Top 20 things to do in Saint Petersburg

We have collected the top 20 best things to do in Saint Petersburg while you are in Russia

Top 20 things to do in Saint Petersburg

Saint Petersburg is the second largest city of Russia, but just as important as Moscow. It was the capital of imperial Russia for a few hundred years until that title moved to Moscow. The city is often said to be the cultural capital of the nation thanks to its mix of Western and Russian style. Tsar Peter the Great had the city built in the style of cities from Europe, but the influence of Russian architecture and style is apparent. Many international corporations and banks have offices here, along with consulates, making it an even greater mixture of foreign and national culture. Tourists attractions are also abundant, so we have collected the top 20 best things to do in Saint Petersburg for you.

  1. Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood
    The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is probably the the most well-known and most popular attraction of Saint Petersburg. Its beautiful architecture with its ornately decorated onion domes and the stunning mosaics housed within draws crowds daily. Its a great example of the Russian Orthodox churches, almost rivaling the one in Moscow. It’s a must-see on the list of things to do in Saint Petersburg even if you are not religious.
2. Hermitage Museum

Another popular place in the city is the world-famous Hermitage Museum. The Hermitage Museum is a museum of art and culture, and one of the largest and oldest one in the world. It has six buildings, one of which is the Winter Palace, a former royal residence. It has everything you can imagine, including Egyptian antiquities, Prehistoric art, Jewelry and decorative art, Italian Renaissance, German, Swiss, British and French fine art and much-much more. Art lovers will find this place wonderful, and others will also probably find something they like.

3. Peterhof Palace
The Peterhof Palace of Saint Petersburg is a must-visit location for many tourists, as it is a magnificent palace inspired by the Versailles Palace of Paris. The many great halls and rooms of the palace are ornately decorated, and each seems different from the other due to their different decorations.
4. Peterhof Palace Gardens
The only place the Peterhof Palace is outshined by is its own garden, the Peterhof Palace Gardens. The palace overlooks a cascade of fountains and gardens opening onto the Baltic Sea, which all provide a breathtaking experience. It has numerous pavilions, statues, gardens, flower beds and fountains all over the area. Going to this garden is definitely one of the best things to do in Saint Petersburg, as it’s one of a kind. You can spend a whole day just exploring the different and distinct parts of the gardens, or when you want to take a break, just sit down and relax under the sun.
5. Russian Museum
If you didn’t have enough of the art at the Hermitage Museum, or perhaps you just want to see more Russian art instead, then be sure to see the Russian Museum. It boasts the largest collection of Russian fine art in the world. The main part is housed in the Mikhailovsky Palace, but others parts can also be found in the Marble Palace, the Mikhailovsky Castle, the Stroganov Palace and the Benois Wing.
6. St. Isaac’s Cathedral
St. Isaac’s Cathedral is a neoclassical cathedral in the city. It’s visited by many people both for its history and its design with columns made of single chunks of granite, malachite, and lazurite, and interior floors of different-colored marble. It survived German bombings in World War II and even briefly served as a museum of atheism under the Soviet regime.
7. Summer Palace of Peter the Great
The Summer Palace of Peter the Great was built in a very modest way compared to other palaces. Some might say it’s not even a real palace due to its small size. A series of 29 bas-reliefs were made by a baroque sculptor to decorate the palace, depicting scenes from ancient myths and victorious Russian battles in the Great Northern War. It was also the first building in the city to have piped water.
8. Summer Garden
The Summer Garden is located next to the Summer Palace of Peter the Great on an island between the Swan Canal, Fontanka river and Moika river. It’s a large public park decorated with Italian sculptures, beautiful flowerbeds and fountains. Apart from the Summer Palace, the Coffee House and the Tea House also wonderful buildings to check out. Just walking in the garden is enough to make you feel refreshed.
9. Moika Palace
Moika Palace, or sometimes called Yusupov Palace, was the main residence of the House of Yusupov, a wealthy Russian noble family. The place is richly decorated, and has many beautiful features, including its own theatre. However, the main reason for the popularity of the palace lies not in its structure itself, but as this was the site of the murder of the famous Grigori Rasputin. A small museum was established here for him.
10. Peacock Clock
Located at the Hermitage Museum, the Peacock Clock is a very unique and beautiful piece of art. It’s large automaton featuring three life-sized mechanical birds, an owl, a rooster and a peacock. These all move and produce sounds signaling the time, while the clock itself is on a mushroom, with other small animals around it.
11. Kunstkamera
The Kunstkamera is Peter the Great’s stunning array of medical curiosities located in the St Petersburg’s Museum of Anthropology and Ethnology. It’s only for those with a strong stomach, as these can be quite disturbing. The collection was started in an attempt to reduce superstition, not as a freak show. He hoped that cataloging these as quirks of nature would stop superstitious beliefs that blamed misfortune on demons and monsters. For the sake of those easily disturbed, we won’t include a picture of the collection itself.
12. Nabokov’s Butterflies
Vladimir Nabokov, the author of Lolita, was also an avid collector and researcher of butterflies. His collection, called Nabokov’s Butterflies can be seen by visitors in his old home. He often wrote about these animals in his works, making it quite an obsession of his. This place is especially recommended for fans of his work, but those who want to see the beautiful collection may do so as well.
13. Russian Vodka Museum
What’s a more iconic museum of Russia than the Russian Vodka Museum? The history of the famous alcohol of Russia is told in this museum, with many educational aspects, and a huge collection of empty bottles in all manner of shapes from human figures to machine guns and an extensive collection of traditional short vodka glasses and other things related to the alcohol. The end of the tour is of course commemorated with vodka tasting, much to the enjoyment of visitors.
14. Vavilov Institute of Plant Industry
The Vavilov Institute of Plant Industry holds the largest collection of plant seeds in the world. The place is also famous for its history, as the institute’s seedbank survived the 28-month Siege of Leningrad in World War II, where several botanists starved to death rather than eat the collected seeds, in a show of true faith to their work.
15. Museum of Hygiene 
The Museum of Hygiene is dedicated to educating the public about the dangers of germs, disease, and other side-effects of filth. It’s not the happiest place, but it certainly is informative. As a seemingly out of context part of the museum, it also possesses one of Pavlov’s original dogs, used for his famous experiments.
16. Peter and Paul Fortress
Peter and Paul Fortress is the original citadel of St. Petersburg, founded by Peter the Great in 1703. Today it is part of the State Museum of the History of St. Peterburg. Several notable buildings are located here, including the Grand Ducal Burial Vault, the Saint Petersburg Mint and the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral.
17. Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral
The Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral stands out as a distinct building in the Peter and Paul Fortress, and in the whole city as well. Its gold-painted spire reaches a height of 123 metres and features at its top an angel holding a cross, as the angel is a symbol of the city. It’s also the burial place of numerous tsars of Russia.
18. Palace Square
The Palace Square is the central square of the city. It connects Nevsky Prospekt with Palace Bridge leading to Vasilievsky Island. It’s a popular square for both tourists and citizens, as there are many important buildings around here, and it’s a great meeting place. Many significant events took place there, including the Bloody Sunday massacre and parts of the October Revolution of 1917.
19. Nevsky Prospect
Nevsky Prospect is the main street of the city, connecting various other roads and many tourist attractions. Just walking along the road will allow you to see many beautiful buildings, including the Stroganov Palace, the huge neoclassical Kazan Cathedral, the Art Nouveau Bookhouse, Elisseeff Emporium, an enormous 18th-century shopping mall, the Russian National Library, the Anichkov Bridge with its horse statues, and many more.
20. Kazan Cathedral
The Kazan Cathedral is a large Russian Orthodox cathedral on the Nevsky Prospect. It’s highly popular among religious and non-religous people thanks to its wonderful architectural style, which makes distinct from regular cathedrals. Seeing from both outside and inside is recommended.