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Wanderlust; St Petersburg, Russia

St Petersburg, Russia

Over 4,000 outstanding individual architectural monuments, 220 museums, 80 theaters, and 150 concert organizations, galleries and exhibition halls.  Impressed?  You should be.

Out of Russia’s 300 year history, St. Petersburg has been the capitol for 200 years.  It rivals the political and economical center of Moscow, by offering rich culture, art, and history. 

Credit: lednichenkoolga
Credit: lednichenkoolga

“Venice of the North”

St. Petersburg is famed as the “Venic of the North,” but in reality the city is built on more than 50 islands and connected by over 350 bridges in the middle of a river delta.  However, when you scoot down one of its countless canals sitting in a water taxi, it’s easy to see the comparison.

So Much To See So Little Time

No visit to St. Petersburg is complete without stopping at the Winter Palace, the city’s most impressive attraction. This grandiose building surrounds Palace Square and Alexander’s Column and was the home of every Russian Tzars since the 18th century.

Another big draw is The Hermitage and its extensive collection of art. It contains over 2.7 million items of historical significance,  from Ancient Egyptian artifacts to works by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, several sculptures by Rodin and many more from the masters.

Credit: И. Максим
Credit: И. Максим

The Best of The Rest

Many of St Petersburg’s architectural marvels are easily seen from its waterways, including the Menshikov Palace, Anichkov Bridge, Engineer’s Castle, Summer Gardens, the Salt District, Field of Mars, Church on Spilt Blood, St. Peter and Paul’s fortress, Trinity Bridge, the Winter Palace, the Kunstkamera, St. Isaac’s Cathedral and the University of St. Petersburg.

Take a scenic boat tour down the river to visit all the sights.

Credit: Ian Zakharov
Credit: Ian Zakharov

Relax in the Park

A great way to relax after a long day of sight seeing is to visit the Great’s Summer Palace and Gardens with a good book and picnic.  The beautiful fountains among the gardens add a much needed calming atmosphere to a full day of sight seeing.

The most abstract and intentional city in the world. - Dostoyevsky

When To Go

The city has something to offer all year around, but because of the extreme northern location winters are very cold (-4/10°F, -12/-20°C) take warm clothes and be precocious when you go for long walks.

Climate

The climate is mild, though unpredictable.

Winters are cold, with snow and freezing winds, average temperatures are about 9-10°F (-13/-12°C) in January and February (the coldest months) sometimes even lower.

June to August is usually the warmest time of year, though temperatures are still relatively low (around 60°F/20C).

Getting There & Around

The International Terminal Pulkovo II is the second largest airport in Russia. It is located 10.6 miles (17 km) south of the city center.

Take a taxi (about 30-60 min depending on the traffic) this cost around $50 (2012). Take minibus 13 or 213 which will take you to the nearest Metro station from there you can go straight to your accommodation (metro map).

Average Costs

  • Mid-range accommodations: $60-100
  • Meals: $5-10
  • Beer: $2

Do’s

  • Walk when you can, in fact be prepared for long walks. The straight streets are dissected by waterways so it’s hard to get lost.
  • Tip 10-15% (depending on service) at restaurants.
  • Stay alert for drain covers. The city is known for its ill-fitting and absent coverings.

Don’ts

  • Take your GPS with you. You could be arrested if you are caught with one here.
  • Buy souvenirs from street vendors. You get better  price and quality anywhere else.
  • If you see a wallet on the sidewalk, leave it there and keep walking. It is a trick and you might lose money as a result.
  • Buy anything which has “cultural value”, without a certificate. When you leave the country, if you get caught you can be arrested.

Fun Facts

  • Has many nicknames like “The Palmyra of the North” “Venice of the North”or
  • “The Northern Capital of Russia”
  • Among cities of the world with over one million people, Saint Petersburg is the northernmost.
  • Late May to early July is the time of the “White Night”, when the sun never sets and there is no darkness!

Feature Image Credit: Aleksandr Zykov

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