Saint Petersburg, or Russia’s gateway to the west, is the most beautiful and culturally rich city that I have visited. The sheer amount of palaces, museums, and cathedrals that should be on your short list of sites to see easily can overwhelm even the most experienced of travelers. Furthermore, the visa process to enter Russia is expensive and tedious, so many travelers opt to enter the country via port, allowing for 72 hours of visa free travel. With only 72 hours to experience a city that one could spend years exploring, it’s difficult to prioritize the hundreds of sites and thousands of pieces of art that Saint Petersburg has to offer. For this reason, I’ve compiled this guide of some of my favorite sites that you should see in Saint Petersburg, even if you don’t have a whole lot of time.

Catherine the Great’s Summer Palace

Take a day trip to Pushkin to see the magnificent summer palace. You’ll need to plan about an hour for transportation, but this is a site that you absolutely cannot miss. The summer palace and the amber room was the most sought after treasure that the Germans desired during their raid of Saint Petersburg, The palace has been refurbished since The Great Fire of 1820 and the Nazi raid of WWII. The mint and gold exterior combined with the long, airy gold-foiled halls surpass the beauty of Versailles. Read more about the summer palace here.

The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood:

Built on the site of Alexander II’s assassination, The Church of Spilled Blood is arguably the most iconic building in Saint Petersburg, and maybe even in all of Russia. The enormity and detail of the cathedral is sure to impress you. Be sure you make the time to see the interior, as it is covered with over 7,000 square meters of mosaic tile.

Saint Isaac’s Cathedral:

Built by in the early 1800’s, this gold domed cathedral has survived hundreds of years of history, including Nazi shelling. Admission to the cathedral is about 300 rubles, but the sheer image of its marble and fresco covered interior will take your breath away.

The Hermitage:

The Hermitage easily makes its way to the top of any traveler’s bucket list in Saint Petersburg. The summer palace turned museum houses over three million masterpieces, and is a must-see for all tourists- experienced or novice. Given the enormity of The Hermitage museum, I highly recommend a guided tour of the museum to ensure you see all that you hope to see. After all, if you spent one minute at every piece, it would take twelve years to see everything that this collection offers. After your visit, walk across the street for this phenomenal view on the water. Not only can you see a great view of the hermitage, but you can see the Peter and Paul Fortress as well.

Peter and Paul Fortress:

Home to the Russian History Museum, the Peter and Paul Cathedral, and the Russian treasury, the Fortress offers more than enough to keep your party occupied for at least a day. The fortress sits on the Neva River, and is a short distance from the Hermitage. If you only have time to see one site at the fortress, you must see the cathedral. It boasts a fascinating history and is linked to the Romanov family. It is also the site of the graves of nearly every ruler in Russian history.

While this is under no circumstances all that that Saint Petersburg has to offer, these highlights will certainly will give you a fulfilling and complete vacation. There is an endless amount of palaces, museums, and historical sites that you may visit on your next trip. If you’ve traveled to Saint Petersburg, what was your favorite site? Let me know in the comments.
Thanks for reading,

Danielle Guy