St. Petersburg

Russia’s second largest city, Saint Petersburg is located on the shores of the Baltic Sea, making it an important port for commercial and naval ships. The city was established in 1703 by Tsar Peter the Great, and remained the capital of the Russian Empire for over 200 years before Moscow was declared the capital city after the Russian Revolution. Today, Saint Petersburg is an important cultural centre, famous for its architecture and history, and the city centre has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Saint Petersburg is often referred to as “Venice of the North” and “City of 300 Bridges”, due to the number of canals and waterways present. In the centre of the city, the Peter and Paul Fortress is the oldest building in Saint Petersburg, dating back to 1703 when Peter the Great decided to construct a defence against the Swedish navy. Inside there is the Peter and Paul Cathedral, where the Russian tsars from Peter the Great to Alexander the 3rd are buried. The Summer Palace was also constructed in the early 18th century for Peter the Great, and its gardens are a popular attraction as well.

The famous Palace Square is home to the Alexander Column, which was built in 1830 in honour of Emperor Alexander the 1st’s victory against the French in the Napoleonic Wars. Located next to Palace Square is perhaps Saint Petersburg’s most prominent palace, the Winter Palace, which was built in the mid 18th century by Peter the Great for his daughter, Empress Elizabeth. The building is a masterpiece of Baroque architecture, and is also home to the [ Hermitage Museum], one of the largest and most important museums of art in the world, and which houses the world’s largest collection of ancient gold from Eastern Europe and Western Asia. Some of the city’s other palaces of interest include the Menshikov Palace, built for the governor of Saint Petersburg in the early 18th century, and which today is a branch of the Hermitage Museum, the Mariinsky Palace, built in the 19th century for the Grand Duchess Maria who was the daughter of Emperor Nicholas the 1st, and finally St Michael’s Castle, a redbrick palace built for Emperor Paul the 1st at the end of the 18th century.

In addition to the Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg is home to other impressive museums. The [ Russian Museum] has the city’s biggest collection of fine art, and its main building is the impressive Neoclassical Mikhailovsky Palace. The Stieglitz Museum of Applied Arts was founded by the philanthropist Baron Alexander von Stieglitz in 1878 to house his rare collections of glassware, porcelains, and tapestries, amongst other items. The Alexander Pushkin Museum features exhibits detailing the life and works of one of Russia’s greatest writers. Finally, the Ethnography Museum contains displays and exhibits relating to the culture and history of Russia’s minority groups, from the Caucasus, Central Asia, Siberia, Ukraine, and Belarus.

Some of the city’s other prominent attractions include [ Saint Petersburg State University], one of Russia’s finest universities and counts Lenin as one of its famous alumni, the Blue Bridge, which is the world’s widest bridge, and the Mariinsky Opera and Ballet Theatre, built in 1859 and home to the world-renowned Kirov Ballet.


Nevsky Prospekt is the hub of Saint Petersburg’s shopping and entertainment, and is lined with many stores that sell souvenirs such as matryoshka, which are painted sets of dolls, painted eggs, tea sets, and caviar. The largest department store in Saint Petersburg, Gostiny Dvor, is situated on Nevsky Prospekt. The city is also home to a number of open-air markets that sell souvenirs, such as Soviet memorabilia, and farmer’s markets that sell fresh food produce.

Nightlife and Eating Out

Saint Petersburg has a wealth of restaurants that cater to all tastes, from local dishes to European cuisine. Well known Russian dishes include bliny, which is similar to a crepe, pirozhki, a pie with different meat, fish, and vegetable fillings, borscht, a traditional soup, and of course, caviar. Some of the city’s restaurants that are known for their Russian specialities include Mechta Molokhovets, Nikolaevskaya Trapeza, Admiralty, Kalinka-Malinka, and Literaturnoye Café, which was a favourite of Alexander Pushkin.

For cuisine from other parts of Russia and the former Soviet Union, some recommended restaurants include Bagrationi and Kavkaz-Bar for Georgian food, Lesnoi for dishes from the Caucasus region, At Gorchakov’s for Ukrainian cuisine, and Caravan-Sarai for Uzbek food. For European dishes, some restaurants worth a try include [ Camelot], [ Tschaika], and [ Da Vinci].

The city has an abundance of bars and nightclubs, with most being located around Nevsky Prospekt. Some of the better-known establishments include Tribunal Bar, Magrib, Hali-Gali, and Metro Club, which many consider to be one of the best nightclubs in town.

Tourist Information

  • Saint Petersburg City Administration, 41 Nevsky Prospekt, Saint Petersburg, 191025
  • Telephone: +7 812 3122541
  • Website: []


Saint Petersburg’s Pulkovo Airport is located approximately 16km south of the city, and is easily reached by taxi or bus. There are a number of domestic and international carriers, which are mostly European, that serve the airport.