Winter in Saint Petersburg: Your Weekend Guide

Our relationship with Russia has never been simple. Especially with Saint Petersburg. When I (Valeriia) was a teenager, I spent a year living in Russian city of culture. As you may understand, being a 13 y.o. uprooted from your environment in Kyiv and brought to a place, which was politically and historically unpleasant to you, let alone difficult climate – nothing could really create a terrible love to Saint Petersburg, no matter what advantages it might have.

Being back there as a tourist and adult is a completely different thing. Still, no love from the second glance happened, so excuse us please if there won’t be any long admirations of the good old Pete. Let’s go for a walk then!

Why Saint Petersburg is better in winter?

 Authentic weather

Normally, tourists come to Petersburg in summer to see the white nights and to contemplate the bridges opening over Neva. But we are not simple tourists, are we? We want to experience Petersburg as it usually is, which means – with pouring rain, disgusting humidity and grey sky due to the pollution. Don’t think I’m joking, because I’m not. People spread legends about English weather or Paris rain, so time to make it clear – if you visited Petersburg and the weather was good, consider that you haven’t visited it.

Less tourists

Off-tourist season – what can be better? Cheaper hotels, less queues, less traffic. And so on and so forth.

Theatre season

Petersburg is not called “Culture Capital” for nothing. But majority of theaters that attract audience of all age are normally closed in summer. Do you want to enjoy the ballet as if you are a character of Anna Karenina? Please, do go to the theater in winter.

So if you have a weekend in Saint-Petersburg, here is what you can do.

Day 1

Start with Nevskiy Prospekt. Just stroll along this large avenue gazing in the shops windows. And mind, that all Russian best authors had had their walk here long time ago.Saint Petersburg, Russia
Saint Petersburg, Russia

Pass near Gostiniy Dvor – a complex of various commercial spots. They have greatly changed since the 18th century, like everywhere else.

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Visit Dom Knigi – “House of Book”. Not only is it a breathtaking place full of books, but there is also a cute cosy café – Zinger with a beautiful view on Kazan Cathedral. Don’t forget to buy your souvenirs.

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Saint Petersburg, Russia  Saint Petersburg, Russia

And Kazan Cathedral itself…Saint Petersburg, Russia

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Saint Petersburg, RussiaGo up to the dome of Saint Isaac’s Cathedral for a gorgeous view of Petersburg roofs.

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Saint Petersburg, Russia
Want to see more snow? Walk a bit further to Yusupov Palace – at least in its garden the snow can be…white.

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Come back to Nevskiy Prospekt walking along the canals. Depending on the day, it might be even frozen! … or not.

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Saint Petersburg, Russia
Time to pass by the Hermitage. Don’t get us wrong, it is absolutely worth visiting, but just like Louvre in Paris, it deserves days, weeks, years for thorough exploration. If you just want to make a tick on your list – go ahead. If your life equals art – spend there a day. By the way, the price if you are citizen of RF is lower, consider obtaining a Russian passport before visiting SPb. Joking.

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Saint Petersburg, Russia

By the way, don’t forget the winter trick – it gets dark really early. So if you want to take the most of your day, at 09.00 be already exploring the city. So if you have any more time left – go straight to the Church of the Savior on Blood. Beautiful name, beautiful place.

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Where to spend the evening?

We are not the experts of nightlife, but don’t miss your chance to go the Mariinsky Theatre (and don’t forget to book the ticket in advance!), or check out the local cinema. Or come back to Dom Knigi and spend the rest of your life book-shopping.

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Day 2

What about a walk to the other side? Gorgeous Neva, gorgeous quays. Peter and Paul fortress. If you have enough of inspiration – walk till the Kreyser Avrora. Unfortunately, we were unlucky to be there while this symbol of October Revolution had been away for reparation. Those who are keen on Russian long and fascinating history, know, that at the day of revolution, a shot from Avrora served as a signal to attack the Winter Palace. Those who are not keen on history – watch Disney cartoon Anastasia (which has nothing in common with the real history lol).

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Peterhof

Then take metro and go straight to the station Avtovo. (You have surely noticed how magnificent Russian underground is!) and take a bus 424 to Peterhof – “Peter’s court”. It’s a huge complex of gardens and palaces of the beginning of the XVIII century, one of loads that used to belong to Tsars. Peterhof is loved and cherished, but those, who visited Versailles, can’t be really amazed. On the territory are located 150 fountains and several cascades, but in winter… they don’t really work. Still, the absence of the tourists is guaranteed, and what is even more surprising – the moment you get out of Petersburg, the sky… becomes blue again!

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Where to eat?

You might be coming for red or black caviar, salmon or whatever else, but if you want a tasty, cheap (relatively) and “local” thing – check out Teremok. It’s a pancake house, where they are absolutely delicious. It’s local “fast-food”, so you can’t miss it.

Or… Sushi. In Eastern Europe we are crazy about sushi, so enjoying Japanese cuisine is also kinda authentic. :)

Saint Petersburg, Russia

What else to know?

Learn to read the Cyrillic alphabet. Don’t bother to learn “basic survival phrases”, because “Hello” is understood by everyone. However, it would be much more helpful to be able to read the signs. Thus, you may read «Ресторан» as restaurant. And not what you’ve just read in your head. :)

Bring an umbrella. Even if nothing seems to go wrong, you won’t regret when sudden rain with hail starts falling directly in the eyes.

Get a Russian-speaking CouchSurfing buddy. Petersburg has a large community of lovely people who will show you around and gladly help to avoid the tricks played on foreigners. No joking, once I witnessed an ice-cream sold to a foreigner more expensive than its actual price.

Check out: What is CouchSurfing? Warm Showers? AirBnB?

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Don’t be shocked by the possible “rudeness” of the population. The Slavic (and as one of them I can swear about the truth and justice of what I am going to say) don’t share the same “hypocrite politeness” of the Occidental world. We don’t smile with a fake smile and, to be honest, we even don’t always bother to be friendly. It LOOKS like this. In fact, we have nothing against anyone and even behind sharp (sometimes, sadly, impolite) behavior we are as willing to help as everywhere else.

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Winter Weekend in Saint Petersburg  Winter Weekend in Saint Petersburg

2017-05-13T13:03:47+00:00 November 15th, 2016|