The 20 best St Petersburg sights

Sights in St. Petersburg can be found literally at every step monuments, palaces, museums, galleries, theaters. In the city center alone, there are thousands of interesting places for tourists. Visitors (especially those who visit St. Petersburg for the first time) always have their eyes wide: where to rush and what to see first? Someone goes to the Hermitage and the Russian Museum. Someone loves walking in the historic center. Many travel to holy places, others dream of seeing the imperial suburbs Peterhof, Pushkin, Pavlovsk. And many want everything at once! We have compiled the top 20 sights of St. Petersburg, which are definitely worth seeing.

Nevsky Prospect. St Petersburg sights
Nevsky Prospect, St Petersburg sights

The 20 best St Petersburg sights: 1. Nevsky Prospect

The main thoroughfare of the city is 4.6 kilometers long, but it is not at all necessary to walk all this way. You can start a walk along Nevsky from absolutely any point there are many iconic places along its entire length. Anichkov Bridge over the Fontanka River, the famous Eliseevsky store, a monument to Catherine the Great in the park opposite the Alexandrinsky Theater, Gostiny Dvor, House of Books, Kazan Cathedral. The main thing is that the weather is conducive to walking and the breadth of the avenue and the grandeur of the architecture will definitely not leave you indifferent.

St Petersburg sights. Palace Square
Palace Square, St Petersburg sights.

2. Palace Square

A walk along the Nevsky Prospect will lead you to the very heart of St. Petersburg to the Palace Square. This is perhaps the main attraction that absolutely every tourist goes to see. At any time of the year and in any weather, you can meet guests here who take a photo as a souvenir. Still, everything is beautiful on Dvortsovaya Street. The Winter Palace, where the emperors once lived. And the ensemble of the General Staff is opposite. And the striking height of the Alexander Column in the center of the square.

St Petersburg sights. Hermitage

3. Hermitage

The main palace of St. Petersburg Winter Palace is located right on the Palace Square. And it houses the Hermitage itself. It is the second largest art museum in the world after the Louvre. They say it will take more than ten years to “run” past each exhibit (and there are more than three million!). And to study and consider them properly may not be enough for the whole life. So there is clearly no need to rush to see everything. To get acquainted with the museum, it is better to choose the sightseeing route through the main halls. And on your new visit stop at a certain era, collection, direction or form of art.

St Petersburg sights. Atlanta

4. Atlantes

One of the symbols of St. Petersburg is Atlanta. The very ones that “hold the sky on stone hands.” The sculptures are located very close to Palace Square on Millionnaya Street. Turning onto it, you will definitely notice ten mighty granite figures near the building of the New Hermitage. In Atlanteans, tourists make wishes: it is believed that if you stroke their huge fingers for good luck, then your plan will certainly come true!

St Petersburg sights. Saint Isaac's Cathedral

5. Isaac’s Cathedral

Isaac is the affectionate name for the majestic monument of St. Petersburg. The incredibly beautiful building of the architect Auguste Montferrand today is both an Orthodox church and a museum. Crowds of tourists line up to get to the very top of the cathedral the colonnade. Without exaggeration, it can be called the best observation deck in the city. It is from there, from a height of a hundred meters, that an incredible view of St. Petersburg opens. But you need to be prepared for the fact that you will have to overcome more than 250 steps up the steep stairs and the same amount down the stairs. Rest assured: it’s worth it!

St Petersburg sights. Bronze Horseman

6. The Bronze Horseman

Near the Neva, opposite St. Isaac’s Cathedral, stands the Bronze Horseman one of the main symbols of St. Petersburg. He received this name thanks to the eponymous poem by Pushkin. The monument to Peter I was erected by order of Catherine the Great. The author of the sculpture, Etienne Maurice Falconet, portrayed the founder of the city as a horseman in Roman robes. Peter sits on a rearing horse and majestically extends his right hand forward. Interesting and mysterious is the history of the pedestal the so-called “Thunder-stone”. A huge piece of rock from the outskirts of the city was delivered for the monument for about a year and a half.

St Petersburg sights. Bridges

7. Bridges

St. Petersburg is a city of rivers, canals and bridges. There are about 800 ferries in the city. The most majestic and beautiful of them are spread over the Neva Blagoveshchensky, Dvortsovy, Troitsky, Liteiny. One of the symbols of St. Petersburg is the process of opening bridges. Many tourists come specially during the white nights season to admire the divorced crossings. But the main thing here is to be on the right side of the Neva. Otherwise, you will have to go around the whole city to get home or to the hotel.

St Petersburg sights. Spit of Vasilyevsky Island

8. Spit of Vasilievsky Island

The Palace Bridge from the Hermitage will lead straight to the Spit of Vasilyevsky Island. This place is one of the most iconic in St. Petersburg. Here are the Rostral columns, on which a fire is lit on special dates. And here you can also see the famous building of the Stock Exchange. And most importantly go down to the Neva and capture the most “postcard” views of St. Petersburg. Newlyweds are very fond of coming here during the wedding, so most likely you will meet an elegant bride and groom here.

Kunstkamera

9. Cabinet of Curiosities

The Kunstkamera deserves special attention, since it is the very first museum in Russia. It was founded by Peter the First himself. During his trips abroad, he bought up rarities weapons, books, natural exhibits, anatomical anomalies. Outlandish things formed the basis of the collection. Today the institution is called the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography. And not so many people know that there you can see not only “freaks”, but also a huge collection dedicated to the development of the peoples of Africa, America and Asia.

Peter and Paul Fortress

10. Peter and Paul Fortress

It is from the Peter and Paul Fortress that St. Petersburg originates. It is worth going here for those who want to learn everything about the history of the city. The oldest fortifications are located on Hare Island in the very center of the city. The fortress itself today is a whole museum complex. Here you can visit the Peter and Paul Cathedral with the Grand Ducal Burial Vault (it is there that Peter I himself and other members of the imperial family are buried), the Mint and the Museum of the History of Money, “Street of Time”, the Museum of Cosmonautics. And also go to the beach towards the Neva and enjoy the view of the city.

Kazan Cathedral

11. Kazan Cathedral

The main Orthodox church in St. Petersburg is the Kazan Cathedral. It is located on Nevsky Prospekt, so it will be difficult for a tourist to walk past it. And not to stop at one of the most beautiful architectural structures of the city even more so. Opposite the main entrance to the cathedral there is a square with a fountain: here tourists like to sit in silence after visiting the temple. The cathedral houses the most important Orthodox relic the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God. Many people come here specifically to worship one of the main shrines of the country.

Cathedral of the Savior on Spilled Blood

12. Cathedral of the Savior on Spilled Blood

Another largest church in St. Petersburg is the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ on the embankment of the Griboyedov Canal. The people called it the Savior on Spilled Blood: it was built on the very place where in 1881 an attempt was made on the life of Emperor Alexander II, after which he died. The engineering decision was not easy, because the temple was erected right on the “bank” of a small canal. At the same time, the building is striking in its scale and unusual architecture using the “Russian style”. This is another temple-museum in St. Petersburg, and here you can get on a guided tour.

Russian Museum

13. Russian Museum

One of the most famous museums in St. Petersburg is located next to the Savior on Spilled Blood. To see the world’s largest collection of Russian art, you should go here. The Russian Museum houses the same “Ninth Wave” by Aivazovsky, the impressive painting by Bryullov “The Last Day of Pompeii”, the famous “Barge Haulers on the Volga” by Repin, the landscape “Moonlit Night on the Dnieper” by Kuindzhi. And more than 400 thousand exhibits from ancient Russian painting to art of the 20th century.

Alexandrinsky theater

14. Alexandrinsky Theater

One of the oldest theaters in Russia is popularly called Alexandrinka. The majestic building was built in 1832 by the architect Carl Rossi. From the 19th century to the present day, it has been one of the centers of the cultural life of St. Petersburg. Theater lovers flock here not only for well-known performances, but also to see with their own eyes the luxurious five-tiered hall with the royal box. And foreigners most often come here to watch the famous ballet Swan Lake.

Mariinsky Theatre

15. Mariinsky Theater

Another temple of art in St. Petersburg is the Mariinsky Theater on Teatralnaya Square. The building was built in the middle of the 19th century, and Fyodor Chaliapin, Matilda Kshesinskaya, Anna Pavlova once appeared on its famous stage. Today the Mariinsky is one of the world’s most famous opera and ballet theaters. Spectators from all over the world dream of getting to the performances in the historic building. But even Petersburgers cannot always do this – tickets should be bought much in advance.

Peterhof

16. Peterhof

This is the most popular suburb of St. Petersburg and the real “capital of fountains”. A huge palace and park ensemble was once built for himself by Peter I on the shores of the Gulf of Finland. Now everyone can admire this beauty. In good weather, you can endlessly walk in the parks of Peterhof – the entire territory occupies about 120 hectares. An obligatory program is to see the Grand Cascade with “Samson Tearing the Lion’s Jaws”, the “Chessboard”, “Lion Cascade” fountains, and for children – firecracker fountains.

Pavlovsk
Pavlovsk, St Petersburg sights.
17. Pavlovsk

It is worth at least once in your life to see the famous palace and park ensemble in Pavlovsk – and remember it for life. In the center of the museum-reserve there is a small palace – the country residence of Emperor Paul I. And the park itself amazes with its luxury, landscapes and landscape solutions. Pavilions, alleys, labyrinths, bridges, sculptures – in good weather it is worth going here for a walk. We advise you to definitely take a guided tour – this way you will fully understand the philosophy of this place.

Tsarskoe Selo
Tsarskoe Selo, St Petersburg sights.
18. Tsarskoe Selo

The city of Pushkin is one of the main points of attraction for tourists. After all, it is here that the Catherine Palace with its world-famous Amber Room is located. It is part of the Tsarskoye Selo Museum-Reserve. The park ensemble surrounding the imperial residence is no less famous. Tours usually include not only a visit to the palace, but also a walk. The museum-reserve also includes the Alexander Palace with the park of the same name.

The cruiser
St Petersburg sights, The cruiser “Aurora”
19. The cruiser “Aurora”

The museum ship and the legend ship are all about the cruiser Aurora. There is hardly a person who does not know about the historical shot from this ship. It was the Aurora’s salvo at the Winter Palace in October 1917 that marked the beginning of the Great Socialist Revolution. Today anyone can get on the deck of a cruiser moored at the Petrogradskaya embankment, see the Aurora from the inside and learn other facts about its history.

Lakhta Center
Lakhta Center, St Petersburg sights.
20. “Lakhta Center”

One of the newest sights of St. Petersburg is the Lakhta Center skyscraper. The public and business complex is 462 meters high and is one of the tallest buildings in the country. And although the tower is located on the outskirts of the city, it can be seen from many other areas. The work on the skyscraper has not been completed yet, so it is not yet possible to get to the observation deck. However, “Lakhta Center” has already become a “celebrity” – many tourists come to the tower to take a photo against its background.

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