The current guide to Saint Petersburg must-see places is a list of the most known attractions. But not just a simple list!
It is a one-day itinerary to St. Petersburg’s must-see places. Visit the attractions following the listed order. As a result, in one day you’ll discover 10 city sights!
- Is It Possible to Visit All Saint Petersburg Must-See Places in One Day?
- Why I Have Chosen These Saint Petersburg Must-See Places?
- I’ve Made a Tour of Saint Petersburg Must-See Places. What’s Next?
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Is It Possible to Visit All Saint Petersburg Must-See Places in One Day?
All the Saint Petersburg must-see places noted below are a part of the historical core of the city. Follow the attractions in the order as they are listed here. This is the shortest way to see most of them in 1 day.
We start from the Gorkovskaya metro station and finish on Vassiliyevsky Island. Keep in mind: it’s a really long itinerary — but you will see the best of the best.
If you spend more than one day in St. Petersburg, just include visiting museums on your bucket list.
Why I Have Chosen These Saint Petersburg Must-See Places?
Firstly, because these attractions are iconic places. For the most part, many of those buildings have become symbols of the city. For example, to visit Saint Petersburg and not to visit Palace Square is like to visit Paris and not to see the Eiffel Tower.
Secondly, these places are accessible and open at every time of year. The only exception is the Summer Garden: in winter fountains there don’t function.
Now let our tour of St. Petersburg begin!
Peter And Paul Fortress
Let’s begin our journey with Peter and Paul Fortress, the heart of St. Petersburg. This is the place where St. Petersburg’s history begins.
Peter and Paul Fortress is the citadel founded by Russian emperor Peter the Great in 1703.
Take a walk in the inner yards of the fortress. Pay attention to the Peter and Paul Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in Saint Petersburg. Its fine belfry with shining golden spire is a symbol of the city.
Moreover, Peter and Paul Cathedral is a burial place of the members of the imperial Romanov dynasty, from Peter the Great to Nicholas II.
The clock of Peter and Paul belfry is the most reliable clock in Saint Petersburg! You can check your watch accuracy with it.
After leaving Peter and Paul Fortress, turn to the right towards Trinity Bridge.
Trinity Bridge is one of the most beautiful bridges in the city. Take your time to examine its Art Nouveau decorations. Pay attention to cast iron gratings with artistic casting, fancy lanterns, granite pylons…
Besides, Trinity Bridge is a perfect photo stop place. Stop in the middle of the bridge. What you’ll see? Neva river, the Spit of Vassiliyevsky Island, Peter and Paul Fortress, Winter Palace, Admiralty, the port, the blue dome of the mosque…
Trinity Bridge is a drawbridge. Thus, when you walk at ~ 1 a.m. on one of the embankments, you will see one of its huge spans being raised. Don’t miss this amazing performance!
As soon as you cross the bridge, on the right you’ll notice a beautiful fence and high trees.
Summer Garden is the oldest St. Petersburg’s garden. It was designed by Peters the Great himself, the founder of Saint Petersburg.
Fountains, Italian statues, pavilions turn the Garden into a pleasant place for an afternoon walk.
The main gem of this place is the legendary railing from the side of the Neva River. The elegant cast-iron railing is suspended between 36 granite columns crowned with urns and vases. The railing was recognized as the most beautiful garden railing in the world. Don’t miss it!
They say that in the 1920s American businessmen wanted to obtain this famous cast-iron railing. The price was exorbitant: businessmen offered to exchange the railing for… 100 (!!!) trains!
Despite the challenging economic situation in Russia in that period, local authorities refused the offer. And the elegant railing is still embellishing Saint Petersburg.
Church Of The Savior On Spilled Blood
So, we passed right through the garden and found ourselves in front of the pink Mikhaylovsky Castle. Turn to the right and you’ll immediately notice colourful domes of the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood.
The domes of the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood are the most recognizable attraction in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The Church stands on in the place where Russian Emperor Alexander II was mortally wounded.
The church is easily recognizable due to its Russian-style facade. Intricately detailed mosaics cover all the walls and ceilings inside the church.
Stroll along the canal towards Nevsky Prospect and Kazan Cathedral.
This cathedral is the main Orthodox Cathedral of Saint Petersburg. It’s dedicated to Our Lady of Kazan, one of the most venerated icons in Russia and the patroness of the Romanov royal family.
Cathedral’s history is closely related to the Patriotic War of 1812.
Built at the beginning of the XIX century, Kazan Cathedral became a symbol of the Russian victory over Napoleon. Keys to 17 cities and 8 fortresses captured during the war are now displayed in the cathedral’s sacristy. The victorious Russian Field Marshal Mikhail Kutuzov is buried there, too.
During the Soviet period, they transformed the cathedral into a museum of the history of atheism and religion. In 1996, the Cathedral returned to the Orthodox Church and since then is functioning as a church.
Nevsky Prospect is the main street of Saint Petersburg. It houses a huge quantity of palaces, mansions, churches, shops, restaurants, hotels, gardens… It’s busy during the daytime as well as at night.
Every single building on Nevsky Prospect is an architectural chef-d’oeuvre. I’m not kidding. The whole historical centre of St. Petersburg is included in the UNESCO Heritage list.
So take my advice: while walking down Nevsky prospect, look upstairs. Feel the atmosphere. Take a sit in one of the coffee houses and just relax for a while.
Saint Isaac’s Cathedral
Saint Isaac’s Cathedral is a find-me-on-every-postcard Saint Petersburg must-see place. Incontournable, as the French say.
You can just walk around it and admire granite columns, statues, elaborated doors and the shining dome. Certainly, you can visit the Cathedral (buy an admission ticket).
As to me, St. Isaac’s Cathedral is the most beautiful St. Petersburg’s church. It’s astonishing outside but inside it’s even more impressive. It’s like a huge precious jewellery box. Granite, marble, lapis lazuli, malachite, gold, mosaics — you’ll see it all.
In addition, I would also advise climbing up to the colonnade of St. Isaac’s Cathedral. There you’ll take pictures of the historical centre of Saint Petersburg from the height of the bird’s flight.
The Bronze Horseman is a monument to Russian Emperor Peter the Great, the founder of Saint Petersburg. The equestrian statue of the Emperor stands on a giant stone — Thunder Stone. This is the largest stone ever moved by humans, they say.
The Bronze Horseman is the talisman of St Petersburg. Local legends say that while Peters the Great and his horse are standing in the middle of the city, enemy forces will never be able to conquer St. Petersburg!
Palace Square and the Hermitage Museum
Palace Square is the central square of Saint Petersburg, Russia. There we find a real bouquet of famous city sights. Baroque Winter Palace, classic General Staff building, empire Alexander Column are St. Petersburg must-sees.
It’s interesting that all constructions on Palace Square were erected in different periods. They have different styles. However, the architectural ensemble of the Palace Square is harmonious. This is why this square is a favourite spot not only for city guests but for locals too.
By the way, when the weather is warm, street musicians often perform in Palace Square. Make a stop to listen to them.
The Winter Palace is the world-famous Hermitage Museum. Its collections are so diverse and rich, that we find there everything from Egyptian mummies to Japanese art and Russian Royal family jewels… Plan at least 3-4 hours if you want to see some of those treasures.
Spit of Vassiliyevsky Island
We leave the Palace Square and cross another drawbridge — Palace Bridge.
Now we’re at the Spit of Vassiliyevsky Island.
Spit (in Russian — Strelka) of Vassiliyevsky Island is a charming place. Above all, the Spit offers a marvellous view of the Neva River, the Hermitage and Peter and Paul Cathedral. Rostral Columns and the Stock Exchange building are other must-see places in Saint Petersburg.
Of course, the Spit of Vassiliyevsky Island is the right place for good shots of Peters and Paul Fortress.
If you remember, Peter and Paul Fortress is the place where we started our tour. Thus we’ve made a great round trip in 1 day!
By the way, if you planning to visit Russia, here are some helpful posts:
1. The Best Time To Visit Russia
2. Discover Places to Visit in Russia
3. How to Enter St. Petersburg, Russia With No Russian Visa
I’ve Made a Tour of Saint Petersburg Must-See Places. What’s Next?
We have seen 10 must-see places in St. Petersburg. Certainly, this is not all St. Petersburg has to offer. It’s only a tiny part, in fact. What else can you do in St. Petersburg during that day?
- I highly advise taking a boat trip on rivers and canals. In general, a boat trip lasts 1-1.5 hours. Also, you can opt for a night trip to see the drawbridges being raised. Itineraries differ. However, whichever you choose, it will be a fascinating, unforgettable distraction.
- Taste Russian food in one of the numerous restaurants on Nevsky Prospect.
- Have a rest in the park near the Admiralty.
- If you come in summer, enjoy the white nights.
Let me know whether you have already seen some of these places? And which did you like the most?