Trying to see everything in St Petersburg may be a daunting experience, but with the help of reliable tour guides it is achievable. Instead of booking your typical ‘tell me the history of this and I’ll take a photo’ tour, try something less conventional for a different outlook on the city. Here are our top picks.
If walking tours and big bus tours are starting to get repetitive, try Segway Tours for an exciting change to the sightseeing routine. Catch your balance and then glide through the city, getting a full overview without wasting too much time and energy walking. Luckily, in St Petersburg all the main attractions are located within easy reach of each other. Segway Spb offers a selections of routes to take depending on time and what you want to see, with a guide to tell you all about it. A good choice for good weather, but perhaps a nasty experience in the rain, so make sure to check the weather forecast beforehand.
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Siege of Leningrad Tour
St Petersburg is a great find for all history lovers. In the relatively short 300 years of history, It has been witness to many historic moments, that are remembered not only in Russia, but also around the world. One of the most tragic events of St Petersburg’s history was the Siege of Leningrad – for 900 days the city was surrounded by the German army, cutting off supplies and killing many people who chose to stay inside the besieged city. The Nazi army never took Leningrad, but came very close, and many places in the suburbs hold memories and tell the story of those treacherous three years. Such a tour calls for expert guides and a lot of passion for history.
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Rivers and Canals Tour
Few people know that St Petersburg was never intended to have bridges. It was built like Venice, with a number of canals running through the city, and transportation was meant to happen by boat. With time, the romantic idea gave way to the need for comfort, and bridges were built around the city to connect the islands. Still, sailing around the rivers and canals is as common with locals as it is with tourists, and is especially beautiful in the summertime. If you stroll down most main embankments, such as the Fontanka river, Moika river and the Palace embankment, there are a number of boats waiting to set sail. Double check that they have an audioguide in the right language and just enjoy a trip around the city.
St Petersburg comes alive on the pages of Dostoevsky’s novels with different nooks and crannies where his characters wander the city. Talking a walk around the St Petersburg of Dostoevsky means discovering the hidden side of the city that does not usually reveal itself to tourists – it’s a side which hides the poverty and criminal past of the 19th century, but also opens up the world of ordinary Russian people. Explore these destinations on your own or join a guided tour to get a full immersion in history.
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St Petersburg would be a very different place if it weren’t for its vibrant and exciting nightlife. Don’t expect big night clubs and fancy bars, but rather look forward to a low-key atmosphere and just have fun. With new bars and establishments popping up all over the place, it’s good to know where you’re going, or to have somebody that does. One way to start the night is to join a pub crawl and then see where the night takes you. Come in June and enjoy a day that never ends with the White Nights – the whole city feels alive during those days, even in the earliest hours of the morning.
St Petersburg is known to be cultural capital of the country, and that’s not just a coincidence – many famous Russian composers were born, studied and worked in St Petersburg. There are many places connected to the musical past of the city, names that bear the names of famous artists and most importantly venues where classical music is a staple. To see it all, hop on a tour, or if pressed for time, browse through the running shows and find time one evening to get a full cultural immersion, be it concert, ballet or opera.
Boasting a well-preserved historic centre, St Petersburg hides some of its best views on the rooftops. No high-risers, no modern buildings, just the St Petersburg that has been there for over three centuries. There are a number of rooftops that are open to the public, but those usually involve touristy crowds. The real rooftops are generally closed to the public, but some savvy locals run tours sharing their secret discoveries and showing St Petersburg from a completely different angle.