Saint Petersburg, known as Piter to the locals, is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. This Russian city has all the ingredients for an extraordinary vacation – extravagant architecture, remarkable history, vibrant nightlife, a range of hotels, hostels and home stays, an art scene that’s at par with Paris, numerous tourist attractions that’ll probably tire you out, and rich cultural traditions – endless list of reasons to visit St. Petersburg. And, don’t even get us started on the heavenly food that the city dishes out on a platter!
The unofficial cultural capital of Russia, St. Petersburg is made up of 42 islands, connected by the city’s 342 bridges, across the Neva River. Considered an offbeat destination by many, here are 7 compelling reasons to visit St. Petersburg, Russia.
Why To Visit St. Petersburg, Russia ASAP!
Reason 1: The several stunning palaces of St. Petersburg
It won’t be an understatement when we say that each and every structure and building in St. Petersburg boasts of an architecture fit for the royals! And although, no matter where you walk, you will be surrounded with awe-inspiring buildings, the beauty of the places of St. Petersburg is unparalleled. And the best part is that many of these palaces and fortresses are open to the tourists to visit. Some of the palaces that you should include in your St. Petersburg itinerary are the magnificent Catherine Palace, the humongous Winter Palace which is also home to the gigantic Hermitage Museum, the arresting Saint Michael’s Castle (AKA Mikhailovsky Castle), the nearby stunning palaces’ complex known as Peterhof Palace, the imperial Pavlovsk Palace and the alluring Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace.
Reason 2: St. Petersburg is a family friendly destination
St. Petersburg is an out and out family friendly destination, although, an underrated one. From its beautiful parks and gardens to its kid friendly tourist attractions like the Leningrad Zoo, the Bolshoi puppet theatre, the St. Petersburg State Circus, the Railway museum, the Aurora battle cruiser, the Dolls’ Museum, the Grand Maket (layout) of Russia and the St. Petersburg dolphinarium, things to do with children in St. Petersburg are aplenty. One experience you should have in St. Petersburg, when you visit it with your family, is to hop on a bicycle tour and explore the city at your pace.
Reason 3: Palace Bridge over the Neva river
A spectacular event you can witness in St. Petersburg is the raising of the bridges located over the Neva River in order to grant a passage for the ships to pass. The best view of this event can be seen at the Palace Bridge located between Palace Square and Vasilievsky Island. Essentially a bascule bridge (a bridge with moving parts), the bridge acts as a road during the day and is lifted up during the night for cargo river ships going to and fro the Gulf of Finland to pass. It is amusing to know that this simple technological necessity is now one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city!
Please note that navigation via Neva river is operational only from April to November. You can see the raising of the bridges only during this time.
Reason 4: White nights!
Due to its proximity to the Arctic circle, every year, approximately between mid-April and mid-August, St. Petersburg witnesses the natural phenomenon of white nights. During this time, the sky in the city never turns pitch black during the night; no matter what time in the night it is, the sky always looks like it is stuck in a perpetual twilight! Basically, white nights is to Russia what northern lights is to Sweden or Finland. And it is a phenomenon worth witnessing at least once in your lifetime. To make the most of your St. Petersburg vacation, plan it around June 12th because that’s when the celebrations of the White Nights Festival begin. This festival is an artsy blend of ballet, opera, live musical performances by some of the biggest names in the industry, carnivals and fireworks… one of the best reasons to visit St. Petersburg!
Reason 5: St. Petersburg is the Venice of the North
Known as the Venice of the North, St. Petersburg is made up of a network of picturesque canals and bridges, just like the historic Italian city, Venice! And one of the best ways to explore this canal system is to hop on a cruise and gently sail down the Neva River while you take in the spectacular views of the city’s most iconic landmarks.
Reason 6: Gastronomical indulgence!
If you are a foodie, you should visit St. Petersburg ASAP! The city’s gastronomical delights don’t just fill your stomach, they also fill your heart with joy. You should begin your culinary adventure with a sip of Shchi which is a traditional cabbage soup made with meat broth. Follow this up with a bite into the scrumptious Beef Stroganoff. It is made up of beef, sour crème sauce and plenty of vegetables. Pirozhki will turn out to be the best accompaniment to your cup of tea/coffee. Pirozhki is essentially a bun stuffed with savory or sweet fillings. Other Russian foods you should indulge in include chicken kiev, Russian dumplings (pelmeni), the Solyanka soup, Blini (thin pancakes), koryushka (fried fish) and morozhenoe ice cream.
Reason 7: St. Petersburg E-visa now available to people of 53 nationalities!
Yes! Electronic visa for St. Petersburg is now available to people of 53 nationalities! The list includes nations such as Saudi Arabia, India, Philippines, Malaysia, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar, to name just a few. Now that the visa procedure has become so easy, what are you waiting for?! Book your flights and hotels, pack your bags and just leave!
Note that this e-visa is valid only for St. Petersburg and is not valid anywhere else in Russia.
While visiting St. Petersburg, Russia, do make it a point to check out its most famous tourist attractions – the Mariinsky Theatre, the Bronze Horseman, St. Isaac’s Cathedral, Church of Our Saviour on Spilled Blood, the central avenue of Nevsky Prospekt, the State Russian Museum and Kunstkammer which is the museum of anthropology and ethnology.