• Yu "Fish" Cui

St. Petersburg Travel Guide

Updated: Mar 7, 2019

​St. Petersburg was our first stop in Russia. As soon as we got outside, I was wrapped by the cold wind. It was July already, and yet the temperature felt like New York's March. St. Petersburg is a gorgeous city! All the historical buildings from the czar period are more than exquisite. I wish the weather was nicer, but now I have a perfect excuse to go back and visit St. Petersburg again because I fell in love with this city so quickly.


If you are a first-timer in St. Petersburg, here are some places you can't miss!


Winter Palace

The Winter Palace is definitely the most impressive place in St. Petersburg. The Louvre used to be the best museum in my heart, but now it's difficult to say which one is the best. From the overall decoration of each room to little details on the frames, every corner in Winter Palace is sophisticated. The building itself is a masterpiece, not to mention all the art pieces that carry on the history of human society. The area around The Winter Palace is a beautiful combination of Venice, Vatican City, and Paris. It's romantic and luxurious. I'm also a fan of the mint blue-green color of Winter Palace. The color makes this building so unique. Russia is a giant color palette. The architecture has novel and bold color combinations.






Summer Palace (Peterhof Palace)

You may have the same question as me when you first heard the name, "What is the connection between the Winter Palace and the Summer Palace". Well, first, the Winter Palace is a museum while the Summer Palace is not. It was the palace of Peter the Great. I also love how their colors sort of differentiate their names as well, one mint green for the winter and one light yellow for the summer. The golden decorations in the palace certainly add a bit of summery glow to this place. Even though the wind is chilly, taking a slow walk in the garden was a relaxing moment.





Catherine Palace

This palace holds a special place in my heart because it is so uniquely beautiful, elegant and glamorous. When I was young, I always dreamed of it to be the perfect palace for a princess. It is just as spectacular as what I saw in pictures. I was fascinated by how Russian architects combined such bright, vibrant colors together and used them fearlessly. Instead of visiting the inside of the palace, we chose to spend our time in the garden. The garden is huge and elegant. It was a perfect time to get close to nature while enjoying the stunning architecture.




Kazan Cathedral

St. Petersburg truly has magnificent architecture everywhere. Kazan Cathedral was what I visited on the first day and I was stunned by how grand and magnificent it is, so beautiful in its classical style. This church has been in the center of worship for two centuries, and yet it is still a working church for services, a monument that reflects this city's history and culture.


Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood

Kazan Cathedral and Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood are close to each other. They both represent St. Petersburg's grand architecture in completely different ways. I've seen pictures of Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood so many times before, but it is a lot more impressive to see in person. It is so colorful and fun, with all the iconic onion domes of Russian Orthodox churches and extremely delicate details. I wish I could fly up and take a close look at all the small details.


Saint Issac's Cathedral

It is almost impossible to miss this spectacular church at the heart of St. Petersburg. This beautiful cathedral is now a museum instead of a working church. But from the outside to the interior that is as stunning, it is not hard to see its importance. This golden dome is absolutely gorgeous. I was very impressed by how well it was maintained.


Smolny Cathedral

Just when I thought I have seen all the colors on the palette from this city's architecture, St. Petersburg surprised me again. I would absolutely vote Smolny Cathedral for the most beautiful building in this city. The design and color are unique and unforgettable. This place was originally a convent, now an Orthodox church partially opened to the public. I remember looking at the picture of this place in my very first travel book and impressed by its colors. Seeing it in person felt like a dream come true.





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