Saint Petersburg in Russia attracts several thousand tourists each year, solo travellers being a significant number of them. And why not? Since it is a fast-growing tourist hub, well known for being a cultural and historic centre that retains the charm of Eastern Europe while giving off distinctly Western European vibes. If this interesting mix of Eastern and western charm has got you interested, you might wish to explore Saint Petersburg as a solo traveller.
3 Must-See Attractions in Saint PetersburgThere are several interesting museums, extravagant palaces, historic cathedrals, and beautiful parks and botanical gardens scattered throughout the city of St. Petersberg. Here are three of the top Saint Petersburg attractions that you just cannot afford to miss.
Palace SquareSimilar to the majestic beauty of the famous Red Square in Moscow, the Palace Square in Saint Petersburg stands in a proud display of unadulterated Russian architecture. At the centre of the square is the ‘Alexander Column’, a feature that commemorates Russia’s war victory over France. History testifies to several bloody episodes that played out at this square, including what is known as the Bloody Sunday Massacre of 1905 where the imperial guards open fired on thousands of demonstrators. Today, the square plays host to festivals, parades, cultural events and social gatherings.
The State Hermitage MuseumTo many, all of Saint Petersburg city is one big open-air museum, but be that as it may, the Elizabethan Baroque style of architecture at the State Hermitage Indoor Museum literally wows you off your feet. Just a 3-minute walk from the Palace Square gets you here. The museum houses the largest collection of paintings in the world, not to mention several interesting historical and cultural artefacts. The famous Winter Palace, once the imperial residence of the tzars, is also within the main museum complex. Here’s a travel tip you never expected. Do not buy your tickets online, buy them physically at the entrance booth and you’ll get them much cheaper. Now isn’t that contrary to all the travel trends worldwide!
Peter & Paul FortressThe Peter and Paul Fortress, located on Hare’s Island, is also known as the ‘museum of history of Saint Petersburg city’. The fortress, which once served as the burial site of the royal family, was also the birthplace of Saint Petersburg, after whom the city has been named. The original citadel, which can be seen in the picture above, was founded by Peter the Great in the year 1703. The fortress has also served the purpose of a prison during the 1920s, under the rule of the Bolshevik Government. The easiest way to get to the Peter and Paul fortress is to take the metro and disembark at the Gorkovskaya metro station. It is just a 5 to 7-minute walk to here from there.
3 Recommendations for Solo TravellersThere are just so many things for solo travellers to do here in Saint Petersburg that it is hard to pick just three recommendations. Still, if you were to ask any local, these are the three that would make it on all lists.
Take A Walking Tour Along The Neva RiverThe iconic Neva River, that has a 74km run along the city of Saint Petersburg is as much a part of its layout, as it is a part of its culture. For solo travellers, it is almost criminal to not walk along the river’s magical embankments, preferably around sunset. As the nearby historical buildings and the river’s famous draw bridges light up in the dark, the city itself goes through a magical transformation that translates well on a camera. There are several companies that run river cruises up and down the Neva river and these are fun too, especially if you are looking to photograph the beautiful city from out on the water.
Travel the City Like a LocalThe best part about travelling solo is not having to worry about toting kids around, so why not make the best use of this freedom and travel through Saint Petersburg like a local. Saint Petersburg has a great public transport system, which includes inexpensive metros, trams and buses. When you use a metro, you not just save yourself some money, but you also get to see beautiful stations such as the Avtovo station as seen in the picture above. You can also book private taxis here, though they are expensive and should ideally to be pre-booked.
Try Local Russian FoodAs a local traveller, you should try local, Russian food, best available at some street joints in Saint Petersburg. You will find eateries, bakeries and summer terraces dotted along all the main streets here. From pies to traditional dumplings, Russian food offers great variety. Stolle’s pies come highly recommended in both sweet and savoury varieties. International food is easily available here if the local food is not to your taste. You can even find a Subway or a McDonalds for that matter.
3 Important Tips for Travellers to Saint Petersburg
- Saint Petersburg visas involve a lot of paperwork. It is best to get a tourist agency to do it for you. You avoid the complicated procedures as well as valuable time when you avoid going back and forth with the visa-issuing authorities.
- Saint Petersburg is well known for random spot checks of tourists on the street. Please carry identification, preferably your passport, as you’re out sightseeing.
- As is the case with most cities nowadays, avoid wandering off into dark alleys and empty streets. Always stay alert and vigilant even though Saint Petersburg is not known to be high on vicious crime.