I listed here the TOP things to do in St Petersburg. At the end of the post, you can find a practical guide to know what to visit and see in St Petersburg in 2-day or 5-day trip: palaces and museums, churches and cathedrals, but also some unusual and less visited places. To find more about each place, just click on it to open the blog post about it.
Things to see and to visit in St Petersburg
TOP 3 of churches and cathedrals
There are 3 cathedrals which are located in the heart of the city and are easily accessible. That’s a good thing! Because, without hesitation, they are among the TOP of the main places to visit in St. Petersburg. Click on the locations to find out more.
- Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood
- St Isaac Cathedral
- Kazan Cathedral
Tickets. Entrance to the Kazan Cathedral is free. It belongs to the Russian Orthodox Church. Soon it will be also the case of the Saint Isaac Cathedral. But for the moment, the Saint Isaac Cathedral is considered as a museum as the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood. So, you need to buy tickets to visit them inside.
View! The Saint Isaac Cathedral is offering a panoramic view over the whole city. Without hesitation, add it to your list of things to do in St Petersburg. You won’t regret.
Island. Another cathedral should be added to this list for its special attraction: the Peter and Paul Cathedral. Here are the tombs of the Romanov dynasty, including Nicholas II and his family murdered by bolcheviks in 1918. Further away from the first three, it is located on the territory of the Peter and Paul Fortress and its island, the place of the origin of the city. Going to the Peter and Paul Fortress is also one the things to do in St Petersburg, if you stay there more than one day.
What palaces and museums to visit in St Petersburg?
The Hermitage Museum is the largest museum in the world in terms of the number of works on display. If you’re looking for what to visit in St Petersburg, you should put it on the top of the list! Read all you need to know about tickets, and our other tips about the Hermitage Museum.
Among the less classical museums and also in the city centre, there is the museum of Soviet arcade games. With Soviet kopecks, you can play authentic USSR games and have a good time. We also liked the Fabergé museum and the Russian museum.
What to visit in St. Petersburg? You can’t miss the residences of the tsars! The most impressive of them are located outside the center, except for the Winter Palace. The Winter Palace houses part of the Hermitage Museum.
The foundation stone of the city of St. Petersburg was laid on the Hare Island. The history of the city begins here in 1703 “by the will of Peter the Great”.
From the fortress and its ramparts you have a beautiful view of the Neva River and the city. The Pierre and Paul Cathedral is the most interesting monument to visit.
TOP 3 things to do in St Petersburg
Take a boat trip on the canals. The trip lasts about 1 hour, some of them even go as far as the Peter and Paul Fortress. You can see the city with a different look, it’s very interesting. Read the blog post: Boat trip in Saint Petersburg.
Experiencing a traditional Russian banya. After a day’s sightseeing, it’s ideal to relax. The Russian bania is located between the Finnish sauna and the Turkish hammam.
See a ballet at the Mariinksy Theatre. The Mariinsky Theatre is famous. The ballet and opera programming is of a very good level. Also read: The Mariinsky Theatre: tickets, dress code, good places to sit.
What else to visit in St Petersburg?
When you travel, you will have the opportunity to pass on the main avenue of the city – Nevsky. It is a lively and rather noisy street. To visit St. Petersburg, leave the main transport routes and take a stroll along the canals. There are 3 interesting places where you can walk to:
- Summer Garden
- New Holland Island
- Mikhailovsky Garden
- However, the time that you chose to visit St Petersburg, in winter or in summer, these three places are great.
Good to know! But also if you like more “hipster” places to visit in St Petersburg, go to Etagi or Golytsin hall. You can go the the Etagi rooftop to discover a nice view on the city, but the place is closing before midnight. That’s better to go to Golytsin more at the evening. In the summer, that is a very good place to see.
TOP 7 things to do, to see and to visit in 2 days
I would advise you to visit St Petersburg in 2 days:
- Visit the Hermitage Museum inside
- See the Palace Square, the Nevsky Avenue and the Kazan Cathedral
- Visit the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood inside
- Take a walk in the Summer garden
- Discover the St Isaac Cathedral
- Go to the Peter and Paul Fortress’ island
- Take a boat trip on Neva in summer, or a walk along the canals in winter!
What to do in St Petersburg in 5 days?
If you have 5 days to visit St Petersburg, there are many other interesting things to do and to see there. Let’s take up the visits above and add new ones.
- On the 3rd day, I advise you to visit the Peterhof Palace (better in summer), and the Catherine Palace (in winter).
- On the 4th day, you can go to see the Fabergé museum then go to the Summer garden and see the Smolny Cathedral.
- Finally, on the 5th day, it is interesting to see another side of St. Petersburg: the Etagi loft, the Golitsyn Hall or the New Holland Island.
Among the palaces and museums of St. Petersburg, I find the most interesting for a first 5-day trip is to see the Hermitage, the Fabergé museum, Peterhof Palace and Catherine Palace.
Where to stay in St Petersburg?
On a first trip to St. Petersburg, don’t go very far from Nevsky Avenue. The main places to visit are located on this side of the Neva River, and you will save time.
You can read more about the districts of St. Petersburg and the hotels we can recommend here: Best districts and hotels in St Petersburg.
Hope you now know what to visit in St. Petersburg, and what palaces or museums to see in St Petersburg. Here are a few more blog posts that you may find useful.
Tips for St Petersburg:
- Transport and taxi: how does in work in St Petersburg?
- Airport transfer: how to get to hotel?
- Trains from St Petersburg to Moscow: how does it work and cost?