St Petersburg Russia Things to do in 48 hours
St. Petersburg, a port city on the Baltic Sea is a major cultural and historical center of Russia. While on my recent trip to Russia, I spent 2 days in St Petersburg and marked must-visit things to do in such a little time frame. St Petersburg was founded in 1703 by Peter the Great. We can see the city’s iconic “Bronze Horseman” statue of Peter the Great near Neva River adjacent to St. Issac’s Cathedral. This port city was the imperial capital for 2 centuries. It is located on the delta of the Neva River, at the head of the Gulf of Finland.
Due to its diversified attractions, you’ll never run out of things to do in St Petersburg. If you’re a serious wanderer, there are few better ways to spend your first 24 hours in St Petersburg. This blog post is for 48 hours visit to Saint Petersburg, as most of the travelers that arrive from a Baltic cruise do it in two days. Although you can spend months here many people end up spending two days in St Petersburg.
How to get to St petersburg Russia
Undoubtedly, the most convenient way to go to St Petersburg is by air. The city has Pulkovo International Airport (LED). Several major airlines operate flights to LED from international destinations including British Airways, Air France, KLM, Lufthansa, and a few Polish Airlines. Local airlines like Pobeda, Ural, Aeroflot, and S7 also operate daily operations between St. Petersburg and Moscow.
The second best option is by Rail to St. Petersburg. You can book your seats by Russian National Network RZD. The Moscow – Saint Petersburg Railway is the second oldest railway in Russia. You can get to Saint Petersburg by Fast Bullet Train (Sapsan) in 4 hours and many other types of trains(6-8 hours. The distance between Moscow to Saints Petersburg is around 700km.
How to Get Around St Petersburg
The public transport system in St Petersburg works from 06:00 till 00:00. Although, some routes start a bit earlier and stop a bit later. In St Petersburg, you can use public transport and go to places by metro, bus, trolleybus and also by tram in some areas. In addition, you can use minibusses called Marshrutkas and can get taxis too.
St Petersburg Metro
The best way to get around the city is by using the metro, as it is the fastest transportation method. Apart from travel, some of the metro stations are state-of-the-art in Russia and must-see things to do in St Petersburg. You can visit a couple of metro stations from the list like Ploshchad Vosstaniya, Baltiyskaya, Narvskaya, Tekhnologichesky Institut, Kirosvsky Zavod, or Avtovo. The St Petersburg Metro is the deepest in the world and the second-longest in Russia. It has 5 lines with 67 stations in total. The ticket cost is 70 rubles.
Bus, Trolly Bus, and Marshrutka
Since the St. Petersburg Metro does not reach everywhere and its network of stations is not very dense, you will have to combine your route with buses and maybe trolleybuses or trams. The cost of the bus ticket is 50 rubles per ride.
There are also commercial minibusses (Marshrutkas) which usually take the routes that public transport does not cover. They are usually marked with the letters K or T and fare between 40 t 50 Rubles per ride.
Taxi and Ride Sharing Apps
You can also travel around the city by taxi. This is a good method to move to the outskirts of the city. A good option to book online a taxi is the KIWITAXI. However, I extensively used Yandex and the Yandex Taxi app. Not only the service is economical but convenient too. Moreover, the fare is locked when you book the ride irrespective of the time it will take to your booked destination.
Fare and Day Passes
We can get a transport pass which was available in 1, 3, or 5 days. This pass also includes the transportation on every available city transport(except Marshrutkas). You can check the ticket price for other options from HERE. It is a reloadable transport card that also works on all public transportation systems. You can buy it (and recharge it) at the ticket offices of the subway stations or in automatic machines. It is a little discounted rate than single ticket rides.
Where to Stay in St Petersburg
Unfortunately, We couldn’t have a good experience of lodging in St Petersburg. We have two days booking in Simple Everest Hostel. Despite our several communications with them, when we reached the property, they haven’t any space for us. After a long discussion, they have transferred us to another place, The Art Hotel Respublica. Although they escorted us to the new place even then the experience wasn’t good for us. The new place was a hotel rather than a hostel. In addition, the new property was much away from the city center. So, I raised a complaint against this change to the booking party which was Booking.com in this case. So, be aware of this thing when you go to St Petersburg in peak season. I have also heard a few complaints of the same nature from my fellow travelers too.
St Petersburg Things to do
If you can visit St Petersburg for leisure then the City Sightseeing Hop-On Hop-Off Tour gives you the perfect introduction to St Petersburg. You can experience the panoramic views of this dazzling metropolis from the top of the bright red double-decker buses, hopping on and off the conveniently located stops around the city. On the other hand, you can get a Free St Petersburg tour while you were staying there. You have to give only the tip at the end. Finally, you can do the St Petersburg tour by yourself by following the marked places on the map of Things to do in St Petersburg Russia
Stroll along Nevsky Prospect
Most trips to St Petersburg, Russia’s former imperial capital start on Nevsky Prospect. It is the main avenue surging through St Petersburg’s historical core. By walking along the canal or beside the river view, you can continue your St. Petersburg itinerary along Nevsky Prospect towards some of the top city attractions. My first interaction with Nevsky Prospect started just after my arrival in St Petersburg. So, walking beside the Leningrad Hero City Obelisk and Ploschad Vosstaniya, I kept my way to my hostel through Nevsky Prospect. Starting from Railway Station, it goes all the way to Admiralty near Palace Square. It might be a pleasant walk of about 3km along with beautiful buildings, squares, and bridges. On the way, I had to collect the Eurocup FAN ID from Nevsky Prospect 48.
While walking through Nevsky Prospect, I just crossed the Canal Briboedova and I was standing in front of Kazan Cathedral. It is also known as our Lady of Kazan and it is an active place of worship in St Petersburg. This cathedral was built at the dawn of the 19th century. After the war of 1812 (during which Napoleon was defeated) the church became a monument to Russian victory. In front of the cathedral, we can see the statues of Mikhail Kutuzov and General Barclay who were the leaders of the Russian victory over Napoleon. Since 1932, it housed the collections of the Museum of the History of Religion. Although it is an active cathedral, it still shares the premises with the museum. Its admission is free.
Besides visiting the church, you can relax in the park of the Cathedral. Moreover, you can step outside where the quirky street performers and musicians grace Kazanskaya Square in front of the cathedral. For this purpose, you can grab a seat and enjoy the show before moving on.
The Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood
After spending some time at Kazan Cathedral, I crossed the road near the Dom Kingy Bookshop and followed the Canal Griboedova to my next stop in St Petersburg. It was the Iconic Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood. Although quite a long name, however, due to its uniqueness, I couldn’t have any difficulty remembering its name by heart. I crossed the Canal through Italian Bridge, which is on the mid-way to my walk from Nevsky prospect to church.
The Church of our Savior on the Spilled Blood is, undoubtedly, one of the best attractions of the city. It dates back to the late 19th century and was constructed by the order of Alexander III. It was built on the spot where Alexander II was assassinated by social rebellions in 1881. Inside, the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood, you can see over 7,500 square meters of mosaics that make it one of the largest collections of its kind in the world. Its admission fee is 250 Rubbles.
After visiting the Cathedral, if you have time then you can visit the State Russian Museum or Saint Michael’s Castle. A Museum lover can find a choose many museums within a walking distance from here. It includes the Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines, Shadow Museum, Pushkin Apartment Museum, Museum of Emotions, and Wax Museum.
If there is a square that you will inevitably visit on your travel to St Petersburg, it will be Palace Square, one of the most beautiful squares in the world. Obviously, Palace square was my next stop to St Petersburg visit. This architectural complex is currently one of the most visited places in Russia by national as well as international tourists. It is a pedestrian-only square with a huge esplanade of about 5.4 hectares.
Palace Square, the city’s main square and serves as an excellent example of different architectural styles combined in a single place. The square has been called Palace Square since 1766, as the northern side of the square stands the picturesque Winter Palace of St Petersburg Russia. Palace Square connects with Nevsky Avenue, the most popular with tourists and which has prominent buildings. You can visit the city center on your own or through one of the many free tours offered. This complex is a combination of many prominent buildings within the same premises or at walking distance like
- Alexander Column
- Winter Palace or State Hermitage Museum
- General Staff Building
The Alexander Column
The Alexander Column is the monument located right in the center of Palace Square. 1830-1834. This column was designed for the late Czar Alexander I (1777-1825). It stands 47.5 meters tall and is topped with a statue of an angel holding a cross. The pedestal of the Alexander Column is decorated with symbols of military glory. This Column was carved in Finland and then transported here.
Winter Palace and State Hermitage Museum
Winter Palace is the oldest and the most famous building in this square. Just due to its presence, the square gets its name as Palace Square. From 1762 to 1904 it was the official winter residence of the Russian Czars. It also has a garden that overlooks the Neva River and Palace Square. The green-and-white three-story palace currently houses the Hermitage Museum.
The Hermitage Museum is the largest art gallery in Russia and is among the largest and most respected art museums in the world. It is also one of the oldest museums in the world too. Tourists are visiting this place as a museum since 1952. Today, it houses nearly three million priceless exhibits, including works from the likes of Da Vinci and Raphael. Entrance fee 800Ruble
General Staff Building
We can see a majestic Yellow-colored building on the southern side of Palace Square and in front of the Winter Palace. It has a 580- meter long arched facade. Although it is built half a century after the Winter Palace and its style is neoclassical even then it is seamlessly integrated with the Palace Square’s entire architectural complex. Currently, its west wing is the headquarters of the Western Military District and the east wing is a part of the Hermitage Museum. The most interesting thing about the General Staff Building that strikes you, at first sight, is the great triumphal arch. It is a victory monument against Napoleon. You can approach Nevsky Avenue through this Arch Way.
Admiralty is the last stop to Nevsky Prospect towards Neva River. From Nevsky Avenue, Admiralty is on the left side, whereas the Palace Square complex is on the right side. The west side of the Palace Square is an open space that connects with St. Petersburg’s Admiralty Building and with the Alexander Garden. From the center of the Palace Square, we can see the gilded spire of the Admiralty and the dome of Saint Issac Cathedral. The gardens in front of the Admiralty are particularly beautiful in summer, and you might choose to walk through them on your way from Palace square to Saint Issac Cathedral.
The original Admiralty was one of the first structures to be built in St Petersburg. However, the Admiralty building that we see today was built between 1806 and 1823. The Admiralty was Russia’s Naval Headquarters until 1917 and now serves as a naval college.
St. Isaac’s Cathedral
This massive cathedral is no less impressive than Savior on Spilled Blood Cathedral. St. Isaac Cathedral is famous for its Vatican-like golden cupola with giant columns. The church itself is an architectural marvel. It took over 40 years to build this impressive Russian Orthodox church, which is a true masterpiece both inside and out. The massive complex is large enough to hold 14,000 worshipers. Nowadays, it is used more as a museum than for religious services. Various technical innovations were widely used in the construction of the cathedral. For example, to transport marble between the Neva River and the construction site, a railway was built in 1837. It was the first rail track in the history of St Petersburg.
It was my last stop for the day’s visit. From this place I crossed the road near Nicholas-1 Monument., admired the City Council building, and went to my Hostel which was near to this place. Important to mention that the City Council building was a former Palace known as Mariinsky Palace.
Today, our main destination was Peterhof Palace. It should be your final stop, as it will demand some extra time to justify its incredible architecture. So, I decided to visit it after visiting the city’s other attractions. The final stop of your grand St. Petersburg tour should be. Peterhof is one of Peter the Great’s crowning achievements and is now a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. The majestic palace is part of the town of Petergof, which is about an hour’s drive from the city center. Visitors love the daily turning-on of the Grand Cascade fountain, which sees water shoot out of a golden sculpture and pour down the hillside in time to classical music.
The entry ticket to this palace was 2000 Rubles. It is advised to stay at least half a day there. However, you can spend your full day here. You can walk along the canal to the last point where it meets with the Gulf of Finland.
It isn’t a mandatory St Petersburg attraction and it is exclusively for football lovers. However, if there is a football match while you are visiting St Petersburg then it will be a great opportunity to visit the Gazprom Arena. I did the same, I was on a Russian tour with my 12-year kid who is a football lover and wants to see the Eurocup2020 match of Sweden vs Poland. So, we watched the match in the Stadium and believe me it was an unforgettable experience for me too.
Gazprom Arena is a unique all-weather and high-tech arena. One of the most visited stadiums in Eastern Europe and is located in the best city in the world.
Peter and Paul Fortress
You can visit Peter and Paul Cathedral either after crossing Palace bridge or Troitskiy Bridge over Neva River. Peter and Paul Cathedral was initially a fortress that served as a political prison. So, the prisoners built this fort in the early 1700s as a labor force. For a long time, the Peter and Paul Cathedral was a monument to the glory of Russian weapons. In 1919, the Peter and Paul Cathedral was closed. After few years it was declared as a museum and transferred to the State Museum of the History of Leningrad. It’s among the few buildings of St Petersburg that we can spot from many places of the city. You can admire this beautiful building by standing on the palace bridge.
White Nights of St Petersburg Russia
White Nights are the time from May to the end of July when St Petersburg has extended time of daylight. We can say, round-the-clock daylights with blue sky at midnights. It’s the time for St Petersburg to celebrate these nights as White Nights. In those nights, the Neva River that connects Lake Ladoga to the Baltic Sea opens its bridges for large ships to go through during midnights. Hence during the summer navigation season, tens of cargo ships per day follow this important route, making it necessary to open the bascule bridges across the Neva in central St. Petersburg.
During the White Nights especially it has long been a tradition for crowds to gather along the embankments to watch the raising of the bridges at midnights. The raised arches of Palace Bridge make for one of St. Petersburg’s most famous views. So, I want to end my stay in St Petersburg by attending the white night celebration at Palace Bridge beside Neva River.
Attractions for multy Day staying in St Petersburg
As most of the people come to St Petersburg Russia from Europe side for 2 days. So, I tried to add the most visited places and must to do activities in the St Petersburg Russia tour. However, I strongly recommend not to plan St Petersburg only for two days. Please, prolong your tour at least for 7 days. In this way, you can justify the things you want to do to catch the vibe of St Petersburg Russia. In addition, in your extended stay, you can visit Catherine palace which needs a full day to explore. Alternatively, you can spend your quality time to New Holland Island, take a cup of coffee at Sennaya Ploschad, indulge yourself to learn about Russia by the countless museums of St Petersburg.
Hopefully, I will come here to do all the missed things that I want to do in St Petersburg Russia. Right Now, I am going to Irkutsk along with Listvyanka Village and Lake Baikal. After that, I will take a Trans-Siberian train ride. Finally, I will be back in Moscow while visiting Novosibirsk and Kazan city during my train journey.