Although it has been replaced by Moscow as the country’s capital city, St. Petersburg remains the cultural capital of Russia. From gilded palaces to an ornate onion-domed cathedral, there is so much to see and do in this beautiful city on the Baltic Sea. Come explore it with my favorite fashionista, Lindsey Puls, from Have Clothes, Will Travel.
With seven continents, nearly 200 countries, and more than 7.5 billion people in the world, there is a lot to experience. The world is so vast and amazing that even the most avid traveler with a large bank account couldn’t truly do it justice in one lifetime!
Through the Everyday Postcard series, one of the world’s everyday wanderers shares postcard-worthy photos and real-life travel experiences to bring a piece of the big wide world to you.
After gliding into town on the Sapsan Bullet train from Moscow, Lindsey took a break from her favorite sights in St. Petersburg to enjoy a plate of dolma and dash off this postcard:
St. Petersburg is simply stunning. With its rich history, myriad of canals, opulent palaces and delectable restaurants – it’s a destination I can’t believe wasn’t on my travel list sooner.
I don’t believe I’ve ever seen so much gold in my entire life. The summer palace to the tsars, Catherine Palace, is covered in 200 pounds of gold alone! Isn’t that crazy? And that’s just one of the grand palaces you can tour here…
All the best,
Meet Lindsey Puls
Lindsey is the owner of the travel/style blog, Have Clothes, Will Travel. She is originally from a small town in Wisconsin and has lived on 5 continents and counting. Lindsey loves styling unique outfits and sharing her adventures and travel tips with others.
In addition to her blog, be sure to follow Lindsey’s adventures via social media:
For those of us who haven't visited yet, give us an overview of St. Petersburg.
Located on the Baltic Sea, St. Petersburg is the former capital of Russia and the second largest city after Moscow.
How did you decide to visit St. Petersburg?
I had been living in Moscow, Russia, for a little over a year. St. Petersburg was just a train ride away on the weekends. I was fortunate to have visited it several times.
What's the best way to get to St. Petersburg from Moscow?
I always took the train from Moscow. The Sapsan bullet train is a really lovely and fast way to travel to St. Petersburg from Moscow.
How did you typically travel around St. Petersburg?
Within the city, I would walk as much as possible. It’s such a gorgeous city! I would also use the Gett Taxi app for cabs, if the walk is too far, or take the metro.
For visiting Peterhof Palace (just outside the city), we took the hydrofoil – which is a sort of high-speed ferry.
What was your favorite moment in St. Petersburg, Russia?
Oh, this is a tough question. I have so many favorites! However, personally, it was a wonderful experience when one of my best friends from college came to visit me and I was able to show her St. Petersburg in all its glory. It was a fun experience to play a tour guide to an old friend.
One of the best parts of travel is experiencing the local flavors. What was your favorite meal in St. Petersburg?
In St. Petersburg, I always loved the many options for Aremenian and Georgian food. (My favorite restaurants for the best Russian food are in Moscow.) My favorite dish and restaurant in St. Petersburg are at Aremenian restaurant “Dolma.” Not surprisingly, their dolma is some of the best I’ve ever had. It’s stuffed grape leaves with various vegetables and meats. I’m craving it right now as I write this! They also have such a friendly waitstaff at Restaurant Dolma.
Did anyone travel to St. Petersburg with you?
I was fortunate to travel to St. Petersburg multiple times. Sometimes my husband was with me. I also was lucky to have my best friend from college and my brother in law had joined me on separate occasions too.
What sights cannot be missed when visiting St. Petersburg, Russia?
My must-visit places in St. Petersburg are:
- The Hermitage Museum – it’s the second largest art museum in the world (the Louvre is the first). It is home to more than 1 million works of art and nearly 3 million exhibits in total!
- Catherine Palace – was the summer palace to the Russian czars. There are over 100 kilos of gold in this palace!
- Peterhof Palace (if you’re visiting in summer) – is nicknamed the “Russian Versailles” because it has more than 140 dazzling fountains on its grounds.
- Pavlovsk Palace (if you’re visiting in winter) – when the fountains are not operating during winter at Peterhof Palace, I highly recommend going to Pavlovsk Palace. This beautiful palace is near Catherine Palace and it looks like a fairytale during the winter.
- St. Isaac’s Cathedral – its domes are gilded in 100 pounds of gold! You can also climb 300 stairs to the top of St. Isaac’s Cathedral to get a great panoramic view of St. Petersburg.
- The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood – the most famous landmark in all of St. Petersburg is definitely this cathedral. The inside is almost as beautiful as its colorfully domed outside – so be sure to set aside enough time to wander into its interiors as well.
I also put together a complete list of the best things to do in St. Petersburg on my blog.
Pro Tip: For admission to St. Peterburg’s most popular museums and attractions, including a Hop-On/Hop-Off bus tour and high-speed hydrofoil to the Peterhof Palace, be sure to check out the St. Petersburg CityPass.
What activity or attraction did you enjoy most in St. Petersburg?
Visiting Pavlovsk Palace in the winter is one of my favorite travel memories to date. The palace was built in the 18th century on orders from Catherine the Great (Russia’s longest-ruling female leader). She had it made for her son, Paul, and his second wife Maria Fyodorovna. It was their summer palace.
The palace itself is dazzling, but it’s also much quieter than any of the other palaces you’ll visit in St. Petersburg, as large tour groups don’t stop here. It has a more “untouched” and otherworldly feeling to it – especially in winter! The grounds of the palace also have magical horse-drawn sleigh rides and it’s decorated quite festively during the holidays.
What's the weather like in St. Petersburg?
The times when I was traveling in winter, St. Petersburg was damp and very cold and covered in a sloppy wet snow. It was still very beautiful to see, though!
In summer, the weather was mild and pleasant, but generally very breezy.
No matter what time of year I was there, it was always important to dress in layers. It felt as though you could experience all the seasons in one day at times!
Did you meet any of the locals? What were they like?
I did. Everyone was so friendly! Many locals were very excited to practice their English speaking skills with Americans. My friend and I even ended up having dinner and drinks with a lovely local couple who were excited to practice their English-speaking skills with us, and show us some of their favorites restaurants in the city. They had overheard us talking about Game of Thrones in English at our table, and asked if they could join our conversation. We all ended up having a very lovely night in St. Petersburg together!
Did you bring home any memorable souvenirs during your trip?
I went a little bit overboard on souvenirs in Russia! While in St. Petersburg, my friend and I found some lovely Faberge Egg replicas. (St. Petersburg is also home to the Faberge Museum.) However, my favorite Russian souvenir is a set of handmade Matryoshka (nesting) dolls. My husband and I also have a tea set from the Imperial Porcelain Factory (based in St. Petersburg) that is very special to us. The Imperial Porcelain Factory was established in 1744 by Russia’s Empress Elizabeth I. The Imperial Family members were the exclusive patrons of the porcelain factory until 1917 (when the Russian Empire ceased to exist).
What's one thing travelers can't forget to pack when they visit St. Petersburg?
Comfortable walking shoes are a must in St. Petersburg. You will be doing SO much walking. And, if you’re visiting, in winter, be sure that your boots are not only comfortable, but also water-resistant. Nothing will ruin your trip faster than having wet, frozen toes!