Saint Petersburg, generally considered the cultural capital of Russia, was founded more than 300 years ago. The city boasts a rich history, as it saw many generations of the Russian Imperial House, two revolutions, and a siege. Many prominent writers, musicians, and architects once trod its pavement. Even though St. Petersburg has lost its former political significance, it remains a major national center. The city has more than 4,200 cultural objects, which constitute approximately 10% of Russia's cultural heritage sites. It has over 200 museums, 70 theaters, and 1,100 libraries.
St. Petersburg is also known as Venice of the North. With its numerous rivers and canals, remarkable drawbridges, and small scurrying boats, it does resemble the famed Italian city. Still, Russia's Northern capital maintains its unique atmosphere and vibe. If you want to take in the spirit of the city, spend at least one night on the Neva bank and enjoy a special view of bridges being drawn to the sound of classical masterpieces, which occurs every night around 2 a.m.
Saint Petersburg stands on the Baltic Sea, so its climate would be generally considered rather harsh. High humidity and proximity to water account for cold and damp winters that are not conducive to walking around. Luckily, the Worldchefs Congress is held in July, when the sun is shining brightly and canals do not chill to the bone, but provide wisps of fresh air.
For a special tourist experience, we invite you to visit St. Petersburg in June during the so-called White Nights. For the entire month, the sun virtually does not set, and the night is as bright as day. This is a particular good time for sightseeing or just walking along the embankment, taking in the warm June sun, and enjoying a nice breeze on the water.
According to the Presidential Decree No. 347 of July 18, 2019, after October 1, 2019 foreigners will be allowed to take advantage of the simplified visa procedure and obtain their visas free of charge if they intend to visit St. Petersburg or the Leningrad Region and stay in the country for eight days or less.
Visa applications need to filled out and submitted online at least four days before the intended date of entry. The e-visa is free and valid for 30 days. Allowed duration of stay in St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region constitutes up to 8 days.
Relevant updates and detailed information are available on our website, the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, and the website of the Russian Embassy in your respective country.
People and Lifestyle
Russians often joke about the conflict between people Moscow natives and inhabitants of St. Petersburg. Confrontation can be triggered by anything from language to culture and manners. People who live in St. Petersburg stand out due to their vocabulary, and they like to put it to good use in order to make an impression upon visitors. Compared to Moscow, St. Petersburg is slower paced, which has also affected the habits of its dwellers. St. Petersburg natives do not rush, speak calmly and without haste, and are commonly perceived to have a more respectful demeanor. On top of that, as Russia's tourist capital St. Petersburg is also famous for being hospitable and helpful, so if you happen to get lost, do not hesitate to ask locals for directions. They will not turn you down!
Places of Interest
As we have already mentioned, St. Petersburg boasts more than 4,200 cultural objects, which makes for a difficult choice. So what sights of this splendid city are a must-see?
The majority of city tours start in the Palace Square, and their focal point is the museum of fine arts – the State Hermitage. The Hermitage is one of the most popular museums in the world. Its collection comprises more than 3 million items. Apart from art pieces from around the globe, the building itself is very special. For a long time, the Winter Palace served as the working residence of the Russian tsars. The majestic architectural ensemble, which is currently a major symbol of Russia's Northern capital, was built in the eighteenth century in the sumptuous Late Baroque style by a famous Russian architect of Italian descent Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli.
Nevsky Prospect is the city's main street which accommodates shops, cafes, and open-air concert venues and offers everything necessary for a pleasant pastime during the summer months. The Prospect is bustling with tourists and locals both day and night, so it is never boring there. And if you want to kill two birds with one stone and walk the entire length of the street, you will experience the city's main points of interest along the way.
The Kazan Cathedral is located right on the Prospect. The majestic structure erected in the beginning of the nineteenth century is impossible to miss. And if you stop by the cafe located at a bookstore across the street, you will be able to enjoy a cup of coffee with a view of this splendid landmark. If you take a turn and walk along the Griboyedov Canal, you will see the celebrated Church of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ also known as the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood. Looking at this lavishly adorned church built in the Russian style and slightly resembling St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow's Red Square, you would never guess that it was built to commemorate a tragic event – the murder of the Russian Emperor Alexander II.
If you follow Nevsky Prospect all the way to the end and then turn left, you will get to Saint Isaac's Square, which features another St. Petersburg landmark – St. Isaac’s Cathedral. This majestic cathedral was designed as the main Orthodox shrine of the Russian Empire, and church services are held there to this day. You should also visit the Yusupov Palace located on the Moika River within walking distance from St. Isaac’s Cathedral. The Palace was owned by one of Russia’s wealthiest families before the revolution. Now the aristocratic residence with its authentic luxurious interiors is open to the public.
If you have a free day, you should visit the Grand Palace in Peterhof, which is just an hour away from the historic downtown. The palace and park ensemble was built by Peter I in the beginning of the eighteenth century and was completely destroyed during World War II. Nowadays it is almost completely restored and open to the public. Apart from the splendid halls of this former imperial residence, Peterhof is famous for its fountains. Currently, the park features 147 fountains, including jester fountains designed for the pleasure of the emperor and his guests and, of course, the majestic Grand Cascade.