Russia had been on my bucket list for ages before my first visit last Autumn. I spent a long weekend in beautiful St. Petersburg, and in spite of the cold, the city had me completely sold. I recently saw Anna Karenina as a ballet at the Norwegian Opera, and it had me dreaming back to the days spent strolling around Nevski Prospekt, trying to stay warm. That’s why I was incredibly happy when Vivian approached me with an idea for a guest post about the city! Since I only had four days to spend there, I didn’t get to discover all there is to see there, but Vivian has spent the last few years of her life living in Russia! This makes her the perfect author for this post, and I’m so excited to share it with you, together with the photos I took on my trip last year.
They don’t call Saint Petersburg the ‘Venice of the North’ for nothing! Other than rowing a boat down the canals, there are so many things to do in this world-class destination! People love the picturesque baroque bridges, the treasures housed in the Hermitage, and so much more. Now let me tell you about the things I love in this city.
For me, it doesn’t make sense to come all the way to Saint Petersburg and not visit the Hermitage, especially when it is free to explore for students! It is a MUST for both first timers and returning visitors, a massive treasure trove with timeless art pieces and antiques.
The Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood is another visually striking sight you must not miss. If you have time, Our-Lady-of-Kazan Cathedral on Nevsky Prospekt and Saint Isaac’s Cathedral on the St. Isaac’s Square are worth checking out too. For the city’s best roof top view, go up to the colonnade of St Isaac’s cathedral. You can thank me later!
Side note: Check out Lisa’s guide to visiting the Church of the Savour here!
The Mariinsky Ballet is one of the most well-known ballet institution in all of Russia. Even if you’ve seen a Bolshoi ballet production in Moscow, you should not miss the ballet in Saint Petersburg. Just come and compare the two, and you’ll see that they have very different performing styles.
The locals in Saint Petersburg are friendly, and even though some of them are not fluent in English, they are eager to show you their beloved city. It is always nice to be able to see a city through a local’s eyes, exploring the hidden gems you can’t find in the guidebooks. My number one tip is to join the Couchsurfing groups of Saint Petersburg, and make friends that way! Another advice is to join a local tour: Sputnik and Discover Walks St Petersburg are both excellent tour companies.
If you visit Saint Petersburg at the end of June, prepare for 24 hours of sunlight (also known as the White Nights)! Who needs sleep anyway when you are in a city that majestic? It gives you extra time to roam, and that’s great, in my opinion.
Hey, if you’re a LOMO camera enthusiast, listen up! Never miss the chance to purchase your dream model in Saint Petersburg. A few years ago a friend of mine got one for me as a present for 500 rubles. It was a secondhand camera but it is still functioning well and I love it!
Now enough talking, you simply have to come to Saint Petersburg to see for yourself what’s all the hype is about! I am more than sure, that you will be mesmerized too.
About the author: Vivian is 23 years old, and currently a 5th year Medical student. She is also a freelancer writer, magazine columnist and the founder of Miss HappyFeet. She was born and raised in Malaysia and moved to Russia when she was 18. In addition to visiting her blog, make sure to follow her on Facebook and Instagram!
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