The White Nights in St Petersburg is one of the most touristic periods. In this blog post, I will talk about what to visit and to do, but also give you practical advices for a trip during the White Nights:
- When are the White nights in St Petersburg?
- What to see, what to do?
- What to visit?
- Where to stay in St Petersburg?
- White Nights Agenda 2020
Phenomenon. There aren’t really any official dates for sleepless nights. It is a natural phenomenon, during which the sun sets very little. The days during the sleepless nights are very long. Conversely, winter in Saint Petersburg is synonymous with very short days.
Dates. It is therefore not a process with a beginning and an end, it is progressive. It is considered to be at its maximum from the beginning of June to mid-July.
And concretely? The shortest night is the night of the summer solstice, from June 21 to 22. The sun will then set at 10:25 p.m. and rise at 3:35 a.m. You will tell me that it is still 5 hours of night. That’s right, the sun disappears but remains very close to the horizon. From 10:25 p.m. to 3:35 a.m., it is therefore a light twilight that will quickly give way to dawn.
What to see, what to do during the White Nights St Petersburg?
There are things to see and do absolutely, especially during this period. However, there are many people who come during this period. So you have to know it and try to think outside the box from time to time.
1. See the opening of the palace bridge
Post card. The images of the opening of the bridges are inseparable from Saint Petersburg. It’s a magical moment to live. If there was one thing to do during the sleepless nights in St. Petersburg, it would really be this! The colors of the sky are very pretty.
Where to go? And when? There are several bridges that open, but the most central is the palace bridge. It connects the shore where the Hermitage is located with Vasilyevsky Island. The opening takes place at 1 am. It is possible to admire it from the quays of the palace or from a boat!
2. Take a boat trip on the canals
During the day or in the evening? I want to say both! Two different atmospheres. In addition, there are several routes, so you can alternate. In the morning, generally, there are slightly fewer people.
Practical questions. The price for one person and an hour and a half ride is between 10 and 15 euros during the day (it varies depending on the exchange rate). There are several docks from which it is possible to take the boat. Read more in this post: Boat trip in St Petersburg.
3. Climb the colonnade of Saint Isaac Cathedral
You will see: the architecture of the city very harmonious and few buildings are high. In the heart of the historic center, the highest point is the dome of Saint Isaac Cathedral. That’s good, it’s one of the must-sees in the city (see below)!
During the White Nights St Petersburg, the colonnade of Saint Isaac remains open longer. It is therefore possible to admire a superb view of the city late at night. It’s great with the sunset!
4. Take a walk
Nevsky Avenue. You will not feel alone during the sleepless nights in St. Petersburg. Do not hesitate to leave Nevsky Avenue which is certainly an interesting street, but noisy and a little too well known. It must be done, but the true soul of the city is elsewhere.
Go off the beaten track. Going for a walk outside the busy streets is a perfect way to explore Saint Petersburg. Especially during sleepless nights!
What to visit during White Nights in St Petersburg? And not to visit…
There are must-sees to visit in St. Petersburg, sleepless nights or not. Here they are below! But, the sleepless nights in Saint Petersburg, it’s a lot of people. Therefore, some places are not necessarily to visit during this period.
1. Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood
True symbol of Saint Petersburg and Russian Orthodox architecture, it is an absolute must. Getting inside is definitely worth it. It is very rich compared to all the other churches.
Find out more here: Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood: history, tickets, all you need to know.
2. Hermitage Museum, or Winter Palace
One of the TOP 3 of the biggest museums in the world! It is a museum that attracts travelers from all over the world. Summer and winter, the museum is taken by storm. To avoid the queue, take the tickets in advance on the museum’s official website or, if not, use the automatic kiosks, once there.
To find out more, here is the post about the Hermitage Museum.
More palaces? If you are not too much a museum and wish to go to the Hermitage only for its Tsar residence side, perhaps it would be more interesting to choose another palace, less known, or select a single palace to see? There are plenty, here is our post on the 10 most beautiful palaces in Saint Petersburg.
3. Peterhof Palace
During the sleepless nights in Saint Petersburg, the Peterhof Palace explodes its number of visitors! The Peterhof Palace is large, there are many things to visit, there are specific tickets for each party. Find out more here: our post about Peterhof Palace.
Little advice. During the White Nights St Petersburg, the interior of the Palace is not necessarily to be visited at all costs, if you do not stay long in Saint Petersburg, have other palaces in your program and wish to avoid waiting. If the weather is nice, I would rather take advantage of the beautiful exteriors.
4. Saint Isaac Cathedral
As seen above, its dome dominates the historic center of Saint Petersburg. This cathedral is very different from the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, both outside and inside.
5. Peter and Paul Fortress
Visiting the Peter and Paul Fortress means learning about the origin of Saint Petersburg and the Romanov dynasty, but also crossing the Neva and enjoying the beautiful view that opens onto the city!
White Nights Saint Petersburg: guided tours in English
In order to avoid the queue, but also to benefit from the explanations of a guide, it may be worth taking a guided tour. Here are some examples of guided tours in English.
- Private city tour in English (with a private English speaking guide)
- 4-hour city tour in English (group tour is cheaper)
White Nights in St. Petersburg 2020 agenda
The city publishes the program always at the last minute. But there is one event that does not change from one year to the next, it is the Festival “Les voiles écarlates”.
“Scarlet Sails” Festival or White Nights Festival in Saint Petersburg
In general, this party is organized on the night of June 21 to 22 (or the nearest date that falls on the weekend). For those who have passed their BAC, it marks the end of high school. For everyone else, it’s the magic peak of the White Nights! A splendid boat with scarlet sails sails on the Neva and a magnificent fireworks display is fired at the darkest moment of the night!
In 2019, it fell on June 23. A concert on the Place du Palais at 10 p.m. And the fireworks at 00:40!
Below a video to give you an idea of this evening! As you can see, there are a lot of people on the quays, especially on the Hermitage side. Boats do not circulate on the Neva during this festival (passage of the big boat …).
Other events. There are other important dates such as the anniversary celebration of the city of Saint Petersburg (May 27) or the fleet celebration (July 28). But they do not fall on the part of the year when the nights are the shortest, maximum sleepless nights.
Where to stay during White Nights in St Petersburg?
The White Nights in St Petersburg are the most touristic periods of the year. The hotel prices are really high.
Read more about the prices and the best hotels and districts where to stay in St Petersburg.
Tips for a trip during the White Nights in Saint Petersburg
- Book your stay in advance (accommodation, guided tours)
- Select the tours that interest you most to avoid wasted time where you don’t really care
- Get off the beaten track, see other places to get away from the flow of group tourists and discover a more authentic Saint Petersburg (it is valid all the time, but even more during sleepless nights)
St Petersburg is my hometown. Not long ago, I discovered it from a new angle and I really fell in love with it! I really hope you will enjoy this city and come home with lots of good memories!
On this blog, we share our travel experiences in Russia. Discover our articles on Saint-Petersburg in the menu above or otherwise below. Good trip preparation!
Good to know before traveling in St Petersburg:
- Public transport and taxi in St Petersburg
- Airport transfer: how to get to hotel in taxi and on public transport?
- Where to stay in St Petersburg?
- Best time to visit St Petersburg