What to see in St. Petersburg: Part One – Russia

Even those who live in St. Petersburg sometimes don’t know how to spend their week end. St. Petersburg is so rich in architectural monuments, museums and beautiful spots that it is difficult to visit them all. Where to go first? What to do if you simply want to enjoy the city sites? As a tourist, these questions might be urgent, especially if you have your own “sightseeing programme".

Here is a brief overview of attractions in St. Petersburg – an example of a seven-day stay there. The list is far from comprehensive, still, it may be useful. The first thing St. Petersburg is associated with is the State Hermitage Museum and the Winter Palace, which accommodates a part of the Hermitage collection. Go there first. The number of exhibits is extensive – you will have to walk about 20 kilometers to see them all. Hardly anyone does. But anyway, a visit to the Hermitage is a must.

The Hermitage stands on the Palace Square. Get there early in the morning, when the museum has just opened. It is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10:30 until 18:00, Sunday 10:30 until 17:00, closed on Mondays. Tickets cost 350 roubles. Since a visit to the Winter Palace will probably finish by dinner, you will definitely want to have a snack at some café or restaurant. Those who can afford a costly dinner will easily find a restaurant.

The Winter Palace offers 10 halls of the “Hermitage Restaurant”. There are also lots of cosy eateries on the nearby Nevsky prospect and the Millionaire Street (or Millionnnaja Oelitsa). One of the oldest and best known of them is the Literary Café (Nevsky pr., 18), associated with a renowned Russian poet – Alexander Pushkin. If you are looking for something cheaper, go farther to the spot where the Nevsky prospect intersects with Bolshaya Morskaya Street. This street is occupied with McDonald's, Barracuda Bistro and cafes. Another cheap variant is to buy food in a grocery store. One of them is found at the corner of Bolshaya Konyushennaya Street and Shvedsky Pereulok. There is also a small café on the Nevsky prospect, not far from the Palace Square.

Looking for souvenirs? There is a big shop located by the arch of the General Staff Building (opposite the Hermitage). The choice is abundant.

You can start the second part of your sightseeing tour observing attractions close to the Palace Square, a good place to take pictures of the Winter Palace, the General Staff building and the Alexander Column. The quay by the Palace bridge, with two lions standing by, is popular with travellers. Across from the Palace Bridge is the Spit of Vasilyevsky Island. For a rest, Birjevaya square (Stock Exchange Square) on Vasilyevsky Island is just the right place. Its attractions are the Rostral Columns and the Stock Exchange building. Every three hours there is a “musical fountain” performance on the Neva River – a popular city attraction. Furthermore, you can stroll along the University Embankment, look into the Kunstkamera (Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography) and observe the renowned sphinxes. If you decide to take a night walk around the city, don’t forget that bridges are drawn at 00:30 p.m. Kunstkamera is open daily, except the Monday and the last Tuesday of every month, from 11:00 to 18:00. For hotels and hostels, go to the links.

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