One Day in a City Itinerary: One Day in St. Petersburg
Guest Post by Kimi Sugiyama
Well, it happened again. You were on your way to your next exotic destination when you got stuck with a 24-hour layover. This time, you’re in St. Petersburg, Russia, and instead of moaning about how the airline failed you once more, you decide to make the most of it even though you haven’t a clue what there is to do or see if you have just one day in St. Petersburg.
Let me help you.
Start with breakfast at Teremok, a popular fast food chain in the city. You can select from a menu of what I like to call “breakfast crepe burritos” with your filling choice of cherries, strawberries, honey, apples & caramel (my personal favorite), or dried apricots. They cost under $5, and they’re a sweet way to start your day.
After refueling, begin your walk down Nevsky Prospekt through Vosstaniya Square where you’ll find your first photo-op with the Hero-City Obelisk located in the roundabout in the middle of the square.
Continue walking until you cross Fontanka River where you should catch the 11:00 a.m. boat tour that takes you through all of the city’s various canals as well as a condensed history lesson. It costs 600 roubles (approx. $20), it’s about an hour long, and you get an English speaking guide. Especially on a hot, summer day, it’s a great way too stay cool with the breeze coming off the water. Since you don’t have a lot of time in St. Petersburg, the boat tour is a great way to see many of the major sites without having to walk to all of them.
For a quick lunch or mid-day snack, try Woker where you can get cheap Chinese food in a box. Classy, I know. If Asian cuisine doesn’t speak to you, there are a ton of cafes on Nevsky Prospekt to choose from that have sandwiches, soups, and salads.
After lunch, pick and choose what you’d like to do:
- Go see the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood
- Take a walk through the Summer Garden to see Peter the Great’s Summer Palace. Admission is free, but there is a fee if you want an audio tour.
- Spend a couple of hours at the Hermitage. It usually takes a full day or two to see everything so prioritize what you want to see the most.
- Walk to the top of St Isaac’s Cathedral for a breathtaking view overlooking all of St. Petersburg. The entrance fee is 150 roubles, but I highly recommend it.
- Across the street from St. Isaac’s, take a stroll the courtyards of the Admiralty building
For your final meal, spare 27 roubles for a taste of the metro, and go to the Sennaya Ploschad stop on the blue line. Exit the station, turn right, turn right again on Gorohovaya Ulitsa, and on your left hand side will be a delicious vegetarian café called Rada and K. Everything they serve is fresh and delicious so you really can’t go wrong. The rice, mixed vegetables, and strawberry smoothie made a fine meal choice.
You didn’t think you were done, did you? Oh no, after dinner, it’s imperative that you go see Swan Lake at Alexandrisky Theatre. You can’t come to Russia and not see the ballet. Tickets are reasonably priced, and there isn’t a bad seat in the house. In addition to the dancer’s talent and flexibility, even the theater is something to marvel at. Break out your fancy shoes and suit or dress you’ve been saving for a special occasion and get ready to watch some of the best ballet in the world.
When the ballet ends at 10:30 p.m., continue your evening with mingling amongst the locals at any of the jazz clubs in town. It’s a great opportunity since you’re already dressed up from the ballet. Remember, in Russia, if you’re offered vodka or any drink for that matter, it’s impolite to turn it down.
Finish off your jam packed day walking along Neva River, watching a series of bridges go up to let through navigation traffic starting with Dvortsovy around 1:30 a.m. and ending with Finlandsky around 2:30 a.m., continuing to 5:00 a.m. See here for a complete listing of bridges and what time they rise. By mid-morning, it’ll be time for you to head back to the airport, but before you do – pick up a Maxibon ice cream sandwich at one of the many concession stands on the streets (60 roubles).
If you thought you were going to get some sleep during your day in “St. Pete”, sorry, but at least now you’ll be able to sleep on the plane.
St. Petersburg, like many European cities, is hard to conquer in one day, but if you stick to this itinerary or something very similar, you’ll get the gist of it. Perhaps the next time you visit, you’ll be able to dig a little deeper into what makes this city so special.
St. Petersburg Quick Tips
Language: Russian (Cyrillic) although English is fairly prevalent
Transportation in the City: The metro which has 5 different colored lines that extend into different parts of the city. 27 roubles (as of August 2012) for one ride.
About Kimi Sugiyama: A girl with one foot in multiple worlds. Kimi is a Detroit native that has been traveling the world since June 2012 looking for big adventures on a small budget. After quitting her job, she is now the chief comfort zone demolisher at Wandering Souldier and working her way towards entrepreneurship and a location independent lifestyle. Follow her journey at WanderingSouldier.com, Facebook, and Twitter.
Hi Paridhi, I’m not sure, but your cruise line should know. Some even offer theater excursions in St. Petersburg.
Paridhi Saraf says
Hey . This sounds great .
but sadly I dont have so much time in the city My cruise leaves at 19:00 . Do you know if its possible to catch a ballet / theater performance during the day ?
I would really like to watch one . (even If I have to compromise a little on the quality of performance )
I may have an opportunity to visit for a day while staying in Helsinki. I’m a little nervous about the language barrier. How prevalent is English?
I live in St. Petersburg, and in my opinion it sucks. Boring, depressing city where everything stinks, people dress like shit and you don’t see sun for 10 months.
This would be such a fascinating city to explore. The barriers to entry in Russia always seem daunting (visas, invitations, sending in your passport) but I’m sure it’s rewarding.
Johanna Bradley says
Now there’s a dream come true! Just happened to be passing St Pete’s. I think you could leave me there and pick me up again on your way home. Water, palaces- what more do I need?
Kimi Sugiyama says
Food in Russia, St. Petersburg in particular, was a lot cheaper than I was led to believe and delicious too. They claim not to have any “specialties” but eat a lot of basic foods.
Kimi Sugiyama says
Thanks, guys. Glad you liked it!
Russian fast food sounds pretty awesome. Kimi definitely made me hungry with this article. 🙂
Great tip for literary fans, Margaret! Thanks 🙂
St. Petersburg is one of my favorite cities. I love seeing photos of it! If you’re into Russian lit., the city also has a bunch of great literary sites.
Pola (@jettingaround) says
It’s been probably 10 years since I visited St. Petersburg. I’m sure a lot has changed since then, but I do remember beautiful architecture along the river and Russian fast food located in one of those grand buildings. I think I ate something similar to what you had. That photo of the church is beautiful.
Thanks! Kimi did a great job detailing the things you can’t miss if you’re short on time there. Hope you’re able to visit St. Petersburg one day. 🙂
I think it holds intrigue for a lot of people for those reasons – hope you get there soon!
Hope you make it there someday!
Russia has always intrigued me… it’s so big and at least to the western world, it was, well, the bad guy for so many years. I would love to check it out one day.. might have to use some of these ideas too!
Nicholle Olores says
I really wanted to personally visit Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood and see it’s beautiful structures!
Very good article and photographs Gina. I have never visited Russia and it looks like now it will have to wait till after I’m back from New Zealand, but your article here has me VERY tempted indeedy! Keep up the good work!!