Saint Petersburg is Russia’s second-largest city and an important port. Situated on the banks of the Nera River at the edge of the Gulf of Finland and the Baltic Sea, Saint Petersburg was founded by Tsar Peter the Great in the early-18th century and till this day, remains the cultural centre of Russia and home to some of the country’s most famous historic monuments, such as the Hermitage Museum, one of the largest art museums in the world. The historic centre was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1991 in recognition of its rich cultural and architectural legacy, a striking blend of Baroque and neo-Classical styles. I had the opportunity to visit Saint Petersburg to attend an awards event, and though it was a short stay (just one night), I managed to spend half a day strolling around the city before leaving for home.
I discovered a grand city – some parts reminded me of Berlin, Paris and Vienna – encircled by canals and rivers, with broad, tree-lined avenues lined by imposing buildings and interspersed with impressive squares. The compact city centre makes it easy to explore on foot, so even though I was there for a very short time, the small distances allowed me to see some of the city’s highlights. Scroll down to see my impressions of Saint Petersburg:
I didn’t get to see all that I wanted to see – I think I would need at least a few days for that – but I absolutely loved what I saw. Saint Petersburg is certainly one of the grandest European cities I’ve visited and the historic monuments are absolutely breathtaking. I can only imagine how impressive they are on the inside! This is surely a city to add to your bucket list.
Other things I learned about Saint Petersburg:
- cars actually stop for pedestrians at zebra-crossings! Haha!
- taxis/Ubers are very cheap (i.e. a few euros for a 10-15 minute ride)
- a decent 3 or 4-star hotel in the historic centre can be booked for less than €100 (outside the peak tourist season)
- the bigger tourist attractions have self-serve ticket machines; a much faster way of purchasing a ticket than standing in the queue at the ticket counters
- coffee lovers won’t need to fret – the coffee culture is very much alive in Saint Petersburg!