Visiting the “Cultural Capital” of Russia is a grand experience and chance to view the jewels of Russian culture and history. This guide will help you see the city in the optimal way as if you were a Tsar yourself, but without having to spend a royal budget.
How to See the City
To receive the best experience and information about all the attractions in St Petersburg it is best to use the services of a guide. One example is Dancing Bear Tours which provides shore excursions for cruise ship passengers and private tours for land passengers. Taking a private tour, rather than a large group tour, gives you the chance to see St Petersburg your way, with a flexible and customized tour schedule, and individual attention with the freedom to ask lots of questions and take lots of photos without being pushed along in the herd of a large group tour. A private tour also costs approximately the same as a large group tour and so why not treat yourself to a privately guided tour that is fit for a Tsar.
Using a private guide to see the city also means you can choose the attractions which are most interesting for you. With so many amazing attractions in St Petersburg the large tour companies usually send visitors to the main attractions, but with a private guide you can choose from the full list of attractions in St Petersburg and build a customized tour with your interests in mind.
What to See
St Petersburg has more than 89 museums and is full of attractions which will deliver a cultural insight into Russia that you will find no where else. The issue is choosing the most interesting attractions for your best experience. Here is a list of some of the most popular attractions that are considered “must-see” in St Petersburg.
- State Hermitage Museum – This is one of the largest museums in the world and contains approximately 3 million items. If you spent 1 minute at each item it would take you nine years to see everything the Hermitage has to offer.
- Yusupov Palace – To feel the opulence of the Tsar’s and the riches of Russia every tourist should visit Yusupov Palace. This is one of the last standing mansions in the city and every room is bathed in luxury. It is also the place where the famous Russian mystic Grigory Rasputin was murdered. During special tours of the palace you can visit the actual room where he was poisoned and here the fascinating story about his life with the Tsar’s and his mysterious death which ended his influence over the royal family.
- Church of Our Savior – This church is also referred to as the Church of Our Savior on the Spilt Blood as it was the location for the assassination of Tsar Alexander II in 1881. This is one of the best places to make a royal photo stop and the church is one of the most iconic and well-known places in Russia.
- Peter and Paul Fortress – This is known as the birthplace of St Petersburg as Peter the Great founded the city on this location in 1703. There are several museums inside the fortress including a famous prison. You can walk along the top of the fortress and take amazing photos of the Neva River, bridges, and Winter Palace.
- Catherine Palace & the Amber Room – This palace truly shows the wealth of the royal family as over 100 kilograms of gold were used for the facade and statues the line the outside of the palace. Inside each room was painstakingly redesigned after the palace was destroyed during WWII. One of the most interesting rooms you will see is the Amber room. It is one of the greatest treasures stolen by Nazi Germany during WWII and the original has never been found. The replica took 24 years to make and cost millions of dollars to finish.
- Peterhof – Just outside St Petersburg you will find the fountain kingdom of the Tsar’s which is considered the “Russian Versailles” for the grand scale of fountains, statues, and gardens. Watch out for the trick fountains that might surprise you as you wander the trails in the different gardens. The best way to go to and from Peterhof is the hydrofoil services that transports you quickly and easily between Peterhof and the center of St Petersburg.
- Boat Tour – One of the best ways to see the center of the city is by taking a boat tour. During the summer season boats take visitors at night to watch the various bridges of the city open during the “White Nights” period when the sun doesn’t quite set over the horizon and creates a romantic and enchanting orange glow in the sky. To make this boat trip truly in the fashion for a Tsar, choose one of the boats that provides live music and food.