In these crazy times of Covid lockdowns, we globetrotters have a tough time of being stuck at home. But these lockdowns are the only reasonable thing we can do for all of us and we are all in it – so let’s stay positive and travel virtually! Today I am taking you to Saint Petersburg in Russia.
Most people who travel to Russia visit Moscow and Saint Petersburg. These two cities are Russia’s main urban centers and brim with art, culture, sights and gastronomical highlights. I visited Moscow three times already, so last time I was there, a weekend getaway to Saint Petersburg was finally due. Since I’ve started with my ‘Go East’ travel guide series here on Happy Interior Blog, I figured it would be nice to give you also a few personal travel tips for Saint Petersburg. So here we go!
Sightseeing: Unlike Moscow, Saint Petersburg is quite practical to be explored by foot if you want to stick to the main sights. Still some spots can be far fetched, but then again your next Yandex taxi is probably just around the corner. Main sights in Saint Petersburg include:
The State Hermitage Museum: Of course the classic! But be prepared to be overwhelmed as the Hermitage is one of the world’s biggest museums and can absorb you for hours and hours. My tip: get your tickets online and remember that for online bought tickets there is a separate entrance in a side building. Grab a museum plan and focus on what you really want to see and stick to it.
Churches: As you can imagine, there are quite a few spectacular churches in Saint Petersburg too. Here you can even see a mix of typical Russian ecclesiastical architecture as well as western European styles. Some highlights include the Church of the Savior on Blood (also known as Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood), the St. Isaac’s Cathedral, Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral, Smolny Cathedral and more.
Peter and Paul Fortress: This extensive fortress complex stretches along the Neva river opposite of the city center and was founded by Peter the Great in 1703. Later it served as a prison in the Bolshevik era.
Nevsky Prospekt: The city’s main thoroughfare featuring shops, boutiques, restaurants, cafés, nightlife. You won’t be short of entertainment and neither will your credit card.
Mariinsky Theater: What the Bolshoi Theater is for Moscow, that is the Mariinsky Theater for Saint Petersburg. In these times they also offer free online streaming of their shows HERE.
Coffee & Food: Again, this Russian city surprised me with its incredible gastronomical offers! The food is excellent, the coffee places are hipster-approved, and again old industrial complexes have been turned into buzzing creative and design districts. I will just name a few here that stuck with me because I loved them very much.
Jérôme: This restaurant is located in the city’s center and features high quality food and lots of locally grown greens – so you will not be surprised to sit next to large indoor herb gardens for example. Try their bruschetta with truffles – yum!
Grün Cafe: This place is definitely made for plant lovers! As they say, they serve ‘new wave food’ meaning in this case that you have a wide choice of vegan options in this plant filled place. It is located in the former industrial complex of the Sevkabel Port. There are lots of other restaurants, coffee spots and exhibition areas here. So do save some time to explore the area.
Chocolate Bar Secret Garden: Nomen est omen – expect chocolate but also more. This café and pastry shop is a bit further from the city center and hidden in a courtyard (again, very Russian haha) and is pretty hyped. When I went there, there was no free table, everything was booked in advance and heavily used by local influencers for photo shootings:-) Expect a botanical garden café style atmosphere!
Coffee Room: Another cool coffee place. It is a chain and you might find a few along the way. Good for a lunch break too!
Coffee Bar Bonch: Really liked this one – great food, great pastries, very good coffee! And the interior is also pretty nice!
Pitcher Coffee: Very cute small coffee place with a good selection of beans and coffee preparations.
Plants: Now I have already mentioned a few places that are filled with plants in the ‘Coffee & Food’ section, but there are two more green places I would like to add to my recommendations:
Orangerie: The Orangerie is a beautiful greenhouse with a café and from what I saw online and heard from locals, it is a must-see for plant lovers. Alas, I was not lucky when I went there – there was a private event and the Orangerie was closed.
Änta’s Plants: Now even if you are not on a plant shopping hunt, I warmly recommend you visit the lush showroom of Ana Golubeva! It is located in a large former industrial building and boosts with plants. She sells all kind of plants and has a soft spot for airplants, dinosaurs, and ceramics. See for yourself. My tip: Give her a little notice via Instagram that you are coming, she will help you find the place and entrance (which as usual in Russia can be a bit tricky).
Accommodation: I stayed at the Crowne Plaza close to the Moscow train station in Saint Petersburg and liked it – it was very comfortable, nice and affordable. But there are plenty of other options across the city of course. Just sharing here what I experienced.
I hope you enjoyed this virtual trip to Saint Petersburg. I loved the city’s charm with its European vibes and Russian grandeur. If you ever have the chance, go and visit Saint Petersburg. You won’t be disappointed, trust me. I think I will go back one day and explore even more as the city has lots to offer, definitely more than these Saint Petersburg travel tips here. See you somewhere else soon (at least virtually)!
Photography by Igor Josifovic