Two summers ago, our family went on a 9-day cruise on the Baltic Sea, stopping in 6 different cities. As cruises tend to go, we were only able to spend a day in most of the cities, so this series of posts is all about how we tried to make the most of the short time we had in each one!
The next city we visited on our cruise was St. Petersburg, Russia, and it was the only city that we had two days in! Unlike the rest of the cities, we didn’t have the option of exploring the city on our own – we had to get a two-day visa before our trip and have an official tour booked (either with the cruise line or otherwise) to get through customs into the country. Like we did in Berlin, we opted not to do the ship’s tour and found another tour that we booked before we left home.
Our tour guide picked us up in the morning and we began our day by heading out of St. Petersburg to Peterhof, about 19 miles outside of the city. Peterhof was the official summer residence of the Russian Tsars, often called the “Russian Versailles.” We first took a tour of the Grand Palace (sadly they don’t allow photography inside).
Next we went out back to see the Grand Cascade, the most impressive of the many fountains at Peterhof, and walked through the lower gardens.
Through the gardens and past even more fountains, we ended our tour of Peterhof by boarding a Hydrofoil boat! We took it across the Gulf of Finland back into St. Petersburg where it dropped us off right by the Winter Palace.
Before actually visiting the Hermitage, we went to the Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood. It was built in the colorful traditional Russian style in the early 1900s on the spot where Russian Emperor Alexander II was assassinated.
Then we went to the Winter Palace, which was once the Russian tsars’ winter residence and is now the main building of the Hermitage Art Museum. We walked through some of the living halls of the palace and saw artwork by Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and Michelangelo among many others (all but one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, as Kathryn pointed out!).
After our visit to the Hermitage, we made our way back to the cruise ship for the night. Stay tuned for St. Petersburg Day 2!