•This St Petersburg visitors guide is a guest post by Geri of https://www.whenwomantravels.com, and edited by Amy of templeseeker.com.
There is something magical about Russia in winter. I honestly doubt that there is a more extravagant, lavish and enchanting country in the whole world during the winter months. I should make it clear – there is no other place to visit like St Petersburg either.
My trip for New Year 2016 didn’t last long enough to allow me to see all the intriguing sites Moscow and St Petersburg have to offer, but it was long enough to give me an appetite for all aspects of Russian culture.
As hard as it was to adapt to the Russian winter climate, it was easy to immerse me in the Russian fairytale lifestyle. Visit St Petersburg is a unique city with a huge cultural and historical presence. The city has seen glorious and miserable times, allowing its people to evolve into educated and strong people that are easy to approach and communicate with.
During my visit of St Petersburg, I saw the city from many different angles. Angles that often surprised me and made me understand that, although I have studied Russian language, history, and culture at school, I actually know very little about this culturally rich and ethnically diverse country.
The highlights of my trip included palaces, like visit St Petersburg afternoon party, a walk on the riverbanks of Neva and spending time with a lovely Russian family. I hope that you enjoy this St Petersburg visitors guide – here are the top attractions that I would recommend.
Catherine Palace, Tsarskoe Selo, St Petersburg
If you have to make one trip to the palaces outside of the city during your winter trip, it should be to the Catherine Palace. The charm of this palace is in its glittering golden rooms, the elegant main staircase and extensive park. Connected with the two queens with the name Catherine, this palace has it all – Roman baths, Hermitage pavilion, a frozen pond, Turkish baths, the Amber room, the Agate room and a Great Hall in Russian Baroque style.
Palace Square & Hermitage, St Petersburg
Palace Square is the heart of St. Petersburg. Every tour starts from here. In the middle is the Alexander Column, facing the Winter Palace of the Russian tsars. The Winter Palace is only one of the buildings housing the expositions of the world-famous Hermitage.
In the Hermitage, you can see the largest collection of paintings in the world if you succeed to get a ticket! Even in winter, the city is rather touristy and the first stop for all visitors is the Hermitage. At the other side of Palace Square, you will see one of the landmarks of St. Petersburg – the arc passage that is the General Staff Building.
Church of the Spilled Blood, St Petersburg
The Church with this horrific name is, in fact, the most beautiful one in the city. The name comes from the time when Emperor Alexander II was fatally wounded and the Church was built by his son. From afar, the Church looks cluttered with architectural details, but when you approach you to see that many of these decorations represent the 144 coat of arms from the different provinces of the Russian Empire.
Neva River is a synonym for St Petersburg. There is nothing more attractive than the frozen embankments of this wide river with numerous bridges, dividing the city like a knife cutting a cream cake.
Walking along the river and passing on the bridges, especially at night, is a challenge. It challenges your ability to resist the cold as the northerly winds are especially strong here, but it challenges your curiosity – it is interesting to figure out how the bridges work. These drawbridges are symbols of St. Petersburg and look really attractive at night when they are static.
Russian Afternoon Tea
We had the chance to be invited to join the family of our friendly guide for a Sunday afternoon tea. It was one of the best moments, as it is always emotional to meet local people. We couldn’t have found this place on our own.
The restaurant was small with a classical interior that made it feel very cozy. It was mostly Russian families gathering for the upcoming holidays and it was nice to share the moment in such a welcoming atmosphere. The samovar tea was especially fragrant and the meat pies more than tasty.