48 Hours in Saint Petersburg: A Local’s Guide

St.Petersburg at White Night by Olga Samoilova

Privet and welcome to my city St.Petersburg – the northern capital of Russia with over 300 hundred years of history behind it, famous for its mysterious white nights, romantic rivers and channels with hundreds of bridges, grand museums, magnificent palaces and beautiful suburbs which were once tsars residences… as well as for its fifty shades of grey due to the permanent rain 365 days a year.

It is said that St.Petersburger is born with gills (instead of lungs) and when it is raining he/she does not worry, and rather compensates for it with plenty to do to color up their day. Due to the city’s prominent history and exclusive beauty in the challenging weather conditions (not to forget that the city was built among the swamps) , the real St.Petersburger is a person holding an umbrella any season, not caring so much about the appearance, career growth and the monthly income but rather focusing on the own ‘rich inner world’. There are a lot of jokes about Moscow and St.Petersburg being complete opposites of each other but the one saying that you move to the former because of career opportunities and to the latter with the notion that love is true.

Even if you have just 48 hours it is enough to fall in love with the city.

Day 1: 09:00 – 14:00

Start your day by enjoying one of the beautiful suburbs the locals embrace. Avoid Peterhof and Pushkin full of touristic crowds, and instead, visit Alexandria.

The St.Petersburg metro – due to the city’s unique geology (swamps again!), is one of the deepest metro systems in the world and the deepest by the average depth of all the stations. Follow line 1 – the oldest among others with the typical Soviet designs and features exquisite decorations and artwork making it one of the most attractive and elegant metros in the world. Step out at “Avtovo” station but not forget to enjoy its interior praised to be a real underground palace, upstairs catch a small bus (“marshrutka”)  Т-224, Т-300, Т-424 direction Peterhof.

Alexandria Cottage palace by Olga Samoilova

The ride will take you around 30-40 minutes along the Old Peterhof way where the first country palaces of Russian tsars and the nobility were built. Alexandria was built in 1820s as a private tsar residence where several generations of Romanovs really lived during the summer until the revolution in 1917.  There is a modest but romantic palace in the neo-gothic style called Cottage built as a real country house surrounded by the garden full of flowers and a picturesque park with the trees from all over Russia on the shore of the Gulf of Finland. The palace is worth a visit as well as a walk around the park. You may explore it with the bike which may be rented at Zverinskaya street 6.

Local wedding at Alexandira park by Igor Dmitriev

Enjoy the fresh air coming to the Gulf from the Baltic Sea, picturesque surroundings, local weddings passing by.

Day 1: 14:00 – 19:00

Mansarda restaurant at White night (by Olga Samoilova)

By the time you’re hungry enough, I’d recommend to go dining at Russian Vodka Room. This restaurant offers a true Russian experience. They serve food that come straight out the Russian lands, waters and farms. They even offer home-made (non-)alcoholic beverages that the locals in the old time used to drink. Come back to the city centre, enjoy your evening cocktail or a glass of wine (you deserved it!) at Mansarda restaurant facing Isaac’s Cathedral and get prepared to watch the mysterious white nights during the periods May-August.

“..when, not letting the night’s darkness
To reach the golden heaven’s height,
The dawn after the sunset hastens –
And a half-hour’s for the night”.

Day 1: 19:00 – ???

Teplo restaurant by Olga Samoilova

But go dining to less fancy place which though has much sole and is admired by all the locals just 5 min walk – Teplo restaurant. Located in the small yard-wells dating from the end of the 19th century and nicely decorated and famous for its simple, yet delicious  home-made cuisine this place is definitely worth a visit. Do not forget to put a flag of our country on the map in the first hall inside and enjoy creative dishes and delicious pastry.

Purga Bar by Olga Samoilova

Take a walk alongside the Nevsky prospect over the bridges and across the channels to Fontanka embankment. End the night with a night out at Purga-bar. This club is famous for its crazy combination of the different music genres and daily New Year parties at 12 p.m. with Santa costumes,  Bengal lights and other local attributes as well as fake but merry Wedding Ceremonies at 2 p.m.

Day 2: 09:00 – 14:00

Fort of Kronstadt by Alexey Koropatnyuk

Start your day with the local intellectuals in one of the numerous literary café. Yes, St.Petersburgers are the real bookworms and read in average 20% more than citizens of other Russian cities. I would recommend Books and Coffee or Myzhenaty and plan your another going out of the city centre to Kronstadt.

Kronstadt is a coeval of St.Petersburg, being founded 1704 on the neighboring island as a fortress, it became for several centuries as the main base of the Russian Baltic Navy. There was a ‘closed’ area until 1996 but now there is just one of the city districts with the unique atmosphere where everybody is welcome to. Use metro line 2 to arrive to “Chernaya rechka” station and take a small bus K-405 to get there.

Take a walk along the embankment to enjoy the ships in the Gulf and the numerous guns, anchors and monuments to prominent Russian sailors. Pay a visit to Kronstadt Naval Cathedral – the main cathedral of the Russian Navy and the biggest among others in the country. It was built in the beginning of XX century in the neo-byzantic style, its golden cupola supposed to serve as a lighthouse for all the sailors. After the revolution 1917 the cathedral was transformed into the cinema by the atheistic Communist party like many other churches in Russia and only 2013 turned back into the orthodox cathedral.

Day 2: 14:00 – 19:00

But the most interesting and mysterious part of Kronstadt is 40 km chain of sea forts that crosses the Gulf of Finland.  Over 20 forts were built from the beginning of XVII century on the bulk islands and by the beginning of XIX century St.Petersburg was the most powerful and robust sea fortress in the world. It was impossible to reach the city from the sea and even the British Navy gave up an idea to attack during the Crimea war in XIX century. In the beginning of XX century when more powerful guns were invented as well as  the ships became armored, the importance of the forts was lost. Now they mainly stay devastated though some of the are used for private parties, weddings or paintball championships. There are a number of tours that start from the centre of Kronstadt several times a day but mainly require registration in advance.

Loft Project ETAGI Saint Petersburg (by tourist board)

Come back to the city centre and explore the ETAGI Loft made at the former bakery plant. Loft Project ETAGI is not only a cultural center, but a pioneer in loft design and one of the largest exhibition spaces in Saint Petersburg since 2007. The center currently consists of two modern art galleries, several exhibition areas, the Green Room café, LOCATION Hostel with 3 Design rooms and a rooftop area with a stunning view of the city at the level of 27 meters, all occupying an area of 3000 square meters. In the summer time the rooftop area is full of pillows to relax after the long day.

Contemporary expositions in Loft Project ETAGI make up a part of the diverse program, which also consists of lectures and discussions on art and design, film screenings, theatrical performances, concerts, as well as classes on curating and various workshops for children.

Day 2: 19:00 – ???

View of Savoir on the Blood Cathedral by Alexey Koropatnyuk

Enjoy the delicious dinner at another panoramic restaurant Park Giuseppe with the astonishing view over the Savoir on the Blood Cathedral and move to the Rubinstein street which is one of the best pubs scrolling streets in the city to try a glass of crafted beer at BeerGeek … do not miss your morning flight the next day because you decide to stay there.

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Last Changed Date: 2016-05-19 11:45:13 +0200 (Thu, 19 May 2016)