7 Cool Things to do in St Petersburg

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.

St Petersburg Boat Tour

Even in summer, it’s better to take some warmer clothes with you – it can get chilly late in the evening

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.

St Petersburg Rood Tour

Many roof parts are slippery, so do exactly as the tour guide recommends while you walk up there

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.

St Petersburg Hermitage

Most walking tours also take place in the rainy weather, which happens quite often in St Petersburg

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!

St Petersburg Pyshechnaya

One of the residents in the Pyshechnaya

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!

St Petersburg Book Shop

You will find all kinds of different bookstores in St Petersburg – big and small, specialised and not

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!

What to do in St Petersburg

And, of course, don’t forget to make the usual stops – Hermitage, Kazan Cathedral, Church of the Savior on Blood, Peter and Paul Fortress and much more..

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:

Things To Do in St Petersburg

If you plan to visit the Hermitage, check out this article:

Your Best Tips for Visiting the Hermitage

36 Comments

  1. Oh my goodness, I was just there for 2 days in July this year as a stopover on a cruise. I wanted to see so much more but we were quite limited due to the restrictions in the visas.
    The Metro was amazing, the people were so friendly, and I’m glad we did get to see the statue of Lenin.

    1. I love free walking tours! Not because they are free (we make sure we tip every time), but because usually guides do it because they really love their cities and countries. Thanks for your comment Becky!

    1. To be honest, I loved metro stations in Moscow more than in St Petersburg, but they are still worth checking out! And the roof tour – yes, kind of illegal, but different experience if you’re not afraid of heights 🙂

  2. I have been meaning to head to Russia forever but the visa complications just always makes me halt my plans. I am hoping sometime next year though. Will be sure to do a walking tour and the bookshops!

  3. I want to go to St. Petersburg but its really difficult for Canadians to get passports. Sounds like the perfect place me and my coffee addiction.

  4. I have not been to St Petersburg, and expect to get there one day. Boat and rooftop tours will be top of my list. We often do free City walking tours too, so this will go on our list too. Local food is always the way to go in my mind, although, I don’t eat donuts, pies or sugar. The cathedrals look gorgeous. Thanks for the tips! I saved your post.

  5. I have been to Saint Petersburg, but you shown me there are some things I still have to do. But I agree, the roof top experience is a must have.

    1. Thanks Alina! Yeah, that happens to me with every destination.. I go there and then afterwards I find out that there’s more fun stuff to do – also in the cities I live 🙂

  6. I’ve always wanted to go to St Petersburg and it looks like you guys had a great time there. I love the idea of the retro doughnut shop (or any doughnut shop) and I’m always down for a coffee. Mind need to skip the roof tour though, the requirement to be sober might be a bit too much!

    1. Hahahaa 😀 Thanks for the comment, Paul! Yes, retro doughnut shop is kind of special. Those sneaky enough might be able to start their roof-tour-skipping experience right there 😛

  7. St. Petersburg is high on my wishlist and thanks for sharing about cool things to do here. I loved colorful Kazan cathedral and loved the main square. I would definitely go for walking tour here.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Yukti! Actually, the colorful one on the photo is the Church of the Savior on the Blood, but Kazan Cathedral is not any less beautiful! Hope you get to visit soon 🙂

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