• Krista the Explorer

72 Hours in St Petersburg

Updated: Aug 26, 2019

St Petersburg is known as the city of a thousand palaces, and as soon as you enter the city it's not hard to see why. The grandeur of the architecture is incredible here. Everything is very opulent and golden. Compared to Moscow, you can see that it was heavily influenced by its European neighbours. St Petersburg is rich in history, and was a favourite meeting place for the nobility. There's lots to see here, from the famous Hermitage, to the charming canals, to the stunning cathedrals. The food is also amazing, and depending where you choose to eat it can be quite cheap as well.

The metro system isn't as large as the one in Moscow, and the stops aren't really near many of the main attractions, but it does come in handy. You can buy a card that gives you 10 journeys, which I'd recommend since you won't be using it a lot. The metro system is actually one of the deepest in the world! Our hotel was located right next to a metro stop, so we could easily get closer to the centre. We stayed at Hotel Esplanada (15% off booking using code "krista2019") which was only a short walk or Uber ride to the main train station. It also sits along one of the canals which was nice to wake up to in the morning. You can read my review of the hotel here. Uber rides are very cheap, which is useful if your feet are tired! We travelled to St Petersburg via train from Tallinn in Estonia. We opted to buy normal seats rather than beds since we weren't travelling overnight - it was much cheaper this way.

Most of the attractions are overcrowded, which makes getting nice pictures difficult. If you wake up at sunrise you can head to your favourite spots and get photos without the crowds in the background! It's a great idea, because everywhere is deserted and you can take a moment to enjoy each place in peace! Check out my top picks for things to see in the city below!

1. Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood
Yes it's a long name for a church, but it's a very impressive one! This is the city's most elaborate church, and a very popular attraction. The bridges over the river are packed with people trying to get photos. It was built on the spot where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated in 1881.
2. Shop at the Eliseyev Emporium
Even if you don't feel like indulging yourself, make sure you stop at this incredible food hall. Everything is over-the-top, and the cakes and other food on display looks fantastic. Tip: They close at 11pm, so if you get there at 10:30, they have a big sale on all of their fresh cakes!
3. Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan
This cathedral is packed during the day, so if you're looking to get a nice photo, get there very early.
4. Marvel at the State Hermitage Museum
How peaceful is the Hermitage at sunrise? This is the only time of the day you'll be able to get a shot without hundreds of people in it, and it's definitely worth waking up for. It's made up of five interconnected buildings, and is the largest art gallery in Russia. It's also the second largest museum in the world, after the Louvre. Fun fact: The museum is home to over 50 cats, who are used to hunt mice in order to protect the art.

You can also get a ticket to enter the General Staff Building, which has more art exhibitions inside.
5. Faberge Museum
This is one not to be missed. The museum is home to a large selection of Faberge eggs, and also showcases some other unique items from Russian royalty.
6. Catherine the Great Palace
What's one more palace when you're in St Petersburg? This palace in particular is one of the greatest in Russia, and is home to the famous Amber Room. It's not the easiest to get to though. It takes a long time through public transportation, so we took an Uber which cut the journey down to 45 minutes instead of 1.5 hours. Ubers are cheap, so it didn't break our budget at all and was more convenient. When you arrive, you have to pay to enter the park first, which is huge and has many other points of interest too. Once inside, you need to join a long line to purchase a ticket for the palace itself. We arrived shortly before it was due to close and there was almost no waiting time. If you can, get your tickets in advance online to avoid the waiting.
7. Check Out Saint Isaac's Cathedral
I'm pretty sure everywhere we went there was scaffolding, but hey. This is a massive cathedral, and functions as a museum too. You can get tickets for the roof as well for some nice views of the city.
8. Hop on a River Cruise with Anglotourismo
There are many options for river cruises in the city, but this one came out on top during my research! The meeting point is opposite the Faberge Museum, so it's easy to locate. We took the evening cruise, which was amazing, and we saw many key attractions from a unique angle.
9. Catch a Show at the Mariinsky Theatre
This is one of the main theatres in St Petersburg, so if you have time make sure to take in a show!
10. Look Up at the Admiralty Building
This is the current headquarters of the Russian Navy, and is a beautiful building, even against the backdrop of dark rain clouds.
11. Explore the History Behind Yusupov Palace
There are lots of palaces to explore here. But this was one of my favourites! It has a lot of history behind it, but is probably most famous as the place where the infamous Rasputin was murdered!
12. Find a Bit of Egypt in Russia
If you're walking along the river, try to spot the sphinxes outside of the Academy of Arts.
13. Eat the City's Best Donuts
I'm not a big donut eater, but I had to try these ones. They come from the city's oldest donut shop, Pyshechnaya, and are incredible. There's always a long line of people, and they only take cash, but they're very cheap so make sure you stock up!
14. The Cabin of Tsar Peter the Great
This is a short walk from the popular Peter and Paul Fortress, but worth a quick little stop.
15. Peter and Paul Fortress
Built by Peter the Great, it was the first structure built in the city. It never actually served its defensive purpose, but was a prison for many prominent Russian prisoners. The complex is free to walk around, but the museums inside require tickets which you can buy at the entrance.
16. Pelmenya: Dumplings from All Over the World
I loved dumplings before coming to Russia, but now I'm obsessed. We ate here every night, and definitely tasted the entire menu. It's located on the same street as the Faberge Museum so it's easy to locate. I'd highly, highly recommend eating here!
17. Peterhof Palace
Russia's response to the building of Versailles. This palace is seriously impressive. The gardens cost just as much to get into as the palace itself, so it's not cheap to do both. We arrived on a day that it was closed (typical) but we had access to the gardens, which were huge. Make sure you check the website for opening times, because they are closed on certain days, especially at the end of the month for cleaning purposes. The easiest way to get there is by Hydrofoil, which is a high speed boat that docks outside of the Hermitage. Again, not cheap but definitely the quickest and least stressful. We took an Uber there and the Hydrofoil back, which turned out to cost the same.

Thinking of visiting St Petersburg? Drop me a message if you have any questions!


My name is Krista, and like many people I love to travel! I think it's important that people share their travel experiences, so I hope that mine help you in some way in your own travels, or inspire you to travel more! 

Read more

Join my mailing list
  • White Facebook Icon
  • White Pinterest Icon

© 2018 by Krista the Explorer