9. Saint Petersburg  RUSSIA  | Total Sights: 100+ | Nickname: Venice of the North

 

 

 

 

A. Strengths and Weaknesses of Saint Petersburg

Russian Federation Saint Petersburg is certainly a world class destination with its excellent museums and palaces (the world famous Hermitage Museum is a magnificent combination of both), splendid onion-domed cathedrals, prestigious theatres, countless canals and bridges.

In addition the fourth largest city of Europe features two truly outstanding excursions: firstly the Peterhof Palace with its magnificent fountains and gardens can be reached in 40 minutes by hydrofoil and secondly the not less impressive Catherine Palace in Tsarskoe Selo, built by the same architect as the Winter Palace, a gilded rococo masterpiece, and home to the famous Amber Room.

Since the Hermitage Museum, the Peterhof Palace and the Catherine Palace each probably will keep you busy for an entire day we recommend at least four full days to explore the delights of Saint Petersburg. 

 A very high score in sights and nightlife; an extraordinary beautiful seaside location and solid shopping opportunities lead to a remarkable top ten rank for Saint Petersburg in our list.

  Russians are certainly not the friendliest people, you will not find many pedestrian zones and the metro is (in flagrant contrast to rivaling Moscow) mostly useless for tourism. In addition, the city is pretty dusty and from time to time you will get some grains of sand in your mouth. While Saint Petersburg is generally safe, the crime rate is still comparatively high. Moreover obtaining a visa to Russia is an expensive and rather cumbersome process.

Criteria 

Sights

Location

Pedestrian Zones

Affordability

Safety 

Cleanliness

Shopping

Climate

People

Nightlife 

Transport

Size

Total Score

Score

8.95/10 [2nd]

8.5/10

5/10

4/10

5.5/10

4.75/10

6.75/10

5/10

4/10

8/10 [5th]

6/10

7.5/10 [4.9 Mio.]

198.85

B. Best Things to Do in Saint Petersburg (Detailed List with Photos and Information)

These sights and attractions contribute to a sights score of 8.85/10.

WINTER PALACE WITH HERMITAGE MUSEUM  9
Founded in 1764 and featuring more than 400 exhibit halls, the Hermitage Museum one of the world's oldest, biggest and certainly greatest art collections, presented in spectacular connected palaces. Admire the magnificent architecture of the Jordan Staircase, the Portico with atlantes and the astounding splendor of the numerous state rooms.

Highlights of the art collection include the stunning Peacock Clock by James Cox as well masterpieces of painting by Leonardo Da Vinci (“The Benois Madonna”,“Madonna Litta”), Rembrandt (“Danaë”, “The Prodigal Son”) and world-famous sculptures by Antonio Canova (“The Three Graces”, “Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss”) and Michelangelo (“Crouching Boy”). 

Palace and Museum  (World Heritage Site since 1990)

Attributed to Leonardo da Vinci / Public Domain

CHURCH OF OUR SAVIOUR ON SPILLED BLOOD  9
Stepping inside this legendary church, which was completed in 1907, you will be inevitably mesmerized by 7,000 m2 of elegant shimmering mosaics—one of the world’s most breathtaking interiors. 

Likewise the exterior, modelled after Moscow's Cathedral of Basil the Blessed with five ornately decorated onion domes, is highly attractive.

Cathedral (World Heritage Site since 1990)

Best Things to do in Saint Petersburg | Best Cities | No. 9: Saint Petersburg | CHURCH OF OUR SAVIOUR ON SPILLED BLOOD Best Things to do in Saint Petersburg | Best Cities in the World | No. 9: Saint Petersburg | CHURCH OF OUR SAVIOUR ON SPILLED BLOOD

Saint Isaac's Cathedral  7
 The fourth largest cathedral in the world by the volume under the cupola was completed in 1858 in neoclassical style.

Climb up to the 262 steps to the viewing balcony (colonnade) around the cathedral’s famous gilded dome for magnificent panoramic views.

Cathedral

Best things to do in Saint Petersburg | Best Cities | No. 9: Saint Petersburg | Saint Isaac's Cathedral

Palace Square with Alexander Column 7
At the center of Saint Petersburg’s tremendously impressive main square stands the 47.5 meter high Alexander Column, which is surrounded by numerous elegant historic buildings including the green and white Winter Palace or the yellow and white General Staff Building (now both part of the Hermitage Museum).

Square

Best things to do in Saint Petersburg | Best Cities | No. 9: Saint Petersburg | Palace Square with Alexander Column

HISTORIC CENTRE  7
Nicknamed 'Venice of the North' for its numerous canals and more than 400 bridges, Saint Petersburg’s historical centre possesses an outstanding architectural heritage.

The most significant sights are all situated on or near the majestic Nevsky Prospect Avenue, the main artery of the city.

Historic Area  (World Heritage Site since 1990)  

Things to do in Saint Petersburg | Best Cities | No. 9: Saint Petersburg | View over HISTORIC CENTRE

Peter and Paul Cathedral and Fortress  7
The iconic Peter and Paul Fortress was constructed in 1703 on Zayachy Island in the shape of a hexagram with six great bastions as one of the very first buildings in St Petersburg.

The Peter and Paul Cathedral with its needle-like gold-painted spire with a height of 123 metres (404 ft) is one of the most famous landmarks of the city. 

Fortress and Cathedral 

Best Things to do in Saint Petersburg | Best Cities | Saint Petersburg | Peter and Paul Cathedral and Fortress

by Andrew Shiva / CC BY-SA 4.0

State Russian Museum  6
Museum  (Most famous painting: "Knight at the Crossroads" by Viktor Vasnetsov [1882])

Best Cities | Saint Petersburg | Best Things to do in Saint Petersburg | State Russian Museum

  by Viktor Vasnetsov / Public Domain 

Yusupov Palace (Moika Palace)  6
Palace and Museum

by Dennis Jarvis / CC BY-SA 2.0

Nevsky Prospekt  6
Street

Best Things to do in Saint Petersburg | Best Cities | Saint Petersburg | Nevsky Prospekt (boulevard)

 Fabergé Museum 6
Museum  (Highlight of the collection: Group of nine Imperial Easter eggs created by Peter Carl Fabergé)

Best Cities | No. 9: Saint Petersburg | Things to do in Saint Petersburg | 10) Fabergé Museum

Scoring and Icons Legend (Click here for detailed information)

10 = top-10 sight in the world
9 = world-class  
8 = outstanding
7 = excellent 
6 = impressive
5 = interesting
4 = decent
3 = mediocre
2 = bad
1 = abysmal

= World Heritage Site
= Excursion

Weather Forecast

Overcast
Today 02/24 10%
High -11° / Low -15°
Overcast
Snow Showers
Tomorrow 02/25 40%
High -9° / Low -16°
Snow Showers
Overcast
Monday 02/26 20%
High -14° / Low -23°
Overcast

C. Other Notable Sights and Attractions in Saint Petersburg

-Kazan Cathedral  6

-Smolny Convent  6

-State Academic Mariinsky Theatre  6

-Palace Bridge  6

-Anichkov Bridge (with Statues)  5

-Bronze Horseman Statue  5

D. Best Day Trips and Excursions from Saint Petersburg

 PETERHOF PALACE (Grand Palace) and GARDEN (in Peterhof, 50 km from Saint Petersburg)  8

 TSARSKOYE SELO (with CATHERINE PALACE and its Amber Room [in Pushkin, 26 km from Saint Petersburg])  8

The Naval Cathedral of Saint Nicholas (in Kronstadt, 50.7 km from Saint Petersburg)  7

St. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Peterhof (in Peterhof, 50 km from Saint Petersburg)  6

Pavlovsk Palace and Park (in Pushkin, 40 km from Saint Petersburg)  6

E. Top 10 List of the Best Things to Do in Saint Petersburg (including close-by excursions)

WINTER PALACE WITH HERMITAGE MUSEUM  9
CHURCH OF OUR SAVIOUR ON SPILLED BLOOD  9
  CATHERINE PALACE (in Pushkin, 26 km)  8
PETERHOF PALACE and GARDEN (in Peterhof , 50 km)  8
 The Naval Cathedral of Saint Nicholas (in Kronstadt, 50.7 km )  8
Saint Isaac's Cathedral  7
Palace Square with Alexander Column  7
HISTORIC CENTRE  7
Peter and Paul Cathedral and Fortress  6
 State Russian Museum  6

Notable Shopping Centres in Saint Petersburg

In the City Centre:

-Galeria Shopping Centre (290 stores, 197,000 m2, opened 2010)

-Nevsky Centre (70 stores, 100,000 m2, opened 2010)

Famous Cafés in Saint Petersburg

-Cafe Singer

-Kupetz Eliseevs



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