Saint Petersburg is the most beautiful city in Russia and one of the most beautiful in Europe. Culturally, historically and architecturally it’s the most European Russian city though it’s very different from any other city in Europe. Sometimes it’s called Northern Venice for its multiple channels and rivers or Northern Palmira for its beauty and grace.
St.Petersburg is one of the youngest European cities in its 316 years of history St.Petersburg has seen many tragic and dramatic events. The city with great history and culture where everybody will find something to his/her liking. We hope our 3-day itinerary for St.Petersburg will help you to plan your trip and to get the most out of your time here.
For those who’d like to see more of Russia and to visit some difficult-to-access faraway places, there are several unique tour options with G-Adventures and Intrepid Travel that will make your holiday unforgettable.
- Saint Petersburg 2-day shore excursion
- Backroads of Russia; St.Petersburg – Moscow (G-Adventures)
- Epic Trans-Siberian Journey; Moscow to Vladivostok (G-Adventures)
Travel insurance for Russia
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Places to stay in St.Petersburg
*All suggested below places have an Excellent rating and very central location which is important when you stay in a big city.
- Budget | Soul Kitchen Hostel | Christopher Hostel | NETIZEN Center | Hostel Feelin na Konyshennoy | No Rain No Pain Hostel | Subcultura Hostel | SKY Hotel |
- Middle price | Art Avenue | Belvedere Nevsky Business Hotel | Nevsky Grand Hotel | By Hermitage Hotel |
- Luxury | WYNWOOD Hotel | The Bridge Hotel | Angleterre Hotel | Belmond Grand Hotel Europe |
The best season to visit St.Petersburg
In general summer (June, July, August) is the best. Though with our Northern summer you can never be 100% sure about the weather at least long days (so-called White Nights) will help you to extend your limited time in the city quite a lot. With an average temperature varying between 15°C – 25°C, it’s comfortable for long walks and boat rides in the city.
September so-called Babye Leto (Indian Summer) the weather is often better than in August and the holiday season is over so it’s less crowded than in June or July. But the days are getting shorter you can almost forget about famous White nights.
If you’re a culture vulture and rather have bad weather and fewer tourists late September-October and April-first half of May are better months for you, there are not too many tourists like in summer, it’s not too cold (between 8°C and 12°C), you get a chance to explore quietly the main city attractions.
My favorite time in the city with its peak in mid-June (night from 21st to 22nd is the shortest night) when the city doesn’t sleep! It feels like you can sleep 4 hours a day and it’s enough. The weather in June can vary from cold 15°C to warm 22°C, rains are quite frequent. The only downside of White nights is too many tourists and multiple forums, exhibitions, and events. If you do want to come in June make sure to book accommodation in advance.
Useful information for planning your 3-day itinerary
You can get anywhere by public transport; around the city, to/from the airport and to the main suburbs. There are usually several options.
Most places (hostels, shops, restaurants, cafes, metro, etc.) accept Visa/Master cards. Note! On buses/trams/marshrutkas (commercial minibusses) you pay cash.
If you don’t speak Russian you’ll definitely survive here even if you get lost try to ask for help from younger people you have a better chance they speak any English.
Google translate works quite well for English-Russian, Campbell used it a lot and could even hold a basic conversation.
The city is quite safe. In all my life I have never had any bad experiences here. Normal precautions; watch for pickpockets, don’t walk alone at night on the outskirts (there is nothing to do there for you anyway), don’t leave your things unattended in public places.
There are many churches/cathedrals in the city most of them are functioning before you enter you have to; for women – cover your head/for men – take off cap/hat.
It’s better to draw money in ATMs of big international banks (Raiffeisen, City bank, etc.) where you can get up to RUB50 000/US$850.
Wi-fi is quite common in the city, all hotels/hostels most restaurants, and coffee shops have free wi-fi. Though sometimes to connect to wi-fi in public places you need a local phone number.
Recommended books and guidebooks about St.Petersburg
- Lonely Planet St Petersburg
- Lonely Planet Russia
- Lonely Planet Russian Phrasebook & Dictionary
- St. Petersburg: Madness, Murder, and Art on the Banks of the Neva by Jonathan Miles.
Set up your budget (per day, per person)*
Backpacking: accommodation (hostels) – from RUB350/US$6 pp; food (meal) – from RUB200/US$3 pp; food (shopping) – from RUB300/US$5 pp; transport (public) – RUB45/US$0,7 per trip, activities (museums, boat rides, entrance fees) – from RUB700/US$11,5 pp.
Middle price range: accommodation (hotels**/***) – from RUB3500/US$58 for a double, food (meal) – from RUB600/US$10 pp; transport (public) – RUB45/US$0,7 per trip, activities (museums, boat rides, entrance fees) – from RUB700/US$11,5 pp.
Upper class: accommodation (hotels****/*****) – from RUB6000/US$100 for a double, food (meal) – from RUB1000/US$17, transport (taxi) – from RUB300/US$5 pp, activities (operas, ballet) – from RUB1200/US$20 pp.
*Exchange rate for January 2019 1USD=65RUB. You can check the current currency conversion HERE.
St.Petersburg city center walking route
This loop allows you to see almost all the main city attractions. It takes between 3-4 hours to complete the route that gives you enough time to take photos and stop for a cup for coffee but not to visit any of the museums on the way.
Taking this route you will see (in order from start to finish): Nevsky Prospect – Kazansky cathedral – Singer House – Stroganov palace – State Capella – Hermitage, Palace Square – Admiralty building – St.Isaac cathedral – Bronze Horseman – Dvortsovy (Palace) bridge – Vasilevsky island, Strelka – Kunstkamera – Stock Exchange – Birzhevoy bridge – Peter and Paul fortress – Troitsky bridge – Marble palace – Field of Mars – Summer Garden – Mikhailovsky castle – Mikhailovsky Garden – Church of the Savior on Blood – Russian museum – Mikhailovsky theatre.
Top 10 most beautiful metro stations in St.Petersburg
Need to know about St.Petersburg metro; you pay once to enter the metro and after that, you can spend as much time and change as many trains and stations as you wish without any additional payment. So you can see all the most beautiful metro stations in one go just for RUB45/US$0,7. You are allowed to take photos in the metro but without flash. Avoid rush hours Mon-Fri, from 7.30am to 10.00am and from 5.00pm to 8.00pm it’s a very bad time for exploring the metro and taking photos.
- Red line: Avtovo (by the way the Guardian named it among Top most beautiful metro stations in the world), Kirovskiy zavod, Pushkinskaya.
- Orange line: Spasskaya
- Purple line: Bukharestskaya, Obvodny Kanal, Mezhdunarodnaya, Zvenigorodskaya, Admiralteiskaya (the deepest metro station in Russia and the second deepest in the world, 102m), Sportivnaya.
Best photo spots in St.Petersburg
Nevsky prospect from the balcony of Karl Bulla’s museum. Nevsky pr., 54, m Nevsky Prospekt. Open Tue-Sat from 11 am till 7 pm. Entrance fee RUB50/US$0,8
Hermitage/Winter Palace from Strelka of Vasilevsky Island, Palace bridge or Peter and Paul fortress beach.
The St. Isaac cathedral from Universititskaya emb., the opposite side of the Neva river.
The iconic photo of St. Peter and Paul cathedral spiel between two halves of the Palace bridge from the Admiralteiskaya embankment.
Loft Project Etagi roof, view on the city center from the top. Ligovsky pr., 74. Open Mon-Sun from 9 am to 11 pm. Entrance to the roof RUB100/US$1,5.
Some not budget options to observe the city from the top – panorama restaurants
Terrassa restaurant, view on Kazan cathedral and Nevsky prospect. Kazanskaya st., 3A, m Nevsky Prospekt. Open daily from 12 pm till the last guest.
Mansarda restaurant, beautiful view on St.Isaac cathedral. Pochtamtskaya st., 3-5, m Admirlateiskaya. Open daily from 12 pm till 1 am.
Our perfect Saint Petersburg 3-day itinerary
Tourists from any country can stay in St.Petersburg without a Russian visa up to 72 hours only if they arrive by ferries and follow certain rules, check HERE for all the details. We worked out a thoroughly planned itinerary in order to help you to get the most out of three days in St.Petersburg. It’s only our suggestion you can switch it anyway depending on your interests, weather and time you have in the city.
Morning. To get know the city and to see most of the sights take a walking route, you’ll need about 3 hours to complete it. On the way, you can visit a couple of cathedrals, drink coffee in one of the coffee shops. As an option, you can do a city bus tour that does almost the same loop.
Afternoon. It’s time for lunch, check our restaurant recommendations to find the best place for you. After lunch, go underground and explore some of the most beautiful metro stations, there are many but we’d recommend choosing 4-5 otherwise you risk to spend all day in the metro. Opinion! My favorite stations are; Avtovo, Zvenigorodskaya, and Admiralteiskaya. If you have time you can check some of the sights located outside the city center like Smolny cathedral, Troitsky cathedral or maybe visit some of the off-the-beaten-track attractions.
Evening/night. Music concert/opera/ballet in one of the theaters. Most performances start at 7 pm, some at 8 pm. We’d suggest having dinner or maybe a snack before, some operas are more than 3 hours long hunger can be a problem. You can buy sandwiches and drinks in any theater as well but it’ll be more expensive. After you can go to one of the busy streets (e.g. Rubinsteina, Nevsky Prospekt) to have a couple of drinks or even do a pub crawl.
Morning, afternoon. Visit one of the royal suburbs, it’ll take the most part of the day so go early morning to have more time for visiting parks and palaces. Tip! Better not to plan this trip on weekends there will be too many people.
Evening/night. Time to see drawbridges and White nights, the most spectacular is the opening of Palace bridge, at 1.10am after that you can walk along the embankment to one of the nearby bridges, take photos, drink coffee and go back to your hotel or stay awake all night to witness the shortest night in your life and to enjoy the tranquility of the city in the early morning.
Morning. Start with the Hermitage Museum, it’ll take a good part of your day, at least the whole morning. Tip! Buy your tickets at ticket offices inside the Former General Staff Building there won’t be many people.
Afternoon. After lunch, take a boat ride along rivers and channels, usually takes between 1-1,5hours. If you feel well-rested after a boat ride and ready for one more museum you can go to the Russian Museum for the rest of the day. You can switch the order of visits to the museums. Just remember the Hermitage opened till 9 pm on Mondays and Fridays and the Russian museum opened on Mondays till 8 pm and on Thursdays till 9 pm.
Evening/night. You can finally chill in one of the bars/restaurants in the center your sightseeing marathon is over!
Public transport in St.Petersburg
It’s cheap and easy to use no need to rent a car or take taxis all the time.
Metro – the easiest and fastest way to move around in the city, can get to any tourist attraction within the city. One trip costs RUB45/US$0,7 no time or station limit valid until you get out of the metro.
Buses – on some streets there is a separate line for buses but still, in rush hours you have a good chance to get stuck, I’d rather stick to the metro unless the bus is the only option. Bus ride RUB40/US$0,6 any distance.
Trams – the city used to have the longest tram in the world but not anymore, nowadays trams are quite scaring especially in the city center. Tram ride RUB40/US$0,6.
Marshrutka – it’s a commercial minibus that in a way repeats public buses’ routes, it may be a bit faster. It makes sense to take them when going to the suburbs (Pushkin, Peterhof). Price between RUB40-100/US$0,6-1,6 depending on the distance.
There are many taxi services as well as Uber and Yandex Taxi in the city if you don’t mind paying more you can easily get a taxi anywhere at any time of the day. I’d recommend asking for the price before you go.
Night buses in Saint Petersburg
From 30 April to 15 November on weekends (Friday-Saturday and Saturday-Sunday nights) there are 5 bus lines that copy metro routes, they run from 0.00 till 6 am, every 30min., stop at bus stops along the route; №1M (red metro line), 2M (blue line), 3M (green line), 4M (orange line), 5M (purple line), price RUB40/US$ 0,6. Note! When the bridges are opened buses can’t cross to the other side in this case use metro. Two metro stations; Admiralteiskaya and Sportivnaya are opened on weekends from 1 am till 2.40am so if the bridges are opened and you need to get to the other side you can use the metro, RUB45/US$0,7.
St.Petersburg airport (Pulkovo)
Unlike in Moscow in St.Petersburg there is only one airport, doesn’t matter if you have international or local flight they all leave from Pulkovo airport. You can easily get to/from the airport by public transport.
How to get from Pulkovo to the city?
The bus stop is right in front of the exit, the bus leaves every 10-15min., cost RUB40/US0,6, plus the same for luggage if it’s big. Get off at Moskovskaya metro (you won’t miss it everybody will get off there). From here you can get by metro basically anywhere in the city, at least to all touristy areas. One metro ride is RUB45/US$0,7.
How to get from the city center to the airport?
First get to Moskovskaya metro station (red line), from the center about 20min. By metro. Than exit “Bus to the airport”, the bus stop is near McDonald. From there it takes between 15 to 30min. to get to the airport depending on traffic (from 5 pm to 8 pm the worst). So if you know the way it’ll take between 1-1h15min.
Railway stations in Saint Petersburg
Here you can get confused there are 5 train stations in the city; Moskovsky, Vitebsky, Ladozhsky, Baltiisky, and Finlandsky. Sometimes trains to the same destination leave from different stations, the station will be indicated on your ticket. You can buy train tickets online up to 60 days prior departure on Russian railways site
Moskovsky railway station
If you want to go to Moscow, to most southern destination. Speed train Sapsan St.Petersburg – Moscow leaves from this station. As well as most trains to Moscow and Southern destinations. Nevsky prospect, 85, m Ploshad Vosstaniya/Mayakovskaya.
Ladozhsky railway station
Trains to Northern parts of Russia like Vorkuta, Chelyabinsk. Trains Moscow – Murmansk stop at this station. The newest railway station in the city. Zanevsky prospect, 73, m Ladozhskaya.
Vitebsky railway station
Here you can catch a train to suburbs Pushkin, Pavlovsk as well as trains to Belarus and Kaliningrad. Zagorodny pr., 52, m Pushkinskaya/Zvenigorodskaya
Finlandsky railway station
The only one long-distance train that leaves from here is a speed train Allegro to Finland. The rest is suburb trains to local “resort” areas in the North of the city like Zelenogorsk, Vyborg, Priozersk, Ladozhskoe lake, etc. Interesting fact! In April 1917 Lenin (father of Russian Revolution) returned from his auxiliary and arrived at this station where he made his famous speech announcing social revolution.
Baltiisky railway station
Only suburb trains leave from this station with no long-distance trains at all. From here you can take a train to Peterhof, Gatchina, Oranienbaum. Obvodny Kanal emb., 120, m Baltiiskaya
Where to do shopping in the city center?
The best and the biggest is Galereya, a huge mall right in the city center on Ligovsky Prospekt, next to Moskovsky railway station and Nevsky avenue. Here you can find anything fancy clothes shops, H&M, a good variety of restaurants and coffee shops, ATMs, sports shops, and a supermarket OK on the ground floor. Ligovsky prospect (avenue), 30A, m Vosstaniya and Mayakovskaya, open Mon-Sun, 10 am – 11 pm.
TK Pik there are some shops as well but on a much small scale the good thing about this mall there is a big supermarket Perekrestok on the ground floor where you can stock your food supplies. Sennaya sq., 2, m Sennaya/Sadovaya/Spasskaya. Open Mon-Sun from 10am – 10pm.
Where to eat in St.Petersburg?
The most budget is to cook for yourself but anyway there are some pretty cheap and ok places in the city center.
Чайная ложка/Chainaya lozhka (Tea Spoon) – local pancake place, all sort of pancakes with different fillings, salads, soups, tea, cool drinks. Meals from RUB150/US$2,5. Many around the city. Nevsky prospect, 44, m Nevsky pr./Gostiny Dvor. Nevsky prospect. 85, m Mayakovskaya. Open 24 hours.
Сел — Поел/Sel – Poel (Sit down and Eat) – all sort of food from traditional Russian meals (buffet bar with salads, sides, soups, and mains) to pizza, wok, burgers, steaks as well as desserts and coffee. Average bill RUB300/US$5. Sadovaya st., 27, m Sadovaya/Sennaya/Spasskaya. Open Mos-Sun, from 9 am – 11 pm.
Пироговый дворик/Pirogovy Dvorik (Pie Yard) – traditional Russian pies with meat, chicken, vegetables, berries and more, they serve as well soups and salads. Breakfast from RUB130/US$2, lunch from RUB210/US$3,5. Griboedova emb., 22, m Nevsky Prospect. Open from 10 am to 11 pm.
Теремок/Teremok — one more local pancake place with a big variety of pancakes, soups, salads, etc. Set meal from RUB150/US$2,5. There are many around the city, e.g. Nevsky prospect 60, Bolshaya Morskaya, 11. Open from 7.30am – 11pm.
Doughnuts on Bolshaya Konyushennaya. Not really a food place only doughnuts, tea, coffee but it’s the oldest doughnut place in St.Petersburg and they try to keep it the way it was during the Soviet area, my mum used to go there when she was at school and it looked and served the same. THree doughnuts with coffee will cost RUB120/US$2. Tip! Go there before lunchtime otherwise it’s very likely you’ll spend some time in the queue. Bolshaya Konyushennaya, 25, m Nevsky Prospect. Open from 10am – 8pm.
Subway, KFC, McDonalds all these are quite cheap, Sub of the Day you can get for RUB125/US$2, Cheeseburger RUB60/US$1. We always try to eat in local places but sometimes fast food can be an option.
Middle price range
Pelmeniya – mono cuisine restaurant, all sorts of pelmeni (Russian dumplings), momos, khinkali from around the world. Nice cozy place, good food, English menu. We’d recommend coming here for lunch to make a break in exploring the city. Average bill RUB400-600/US$7-10 per person. Fontanka emb., 26, m Nevsky prospect/Gostiny Dvor and Marata st., 8, m Ploshad Vosstaniya. Open from 11 am – 11 pm every day.
Suliko – Georgian cousin, house wine, English menu, one of our favorite restaurants in the city. Tip! Try khinkali, Ajarian Khachapuri, shashlik (a typical Georgian/Russian way of cooking meat on fire). Average bill RUB500-700/US$7-10 per person. Kazanskaya st., 6 behind Kazan cathedral, m Nevsky prospect. Open from 11 am-midnight every day.
Ukrop, vegetarian/vegan/raw food, everything from starters to desserts, breakfast menu. Very cozy chilled place, English menu. Average bill RUB500-600/US$7-10 per person. Malaya Konyushennaya st., 14, m Admiralteiskaya. Open from 9 am – 11 pm every day.
Bakhroma, Uzbek cuisine, breakfast and lunch menu, meat dishes, soups, dough dishes. Average bill RUB500-700/US$7-10. Bolshoy prospect, 30, m Sportivnaya/Petrogradskaya. Open from 11 am – 1 am every day.
Bekitzer, Israeli street food bar. Rubinstein st., 40, m Vladimirskaya. Average bill RUB500-700/US$7-10 only shawarma/falafel will cost you about RUB300/US$5. Open from 12 pm – 6 am every day.
MooMoo Burgers, the best burgers we’ve ever eaten, the English menu. Tip! Try Cheese blast it’s the best. Average bill RUB500-700/US$7-10 per person. Sadovaya st., 42, m Sadovaya/Sennaya/Spasskaya. Open from 8 am-midnight every day.
In this price range, we haven’t visited any restaurants (too much for our budget) our recommendations are based on reviews from local magazines/websites and my friends’ opinion.
KoKoKo, a modern Russian cuisine restaurant with a creative menu, using seasonal products from local farmers. Average bill from RUB1500/US$25 pp. Voznesenzky prospect (av.), 6. Open Mon – Fri from 7am-12pm, from 2pm-1am. Sat-Sun from 7am-11am, from 2pm-1am. Tip! Try their famous dessert My mother’s favorite flower.
Полный Балет/Polny Balet (Total Ballet), modern interpretation of old Russian cuisine. Average bill from RUB1000/US$16 pp. Gorohovaya st., 4, m Admiralteiskaya. Open daily from 10am-11pm.
Вкус есть/Vkus Est’ (Taste to Eat), Traditional and modern Russian cuisine. Average bill from RUB1500/US$25 pp. Fontsnka emb., 22, m Pushkinskaya/Zvenigorodskaya. Open daily from 1pm – 111pm.
Food park, fusion, European, Asian, Indian cuisine. Average bill RUB1500/US$25 pp. Alexandrovsky park, 4/3A, m Gorkovskaya. Open Mon – Fri from 11am – 1am, Sat-Sun from midday – 1am.
Panorama restaurants mentioned above in the Best Photo spots section. Average bill RUB1500/US$25 pp.
Handy items to bring with to St.Petersburg
Weather in St.Petersburg is unpredictable, it can change from warm and sunny to cold in windy in a day so my advice to bring some warmish clothes (hoodie, jeans, trainers) as well as summer clothing.
- Comfortable shoes/sandals for walking – you’ll be walking a lot; around the city, in the museums and parks make sure you have a pair of comfortable shoes.
- Umbrella – it can rain at any time in this city.
- Hoodie/sweater – even if it’s warm during the day you’ll need something warm to wear at night time.
- Jeans (ladies’ option) – for the same reason as a hoodie.
- Travel backpack – for hand luggage (to pack your laptop, phone, documents etc.) and to use as a day pack in the city.
- Sunglasses – yes, it can be sunny in the city and if you do any water excursion sunglasses will be quite handy.
- LifeStraw – tap water is not good for drinking (at least nobody I know drinks it unless there is a filter) bringing a LifeStraw bottle of just a filter is a good idea.
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