I would like to introduce you to a beautiful Eastern European city, which I visited last November. Saint Petersburg’s architecture is iconic, grand and unforgettable. If you want to visit Eastern Europe, definitely consider coming to St. Petersburg.
St. Petersburg is the second largest city in Russia, and it’s considered to be the most beautiful city in the country. The typical weather is rainy and foggy. The city is very English friendly, and I met many travelers from all over the world. I think you won’t have any problems navigating around the city, however keep in mind that older aged locals are less likely to speak English than young adults. Before coming to Russia my recommendation is to read some general info about Russian history, this will enrich your experience of the historic sights.
1. Stay in a hotel or a hostel closer to the center of the city. The closer you are to Nevsky Prospect, the less you will need to spend on the transportation. Many theaters and historical buildings are situated on this prospect. It is the prettiest street of the city. I’ve stayed at the Novotel hotel, and I really liked it. The location is superb, and the service was good. The rooms are clean and tidy. It’s located a 1 minute walk from the Nevsky Prospect (the main street).
2. Find places where to eat in advance. I ate lunch many times at the same exact Italian cafe; it was very affordable, and the food was very good. I don’t remember the name of the place, but it’s located towards the end of the Nevsky Prospect. If you are a foodie like me, then definitely take the time beforehand to find places where you will eat. There are many small grocery stores on almost every other street. By all means, try out Russian traditional cuisine. I really like blinchiki, varenyky and soups.
3. Visit Hermitage Museum and the Winter Palace on the weekdays. The lines for tickets can be a very long, so my advice is to come in the morning on the weekdays. You have to visit this museum if you are coming to St. Petersburg. It’s often compared to the Louvre (Paris). If you love art like me, make sure you have a whole day free to explore this wonderful museum and palace. The collection of paintings is so huge and impressive. You will find the works of many well-known artists. My all time favorite painting is a Portrait of a Lady in Blue by Thomas Gainsborough. It’s so perfect and pleasing to look at! 4. Visit Peterhof Palace, if you are coming in the Spring or Summer. It’s a gorgeous palace with big fountains, but it’s closed during Winter time. The tickets you can buy online on the official website of the palace. Since, I’ve been in St. Petersburg during fall time, I didn’t get a chance to see the Palace.
5. Book a ticket to see a ballet or a play in the Marrinskiy Theater or Mikhailovsky Theater in advance. St. Petersburg is all about history, ballet and plays. So, it’s a must to see a play, opera or ballet. Prices can be very high if you buy a ticket a week before the actual date, therefore, purchase way in advance.
6. Come to Eliseyev Emporium and try out their macarons. It’s a very old and pretty grocery shop that sells amazing macarons and cakes. I also tried Laduree’s macarons, and I must say that they taste just as good. At least, the flavors that I’ve tried. 7. Walk on the Nevskiy Prospect at night
8. The best way of transportation in the city is the metro (subway). It’s clean and convenient. Follow some common sense safety guidelines at night and you will be perfectly safe. Use only a “real” taxi. There are many people who are not taxi drivers that offer to drive you from the airport to the city, but they will actually charge you more than the actual taxi.
Keep in mind that you probably need to get a tourist visa to come to Russia. I’ve also visited Moscow, which I will talk about later in a different post.