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    What to see in St. Petersburg, the ancient city of the tsars

    Who I am
    Pau Monfort
    @paumonfort
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    wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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    What to see in St. Petersburg: all the places not to be missed

    Hermitage

    The Hermitage is one of the largest and most beautiful museums in the world and really leaves you speechless. This magnificent museum is housed in the Winter Palace of the Tsars, and it is also possible to visit the incredible rooms and halls in which the Russian royal family lived, in the most sumptuous luxury. The only flaw is that it is visited daily by an impressive number of tourists so I recommend you go early in the morning to enjoy at least a few rooms without the delirium of organized groups. Personally, I loved the rooms on the ground floor they host very much ancient art (Egyptian, Greek and Roman). Each room is decorated differently from the others, and the set-up is perfect. On the first floor there are the royal apartments and European pictorial art up to 1700/1800 (with a quantity of Rubens, Caravaggio, Van Dyck, etc ... impressive!).



    The masterpieces of modern art (Gaugin, Picasso, Van Gogh, etc .. and even of these there are many!) have recently been transferred to the renovated General Staff building (in front, always in the square). There are far fewer tourists here and you can see everything with greater peace of mind.

    Note: buy your ticket online first! It costs twice as much, but don't queue to get in. In any case, try to go to the opening: it takes more than half a day to visit it (even running). Alternatively I recommend you do one guided tour (3h, in Spanish) with skip-the-line ticket (in a group) or insert it within a private tour of St. Petersburg.

    The Church of Spilled Blood

    From the outside it looks like the doll church. Inside there are some incredible colored mosaics. One of the most beautiful Orthodox churches I've ever seen!



    Its position on the canal then makes it even more beautiful. To take some nice pictures go there at sunset: the view from the canal will leave you breathless.

    The Peter and Paul Fortress

    It is worth taking the walk up to the fortress passing byisola Vasilyevsky. IS the oldest building in St. Petersburg and houses the cathedral where all the Russian sovereigns are buried. In addition to the fortress, on the islet that hosts it there is a garden and a small beach on the Neva river where people go to sunbathe and bathe (help, the water is brown and icy!). It is a very relaxing place.

    Among the other things to see certainly there is the Russian National Library which is one of the most important libraries in Europe; the visit to the central hall is worth it! There St. Isaac's Cathedral it is nothing special. The only reason why it is worth going there is to climb the dome and have a view of the city from above.

    Then there are different trips that can be done on the Neva River. I had made one the first time I was there and I remember it pretty. This time I didn't do it again for reasons of time. St. Petersburg is full of canals and, crossing them by boat, you can see practically all the most important monuments.

    Health Insurance is required

    In Russia our health coverage is not valid. My advice is to always take out medical-luggage insurance that can cover you during the trip. I am very happy with many insurance companies, a site that compares the policies of different companies and proposes the most convenient policy for that particular trip. To do this you will have to enter the data relating to your trip (country, duration, etc.) and they will send you an email with the best proposal that you can then buy directly online (!!!).



    When to go to St. Petersburg

    In winter it is certainly very suggestive, but it is also freezing and with snow, therefore not very practical to turn (at least for us who are not too used to walking around with -20 °). In the summer you feel great, it's hot during the day and you need a sweatshirt in the evening. If you go in the summer then the sun sets very late! You can enjoy the city in the light until almost midnight. The peak is a June during the famous white nights, but it is also good in July and August.

    How much

    Thanks to the ruble which has fallen significantly lower than the glories of the past, St. Petersburg is quite cheap. The cost of living is lower than in Spain. You sleep with 15/20 euros each (double room in the hostel) and you eat well for less than 20 euros.

    How to get a Russian visa (for St. Petersburg you can now get a free electronic visa!)

    The Russian federal government has established that from 1 October 2019 citizens of a list of 53 states, including spain, can Obtain an electronic visa for free online that allows you to stay up to 8 days in the territory of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region.
    The electronic visa is free and must be requested on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs already active for the Vladivostok and Kaliningrad regions, accessible.
    This visa allows you to enter and leave the Russian Federation through the air, naval, automobile and pedestrian border points (BUT NOT THROUGH RAILWAYS !!!) located in the territory of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region.
    It must be requested online at least 4 days in advance from the time of expected entry and will be valid for a maximum of 30 days, within which it will be possible to stay and move, but only within the indicated regions. for a maximum of 8 days in total. If you are planning to visit only St. Petersburg and its surroundings for up to 8 days this is perfect!



    If, on the other hand, you plan to reach St.Petersburg by train (perhaps from Moscow or elsewhere) or take a trip to Russia even outside the St.Petersburg region, you will have to get Russian visa. Find all the info on how to get it in this article. 

     

    How to reach it and how to get around

    From the airport there is a bus that takes 20 minutes to reach the metro. From there then in a few stops you arrive on Nievski Prospect and in the center.

    In general, be prepared to walk like a Sherpa! The metro is there but there are few stops near the main places. It is mostly on foot, but if you sleep near the Nievski / Hermitage Prospect you can do it easily.

    Where to eat in St. Petersburg

    • Biblioteka: on the Niekvski perspective. Very nice place, on 2 floors, to eat excellent hamburgers, but also salads, pasta, desserts, etc.
    • Ukrop: vegetarian restaurant in a pedestrian street that opens from Nievski Prospect. Very nice, good and cheap.
    • Gastronomic rooftop bar: room with super terrace. Great for an aperitif and enjoying the view. Trendy place with good cocktails.
    • Cafè Garcon: near the hostel. Very nice cafe / bakery to have breakfast. Super nice staff and good desserts. It has become our must.

    Where to sleep in St. Petersburg

    Baby Lemonade Hotel: Modern hotel a stone's throw from the Spilled Blood Church. Young and trendy atmosphere, a design hotel with 70s rock themed rooms.

    Friends Hostel : This chain of hostels has several in the center, and offers both dorm beds and double rooms with shared bathroom. Nothing fancy but convenient for the location. We were in the one behind the Hermitage and in 1 'on foot we arrived at the square: super convenient!

     

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