A short trip to St. Petersburg is a great option for rebooting and relaxing. A multifaceted city can offer a lot to a guest who is eager for impressions. If you don’t have time for travel guides, here are the TOP 5 ideas for a two-day autumn city break in St. Petersburg.
WALKING AROUND THE CITY, BY METRO AND TRAM
The best way to experience St. Petersburg is a leisurely walk. The most popular walking route runs through the city center. But if you move away from the usual classics, you can see the St. Petersburg beauty in hidden details.
What about the stained glass windows on the Petrogradskaya side and Vasilyevsky Island? Stained glass windows were an indispensable element of decoration in the architecture of Russian modernity. It is worth a walk to Vasilyevsky Island for the sake of the narrowest street in the city – Repin Street: its width varies from 5.5 to 6.2 m. The most attentive will be able to see walled-up carriage entrances on the walls of ancient houses.
Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood. Saint-Petersburg. Photo: www.visit-petersburg.ru St. Petersburg is rarely associated with mosaic art, but mosaics here decorate both historical buildings – for example, the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood – and modern objects.
Go down to the St. Petersburg metro: more than 20 of its stations are decorated with mosaics.
Perhaps the brightest of them is at Mayakovskaya. Thanks to the maroon smalt, this station cannot be confused with any other. And the largest mosaic of the St. Petersburg metro is located on Zvenigorodskaya: the walls of its lobby are decorated with a panel “Poltava Battle” (3.5 by 21 meters) made of smalt, and on the end wall of the underground hall there is a panel “Semenovsky Regiment” (6 by 5.5 meters). The theme is not accidental — the barracks of the Semenovsky regiment used to be located above the station.
Tram in St. Petersburg is a romance, especially in autumn. Photo: www.visit-petersburg.ru
It is worth taking a tram ride around St. Petersburg. There are tram routes that are not inferior to sightseeing in terms of the number of attractions. For example, route No. 3, which starts from the Finlandsky railway station. Tram No. 3 goes past the Peter and Paul Fortress, crosses the Trinity Bridge, then passes the Summer Garden, Nevsky Prospekt and many other historical buildings and iconic places.
BEYOND THE ST. PETERSBURG ATMOSPHERE – INTO THE BOOK SPACES
Another easy way to enjoy the special St. Petersburg atmosphere during a citybreak is to go to a bookstore. You can start with the legendary “Subscription Publications”, a favorite place of the city’s intellectuals.
The famous Subscription Publications store in St. Petersburg. Photo: ATOR
These are not just bookstores, but real book spaces: here you can have a cup of coffee while flipping through a new book, chat with friends, and of course, learn about the latest book novelties.
It is no less atmospheric in the famous House of Books (Singer’s House) on Nevsky Prospekt. The legendary bookstore opened back in 1919 and continued to operate even during the blockade.
Singer’s House. Saint-Petersburg. Photo: www.visit-petersburg.ru
A new stage of history began for him at the end of 2022, when the store opened its doors to guests again after restoration: Venetian plaster, floors, ceiling lights were restored here, and the illumination of historical stained glass windows was updated. There are reading and relaxation areas on each floor. There is a separate space with a playground for children.
This is a truly St. Petersburg bookstore with a variety of books, souvenirs with the symbols of the city, open lectures and events. Relaxing in a local cafe, which offers panoramic views of Nevsky Prospekt and Kazan Cathedral, will add to the St. Petersburg mood.
VIEW THE CITY FROM A HEIGHT
How do I get a true picture of a place? Try to change your point of view. Literally! Look at the beautiful city from above. The easiest way to do this is from the colonnade of St. Isaac’s Cathedral.
Isaac is the architectural dominant of the center St. Petersburg. The views from the colonnade of the cathedral are stunning. Photo: www.visit-petersburg.ru To get there, you will have to climb more than 200 steps, but the combination of impressive architecture and spectacular views is worth it. Take pictures of iconic places for the city: Vasilievsky Island and the Neva River in the north, the blue dome of the Trinity Cathedral in the south, quiet Kolomna and port cranes in the west and the Savior on Blood in the east.
Another great option for an observation deck right in the city center is the tower of the former City Duma next to the Gostiny Dvor, which offers a fantastic prospect of Nevsky Prospekt.
View from the tower of the City Duma of St. Petersburg. Photo: ATOR
You can even arrange a mini-quest: see and accurately identify Kazan, St. Isaac’s, Peter and Paul, Trinity Cathedrals and other attractions from there. The easiest way will be with the Lakhta Center: this modern symbol of St. Petersburg is visible even in rainy weather.
You can also admire the city center from the observation deck of the Vladimir Cathedral. Its bell tower is one of the tallest in the city – 41 meters. From it you can see the domes of the Smolny Cathedral and the Savior on Spilled Blood, the spires of the Admiralty, the Peter and Paul Fortress and Mikhailovsky Castle, the dome of the Singer House and the Duma Tower, the prospect of Vasilievsky Island.
ST. PETERSBURG CUISINE AS A REASON TO RETURN
Gastronomic experiences are one of the best souvenirs that you can bring with you from a trip. Many cities have their own culinary traditions and secrets. The northern capital is no exception in this regard. Therefore, be sure to try local specialties – dishes of “St. Petersburg cuisine”.
Sterlet is often served with porcini mushrooms, capers and crayfish sauce. Palkin Restaurant. Photo: ATOR
The St. Petersburg Cuisine project unites dozens of restaurants that prepare dishes according to traditional St. Petersburg recipes. You can find them on the official city tourism portal Visit Petersburg and come to these gastronomic establishments for breakfast, lunch or dinner, too.
Of course, it is unlikely that you will be able to try all the St. Petersburg specialties in two days in St. Petersburg, and this is an excellent reason to return to the gastronomic capital more than once. Moreover, in a company – with family, friends or colleagues, to an intensive, theater or business event. Otherwise, how can we compare and discuss with whom all the subtleties of soups, salads, and even more famous St. Petersburg desserts?
“ISLAND OF FORTS” IS AN IDEAL ROUTE FOR A CITYBREAK
In August 2020, the Island of Forts, a museum and historical park dedicated to the Russian Navy, opened in Kronstadt. Every year, the project acquires new facilities and activities.
Island of Forts in Kronstadt. Photo by ATOR
At the end of July, on Navy Day, the Museum of Naval Glory was opened here, the central exhibit of which was the legendary first Soviet nuclear submarine K-3 Leninsky Komsomol. This is the world’s only museumized hundred-meter underwater nuclear-powered vessel, placed for public viewing on land in an indoor area.
Submarine K3 in the museum. Photo: St. Petersburg Tourism Development Committee
In total, the Museum of Naval Glory has 24 thematic halls dedicated to various pages of the history of the Russian navy and maritime affairs. The exposition is addressed to a wide audience, so there are many interactive exhibits and other entertaining items that can be “tested” on their own, so it will be interesting for sure.
“Island of Forts” is an ideal route for a citibreak in St. Petersburg. In the morning you can walk around the city center, and in the afternoon you can go to Kronstadt. The journey will take less than an hour. Are you surprised? It’s simple: Meteors run from the city center to Kronstadt.
If you are lucky with the weather, you can get on the SUP board in the “Island of Forts” (there is a SUP station in the park) and meet a stunning sunset overlooking the Gulf of Finland.