The Saviour on Spilled Blood, © Can Stock / sborisov
Cruise Ship Visa-Free Option
Cruise ship passengers who visit St Petersburg should always choose the visa-free option. Everyone else who visits Russia must obtain a visa, which is complicated and expensive too. Cruise ships shore excursions qualify for visa-free tours, but independent tours can also offer an excellent Visa-Free 2 day Tour of St Petersburg.
Winter Palace, © Can Stock / Artzzz
Visit St Petersburg – Hermitage
When you visit St Petersburg, make your own Old Town St Petersburg Walking Tour, but remember you will need a visa to visit Russia on your own. Cruise ship passengers can purchase Visa Free tours, but the tour operator actually obtains a visa and assumes responsibility for your visit. Start at the Winter Palace, which is part of the State Hermitage Museum. The Hermitage Museum is one of the largest and oldest museums in the world. Buildings include the Catherine the Great founded the State Hermitage Museum in 1764. The museum sections open to the public are the Winter Palace, Small Hermitage, Old Hermitage, New Hermitage and Menshikov Palace. The Hermitage Theater is a great place to take in the famous Swan Lake Ballet. The Winter Palace is closed Mondays, so plan accordingly. Don’t miss the Jordan Staircase in the Winter Palace.
The Palace Bridge is on the Neva River at the Winter Garden. The Palace Square, with the Alexander Column at its center, is on the opposite side of the State Hermitage Museum from the Neva River.
St Isaac’s Cathedral, © Can Stock / Paha_L
St Isaac’s Cathedral
After visiting the Winter Palace, walk to the Admiralty, which is the former naval headquarters. On the grounds along the Neva River you will find the Peter the Great Bronze Horseman statue. Then wander through the gardens of the Admiralty to St Isaac’s Cathedral. The cathedral dominates the skyline of Old Town St Petersburg. You can pay extra to climb the stairs to the cupola for views of the city. From St Isaac’s Cathedral, pass through St Isaac’s Square and see the Monument to Nicholas I. Then cross the Blue Bridge over the Moyka River to see the Mariinsky Palace. The Blue Bridge is so wide and low that you likely won’t even notice that it’s a bridge.
To the west of Mariinsky Palace you will find the Yusupov Palace, the Mariinsky Theater and then south to St Nicholas Naval Cathedral and the blue domes of Trinity Cathedral. Heading east instead of west will quickly lead you to the Nevsky Prospect, which is a very popular area.
Kazan Cathedral, © Can Stock / garmashovsa
Visit St Petersburg – Nevsky Prospect
From the Mariinsky Palace follow the Moyka River to the pink Stroganov Palace and the beginning of the Nevsky Prospect. The name Stroganov Palace is related to beef Stroganoff, because the dish was invented by one of the cooks at the palace in the 1700s.
The Nevsky Prospect (Prospekt) is the best known street in St Petersburg. Along the street you will find Kazan Cathedral. Across the street from the cathedral is the Singer House with its distinctive art nouveau architecture. Finish off your visit to the Nevsky Prospect at the Elyseyev Emporium, which is a shopping center and a great place to grab a bite to eat on your St Petersburg walking tour. Then head to the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, also called the Church on Blood. The church was built over the spot where Emperor Alexander II was assassinated at this spot in March 1881.
Cabin of Peter the Great, © Can Stock / Eillen1981
Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood
For the last part of your St Petersburg Walking Tour, visit the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood, the Russian Museum and St Michael’s Castle which all surround the Mikhailovsky Garden. The Church of Our Saviour on Spilled Blood is one of the highlights when you visit St Petersburg. The church was built in memory of Tsar Alexander II, who was assassinated at this location. The Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood is closed on Wednesdays.
Russian Museum, © Can Stock / SimFan
Visit St Petersburg – Russian Museum
The Russian Museum faces Arts Square, while the Mikhailovsky Garden is behind the Russian Museum. Arts Square gets its name from the large number of museums, theaters and concert halls that share this area with the Russian Museum. The Russian Museum includes nearby St Michael’s Castle, which was the residence of Emperor Paul I in the late 1700s.
Alexander Column, © Can Stock / Ursula1964
Visit St Petersburg – Summer Garden
Extend your St Petersburg walking tour from the Russian Museum by strolling through the Field of Mars and Peter the Great’s Summer Garden. From the Summer Garden you can see the Peter & Paul Fortress and the Cabin of Peter the Great on the opposite bank of the Neva River.
During the summer months, the glow of sunlight lingers after sunset all night long and many late night events are scheduled. This period is called the White Nights Festival of St Petersburg. Boat tours run at midnight and it’s common for people to stroll the canals until late into the night. Lighted draw bridges are raised at midnight, which tourists love, but locals don’t appreciate.