I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived in St. Petersburg, Russia this past July. I’ve talked about this before, but I initially had some reservations about visiting Russia and was a little nervous to go. Once I got past those initial fears, I settled in pretty quickly and realized that St. Petersburg is an absolutely gorgeous city. It’s full of history and stunning architecture, and I loved how walkable it was. I stayed in a place that was pretty central but still off the beaten path enough that I didn’t feel like I walked outside to a mob of other tourists every day. The Russians are also very friendly and I was able to meet a group of people my first few days, who welcomed me with open arms and were so eager to show me their favorite local spots. In comparison to Moscow, I would coin St. Petersburg as a very unique city, with a definite punk vibe. St. Petersburg was so big, with so much packed into every little nook, that even after two weeks I still felt like there was so much more to explore.
Restaurants & Bars :
I loved how many bars, restaurants and cafés were within walking distance, or even on my same block.
Best spot to watch the sunset! Definitely a little more expensive but the atmosphere and view is worth it. The food is great and the drinks are even better.
El Copitas Bar //
A cute little hidden restaurant that you need a reservation for. It’s in a central location but off the main road and does not have any signage outside of the door, which makes the experience that more unique. You have to ring a bell and someone will come out asking for a reservation name. It’s all very hush hush but once you get inside, it’s such a quaint little space, with only about 6 tables. The drinks and small plates were both delicious!
Kvartira Kosti Kroysta //
AMAZING for late night drinks. This place is huge and you have to have a reservation to get in. It’s another one of Russia’s hush hush bars, with a keycode entry and all. Once inside the building, you take the elevator up and have to essentially guess which door the bar is behind (the others are apartments). There are so many different rooms and big open spaces that all have a different theme. It’s definitely a cool place and this by far was the best night I had while in Russia.
There are so many cute cafés to work at and grab a cup of (STRONG) Russian coffee, along with just about every pastry you could imagine. Even the smaller cafes had an impressive amount of beautiful pastries that were almost too pretty to eat (almost).
Rubenstein Street is definitely the place to be if you’re looking for late night bars. Essentially the entire street is a line of cute, unique bars and restaurants that gets pretty hoppin’ at night. There are also so many other good places to go and have a drink, and everything is pretty much in walking distance from each other.
I typically hate the touristy stuff in any city but I loved the couple of ‘tourist’ experiences that I did in St. Petersburg.
Peterhof Palace //
This definitely falls into the ‘touristy’ bucket but it’s a must-see! Peterhof Palace is s-t-u-n-n-i-n-g. It rivals the Palace of Versailles with it’s totally over-the-top extravagant gardens, fountains, sculptures and palaces. The Grand Cascade is a beautiful collection of 64 fountains centered in the lower gardens, directly in front of the palace. After walking through the quiet gardens, there are several ice cream and snack carts to grab something to eat, and a restaurant with more substantial food and beverages. It was also super fast and easy to get to via hydrofoil.
Rooftop Tour //
I did the rooftop tour at sunset and it was one of the most amazing views I’ve ever seen. You really felt like you were a part of the city and to date, it was one of the best experiences. I’d highly recommend doing this at sunset. To see the city drenched in pink and orange, then slowly come into darkness was the perfect way to end a busy day and transition into the nightlife.