St. Petersburg Feature
- Places to Explore
- Travel Tips
- Fodor's Choice
Top Experiences in St. Petersburg
Celebrate White Nights
May and June's long daylight hours breathe festive energy into St. Petersburg after months of bitter cold. During these days, the sun sets only long enough to leave a dim glow and St. Petersburg stays up all night, too. These are the peak tourist weeks, and festivals and parties abound. A fireworks show on the last night of the White Nights festival lights up the sky.
Cruise St. Petersburg's canals
Peter the Great intended for St. Petersburg to be one of the leading cities of Europe. One of the best ways to see his Venice-like creation is via the waterways of the city's man-made canals. Most cruises pass by the city's top attractions, while giving you time to pick up on the little details of the city's grand and ornate buildings and bridges. Guided tours in English will lead you as you inch by the former residences of nobility, artists, and writers.
Soak up some sun
St. Petersburg knows how to take advantage of the generous daylight granted to it in the short summer months. Generations of expert sunbathers have perfected the art of the even tan by soaking in the sun along the sandy beach on the Neva just outside the walls of Peter and Paul Fortress. But you won't find them flipping around on beach towels. Locals will tell you that standing is the only way to get an even tan when you only have a few months of summer. And small bikinis are the norm, so don't be surprised to see grandfathers catching rays in Speedos.
Attend world-class performances at reasonable prices
For opera and ballet lovers, seeing a performance by the world-renowned Kirov Ballet and Opera companies is a must. The companies, which are called the Mariinsky companies at home in Russia, perform in the imperially grand and sparkling Mariinsky Theatre. The green and white theater, built in the mid-19th century, has been the cultural hub of Russia since tsarist times. Tickets can be bought online, usually at half the price of one of their traveling performances.
Get caught on the wrong side of the bridge
Commerce on the Neva River is a prime source of revenue for St. Petersburg. During the warmer months, from the end of April to November, the bridge's roads are closed to traffic and the drawbridges are raised to let large ships pass through, starting at around 1:30 am. Night owls and pub crawlers who miss the cutoff get stuck on the other side until the bridges are lowered and they can head home. Boat tours during the bridge openings offer a unique perspective on the process.
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