Top 5 things to do in Saint Petersburg

Saint Petersburg is Russia’s second largest city and used to be its capital under the tsars. It is located on the Neva River and has lots of beautiful canals running through it, creating a unique and romanitc atmosphere in the city.

I stayed in Saint Petersburg for a month to study Russian, and I absolutely loved the city, its stunning palaces, gorgeous views and rich history. There were so many things that I liked about it, but here’s the top 5 of the things to do in Saint Petersburg.

The winter palace in Saint Petersburg

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State Hermitage Museum

Beautiful rooms at the State Hermitage Museum

Tip: Don’t miss the Peacock Clock in the Peacock Salon (State Rooms). It is an amazing work of art and rings every Wednesday at 8pm. The room it is in is also gorgeous!

Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood

Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood from outside and inside

After the Hermitage, this is one of the main attractions of Saint Petersburg, and you can easily understand why. Its façade is very similar to the iconic St Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow and it is very different from the other buildings you can see in Saint Petersburg. Its name comes from the fact that it was build in memory of Alexander II by his son, on the exact place where he was assassinated.

During the years and revolutions, it was damaged a lot and served different purposes, being used as a morgue or as a warehouse. It is now considered a museum so women don’t have to cover their head with a scarf when they go inside (this is what you should do when you go inside a “regular” church in Russia)!

Checking the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood from the outside is a must-do while in Saint Petersburg, but I really highly recommend going inside as well. The walls are covered in mosaics and it is absolutely breathtaking!

Ballet at the Mariinsky Theatre

Inside the old Mariinsky Theatre

This spectacular opera and ballet theatre is divided into two buildings: the “old” one with its typical green-and-white-cake look and magnificent interior, and the conveniently named “Mariinsky II”, with a more modern architecture. I was lucky enough to be able to see shows in both, as The Swan Lake was in the first one and Anna Karenina the second one. This made up for two very different and unique experiences.

As I had never seen a ballet before, I thought that it might get a bit boring after a few hours… and I was so wrong! For The Swan Lake, the amazing interior, along with the old-fashioned binoculars you can get, made me go back in time and fascinated me, as well as the amazing performance of the dancers and musicians. It was a very “classical” show, with white tutus and a very well-known soundtrack. Anna Karenina was very different: the modern look of the building (along with much more comfortable seats) made me feel like a very fancy and important person, and just like its building, the show was a bit more modern, keeping you on the edge of your seat thanks to the talented dancers and the thrilling soundtrack.

St Isaac’s Cathedral’s colonnade

The view over the Neva river from the St Isaac's Cathedral colonnade

The St Isaac’s Cathedral is another very famous landmark of the city that is perfectly located in the city centre. You will find it in every guidebook and there is a reason why. The cathedral was turned into a museum by the Soviet government and is a truly impressive building. One thing that makes it truly unique is its colonnade that allows visitors to have a 360° view of Saint Petersburg.

From up there you can see the city’s most famous sights, from the Hermitage to the Peter and Paul Fortress. This stunning view is absolutely worth it and it is one of the best viewpoints that I found in the city!

Walking around

Bridges and canals in Saint Petersburg

Even though the metro in Saint Petersburg is quite efficient (and beautiful, so you should also take it al least once), if you want to go from one place to another, taking it is not always worth it, as the stations are not located everywhere in the centre. On top of that, I was blessed with such a great weather during the month, that going 80 metres deep into the ground felt like a waste of sunlight. As a consequence, I walked a lot.

There is something I like in cities that have a river running through them, maybe it’s the water flowing, the bridges, or the romantic vibe they give out. Therefore, my favourite walks very often involved the canals, rivers and the cute colourful bridges scattered around the city. The area around the shop “Au Pont Rouge” is one of the nicest, and I really liked the Lions Bridge.

One of the main attractions in Saint Petersburg in the summer also involves watching the opening of the bridges. I didn’t get the chance to do that, but it is definitely on my to-do list for next time!

Another must-do in Saint Petersburg is a walk along Nevsky Prospect, the main avenue of the city, for its shops (especially the beautiful library Dom Knigi), restaurants, cafes, bars, sights and attractions. If you’re looking for a quieter place to wander around, I would also suggest the Vasilievsky Island, on the other side of the Neva river from the Hermitage. The view is amazing, the streets less packed with tourists and you can also visit the Peter and Paul Fortress or the Kunstkamera.

Obviously there are plenty of other things to see in Saint Petersburg that did not make it to this list for different reasons: either I didn’t get the chance to see them, or, even though their history makes them one of the most important landmarks of the city, the experience I had visiting them wasn’t as good as these five.

I still have a long list of places I want to see and things I want to do in Saint Petersburg, and I am sure I will get the chance to go back there one day.

Have you ever been to Saint Petersburg?

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Responses to “Top 5 things to do in Saint Petersburg”

  1. With love, Caroline Avatar

    Great post! I can’t wait to read your other posts on St Petersburg, I’d really like to go there! And your experience at the ballet sounds amazing! I’d love to do that one day 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tanja Avatar

    I’d love to visit it

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Juliette Avatar

      I really recommend it, it’s a wonderful city!!


  3. Sheryl Gim Avatar

    Hi Juliette! Thanks a lot for joining me!
    Great blog! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Juliette Avatar

      Thanks ! 🙂


      1. Sheryl Gim Avatar

        You’re welcome!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Lashaan Balasingam @ Bookidote Avatar

    At least one thing we can all agree on is that it is all very beautiful! Really amazing that you got to do all these things and under wonderful weather conditions. What’s the food like there though? 😮 Awesome post, Juliette!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Juliette Avatar

      Yes it’s amazing and I feel very lucky for it! 🙂 I’d say the food is okay haha, it’s very potato/cabbage-based! I loved the pirogis (a kind of pie) and the borsch that my Russian babushka used to make 😉 It’s also very cheap ! Thanks for the comment 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Daydreaming at the Tsars’ residences – Peterhof and Catherine Palace – Sunny Days with Juliette Avatar

    […] The Peterhof Palace used to be the residence of tsars and is commonly known as the “Russian Versailles” because of its grandiose interiors, superb gardens and incredible fountains. It was commissioned by Peter the Great and is located just outside Saint Petersburg. […]


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