Get artsy at the Hermitage Museum
One of the largest art galleries in the world is located just off Nevsky Prospekt. Needless to say, seeing everything in the Hermitage on a first visit is near to impossible. Alternatively, there are many guided tours that will take you around the highlights of the museum in a matter of hours. If travelling without a group, note that entering the museum in the morning during the summer is quite challenging, so aim for the afternoon.
The Hermitage, 2 Palace Square, St Petersburg, Russia, +7 (812) 710-90-79
Take a cruise down the Neva river
Sidenote: This is only an activity for the summer. No boat is going to run through an icy river. Still, weather permitting, there are canal boats leaving from piers on the smaller rivers, such as the Fontanka river and the Moika river. This is a great way to see the city, as the boats pass along major landmarks. Often these boats have audioguides in multiple languages. A great way to get an introduction to the city.
Admire mosaics at the Church on Spilled Blood
Even for the people that aren’t particular fans of churches and cathedrals, this one is not to miss. Unique architecture and a tragic story are two reasons why it is worth a visit. The church is built on the same location as the murder of the emperor Alexander II, who was attacked by terrorists. The church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaic inside an outside, so worth a look at least from the outside.
Pick up souvenirs at the Eliseyev Emporium shop
In its time, this was the shop where the city could get all sorts of products that were not available in other stores. The shop has now been restored and stylised with art deco interiors. It is now a tourist attraction selling all sorts of tasty souvenirs, ranging from Russian chocolates to caviar. Although it can get quite crowded, there is also room to drink coffee and enjoy the self-playing piano music.
Catch a movie at the Angleterre Hotel
Movies in Russia are always dubbed, so there are few places to see movies in their original language. Luckily there is one in the centre of the city, just off Nevsky Prospekt. The cinema is located in the historic Angleterre Hotel. There isn’t any popcorn there or any of the other cinema perks, but the interiors are beautiful. Arrive early and have a drink at the hotel lobby bar. The tickets are entry only, so seats are first come, first serve.
Angleterre Hotel, 24 Malaya Morskaya Street, St Petersburg, Russia, +7 (812) 494-56-66
Listen to classical music at the Philharmonic
A trip to St Petersburg is not complete without experiencing the classical music scene. The obvious choice is, of course, the iconic Mariinsky Theatre, but tickets there sell out fast and can be very pricey. A great alternative is the St Petersburg Philharmonic. There is a show on almost every night and tickets come at a very reasonable cost. There are also many bars and restaurants around the area to make a night out of it.
St Petersburg Philharmonic Hall, 2 Mikhailovskaya street, St Petersburg, Russia, +7 (812) 240-01-02
Party till late on Rubinsteina street
Rubinsteina street is never short of new places to visit. The whole street is basically a lineup of restaurants and bars, with new ones popping up all the time. This street is the best place to explore St Petersburg nightlife the same way locals do. Don’t stall in one place for too long, have a drink and then keep on going. Don’t overlook the restaurants either, you’ll need sustenance for the energy to move forward.