The Faberge Museum
The tour is worth the money. Go around with the guide and listen to the intimate stories of the royal family. Then go around again.
Recently the museum allows visitors to stay as long as they like so you can look as closely and for as long as you like at these intricate works of art. There’s more to see than the eggs but they are by far, the most captivating.
If you’ve exhausted yourself, the museum has a little café that’s the perfect place to stop for a delicious Napoleon.
The Hermitage museum
I would set aside at least 3-4 hours to tour this vast art collection, maybe longer if you have the stamina.
The complex is made up of a number of buildings, the glorious winter palace and the small and large hermitage. The wonders of this treasure trove are endless. My personal favourite of many, many rooms was the Pavillion complete with the golden, mechanical peacock clock.
Save time for the newly converted General Staff building on the opposite side of the square. Here you can find impressionist pieces through to post-impressionist art.
Saviour of Spilt Blood
The funny thing is that this iconic monument isn’t really a church but a memorial to the fallen tsar Alexander. The resemblance to St. Basil’s in Moscow is striking but the inside is something most unique. Visit for the selfies and the floor to ceiling mosaics.
They are awe inspiring. Sadly, as with so many of this city’s monuments, what you see is the restoration effort. This church was damaged in the war and repurposed varyingly as a potato store and morgue. It’s hard to believe and credit to the city for reclaiming their heritage.
This working cathedral looks pretty austere from the outside thanks to the dark marble but it’s worth visiting for the beauty hidden inside.
The frescos and mosaics are stunning. Stand right under the central dome and spy the silver dove above. I’m reliably informed it has an enormous, two-metre wingspan which gives you a sense of perspective.
Peter and Paul Fortress
Here you can visit the resting place of the Russian royal family including the last of their line.
It’s worth timing your visit with the midday cannon and, if you’re organised, with one of the local festivals that are hosted on the island of rabbits.
This palace was put on the map by Rasputin’s murder in the cellar. Although the family’s extensive collection has mostly been relocated to the Hermitage it is a house full of surprises including a beautiful private theatre in which acapella singers put on a show when the audience gets big enough. If you do want to descend into the infamous cellar be prepared to get chivvied along as space is very limited. Disclaimer – the wax figures are creepy as anything!
It’s hard to believe that this sprawling palace has been entirely rebuilt. It is worth the trip out of town to the Tsar’s village to get an insight into the turbulent wartime history of this city shattered by Nazi siege.
So far they’ve restored a small number of rooms along a single corridor including the famous Amber room. I would suggest saving time to wander the landscaped gardens and keeping your eye out en route for the powerful war memorials and parks.
St. Petersburg Metro
For anyone who’s seen the Moscow metro stations, these might be something of a disappointment. The stations on the red and purple lines are the more ornate, adorned with mosaics and marble. It’s still worth dipping down to make a few short journeys around town especially since it’s about 35p for a journey anywhere.
Get on a boat
The iconic waterways that interlace the city offer a different perspective on the city.
Many of the beautiful palaces can be seen from the river and it’s a laidback, lazy way to tick off some of the must dos on your tourist checklist. Perfect for a sunny day.