While Moscow may be the largest city in Russia, St. Petersburg has got to be the grandest! St. Petersburg, or Piter as the city is locally known, was Russia’s first great modern city. Spending a weekend here is a truly unforgettable experience!
This city is loaded with arts, culture, history and fascinating activities! There are countless important landmarks in St. Petersburg, and any history fan will be bang in their element here. Beyond the city’s rich heritage though, the place is simply beautiful! With many stretches of canals, bridges, palaces, and plazas, you can have an incredible time just by walking the streets.
Whether you are visiting for a first-class culture trip, a relaxing weekend in Russia’s most charming city or an all-out adventure, St. Petersburg is undoubtedly the place to go! Here is our ultimate guide to help you have the ultimate weekend in St. Petersburg.
Insider Tips for an AMAZING Weekend in St. Petersburg
Want to enjoy the ultimate weekend in St Petersburg? Here are some important things to know before you start planning your trip!
Spending 2 days in St. Petersburg will mean you will want to do and see as much as possible in this great city! As there is so much on offer, and time is limited, it is crucial to choose where to stay in St Petersburg wisely. Staying somewhere central and conveniently located is the first step to the perfect St. Petersburg getaway.
Probably the best area to stay in during your St. Petersburg trip is Tsentralny. This part of the city makes up a great portion of the historic center, and it is absolutely loaded with monuments and attractions. Staying here will mean you are close to most of the city’s top sights, restaurants, and leisure activities.
Now that you know where to stay when you travel to St. Petersburg Russia, it is time to pick your accommodation. Our guide to the best hostels in St Petersburg is a good place to begin. After that, here are some of our favorite choices in the city.
Our Favorite Hostel: Chickadee Hostel
- Located in the heart of the city
- Has a great communal kitchen
- Fun and friendly atmosphere
Located right next to the five corners and Rubenstein street, this hostel is in the perfect position for the ultimate weekend in St. Petersburg! This hostel is really cozy and comfortable, with great clean rooms. The friendly and fun vibe here makes it well worth a visit!
Our Favorite Airbnb: Crazy comfy loft
Extremely welcoming, with a great bed, a “hammock-net” to relax on (high up but definitely safe) and a seated window area, you’ll feel more than comfortable in this Airbnb – check out the pictures yourself. You’ll get a beautiful living space, a quality kitchen and numerous other amenities. It’s right in the heart of the city so you’ll be close to everything that needs to be explored.
Our Favorite Budget Hotel: Na Konyushennom Apartments
- Well equipped self-catering apartments
- Located in the center of St. Petersburg
- Modern and clean
If you are looking for the ideal location in St. Petersburg, then Na Konyushennom Apartments offers it. These hotel-style apartments are really well equipped, clean and modern – perfect for those looking for luxury on a budget!
Our Favorite Splurge Hotel: The State Hermitage Museum Official Hotel
- Set in an 1830’s mansion in the heart of St. Petersburg
- Ultimate exclusive luxury
- Boasts an incredibly elegant bar and restaurant
For those looking to experience some grand, old-world luxuries during your weekend in St. Petersburg, this hotel is the place to go! The State Hermitage Museum hotel is full of incredible detail, sophisticated style, and absolute comfort. Staying here is a truly unforgettable experience.
Know How to Get Around in St. Petersburg
When in the central area of the city, getting around is really easy. The best way to experience central St. Petersburg is on foot! So many of the city’s top sights and landmark attractions are within a fairly easy walking distance of each other. Walking around in St. Petersburg also allows you to experience the true charms of the city.
If the weather is good and you are feeling a little active, renting a bicycle is also a great way to get around. Just be careful, as the city has no bicycle lanes.
St. Petersburg offers visitors a range of public transport options if you are looking to travel a little bit further. You can choose to use the really elegant metro to quickly get around in the city. The metro runs smoothly, has five lines, and is open till late.
Catching buses, trolleys and trams is another way to get around. While the network and cost of these are pretty good, they tend to be quite difficult to figure out if you are new to the city. You should also be prepared for potential delays. Local minibusses, called marshrutkas, are an exciting way of getting around the city. However, catching one of these is not always easy for the non-Russian speaking tourist.
Of course, there are also plenty of cabs that drive around St. Petersburg for those wanting a private and fast ride. Catching a taxi here is very easy, but just be prepared to negotiate on a fair price before starting your journey.
Now that you know how to get around, its time to start planning your ultimate 3 days in St. Petersburg!
St. Petersburg is a very European city, with a wide mix of influences and activities going on. The nightlife in St. Petersburg is really exciting! There is always something awesome going on in this city, with different options to suit any kind of person. Here are some of our favorite nightlife choices in the city.
- The main street in St. Petersburg city
- This area is always alive at night, no matter what day
- A wide choice of bars, clubs, pubs, and restaurants
The first place that people think of for a night out in St. Petersburg has got to be Nevsky Prospekt! This is the main street in the city, and it is loaded with fun places to hang out and party. Apteka is a really special secret cocktail bar located on the street – a great place to start your night. The Grizzly Bar is another really fun spot, offering great food, plenty of drinks, and an old school American diner theme.
- Famous for underground nightclubs and parties
- This place is for all-night partying
- Located in the heart of the city
If you are looking to hit up some late-night spots, and dance the night away in an underground night club, then Dumskaya Street is the place to go! Belgrade is a legendary bar and club on this street that is loved by locals and tourists. The space is pretty small though, so expect a fully packed dancefloor!
- A fashionable and fun area
- Lots of exciting bars, restaurants, and clubs
- A great place for a sophisticated night out
The Krestovsky district is slightly removed from the main St. Petersburg center, yet the place is still within easy reach. Come here for drinks overlooking the water, sophisticated bars, or a crazy club experience! Vozduh Club is one of the city’s most popular nightlife destinations, attracting big-name DJs and large crowds.
St. Petersburg is a cultural paradise, with so many exciting things going on. This has lead the city to be a complete foodie hotspot! Whether you are after the best authentic Russian food, world-class restaurants, street food, or innovative European cuisine, then St. Petersburg is the place! Here are some of the best food choices in the city.
- A daily food market
- Located in the heart of the historical city center
- Sells all kinds of local produce and specialties
If you are looking for one of the best places in St. Petersburg to discover the local flavors, then the Sennoy Market is it! This daily food market is easy to reach in the heart of the city. All manner of delicious fruit and veg, meats, and local foods can be enjoyed here. If you want to discover more about the food of St Petersburg, then the Sennoy Market is a great place to start!
Eliseevsky Food Hall
- An incredible Russian food store dating back to 1902
- Contains 2 restaurants
- The perfect place to find many Russian delicacies
Located along Nevsky Prospekt, Eliseevsky Food Hall is a dream destination for any foodie in St. Petersburg! This shop contains 7 different dedicated food departments, each specializing in some of the best local food around. There are also 2 separate restaurants in the shop (one is casual and the other is fine dining). This is the perfect stop for any food lover visiting St. Petersburg!
Masha & Medved
- One of the most authentic Russian restaurants in St. Petersburg
- A great place to sample authentic local cuisine
- A fun and inviting restaurant
Masha & Medved is one of the best restaurants to visit in St. Petersburg if you are after a truly authentic Russian meal. This spot is found off Nevsky Prospekt, and is a must-visit when in the city! Be sure to order the borscht, stroganoff, croquettes, local beer, and maybe even a vodka. Nostrovia!
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If you would rather catch some local sports than watch the ballet when you visit St. Petersburg, then you have plenty of good options! St. Petersburg has some great sporting traditions, as well as plenty of options available to active travelers. Here are some top sports attractions for your weekend in St. Petersburg.
Visit Yubileiny Sports Palace
- A sports complex mainly used for ice skating, ice hockey, and basketball
- Figure skating is a major sport in Russia, and this is one of the prominent training grounds
- A fun place to attend some local sports
If you want to join the passionate local sports fans of St. Petersburg, then a visit to the Yubileiny Sports Palace is the perfect place! This 8000 seater arena is a great spot for watching an exciting ice hockey match – one of the city’s favorite sports! If you are lucky you could also see some of the top Russian figure skaters training here, or even catch a concert.
The Central Park of Culture and Rest
- A big park in the city center that hosts many sporty activities
- Join the joggers, rent water-shoots, go to the shooting range, motor racing track, boating station, or rent skis and ice skates during winter
- A fun place to get some fresh air
If you are feeling active, and want to join the St. Petersburg community in some fun sports, then the Central Park of Culture and Rest is a great place to be! This park is found in the city center, where the locals love to get outside and active. Jogging, ice skating, yachting, and shooting are just some of the many activities that go down here.
Catch a Match at St. Petersburg Stadium
- Built for the 2018 football world cup
- A modern and advanced stadium
- Hosts more sports and activities than just football
St. Petersburg Stadium is an amazing place to experience a football match! As this is the most popular sport in St. Petersburg, the buzz and excitement here during a matchday is at an all-time high. The stadium was built for the 2018 football world cup, and is an impressive enough sight to see even if there is no match on!
There are many reasons to visit St. Petersburg Russia, but one of the most popular is for the incredible culture! This city is the place to be if you want to experience amazing ballet, theatre, or live music. Here are some of the best places to soak up the arts in St. Petersburg – a city known as Russias cultural center.
Experience the Mariinsky Theatre
- Opened in 1860
- One of the world greatest ballet and opera theatres
- Has premiered many historic performances
The Mariinsky Theatre is one of the greatest places in the world to experience a ballet or opera performance. This historic and famous theatre has hosted many world-famous performances, including those by Russian titans like Tchaikovsky or Rimsky-Korsakov. This theatre is absolutely breathtaking, and being able to watch a show here is a once in a lifetime kind of experience.
Soak Up Some Jazz at the Hat Bar
- A central jazz bar in the city
- A fun place for cocktails and live music
- A really popular spot for late-night music
The Hat Bar in St. Petersburg is one of the most popular places to visit if you are after live music in the city! This cool bar serves quality cocktails, and always has a fun vibe. However, it is the amazing music that will keep you here! Live jazz starts late and ends late here, but it is well worth staying up for!
Visit the Alexandrinsky Theatre
- A beautiful and famous theatre
- Watch modern dramas, ballets, musicals, and opera
- Opened in 1832
The Alexandrinsky is another one of the great historic theatres in St. Petersburg. If you are lucky enough to get tickets to a show here it will certainly be an experience never to forget! Despite the magnificent performances, this theatre is beautiful just to be inside. You can enjoy a range of theatre productions, operas, and ballets at the Alexandrinsky.
You should always have emergency cash hidden on you – pick up this awesome security belt with its hidden pocket before you travel, it’s perfect for hiding money, a passport photocopy.
10 Other Awesome Things to do in St. Petersburg This Weekend
There are so many incredible things to do when you travel to St. Petersburg Russia! From impressive historic landmarks to amazing food, fun activities, and exciting culture, you will be sure to have an amazing time! Here are some of the top things to do during your St. Petersburg itinerary.
#1 – St. Hermitage Museum
The St. Hermitage Museum is one of the greatest art museums in the world! This is an essential addition to your 3 days in St. Petersburg. This museum consists of a whopping 360 rooms, with over three million items on display!
This incredible art museum provides an in-depth view of European art across the ages. There are all kinds of famous works on display here. As the St. Hermitage Museum consists of five linked buildings, you could spend ages exploring all of the art here! Planning your Hermiage visit in advance is a good idea.
#2 – Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood
The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the most iconic buildings in St. Petersburg. This magnificent church is an unbelievable sight to take in, with its colorful domes, gold, and fine details.
The church marks the place where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated in 1881, so his son built the church as a memorial towards him.
This church is now a museum, housing some very interesting displays. However, it is the grand artistic detail of the building that really inspires visitors! The mosaics, paintings, and chandeliers in this building are an unforgettable sight.
#3 – Peterhof Palace
Any St. Petersburg guide will tell you that Peterhof Palace is a must-see when in this city! This palace was built by Tsar Peter in an attempt to outdo Versailles. When looking at the incredible water gardens and grand details in the palace, you have to admit he gave it a good run for its money!
Peterhof Palace and its sublime water feature cascade is a beautiful site to explore. This is a great place to learn a little bit more about St. Petersburg history, as well as admire some of the top architecture in the city! Getting to Peterhof requires a trip on a hydrofoil speedboat, which just makes the visit even more fun!
#4 – Peter and Paul Fortress
Peter and Paul Fortress is one of the oldest and most iconic landmarks in the city, as this is the place where Tsar Peter founded Saint Petersburg in 1703 AD. This fortress has a really interesting history, playing a big role in the Russian revolution. It was also used as a prison.
The building itself is a magnificent sight, with the bell tower of the Peter and Paul Cathedral being the tallest structure in St. Petersburg. Explore this building and take in the amazing views out over St. Petersburg that you can get from its walls.
#5 – Take a Boat Ride Through the City
St. Petersburg is often compared to Venice due to its many canals and bodies of water. One of the best ways to experience this city is by taking a boat tour! You could cruise down the Moika, Fontanka, Neva, or Griboedov rivers for some of the best views and perspectives in the historical city center.
Taking a boat ride around the city is also really fun to do at night when everything is all lit up! Hopefully, you will get to see the opening of the awesome bridges during your boat tour.
#6 – St. Isaacs Cathedral
Witnessing the magnificent St. Isaacs Cathedral is an essential addition to any St. Petersburg travel guide. This awesome cathedral is the largest orthodox basilica in the world! With its huge golden dome and magnificent pillars, it is a spectacular sight to behold.
St. Isaacs is technically not a full church anymore, as it has been converted into a museum. This makes it a really interesting attraction to visit though, as there is a great deal to discover in this space.
#7 – Catherine Palace
St. Petersburg is a city full of palaces! If you are looking for one of the most spectacular palaces to witness, then the ornate Catherine Palace is possibly it! This palace is located a short distance outside the city, as it was built by Catherine the Great as a kind of escape.
Exploring this palace is really rewarding, as you are exposed to the grand lifestyle of the old royals. The grounds here are stunning, as is the famous amber room. When visiting Catherine Palace, you will be truly blown away at all of the incredible detail found in every corner.
#8 – The City Gardens
St. Petersburg is a city that offers some amazing green spaces within the urban center. Exploring the beautiful gardens within the city is such a great way to find some peace, quiet and fresh air during your St. Petersburg itinerary.
The Summer Garden is one of the best in the city – full of Greek sculptures, water features, and amazing flower gardens. The Mikhailovsky Garden is another beautiful space, with well looked after gardens and a pond.
Entrance to these is free, and a visit to them will definitely make you appreciate the charm of St. Petersburg even more!
#9 – The House of Soviets
Traveling to St. Petersburg Russia usually involves plenty of culture, art, and explorations of the historic city center. However, learning about the country’s communist history should be a definite addition to your weekend in St. Petersburg. Afterall, the city was called “Leningrad” for nearly 50 years!
Visit the House of the Soviets to learn about the fascinating Russia of Communist Russia. This imposing Stalinist style building is also a great architectural landmark of historical significance. If you love history, then a visit here is an absolute must!
#10 – Nevsky Prospekt
Taking a walk down the famous Nevsky Prospekt is essential to your St. Petersburg visit. This is a 5km long royal avenue, and it is considered the beating heart of the city’s historic district.
Nevsky Prospekt is lined with magnificent palaces, museums, hotels, bars, restaurants, and shops. Walking down here will unveil the true charms and beauty of the city!
You will get to admire some of the best buildings in St. Petersburg, as well as take in the general atmosphere of the city. No trip to St Petersburg would be complete without a visit to Nevsky Prospekt!
Don’t forget to pack a good book! Lonely Planet St Petersburg (Travel Guide) is our top recommendation for an awesome and inspiring read on this magical city.
Now that you know what to do and see during your weekend in St. Petersburg, you are just about ready to go! Before setting off though, it is important to know exactly what to expect. Here are some frequently asked questions when visiting St. Petersburg.
#1. What should I pack for a weekend in St. Petersburg?
Packing smart is the first step to an enjoyable trip! Here are some St. Petersburg essentials:
- A rainjacket/waterproof clothing: During summer or winter rain is frequent in St. Petersburg. The weather here can be quite unpredictable, so always be prepared for some rain! Depending on the time of year, you will either need a rain jacket or a proper, winter down jacket.
- Your camera: Glorious St. Petersburg has got to be one of the most photogenic cities in the world! Between its many canals, the magnificent architecture, palaces, cathedrals, art galleries and more, you will want to take pictures wherever you go!
- Warm clothing: Although summer months in St. Petersburg can be pretty warm, the weather is still unpredictable! Always be prepared for the cold and wind in St. Petersburg, as it can get really icy here.
Our Europe Packing list may also be of use.
#2. Can I get an apartment in St. Petersburg for the weekend?
While St. Petersburg offers visitors many fabulous hotels and accommodation options, renting an apartment for the weekend is also a great idea! This can be done pretty easily through sites such as Airbnb, where you can rent some amazing spaces.
Staying in an apartment during your weekend in St. Petersburg will make you feel like a local! This is a great option for larger groups, as well as traveling families.
Apartments are available to rent throughout the city, and you could stay in all kinds of neighborhoods. This can be a fun way to experience the city from a slightly different perspective.
#3. Is St. Petersburg safe for a weekend trip?
Traveling in Russia is safe, especially if you are in the larger cities. You do not need to be overtly worried about safety during your weekend in St. Petersburg.
However, some precautions must be excercised. Pickpockets and petty thieves do operate. Be wary of groups of women or children begging. Hailing taxi’s from the street should only be used as a last resort to avoid entering an “unofficial” taxi. Also, be careful of airport taxis and black cabs. They tend to overcharge tourists significantly compared to the fixed price official taxis.
In bars, watch your drinks as spikings have occured.
Besides exercising regular caution and keeping your belongings safe, traveling in St. Petersburg is certainly not dangerous.
And have you thought about getting Travel Insurance for your trip? We’ve put together a roundup of Travel Insurance for backpackers – check it out here, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads, our favorite travel insurance provider.
Final Thoughts on a Great Weekend in St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg is one of the most exciting, beautiful and interesting cities in Europe! You can come here to be blown away by the expansive art galleries, incredible museums, rich history, architecture, stunning canals, and world-class theatres.
Of course, there is also the nightlife, vodka, hearty food, and fun Russian culture! Whatever you end up doing in St. Petersburg, it will definitely have you falling in love with this amazing city.
St. Petersburg is well suited to tourists, and traveling here is easy! Not only that, but many of the attractions and landmarks are within an easy distance of each other, making 2 days in St. Petersburg a perfect time to experience it all!
We hope this guide to the ultimate weekend in St. Petersburg inspires you to enjoy this city in all of its unique glory!
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