St. Petersburg isn’t always freezing like lots of people might imagine whenever they hear the word “Russia” mentioned. They do have sunny warm days that lure everyone into spending more time outdoors instead of hiding under their cozy blankets. I have visited this town more than 4 times, all of them on gloomy windy chilly March, September, October, or December days. So, the decision I made after that was just, «Okay, that will be my last. I won’t go to St. Petersburg anymore and I really don’t understand why people keep telling me that it is beautiful.”
But, it seems I always forget the things I said and keep going there no matter how annoying the rainy days are. Then, still, I wasn’t able to comprehend which aspects make this town beautiful.
Looong after that, around 4 months after my last visit, I again forgot my promise to not return and even decided to spend another 3 days in St. Petersburg before continuing on our journey to Pskov and then to Estonia.
In contrast to previous visits, this time has successfully opened my eyes and I am truly enchanted.
My short and simple itinerary for one day in a slacker’s life
Despite how many times we’ve visited, we still feel that we don’t know much about this town. There are millions of things waiting to be explored. As someone said, you will never be bored in St. Petersburg in particular or in Russia in general, if I can speak my mind.
Although we can be categorized as overactive tourists who can’t stay still without walking around the town we visit, this time we made a very hard decision: to slow down a bit and take an unplanned route – in other words, do whatever we please. Therefore, I randomly chose what we would do there. But, I had a plan. A plan that consisted of river cruise along the canals in St. Petersburg, taking a fly visit to the Russian State Museum, and attending an evening tour in Yusupov Place. And, if possible, watching some bridges in operation at midnight.
Best Time: around 10 am-12 pm or whenever you think it is not too hot under the sun.
It sounds so touristy, even for myself when that idea suddenly passed through my mind. I couldn’t imagine myself being one of the enthusiastic tourists on the boat, wondering about how mighty the architecture in St. Petersburg is. But, that really happened, and I can say that I didn’t regret it at all.
On one of the very rare cloudless days, we took a river cruise tour not so far from The Yusupov Palace. About the tour: you can find them in almost every corner of the town along the canals. So, you are not required to book in advance. Just take it when you think you are in the mood and the weather is supportive enough. During the autumn or spring, when the rivers are not freezing yet, they still operate and gladly provide you with a blanket to protect yourself from the brutal wind of St. Petersburg. The route varies from one tour provider to another – some offer a short route, while some offer a long route until the Gulf of Finland. We took a medium route, but still, it went through the most famous canals in St. Petersburg, such as Griboedov Canal, Kryukov Canal, the Winter Canal, and, last but not least, the Neva River. If you don’t speak Russian, you need to choose a tour provider that provides an audio guide in English as they will explain all the buildings, all the places you will pass along the journey, which would be a shame to miss.
The Russian State Museum
Approximate amount of time to spend: 2-3 hours
The Russian State Museum is one of the must visited museums in St. Petersburg. Compared to the Hermitage, this museum is undoubtedly more modest and, to be frank, less popular among tourists, even though you will see dozens of tourist buses in its parking lot. That is good because it means you won’t be in an exhibition room crammed with people struggling to take selfies with some painting in the background, like you will usually find in the Hermitage. Here, you can serenely enjoy the exposition and roam around its chambers. The main attraction here for me was not only the paintings, but also the mesmerizing ceilings in almost all the chambers. So, don’t forget to turn your head up as you enter it.
Some artists whose masterpieces you can enjoy here: Ivan Shishkin, Ivan Aivazovsky, Ilya Repin, Valentin Serov, Simon Ushakov, and Kazimir Malevich (I skipped the last one).
Evening Tour about Rasputin in Yusupov Palace
Start of the tour: 5 pm. It is only open on some days.
In my previous post about this palace, I told you that I was very interested in visiting their basement where the murder of Rasputin took place. To do that, you need a special ticket for a very brief tour. The ticket can be obtained at the ticket booth, on the other side of palace (backside), that is located in Moika 94.
At the beginning of the tour, you are required to watch a short movie about Rasputin, who he was, what kind of influence he had on the members of the dynasty, and why Felix Yusupov, whose diary became the main source for the video, decided to end Rasputin’s career and, of course, life. Don’t picture a big screen. Instead of that, you will find a “modest” television in the middle of a majestic marble chamber.
If you don’t speak Russian, don’t panic, they have subtitles, though you can hardly read them from afar …again, don’t worry, they will give you some kind of a pamphlet on the historical background before you start the tour.