If you are visiting St. Petersburg for the first time, my best tip is to start with a guided bus tour around the city, where you will be introduced to the main sights that you can then choose to discover further yourself.
So what is included in a guided bus tour? And, what is not included can also be good to know. Bus tour with unlimited hop-on / hop-off for 48 hours if selected. 1-day boat pass if the option has been chosen. Headphones for the guide. Multilingual audio guide during the tour is provided if you do not understand the language spoken. You can bring children up to 5 years for free.
This is what you can expect
Admire St. Petersburg from the top of a double-decker on this extensive hop-on hop-off tour of Russia’s imperialist capital. Enjoy 360 degree views and unlimited travel. You can hop on and off at iconic sites such as St. Isaac’s Cathedral, the Winter Palace and the Church of the Resurrection. Enjoy the guided tour on board as you begin exploring the city at St. Isaac’s Cathedral, which dominates the skyline of St. Petersburg. At Palatstorget you can then hop off at another elegant attraction, the Winter Palace. This was the official residence of the Tsars of Russia and is part of the large Hermitage Museum.
In light of the current situation, they have introduced several new health and safety measures to ensure that they can continue guiding while ensuring safety.
The stops are as follows Isaac Cathedral, Admiralty, Palace Square, Kazan Cathedral, Grand Guest Yard, Anichkov Palace and Bridge, Nevsky Ave / Liteiny Prospect, Moscow Railway Terminal, Vosstaniya Square, Eliseyev Brothers Emporium, Arts Square, Grand Ciniselli Circus, Summer Garden Palace Square, the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, Palace Embankment and Admiral Embankment.
It gives a good overview to take this bus tour, but if you then want to experience these places, you should hop off and give it a few hours. You can hop on and off anywhere at these stops.
If you want to see one of the world’s most extensive collections of Russian art, there is this large and extensive museum called the Russian Museum.
The Russian Museum includes the old St. Michael’s Palace, the Stroganov Palace, the Marble Palace and Peter the Great’s cottage. The museum has over 400,000 art objects, so the space is certainly needed to be able to show them in all their glory. Marvel at the extent of the exhibitions in addition to the quality of the exhibited works.
Tsar Alexander III diligently collected art from his homeland, and his son Nicholas II opened the museum in 1898 in memory of his father. For this purpose he used the Palace of St. Michael, formerly the residence of Grand Duke Mikhail Pavlovich. Carlo Rossi’s neoclassical building is in itself a work of art with a stately yellow and white exterior facing large, well-kept lawns. Because the Communist regime confiscated so many priceless masterpieces, the Russian State Museum has a huge amount of works to exhibit.
Start with St. Michael’s Palace and view the facade in more detail as you walk along the nicely landscaped lawns. Notice the fine eagle and armor sculptures and the detailed relief that crowns the palace. Go in and explore the museum’s main collection. The permanent exhibitions in the palace include religious icons from early Russian history and paintings by 19th-century artists in the group The Wanderers, who wanted to create Russian realistic art. The works depicting another world by the symbolist painter Michail Vrubel who died in 1910 and the artist colleague Nikolaj Roerich are also worth seeing.
Go over to the Marble Palace and see one of the many temporary exhibitions organized by the Russian Museum, or the two permanent exhibitions with the brothers Rzevsky’s collection and the Ludwig Museum which contains art from the turn of the century and the latter part of the 20th century. The main attraction of St. Michael’s Palace is a number of sculptures from the last 200 years, and the fine porcelain collection at Stroganov Palace should not be missed.
You can reach all the sites of the Russian Museum by St. Petersburg metro. The museums are open every day except Tuesdays. All places have an entrance fee.
If you, against all odds, should relax to check out the surroundings during a bus trip, you can rest easy, there is free wifi on the buses so having fun is no problem. This free wifi made me actually during broadcast live on facebook during the tour, but I have to admit that I also played some solitaire and twenty-one. When my travel companion did not notice it then of course, although honestly, I was usually focused on the bus trip itself and everything we got to see.
I really liked the architecture in Russia, however, I thought it was a bit difficult to get in touch with people there, but it might be a cultural thing.
The food was either fantastic or not edible, which was a bit exciting. I can imagine going back, but it’s not at the top of the list. Before that comes Africa, Norway and the Caribbean, for example.