Hermitage Museum and the Winter Palace#1 in Best Things To Do in St. Petersburg
Catherine the Great founded the Hermitage Museum in 1764 as a place to house her private art collection. The main museum complex comprises six buildings, including the Winter Palace, which was the home of the czars for almost 200 years. It finally opened to the public in 1852, and since then has been one of the largest and most interesting museums in the world. It draws more than 4 million visitors each year – in fact, this museum is the main reason some travelers visit St. Petersburg in the first place. Recent travelers offered fulsome praise for both the art on display and the opulent building housing the works. For many, the only downside was the constant crowds.
Bursting at the seams with art from masters like Leonardo da Vinci and Pablo Picasso, the Hermitage demands a substantial commitment of time to see even a portion of its collection, which encompasses 3 million works of art and artifacts. Some previous visitors reported spending seven hours touring the grounds. If you plan to spend a considerable amount of time admiring the works, consider purchasing the two-day entrance ticket.
You'll find the museum in Palace Square. Admiralteyskaya is the closest metro station. Recent travelers and the Hermitage website both suggest purchasing tickets in advance via the museum's online portal to avoid the (usually very long) line at the ticketing office. If purchased online, tickets cost $17.95 for one-day entrance into the Main Museum Complex and General Staff Building. Meanwhile, a two-day ticket to the Main Museum Complex, General Staff Building, Winter Palace of Peter the Great, Menshikov Palace and the Museum of the Imperial Porcelain Factory costs $23.95. If you purchase tickets the day of your visit, you'll enjoy a discount on ticket prices (tickets cost between 300 and 700 rubles, or about $5 to $11, depending on how many buildings you wish to visit), but you'll have to contend with very long lines. Tickets bought online are valid 180 days after purchase.
Guided tours are also available for an additional fee. Audio guides are also available for 500 rubles (about $8). Closed on Monday, the museum is open Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; on Wednesday and Friday it stays open unit 9 p.m. For more information, check out the Hermitage website.
More Best Things To Do in St. Petersburg
#2 Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood
The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main attractions in St. Petersburg, drawing crowds to its ornately decorated onion domes and the stunning mosaics housed within. Alexander III commissioned the construction of the church in 1883 as a tribute to his slain father, Alexander II, who was assassinated on this site by a group of revolutionaries. The church's name references this murder and much of the art inside has a martyrdom theme.
Recent visitors invariably raved about the beauty of the building, with the intricate mosaics inside regularly cited as being especially remarkable. Travelers also said the church is small, so you'll probably be able to tour the inside in less than an hour.
Explore More of St. Petersburg
If you make a purchase from our site, we may earn a commission. This does not affect the quality or independence of our editorial content.