Best of Saint-Petersburg city tour
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We’ve carefully constructed the perfect itinerary that hits every location you need to see in order to really get a feel for the magic and beauty of St. Petersburg.
Perfect view of the Palace Square? Check. Colored onion domes of The Savior on the Blood Cathedral? Check. Gazing down the Peter and Paul Fortress from the Neva river embankment? Of course!
And of course St. Petersburg isn’t just about the major monuments, so your guide will be sure to point out lesser-known nooks and crannies along the way to give you a more in-depth perspective on this complex and fascinating city. After getting a taste for the general layout of St. Petersburg, you’ll be much more comfortable getting around and exploring each neighborhood further during the remainder of your trip.
*Please note: this tour can include entry into cathedrals or museums at extra cost.
Nevsky prospect main attractions:
Today Nevsky prospect is the city’s main thoroughfare, a street of museums and banks, churches and theatres, shops and dwelling houses. Its ever changing appearance reflects all the periods in the life of St. Petersburg showing a variety of styles and a promenade along the streets seems to be similar to a travel across the times.
Anichkov Bridge is the oldest and most famous bridge across the Fontanka River with famed four-part Horse-Tamer composition by Baron Klodt. The nearby imperial Anichkov Palace is also worth a quick look at for its elegant baroque architecture.
The Mikhailovsky castle
The Mikhailovsky Castle or Palace, the most romantic building in St. Petersburg, is enveloped in mysteries. It was built for himself by Paul I, one of the most tragic figures in the line of Russian autocrats on the throne.
A historic landmark in itself, Singer House is one of the most beautiful art nouveau buildings on Nevsky Prospect. Inside the former sewing factory, visitors can find the largest and most famous bookstore in St Petersburg, Dom Knigi (House of Books).
The three main squares of the city – Palace, St. Isaac’s and Decembrists’ Squares – spread at the embankment of the Neva in the historical center of St. Petersburg. The centric element of the complex of these squares is the Admiralty, a symbol of Russia’s naval glory and a masterpiece of world significance, marked by a striking golden spire on top of the building.
Kazan Cathedral (free entrance).
Kazan Cathedral is one of Russia’s principle Orthodox churches. The colonnaded cathedral is named after Our Lady of Kazan, one of the Russian Orthodox Church’s holiest icons, which rests inside the structure as a shine for devotees.
The Cathedral became a monument to military glory: captured French banners and keys of captured cities were kept in it and famous Russian army commander Kutuzov was buried here. The heroic atmosphere of those years could be sensed in the inner décor of the cathedral looking like a majestic hall.
The Church of the Saviour on blood (optional inside visit).
The Cathedral was created in the best traditions of Russian art of 14-17 centuries and stands out among all St. Petersburg churches by its distinct national appearance. It is lavishly embellished decorative windows, ornamental bands and glazed bricks. The ornate domes are covered with enameled sheets of copper and golden smalt. Apart from the mystique, the Church will impress you with its internal opulence. Italian marble and various different semi-precious stones were used in the decoration of the church.
Be lucky to visit the cathedral in sunny weather, when it light up and shine as well.
St. Isaac’s Cathedral (optional inside visit).
There is one more breathtaking view at the largest Russian orthodox basilica, built by architect Auguste Montferrand.
St. Isaac’s Cathedral is the fourth dome biggest church in the world with one of the best views of the city. 100 kilograms of pure gold was used to plate the dome of the cathedral.
The cathedral’s facades are decorated with sculptures and massive granite columns (made of single pieces of red granite), while the interior is adorned with incredibly detailed mosaic icons, paintings and columns made of malachite and lapis lazuli.
The Winter Palace
The Winter Palace (The Hermitage)*
The Winter Palace, put up by Rastrelli “for Russia’s glory”, the largest and most ornate building in St. Petersburg, was the main residence of the imperial dynasty. A majestic example of the Russian Baroque the Winter Palace within two centuries developed into an immense complex of palaces.
This large square (5 hectares in area) ranks with the most perfect ensembles in world architecture. Winter Palace by Rastrelli is the most prominent architect of the reign of Elizabeth I. Until 1917 the palace with its 1500 rooms remained the imperial residence. The General Staff building, the best creation of Carlo Rossi, is made unique by its majestic triumphal arch crowned with the Chariot of Glory.
The Bronze Horseman
This statue is one of the symbols of Saint Petersburg.
The monument to the Peter the Great – the founder of the northern capital was the first sculptural memorial in Russia. Catherin the Great invited for its creation the French sculptor Etienne-Maurice Falconet. The Bronze Horseman is the focus of Senate Square encircled by classical lines of Senate and Synod buildings as well as giant St. Isaac’s cathedral and the west side wing of the Admiralty.
Peter and Paul Fortress (Optional visit).
The Peter and Paul Fortress is certainly no less of a St. Petersburg landmark than Hermitage or the Mariinsky theatre.
The birthplace of the city it was the first structure to be built in St. Petersburg and it never served for defence. Instead it has had a rich history as a military base, a home of government departments, the burial ground of the Russian Imperial family, the site of groundbreaking scientific experiments, and a forbidding jail that held some of Russia’s most prominent political prisoners.
The Peter and Paul Cathedral is the oldest church in St. Petersburg, and also the second-tallest building in the city (after the television tower). It is intimately linked to both the history of the city and to the Romanov dynasty, as it is home to most of the Romanov rulers of Russia from Peter the Great onward. Peter’s grave is at the front right, and people still leave fresh flowers on it.
WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS
- A great first-day excursion to get familiar with the city.
- All the must-see monuments and neighborhoods unraveled in a day.
- Our unique local perspective taps you into the true magic of St. Petersburg.
- Perfect for long layovers or short St. Petersburg visits.
- Memorable and breathtaking spectacle when first viewed Palace square through the triumphal arch.
- Hassle-free transportation between locations: just follow your guide!
- Metro passes to get around town.
- Colorful stories and interesting facts.
- Craning your neck out of a tour bus to snap a shot of the monuments whizzing by
The Cathedral looks fascinating due to its monumentality on the outside and the amazing beauty inside. The Kazan Cathedral was built and named in honor of the Kazan icon of the Mother of God, which Is placed inside the temple and is considered to be one of the most revered icons in Russia. So the queue of people wishing to touch the shrine is a common thing here. Read more
When you are a regular traveler, it is difficult to explore one of the most beautiful cities in the world — Saint-Petersburg — in a short period of time. A great opportunity to literally look over the whole city look is to visit one of the viewing points of the Northern Capital. The panoramic terraces of cathedrals, museums, restaurants and hotels will allow you to combine a walk and a tour, arrange a romantic date and make great photos. Read more
The Mikhailovsky (or the Engineer’s) castle became infamous immediately after the death of Emperor Paul I, who was strangled in his bedroom in the castle. And no wonder the palce gained bad reputation, since Palace coups and the Emperor’s murder were not a common thing for Russian Empire after all. Read more