and classical music. As well as the 19th-century building, modern additions have added to the performance space. Arts and culture lovers shouldn’t miss seeing a performance, such as Swan Lake or Anna Karenina.More
#13
Senate Square (Senatskaya Ploshchad)

Senate Square (Senatskaya Ploshchad)

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Originally named Decembrists’ Square after the December 1825 uprising, Senate Square (Senatskaya Ploshchad is one of St. Petersburg’s most famous public spaces, encircled by some of the city’s top attractions. The unforgettable centerpiece of Senate Square is its Bronze Horseman statue, one of the most iconic symbols of the city.More
#14
State Russian Museum (Russkiy Muzey)

State Russian Museum (Russkiy Muzey)

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Art enthusiasts visiting St. Petersburg likely already have the State Russian Museum at the top of their itinerary. This is the world’s largest museum of Russian fine art, as well as Russia’s first state-owned art museum, with more than 400,000 works of art on display.More
#15
Anichkov Palace

Anichkov Palace

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With an expansive façade facing the Fontanka River, this former Imperial palace was designed for the 18th-century Empress Elizabeth. The Bolsheviks turned it into first a museum, then a massive home for after-school clubs. Now, it’s officially the Saint Petersburg Palace of Youth Creativity, hosting activities from art to music and sports.More

Trip ideas

Top Parks and Gardens in St. Petersburg

Top Parks and Gardens in St. Petersburg


All about St Petersburg

When to visit

St. Petersburg fires on all cylinders winter and spring, when its weather hits the sweet spot of comfortably hot and dry. Outdoor events come thick and fast December through June, from holiday-season boat parades and the Firestone Grand Prix in March, to April’s Mainsail Art Festival, and Pride in June. Crowds thin when late summer brings muggy heat and a hurricane risk.

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