St Petersburg is often considered to be a cultural capital of Russia, and that is totally understandable. It’s home to the world’s second largest art museum (find best tips for visiting Hermitage here), wonderful theaters and every other building has a memory of a local writer, artist or poet. But besides visiting museums and theaters, what else is there to do in this beautiful city? Lots of stuff, actually. And since 7 is a cool number, here are 7 cool ideas.
Make sure to check out this two-day St Petersburg itinerary by Cindy from Travel Bliss Now!
1. Take a boat tour
You can’t walk pass all the offers! Boat tours are offered all over the city, its river and channels, so hop on and enjoy your time. Probably the best time to do it is in the evening or at night, when you can see the sunset and/or bridge openings.
2. Go on the roof tour
We are not sure about how legal these tours are, but wouldn’t it be amazing to see St Petersburg from the different angle? The city is not very tall due to the previous building restrictions, and from almost every rooftop in the city you will find a unique and beautiful view. Now, we can’t really officially recommend it, because you can get a fine for being up there, as far as we know. So if you DO decide to do it, make sure you are safe, and don’t go to excursion drunk.
3. Join a free walking tour
Learning something new about Russia’s history is a MUST while in the winter capital. Emperors, tsars, revolutions, communist leaders and so much more – this country’s history as interesting as it is complicated. Be open-minded and you may learn not only facts, but also get a sense of why Russia is the way it is. We went with the these guys and weren’t disappointed. Many free walking tours also offer some paid special tours, like for example communist tour or a night tour.
4. Eat in the local canteen
There are many restaurants in St Petersburg, I’m sure you can find plenty of foodie blog posts about the best gastronomic experiences in Russia. But if you don’t mind going a little more “local” and maybe saving up some money in the process, try one of the canteens. There’s plenty of them around the city, they are called “Столовая”. There will be a choice of dishes to pick and you can get to taste typical Russian cuisine.
5. Try out retro “Pyshechnaya” and “Pirozhkovaya”
These ones got recommended to us by a friend. You can find a traditional donut shop (“Pyshechnaya”) on the Bolshaya Konyushennaja Street 25. It was established in 1958, and hasn’t changed much since then. You’ll see ladies in the retro outfits, traditional fried donuts, coffee (only with milk and sugar, since they make it in huge batches) and some in-house cats. The place is normally stuffed, but queue moves quite quickly. Second place is “Pirozhkovaya” on Moskovsky Ave 192. Another retro-style place, from 1956, it sells traditional “pirozhky”, which are small pies with different fillings, both sweet and savoury. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to this specific pie-shop, so if you get a chance – let us know in the comments how you liked it!
6. Visit one of the many book shops
The abundance of book stores in St Petersburg is surprising, and even if you don’t read in Russian, I recommend to visit one of them. Literature plays very important part in Russia’s culture, history and education. Join in on the knowledge and entertainment hunger and you won’t regret it!
7. Go down to the metro and check out the stations
Admiralteyskaya is one of the 5 deepest metro stations in the world, and some of the other stations are interesting. Metro was originally built by Stalin, but in the process of de-Stalinization some of his plans were redone. Still, take a ride in a metro and stop at the few stations like for example Avtovo or Revolution Square.
8. Stop for coffee A LOT
We loved how many cafes and bakeries there are in St Petersburg! We definitely had way too many coffee stops due to the rainy weather, and often we picked different places. Whether it’s a Coffee House chain, Mickey and Monkeys or a cozy “Kofe Na Kukhne” on Fontanka river embankment 17, don’t come with your stomach full. There should always be a place for dessert!
There are definitely more things for those who speak Russian – quest rooms with actors, competitions and more, but this list suits English speakers well. Let us know in the comments if you have done something awesome in St Petersburg. We’re always looking for ideas for our future visits!
If you are interested in more things to do in St Petersburg, check out our guest post on Voyager Travel Blog:
If you plan to visit the Hermitage, check out this article: