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Things to do in St. Petersburg

Things to do in  St Petersburg

Welcome to St Petersburg

Since being founded by Tsar Peter the Great and built on a desolate swamp, St. Petersburg—the former capital of the Russian Empire—has become a national symbol of historical heritage, vibrant cultural life, and sheer beauty. The city’s canals and grand architecture, drawn with bright colors and white light, show why so many of Russia’s famous artists and poets have sprung from the so-called Venice of the North. Taking a city tour with a local guide is a sure way to best explore the city’s highlights and deeply understand their history. Tours explore the magnificent Baroque-style Winter Palace (formerly home to Empress Catherine the Great, and now part of the State Hermitage Museum), the Peter and Paul Fortress on the Neva River, St. Isaac’s Cathedral, the Peterhof Palace, the Fabergé Museum, and more. You could spend years admiring the State Hermitage Museum’s astounding collection of fine art, comprised of works by everyone from Raphael to Rembrandt to Renoir—tackle its 2.7 million pieces on a guided tour. For even more culture, enjoy a Russian folk show at Nikolayevsky Palace. And you can’t miss the Church of the Saviour on the Spilled Blood, which—with its dramatic name and many towers—has become an emblem of this majestic Russian city.

Top 10 attractions in St Petersburg

#1
State Hermitage Museum

State Hermitage Museum

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The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg is the largest art and cultural museum in the world, with more than 3 million items in its collection—only a fraction of which are on display in its 360 rooms. The main museum complex comprises six historic buildings on the Palace Embankment and includes exhibitions of works of art from the 13th to 20th centuries, as well as Egyptian and classical antiquities and prehistoric art.More
#2
St. Isaac’s Cathedral (Isaakievskiy Sobor)

St. Isaac’s Cathedral (Isaakievskiy Sobor)

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With its gigantic golden dome coated with over 220 pounds of gold and an impressive red granite portico, St. Isaac’s Cathedral (Isaakievskiy Sobor) looks more like a palace than a cathedral, and it’s no surprise that the eye-catching masterpiece is among St. Petersburg’s most visited attractions. Commissioned by Tsar Alexander I in 1818 to mark the defeat of Napoleon, the magnificent cathedral took over 40 years to build and still ranks among the largest domed cathedrals in the world, with a capacity for up to 14,000 worshipers.Set on the banks of the Neva River, the cathedral’s extravagant design was the work of French architect Auguste de Montferrand, blending Renaissance, Baroque and Neoclassical elements, and sparing no expenses. The cathedral interiors are equally lavish, featuring painstakingly sculpted reliefs, grand bronze doors and a colonnaded iconostasis adorned with semiprecious gems.Today, the cathedral is only occasionally used for worship, instead serving as a museum and housing an impressive collection of 19th-century fine art and mosaics. For many visitors, the highlight is climbing the 300 steps to the cathedral's colonnade, from where the views expand over the city.More
#3
Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood

Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood

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St. Petersburg’s most iconic site after the Hermitage Museum, the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is known for its elaborate façade and brightly colored onion domes. Officially the Church of the Resurrection of Christ, the magnificent church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated in 1881.More
#4
Peter and Paul Fortress (Petropavlovskaya Krepost)

Peter and Paul Fortress (Petropavlovskaya Krepost)

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The looming yellow cathedral tower and star-shaped fortifications of the Peter and Paul Fortress dominate St. Petersburg’s riverfront, rising up from the shores of Zayachy Island. Built by Peter the Great in 1703, the fortress boasts a long history, having served as a military base, royal burial site, and political prison.More
#5
Nevsky Prospekt

Nevsky Prospekt

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Russia’s most famous street—the Champs-Élysées of St. Petersburg—runs for 3 miles (5 kilometers) through the city’s historic center from the Admiralty Building to Alexander Nevsky Lavra. Some of the city’s most impressive buildings line the street, including the Kazan Cathedral, Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood, and the Grand Europe Hotel.More
#6
Peterhof State Museum-Reserve (Muzeya-Zapovednika Peterhof)

Peterhof State Museum-Reserve (Muzeya-Zapovednika Peterhof)

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It’s easy to see why Peterhof Palace, a magnificent complex of palaces and gardens stretching along the St. Petersburg seafront, is called the Russian Versailles. Fronted by the opulent Grand Palace and displaying a rich variety of architectural styles, this UNESCO World Heritage Site—known officially as the Peterhof State Museum-Reserve (Muzeya-Zapovednika Peterhof)—is one of the city’s most visited attractions.More
#7
Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan (Kazansky Sobor)

Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan (Kazansky Sobor)

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Completed in 1811 and standing at an impressive 203 feet tall (62 meters), St Petersburg's Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan exhibits Russian classical architecture, having replaced a wooden church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary. The cathedral took 10 years to construct and today encircles a small square with a double row of beautiful columns, while the interior is adorned with the works of some of the country's greatest artists and sculptors, such as I.P. Prokofyev and F.G. Gordeev, with reliefs on the facade by I.P. Martos, S.S. Pimenov and I.P. Martos.Among some of the cathedral's other beauties are the Tsar's silver-casted gates and a golden frame decorated with precious stones, made specifically for the Icon of Our Lady of Kazan. The site has served as the setting for many of Russia’s historical events, including Tsesarevish Pavel Petrovich’s marriage and the celebration of many Russian military victories. Kazan Cathedral was originally intended to be the main church of the country and the Russian answer to the Basilica of St Peter's in Rome.More
#8
Fabergé Museum

Fabergé Museum

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Housed in the suitably opulent Shuvalov Palace, the Fabergé Museum is a tribute to legendary Russian jeweler Peter Carl Fabergé. The St. Petersburg highlight showcases Russia’s treasured series of Fabergé eggs alongside a dazzling collection of Russian art, jewelry, and artifacts.More
#9
Neva River (Reka Neva)

Neva River (Reka Neva)

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Long considered to be the lifeline of St. Petersburg, the Neva River (Reka Neva) flows through the capital city from Lake Ladoga in northwestern Russia, eventually making its way to the Gulf of Finland in the Baltic Sea. Visit this historically important waterway to learn about the region’s history and see the city sites.More
#10
Yusupov Palace (Yusupovsky Dvorets)

Yusupov Palace (Yusupovsky Dvorets)

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The elegant, canary-yellow façade of Yusupov Palace (Yusupovsky Dvorets) is somewhat understated in comparison to St. Petersburg’s typically ostentatious architecture, but don’t be fooled by its demure frontage. Step inside the palace and you’ll find a series of ballrooms, banquet halls and bedrooms richly decorated with colorful frescos, sumptuous furnishings and gilded chandeliers. The exquisitely preserved interiors date back to the 19th and early 20th centuries and provide a fascinating glimpse into the aristocratic life of the era, with highlights including the Rococo style private theatre, the Moorish Drawing Room and the grand Ballroom.Built by French architect Vallin de la Mothein the 1760s, Yusupov Palace was inhabited by the noble Yusupov family until they were exiled during the 1917 Revolution and became notorious as the location of the December 1916 murder of Rasputin. Today, the cell where Rasputin met his grisly and untimely end is a popular visitor attraction, with an exhibit chronicling the evening’s events as Felix Yusupov and his followers attempted (and finally succeeded) to poison, shoot and drown the “mad monk.”More

Trip ideas

Top Parks and Gardens in St. Petersburg

Top Parks and Gardens in St. Petersburg

Top activities in St Petersburg

Saint Petersburg CityPass

Saint Petersburg CityPass

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St Petersburg Shore Excursion: Visa-Free 2-Day Private Tour

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St Petersburg Shore Excursion: Visa-Free 2-Day Private Tour

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Recent reviews from experiences in St Petersburg

star-5
Great tour
Valentina_K, Apr 2021
St Petersburg: Easy 2-Day Shore Excursion with Faberge
We had a lovely time in St Petersburg during the winter time.
star-5
Excellent experience & service
Katrina_S, Feb 2021
3-Days in St Petersburg: All-inclusive Private Tour with Professional Guide
We would never be able to see so much without guide and personal driver.
star-5
Great overview of the city
Brenda_G, Dec 2020
2-Day Group Shore Excursion in St Petersburg with Faberge Museum & Boat Cruise
This was a great tour to see St Petersburg from land and water.
star-5
Awesome experience :)
Fernando_M, Mar 2020
2-Day Private Tour of St Petersburg with Peterhof & Catherine's Palace
It was an awesome experience, Nadia has lots of knowlodge of everything in St Petersburg, she took me even to see one Catholic church wich was not in the itinerary, because i said i wanted to see.
star-4
St Petersburg 2 day tour
Anthony_K, Sep 2019
Shore Excursion: 2-Day St. Petersburg City Tour
There is a lot to see in St Petersburg so any 2 day tour needs a balance of seeing sights and not being too hectic.
star-5
Great excursion
Eleanora_W, Sep 2019
Mini-Group 2-Day Shore Excursion of St Petersburg Must-Sees and Boat Cruise
she was spectacular and knowledgeable about russian places and history and life and spoke excellent english.
star-5
excellent excusions, wonderful gudie
Daniela_K, Aug 2019
Discover St Petersburg in 4 Days with Private Guide
She avoided the big crowds in the Winter Palace which was a blessing.
star-5
Good
Simon_C, Aug 2019
St Petersburg 2 Day Mini-Group Tour Introducing All Highlights of the City And Its Suburbs
Cover many attractions.
star-5
Amazing!
Curiosity222878, Aug 2019
Private Shore-Excursion: 1-Day Fully Flexible St Petersburg Tour
There's a lot to see in St Petersburg on one day so take it slow and don't rush,you won't make everything anyway but whatever you see, enjoy it and take you time.
star-5
St. Petersburg
FidelizAnnA, Jul 2019
Shore Excursion: 2-Day St. Petersburg City Tour
Our tour guide Nina went above and beyond to cover important sights to see and she was very detailed and knowledgeable about facts and history of the place.
star-5
St Petersburg
Ronald_H, Jul 2019
2 Day Top-Guided Mini-Group Shore Excursion Introducing The Best of Saint-Petersburg And Its Surroundings
This is the way to visit st petersburg.
star-5
Great experience!
Daleen_K, Jul 2019
Small-Group St Petersburg Hermitage Museum Tour with Skip-the-Line Entry
I plan to visit the Hermitage again during my stay in St Petersburg, so this tour was an excellent introduction and orientation to the museum.
star-5
Lovely place, brilliant guide!
Stephen_B, Jul 2019
2-Day Group Shore Excursion in St Petersburg with Faberge Museum & Boat Cruise
Our tour guide (Alina) was brilliant, very friendly with excellent knowledge of all the attractions in St Petersburg.
star-5
Wonderful St Petersburg Tour
damplion, Jun 2019
St Petersburg 2 Day Top-Guided Optimized Mini-Group Tour Introducing The Best of the City And Its Suburbs
Olga was a wonderful tour director with excellent English skills and knowledge of the area.
star-5
Best way to see both palaces
Judith_Z, Jun 2019
St-Petersburg Imperial Suburbs: Peterhof & Catherine Palace Tour.
Without Maria I don't think we would be able to see both places in the same day.
star-5
Saint Petersburg two day group tour with city break
Adventure35426414789, May 2019
Mini-Group 2-Day Shore Excursion of St Petersburg Must-Sees and Boat Cruise
I had great fun and enough time to see most of the things that I was interested in.
star-5
incredible 2 days in St Petersburg
meyerfam2125, Aug 2018
2-Day City Highlights Tour of St. Petersburg
Her English was perfect, and her love of her city was obvious.
star-5
This was a great way to see St...
mbuggie01, Sep 2016
St Petersburg Shore Excursion: Visa-Free 2-Day Tour including the Faberge Museum
This was a great way to see St Petersburg without having to get a Visa.
star-5
Wonderful time in St Petersburg with...
Elaine Duns H, Oct 2017
St.Petersburg 2 Day Visa Free Shore Tour
Visited the main attractions of museums,churches palaces and gardens
star-5
We had an excellent guide, Elene...
John L, Jul 2017
St. Petersburg 3-Day All-Inclusive Tour
We had an excellent guide, Elene, and an english speaking driver, Alexis.

All about St Petersburg

When to visit

St. Petersburg fires on all cylinders winter and spring, when its weather hits the sweet spot of comfortably hot and dry. Outdoor events come thick and fast December through June, from holiday-season boat parades and the Firestone Grand Prix in March, to April’s Mainsail Art Festival, and Pride in June. Crowds thin when late summer brings muggy heat and a hurricane risk.

Frequently Asked Questions
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