I heard several times during my trip to Russia that St. Petersburg is “the crown jewel of Russia”. My recent visit to the city confirmed this to me.
I really enjoyed my time in St. Petersburg because I met some amazing people but also because it’s like a European city.
From Helsinki I took a boat, the St. Peter’s Line’s Princess Maria. The boat left the dock in Helsinki at 7pm and arrived in St. Petersburg at about 9.30am.
For people who would like to visit St. Petersburg and not deal with the visa process this sailing offers travellers a 72-hour visa free visit to the city and is a great deal with a bed starting from about €60 in a 4 person berth.
I stayed at Cuba Hostel, located off the Nevsky Prospect next to the Kazan Cathedral. I met so many people from different countries there: Russia, Germany, Holland, Australia and Denmark to name just a few. It was quite exciting as most people are doing trips towards or from St. Petersburg so it’s so easy to swap stories and learn what to expect about other cities in Russia. All the St. Petersburg sights were within walking distance of the hostel which was great.
The Hermitage, otherwise known as the Winter Palace, is located about 5 minutes walk down the Nevsky Prospect on the right hand side. This place is well worth a visit whether you like art and history or not. It is a huge art gallery with some astonishing interior design.
Gold is visible on almost everything in this building as well as around the city. It was one of the things that shocked me as I walked around.
St. Issac’s Cathedral is located in the centre of St. Petersburg. It’s a beautiful cathedral but also a way of seeing St. Petersburg from above. While the city landscape is not as beautiful as others I have been to, it is worth a view.
The Church of our Saviour on Spilled Blood was my favourite building in St. Petersburg. This cathedral is the most colourful and beautiful building I’ve ever seen in my life. Walking up to this building sent shivers down my spine.
The inside is covered from top to bottom with mosaics and paintings of bible stories with a huge mural of Jesus watching over the visitors.
One of the fun things about my time in St. Petersburg was that the main street, the Nevsky Prospect, was closed because it was being re-tarred. This meant people could walk, busk and even draw on the road with chalk.
Every night was spent walking down the Prospect watching people busking, playing games and enjoying the famous “white nights” (it doesn’t get really dark in St. Petersburg until just before the sun rises again).
The people I was with in St Petersburg definitely fuelled the fun I had in the city. Food and drink are reasonably priced but I noticed that portion sizes are a little small sometimes, (not in the league of country dinners at home). But overall I think this city is good value for money especially when compared with Helsinki!