43 Amazing Things to Do in St. Petersburg
If you’re looking for awesome things to do in St. Petersburg, Russia, we’ve got quite the list for you. This massive city is packed with culture, architecture, and intriguing sites. It’s a city mixed with old and new, making a visit to the classic tourist attractions as well as the modern sites are a must. This city has a fascinating history and a quickly changing youth scene that you’ll want to get to know. If you’re visiting St. Petersburg, here are 43 amazing things to put on your itinerary.
1. Take A City Boat Cruise
The city of St Petersberg is built over 42 small islands and connected by small rivers that are perfect for a boat cruise. There are a variety of different tours available that range from classic sightseeing to boats with entertainment onboard, giving tourists the chance to rest their feet, kick back, and watch numerous famous sites float by.
2. Visit the Museum of Sound
St Petersburg’s Museum of Sound is a speciality museum filled with hundreds of handmade musical instruments and unusual sounds. All of the exhibits are interactive, allowing visitors to try their hand at playing unique instruments such as the Theremin or the Variophone. It’s a must-see if you have an interest in music and art and are visiting the art centre of the city.
3. Watch The Bridges Open
The bridges over the Neva River open and close from April through to October, and are a fascinating display of engineering. It’s a fun way to spend the evening as the sun goes down, watching the silhouettes of the bridge rise and fall. The central Palace Bridge is one of the best to watch as it opens up for the cargo ships.
4. Ride The Metro
Riding the Russian Metro is not just a journey to get to your next destination, but a beautiful experience in itself. The St. Petersburg metro is said to be one of the deepest in the world and has several gorgeous stations that are well worth a visit. Avtovo station has been listed as one of the most beautiful metro stations in the world with its tiled floors and columns, and Spasskaya station is equally grand.
5. See A Russian Opera or Ballet
The Russian’s are famous for their ballet in particular, and you haven’t truly seen St. Petersberg’s culture unless you’ve seen one of these performances. Check out the Mariinsky Theatre or the Mikhailovsky Theatre for the best quality shows, and prepare to have your mind blown at the skill and dedication of the performers.
6. Spend an Afternoon at the Hermitage Museum
The Hermitage Museum is one of the city’s most important sites, as it’s full of galleries featuring famous Russian artworks. There are also many western artists’ works meshed with those from the east, making it a cultural highlight if you’re visiting St Petersburg with a passion for art.
7. Go to the Peter and Paul Fortress
This must-see site was once a prison, and is now a historical relic that offers a Prison Museum and the Peter and Paul Fortress. There is more than one attraction to see here so give yourself plenty of time to explore, and make the most out of all your entry ticket gives you.
8. See Some of Russia’s Finest Art
Visit the State Russian Museum and the State Hermitage Museum if you want to see some of the best in Russian art. But visitors should also keep their eyes open wherever they are, because St. Petersburg features art all over the city. The Warehouse Arts District in particular has a number of very impressive murals.
9. Wander Around Peterhof
Peterhof palace complex is a beautiful place to walk around, get some fresh air, and learn a bit about Russian history. If you’re visiting in the summer, make sure to check out the fountains, which provide wonderfully cooling spray if the wind is blowing. You can pay to go inside and tour the Peterhof, which can be a little pricey but definitely worth it.
10. Visit Kizhi Island
This open-air museum features wooden architecture that originated in the Karelia Region of Russia. It’s particularly impressive because these structures were built without the use of nails. All of the wood is carved to fit perfectly together. Make sure to check out the most photographed structure; the Church of the Transfiguration, which was built in the 17th-century and features 22 onion domes.
11. Walk Down John Lennon Street
It’s quirky and a little strange but there’s an entire street dedicated to John Lennon in St. Petersburg. Fans of the Beatles will find the street at the art centre Pushkinskaya 10, and the entrance is from Ligovsky prospect. You’ll find lots of interesting murals and sculptures in this small passageway – a slice of British culture right in the middle of Russia!
12. Explore The Russian Museum
This regal museum holds one of the largest collections of Russian art in the entire world, and is a great place to spend an afternoon if the weather isn’t great during your trip. You’ll see Byzantine-style work as well as Socialist Realism that became popular during Stalin’s Era, along with a number of more contemporary exhibitions. Even if you don’t like art, this is quite the site for the architecture alone.
13. See The Bronze Horseman Statue
This bronze statue is a symbol of St. Petersburg and a must-see while you’re visiting. The statue features Peter the Great sitting atop a horse which is meant to resemble Russia’s greatness. The statue is situated on the ‘Thunder Stone’ which was brought from afar to compliment the statue.
14. Pay your Respects at the Lazarus and Tikhvin Cemeteries
Aside from being beautiful and a bit quirky, these cemeteries hold some pretty famous residents. They are the burial sites for some of Russia’s most renowned artists, writers, and composers. You have to pay entry to enter both cemeteries, but although they are small they are also home to hundreds of interesting monuments and examples of architecture.
15. Roam Along Nevsky Prospect
The Nevsky Prospect is the main street in St. Petersburg and it represents the city’s long history. A walk along this street will yield statues, shopping malls, boutiques, cafes, bookstores, ancient sites, and more. Two highlights are the Kazan Cathedral and a Catherine The Great monument.
16. Visit the Alexander Nevsky Monastery
This monastery was named after the St. Petersburg Patron Saint, and is one of the most well-known and respected religious destinations in the city as well as the oldest monastery. The exterior is yellow and pink and there are mosaics and artwork both inside and out. Touring the monastery is free but you must pay admission to cemeteries which hold the burial grounds for some famous Russians.
17. Examine Your Thoughts at Freud’s Dream Museum
Sigmund Freud was one of the most famous psychologists in the Western world, and this museum is dedicated to his work on the meanings of our subconscious thoughts. The building is dark, eerie, and brings visitors deep into their own mind. The rooms are small, dimly lit, and otherworldly, representing different parts of the subconscious for visitors to explore. Images, lights, and sounds make this place just like a dream.
18. Check out The Views At Strelka
For incredible views of St. Petersburg, you’ll want to visit Vasilyevsky Island where you can visit Strelka. It’s the island’s eastern tip and is considered a famous landmark as it was one of Peter the Great’s favourite spots. Standing there, you’ll be able to see the Peter and Paul Fortress to the left and the Hermitage, the Admiralty and St Isaac’s Cathedral to the right
19. Visit The Catherine Palace
Also known as the Summer Palace, The Catherine is part of a complex of parks and historic buildings. Russian royalty once lived here, which isn’t surprising given how intricate and beautiful the exterior is. The interior is pretty incredible too so make sure to take a tour, and don’t forget to bring your camera!
20. Check Out The Peterhof Fountains
Have you heard of Versailles in France? Peterhof is considered the Versailles of Russia and the fountains here are definitely worth a visit in their own right. The royal gardens are completely free, so if you’re on a budget and don’t want to pay admission, the palace is a great option. Stroll through the variety of garden spaces or just stand and admire the shapes that the impressive fountains make.
21. Tour The Aurora Battleship
The Aurora Battleship was built in 1900 and played a crucial role in the Bolshevik Revolution during 1917. It’s now docked in St. Petersburg and offers a free museum to visitors, or you can pay admission and receive a special tour of the engine room.
22. Take a SUP Tour Around The City
Stand up paddleboarding is an exercise trend that has recently taken the world by storm, and is now becoming a popular tourist activity and a great way to explore the water of different cities and countries. You can rent a stand-up paddleboard and cruise around the city by the river when the weather is good, or take part in an instructor-led tour.
23. See The Bolshoy Dom
Also called the Big House, this regal building was constructed in 1932 for the State Security Committee. It is currently the St Petersburg headquarters of the Federal Security Service, but you can tour the inside still and see the former workplace of Putin.
24. Visit The Pushkin Duel Site and Park
This site is dedicated to the famous Russian poet, Pushkin. It’s said that he battled in 29 duels before his death at the age of 37. And, according to the stories, the man who killed him was trying to seduce his wife. You can now visit the site of the duel and see the beautiful landscape.
25. See a Russian National Library Exhibit
The Russian National Library is a great place to spend a rainy afternoon when you want to relax but still experience the culture. Check out the immense book collection as well as the many exhibits of rare books, photography, and manuscripts.
26. Sample the Produce of the Russian Vodka Museum
What’s a trip to Russia without a taste of its signature spirit? This museum focuses on the creation, culture, and ritual of vodka. You’ll find the museum full of bottles, stoppers, and other drinking paraphernalia. Take one of the tours and learn all about vodka’s history. You’ll get to sample vodka too!
27. Visit the Church of Our Savior on the Spilt Blood
It’s hard not to notice this impressive church when traveling in St. Petersberg. The exterior features onion domes, colour, and sparkle while the interior is full of beautiful artwork. After you finish taking photos in front of the church, make sure to head inside to see the artful mosaics and other works by famous, Russian artists
28. See the F. M. Dostoyevsky Literary Memorial Museum
Visit the home of the famous Russain author F. M. Dostoyevsky to see where he was when he penned his last novel. The house is full of books, which any literature lover will be happy to see, and the memorial exhibit is home to the writer’s former residence, a literary exhibit, and more than 24,000 volumes of manuscripts.
29. Marvel at The Grand Maket Rossiya
It took five years to build this massive, miniature model of Russian. It took 400 artists, modeleres, and computer scientists to build this model that represents the whole country. It also took 11 tons of plaster and 500,000 LED lights to make it look like the day is changing to night. It’s an incredible, interactive display that feels and looks real. They even rent binoculars to visitors so they can see the whole thing.
30. Learn at the Russian Museum of Military Medicine
Perhaps not an attraction for the faint-hearted, in the Russian Museum of Military Medicine visitors will find old medical instruments, rare documents, and eerie specimens. It opened in the 1940s and has become one of the world’s largest medical museums. Check out the rare books, documents, gas masks, and soap made of human fat (yes, really.)
31. Spend Time in the Street Art Museum
This open-air art gallery is located at the site of a plastics factory and features a brilliant array of different street-art pieces. Artworks can be found all around the grounds but also in some of the buildings as well.
32. Visit Lenin’s Hut
This is a replica of the straw hut where Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin hid and disguised himself as a hay farmer in 1917. It’s a small site but worth visiting just for the photos you’ll get, and for the historic significance.
33. Walk Over The Kissing Bridge
You’ll find the Kissing Bridge over Moika River in St Petersburg. It has been historically known as the place for lovers to go for romance with their special someone. Legend has it that those who visit the bridge together will stay together for a long and happy relationship. The longer the kiss, the happier the couple is said to be in the future.
34. Enjoy The Wax Museum
It’s very random, and slightly creepy, but this wax museum is a must-see when in St. Petersburg. You can find them in the outdoor walkway of one of St. Petersburg’s shopping centers. The wax figures feature Harry Potter Characters, Lord of The Rings Characters, and Putin on a tiger.
35. Visit the Vavilov Research Institute of Plant Industry
This is the world’s largest seed bank, and should be visited by any gardening fanatics who are visiting St Petersburg. The workers here gave their lives to save the seeds whilst hiding from a German invasion in the Second World War, and now the collection can be viewed by the public.
36. Explore Nelson’s Courtyard
Nelson’s Courtyard is a small yard filled with colorful ‘junk’ that looks more like an intentional art display. It’s filled with oddities like stuffed animals, musical instruments, and old bikes, and is one of the quirkier tourist attractions in St Petersburg that will provide you with some memorable photos!
37. See the Statues in the Mosaic Courtyard
The Mosiac Courtyard is an entire city block that is packed with mosaic sculptures. They are full of colour and seem quite out of placer, which makes this courtyard especially interesting to see. It’s another brilliant quirky art site fo those who want to see all of the culture on offer in the city.
38. Admire Nabokov’s Butterflies
Vladimir Nabokov is most famous for writing the controversial novel ‘Lolita’, but is also well-known for his butterfly collection. You can visit his childhood home tin St Petersburg to see tons of beautiful specimens that he collected himself.
39. Visit Dvortsovaya Ploschad (Palace Square)
This massive, public square, dates back to the Imperial days of Russia. You’ll find it where the St.Petersburg’s main street, Nevsky Prospect, meets the Neva River. You will know you’re in the right place when you see the column in the center which commemorates Russia’s victory over Napoleon in 1812.
40. Get Clean at the Museum of Hygiene
This strange museum in St Petersburg is dedicated to reminding people how to stay in good health. There are tons of grim displays as well as the taxidermied version of one of Pavlov’s dogs, so it’s perhaps not the best place to visit if you’re a little squeamish, but brilliant if you’re interested in science!
41. Visit the Kunstkamera Exhibit
You can find this exhibit on the second floor of the St. Petersburg Anthropology Museum. It’s an intriguing display of medical oddities that are just as morbid as they are interesting. Maybe don’t visit straight after you’ve eaten lunch!
42. Explore the Rasputin Rooms
The Rasputin Rooms are located inside the Yusupov Palace in St Petersburg and can’t be seen with general admission. Make sure to ask the staff if you can get a separate ticket to the Rasputin Rooms where you can learn all about his history and death, if you’ve an interest in Russian history and this controversial leader.
43. Walk The City Roofs
For an unforgettable experience of St Petersburg, you’ll find these walkable roofs in the city centre. They’re safe for standing, offer fantastic views of the city, and are very popular with the locals so you won’t feel like a total tourist as you enoy the heights.
St. Petersburg is full of things to do, from the strange to the weird, and the wonderful. Spend some time exploring the city’s main attractions as well as the more quirky sites to get the full picture of what it’s all about, and consult this list if very you find yourself at a loss of what to do.