As promised, here is a 5-day guide to the City of White Nights!
When to go?
Russia is known for its magical winters, yes. However, I wouldn’t recommend SPB during winter time because of the dirty snows due to massive car circulations. I definitely recommend to go during summertime, from the end of June to begining of August. White Nights are during summertime, usually the most beautiful nights would be aroung June 21, the longest day of the year.
Where to stay?
Saint Petersbourg is a very big city, so if you’re staying only a few days I would recommend to stay in the center. My favorite neighborhoods would be near Saint Isaac’s Square. It is not far from the main Avenue, Nevskiy Avenue, and close to all canals and rivers.
Angleterre Hotel: considered as one of the most beautiful and prestegious hotels in the city
Herzen Hotel: we stayed there the first time and I hightly recommend it. It is a small hotel, cozy, with nice rooms and ideally located.
Another option would be an AirBnb near Saint Isaac’s Square, on Bolshaya Morskaya street. The second time we stayed in an appartment on this street and I don’t regret it. Two supermarkets just downstairs open 24/7, many restaurants and coffee shops, metro station (Admiraltiskaya, the deepest in the world), hairdresser, nail salon, banks, etc.
Things to do before going
For Russia you will need a visa. So plan at least one month in advance to get your visa, two for security. If you’re travel in an urgent matter, you can refer to agencies who take care of everything and can get you a visa whithin four days, but it is very expensive. I advise taking the plane tickets after receiving your visa.
⁃ do not drink tap water
⁃ bread is not included in restaurants as well as water
⁃ if you smoke and ask for a lighter, let the person light up your cigarette
⁃ when visiting churches, women need to cover their heads and bear shoulders
⁃ I recommend exchanging your money directly in Russia
⁃ when invited to someone’s house, always remove your shoes and put slippers
⁃ drink vodka with a pickle
Let’s start our tour of SPB
Day 1: Top experiences !
In the morning, wake up early and grab a breakfast at a bakery. Bakeries followed by “Number–” are the best! (“Булочная Номер–“). After pleasing your tummy, you can have a bus tour just to have the insights of the city, as SPB is hudge! Usually bus tours take you to the most essentials places of the city for an hour or two, this way you can already spot the places you like the most and return there.
⁃Saint Isaac’s view: Saint Isaac’s Square and climb to the observation deck where you will have a magnificent view on the city. Plus, a little morning workout is no harm!
⁃ Walk up to the Summer Garden, and make some beautiful pictures there
⁃ Visit Saint Nicholas Naval Cathedral
⁃Church on the Savior blood
⁃ On the way you can visit Mariinsky Theater
⁃ Take a walk along the canals and rivers
Have a bite at Pishki. The MUST EAT in SPB. Order pishkis and milk coffee, it is the tradition.
Day 2 : Peterhof
If you only have time to make one trip out of St. Petersburg during your stay, then it should be Peterhof, the greatest of all the city’s suburban estates. It will take you a full day, as it is 45 minutes by train from Baltiski Station. You must visit:
⁃ Lower park with fountains
⁃ Upper garden
⁃ Grand Palace
There are lots of other places to visit, if you have some time left don’t hesitate to just walk and look around! Personally I find the best of small palaces is the Monplaisir.
Evening: Rest after your trip, have some diner and at midnight start heading towards th Neva River. At 1:10AM the bridges open to let the cruise boats pass. Boat cruises are organised to see the bridges opening, with light and music effects.
Day 3 : Hermitage and boat trip
You will need at least 4 hours to visit the Hermitage, and yet you will only be able to see the Winter Palace! I am not a museum person, but I cannot describe the beauty of the Hermitage.
After the Hermitage visit, you can go along the canals where you can find lots of people selling tickets for boat tours. It is a must! The views are stunning, floating under all the bridges.
Evening: go see a ballet in Mikhailovsky theater. Swan Lake is magnificent, however this time we went to see Sleeping Beauty and it was simply amazing, the music, the costumes, the dances.
Day 4 : Shopping
Well.. of course ! How can I forget! However, don’t expect St Petersburg to be a shopping destination. Bolshoy Prospect is the shopping area, apart from Nevskiy prospect where is more of a souvenir kind of shopping. But if you want to buy some Russian designers’ items, then these are the places to go:
⁃ Iya Yots
⁃ Maker Design Loft
⁃ Bolshoy 84
⁃ Outlet Village Pulkovo
⁃ Nevskiy Prospect
⁃ Master Class Matrioshka
⁃ Yeliseev’s Food Hall
By the way, it is a nice opportunity to take the metro!
Day 5 : Peter and Paul Fortress
Start the day with a visit to the Peter and Paul Fortress. There’s a lot to see there, the Baroque-style Peter and Paul Cathedral, the resting place of Russia’s last tsars. Another must is the Trubetskoy Bastion Prison, where you can see the cells used to hold revolutionaries in Imperial Russia.
– Mansarda (international)
– Troika (Russian)
– The Flying Dutchman (international)
– Ribai (steakhouse)
– La Terrasse (European)
– Souliko (Georgian)
– Luce (international)
– Teremok (Russian Fast food)
– Jack And Chan (Thai)
– City Coffee
– Small Double
– Coffee House
– Candies by Coffee Room
Drinks with a view
– W Hotel
– La Terrasse
– Cafe Singer
So there you go guys, have a nice trip and if you need any other suggestions don’t hesitate to comment below!