Last week I shared my guide to Moscow (which you can take a peek at here if you missed it) and of course when you go to Russia you can’t miss Saint Petersburg either! In fact so many people told us we would actually prefer Saint Petersburg over Moscow – want to know which was my favourite? I’ll tell you soon, but first I want to tell you all about my favourite fit-for-a-princess places to see in Saint Petersburg.
Unlike the very Russian feeling Moscow, it doesn’t take long to notice that Saint Petersburg was built to replicate the most beautiful European cities. It’s full of canals, incredible cathedrals and Baroque-style palaces, and is also known as the Venice of the North. But funnily enough it was actually the canals of Amsterdam that inspired Peter the great to introduce them to the city, which was founded in 1703.
Also a quick note – if you are in the city during the White Nights (where there is only a couple of hours of darkness each night, from late May to early July), it’s an incredible chance to see the bridges opening, which happens at 11pm each night to let large boats through. Sadly we had a very cold and rainy bit of weather (which is common during summer) during our stay so we didn’t have the chance to see the bridges!
How long to Visit
We stayed in Saint Petersburg for three full days and felt like it was a good amount of time to see the highlights and even spend a whole day at The Hermitage. You could easily fill up a whole week here though, especially if you like exploring museums and palaces.
Where to Stay
The best, most central area to stay in Saint Petersburg is Nevsky prospect. This area is close to most of the main sights and we also found it quite affordable. The hotel we stayed at was perfect for us – not too pricey, great location and nicely decorated. However we did have to climb five flights of stairs to get to the hotel, which is located on the top floor of a building. This is actually quite common for hotels, restaurants and shops in Saint Petersburg. You can walk into a building and find cute little restaurants and boutique shops occupying different rooms on different levels.
How to get Around
Much like Moscow you can use the public transport system (metros and buses) or Ubers and taxis quite affordably. We opted for Ubers because it was so convenient and so cheap!
We found that English was far more common in Saint Petersburg than it was in Moscow. The locals who don’t speak English were also really great at communicating with google translate, so make sure you download the offline Russian before you leave the wi-fi!
Princess Worthy Places to see in Saint Petersburg
If there is one thing this city is not short of it is incredibly intricate and beautiful architecture. Some of the best places to see an example of this is at the cathedrals, churches and mosques that are dotted around the city.
- Blue Mosque: One of the prettiest places I think I have ever seen. We didn’t go inside but marvelled at the incredibly detailed arch at the entrance. I assumed this spot would be really crowded because it is so beautiful but apart from an infrequent bus load or two we had the place to ourselves.
- Church of the Saviour on Blood: This beautiful church reminded me of Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, with it’s quirky Russian style.
- Trinity Cathedral: You can spot the gold star studded, blue domes of this cathedral from all around the city, and it actually isn’t a touristy spot, I just really wanted to see those domes up close.
- Saint Isaacs: This was the busiest of the cathedrals we visited and it is a must do to climb the stairs to the top and see incredible views over the city. Beat the crowds and arrive early – also look for the ticket vending machines on the right hand side rather than waiting in the main line.
Palaces + Fortresses + The Pinkest Building I’ve ever seen
As well as stunning cathedrals Saint Petersburg is full to the brim of all sorts of palaces and pretty buildings. We didn’t get time to fit in very many, but these were my top picks:
- Yusupov Palace: I think my jaw dropped every time we entered a new room in this palace – and did I mention the chandeliers in this place? No words. We loved doing the self-guided tour here!
- Peter and Paul Fortress: Across the river (and close by to the Blue Mosque) this Fortress is a nice little spot to wander around. It also seemed to be a bit of a beach for the locals, with sun bakers dotted along the banks of the fortress.
- The Pink Building: We found this pink building (you’ll spot it in the photos below), by accident and I actually don’t even know what it is. But what I do know is that it’s PINK – and makes the perfect photo backdrop. If you want to see it head for the National Library of Russia (which I wanted to see the interior of, but we quickly learnt it’s hard to get in if you aren’t a local), and it is on a street alongside the library.
Ok, you cannot come to Saint Petersburg and miss The Hermitage. The worlds second largest museum, The Hermitage is not only full of incredible art and artefacts but also used to be a palace, so the interior is a work of art itself. The ticket line can get pretty crazy, but if you arrive early and head for the automatic ticket machines instead of the normal line you can beat the crowds. Just keep in mind the automatic ticket machines don’t sell tickets for the group tours, which we really enjoyed doing.
Another little tip is to make sure after you’ve seen the Winter Palace section (which is the most popular) you pop over to the General Staff Building which is home to a stunning collection of 19th and 20th century paintings and sculptures (and it’s also nice and quiet).
Food fit for a princess
Saint Petersburg is full of hip cafes and cute little restaurants hidden away inside larger buildings. So you will probably just stumble across some great places wandering around but here’s a few I loved too:
- Cafe Brat: A beautifully decorated cafe with a fresh healthy menu, we found it perfect for breakfast before The Hermitage. Also make sure you try the Syrniki (sweet Russian cheese pancakes), you can find these on most menus but the ones here were particularly nice
- Bonch: A really cute and cosy spot for breakfast, brunch or lunch
- I’m Thankful for you Today: We never got a chance to go in, but it was on my list and looked like a lovely little cafe when we walked past
- Pyshechnaya: This kitsch little place serves up no frills Soviet style doughnuts, exactly as they did during the Soviet era. The line will probably be out the door but don’t worry it moves fast
- Mickey & Monkeys: A fun place for any time of the day, they have an epic menu full of crazy cocktails, delicious food and mega deserts (one desert will feed at least four people)
So are you still wondering if I preferred Saint Petersburg or Moscow? Even though so many people said they preferred Saint Petersburg (and they thought I would too) I actually preferred Moscow. I just felt like Moscow was more Russian, whereas Saint Petersburg feels very European and reminded me of lots of the cities I’ve already seen in the past. But I loved them both!
If you’ve been to Saint Petersburg too I’d love to hear if you have any other recommendations in the comments below!
LIKE MY OUTFITS?
These outfits are from my Summer 18′ Capsule Wardrobe, you can shop these items and support Jayde Archives at the same time by using some of the affiliate links below:
- Pink Ruffle Sleeve Tee
- White Blouse
- Berry Maxi Dress
- White Skinny Jeans (old, similar here)
- Dark Fray Hem Jeans (or similar here)
- Blush Espadrilles
- White Canvas Sneakers
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