Relaxing in St Petersburg: 10 interesting cafes
One of the best ways to get to know a city is walking around and exploring local haunts. And when moving to a new place, finding a regular spot to eat and relax can almost feel like a second home. So what better place to start than exploring the local cafes? Fortunately, cafe culture has developed in a big way in St Petersburg, as has the artisan coffee scene, and there has been an explosion of cafes to suit every taste dotted all around the city.
Coffee connoisseurs will be spoilt for choice – whereas 6 years ago there were only 2 specialty coffee shops in St Petersburg, now they are popping up on every corner! Many cafes are open late, perfect for those who want a relaxing evening out but don’t fancy a bar. There are cafes ideal for doing work, with quiet corners and WiFi, cafes with boardgames and games consoles, and time cafes where customers pay per minute. Many offer cultural programmes, concerts and lectures alongside their beverages. And St Petersburg is home to – my personal favourite – cat cafes. Read on for some of St Petersburg’s most interesting cafes!
Кофе и цветы (Coffee and Flowers)
As you would expect, this cafe is decorated with fragrant bouquets of every shape and size. Customers enjoy their drinks surrounded by flowers, and the cafe itself is light and airy. They offer many exotic varieties of tea and coffee, ice cream and freshly made cakes. And make sure to check out the array of trinkets, artwork, and even antiques for sale in the cafe – you’re certain to find a unique souvenir. Smolny Cathedral and Tavricheskii Gardens are a stone’s throw away from the cafe, so if you’re in the area you should drop by!
Opening hours: 8:30am – 8pm weekdays, 11am – 8pm weekends.
Location: Tverskaia Ulitsa, 16
If you’re looking for a quiet spot to spend an afternoon, Character Coffee is the place for you. It is located slightly out of the busy centre on the Fontanka riverside. They offer a creative range of coffees inspired by travels abroad, including vegan options. You can purchase a cake to accompany your drink, or indulge in their light-bites menu with avocado toast and waffles, ideal for brunch with friends. Scandinavian-style interior decoration, vaulted ceilings and fairy lights, and a view onto the Fontanka river make this cafe a relaxing place to read or work. It’s worth a mention that Character Coffee is also dog-friendly, and that their music playlist is always spot on!
Opening hours: 9am – 9pm
Location: Fontanka River Embankment, 109
Книги и кофе (Books and Coffee)
Knigi i kofe was set up by Aleksandr Zhitinskii, a famous local author and one of the founders of Leningrad Rock Club. It unites a cafe with a bookshop and cultural space under one roof. Their delicious menu includes an all-day breakfast, many vegetarian options, and inventive coffee drinks – Mexican coffee with chocolate, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon is perfect for these chilly days. Knigi i kofe is the ideal place for culture lovers, who can attend one of the cafe’s many events – art lectures, live music, poetry readings and plays. A small bookshop is located in the cafe. Why not browse through the selection of books to find something to read, before settling down on one of the sofas and enjoying a drink.
Opening hours: 10am – 11pm
Location: Gagarinskaia Ulitsa, 20
Sunduk is an eclectically decorated and cosy art-cafe. Sink into a soft sofa and admire the walls adorned with all sorts of trinkets, artwork, and lampshades, and even an aquarium! Local artists contribute to the interior design, giving it a really homemade feel. Visit for a meal with a friend, or pop in by yourself to read and have a pot of tea – I’d highly recommend the cranberry, honey and ginger tea. Musicians of all genres perform live in Sunduk every single night, and they have a comprehensive daily cultural program. Check out their website for the latest events.
Opening hours: 11am – midnight
Location: Furshtatskaia Ulitsa, 42
Check Point Cafe
Check Point Cafe feels like a cosy village house – inside you’ll find traditional checkered table cloths, warm wooden furniture and an array of board games. It’s the ideal spot to sit and read a book, do some work, or catch up with friends over a slice of homemade cake and a cup of freshly brewed tea. They often hold film nights, comedy nights, literature clubs and small gigs, so make sure to check out their website for upcoming events. Check Point Cafe has two branches: one is on a quiet street opposite St Isaac’s Cathedral, the other is inside a vine-draped building in Italianskii Dvor.
Opening hours: 8am-10pm Monday to Friday, 11am-10pm weekends.
Location: Pereulok Antonenko, 5 / Italianskaia Ulitsa, 29
Soulmate Котокафе (Soulmate Cat Cafe)
This hidden gem is a cat-lovers dream – a cafe where a dozen beautiful cats stroll, sleep, and snuggle. Not only is the cafe populated by our fluffy friends, but it is a time cafe. Customers pay 5 roubles per minute and are allowed unlimited tea, coffee and biscuits. Sip a warming cup of tea and cuddle with one of the residents! They also offer a range of board games, colouring pens and paper, and free WiFi. There is literally nothing not to like.
Opening hours: 11am – 11pm
Location: Fontanka River Embankment, 51
Enter an unassuming door on Nevsky Prospekt, climb the staircase to the top floor, and here you will find Place 43 (recently renamed from ‘FD Anticafe’). It is a vibrant time cafe where for a mere 2 roubles per minute you can enjoy unlimited hot drinks. Visitors can smoke shisha and are allowed to bring their own food and alcohol! Place 43 offers a huge range of boardgames and even consoles such as PS4 and Xbox 360. Best of all, the cafe has a gorgeous balcony overlooking the top of Nevsky Prospekt by the Admiralty. Enjoy your coffee and watch the world go by. I would recommend booking ahead as it can get very busy in this popular cafe.
Opening hours: 9am – 3am Sunday to Thursday, 9am – 6am Friday and Saturday
Location: Nevsky Prospekt 11/2, entrance from Nevsky Prospekt
Ziferburg is St Petersburg’s first time cafe, part of the Ziferblat family (whose name means ‘clock face’ in Russian). The cafe was created as a place for like-minded people to gather, relax and create. For 3 roubles per minute you can enjoy unlimited tea and coffee, play board games and even musical instruments! Ziferburg is situated within Golitsyn Loft creative cluster, and is one of the city’s loveliest cafes – its opulence and elegance lends it the atmosphere more of a ballroom than a cafe. The space is filled with an eclectic jumble of donated furniture, and an actual grand piano from the Mikhailovskii Theatre. Ziferburg offers an extensive events programme with art masterclasses, conversation clubs, jazz evenings, book clubs, historical lectures and more. Check out their site for more details.
Opening hours: 11am – midnight
Location: Fontanka River Embankment, 20
Микрокофейня «ТЧК» (Mikrokofeinia ‘TCHK’)
This cafe was the project of ceramic artist Rata Gilemkhanova, who successfully converted a tiny former stable into a working cafe situated in a secluded leafy courtyard. What the cafe lacks in size it certainly makes up for in taste, with expertly brewed coffee and homemade cakes. As well as drinks, TCHK’s staff also run a coffee and barista school! You can take coffee masterclasses and even train to be a barista.
Opening hours: 8:30am – 9pm weekdays, 10am – 9pm weekends
Location: Ulitsa Mira, 11, Petrogradskaia Storona
Chocolate Bar Secret Garden
This cafe has just opened on Petrogradskaia and its name is absolutely fitting: visitors are surrounded by beautiful plants on every side, and the cafe’s location in the Winter Garden conservatory provides an abundance of natural light. If you’re tired of snow, ice and grey, it’s been weeks (or months!) since you’ve spent time in nature, and you’re desperately waiting for springtime, the Secret Garden is the perfect place to be. And those with a sweet tooth will be in heaven – Secret Garden serves cakes, 22 types of ice cream, and has two chocolate fountains!
Opening hours: 10am – 10pm
Location: Kamenoostrovskii Prospekt, 42, Petrogradskaia Storona
As you can see, St Petersburg boasts a huge variety of cafes where you can not only enjoy a tasty drink, but relax, play a game, learn something new, and even meet new people. These are a few of my favourite cafes, and as you explore the city I’m sure you’ll find yours! To discover even more spots to explore and relax, visit our interactive map of St Petersburg’s interesting places. До встречи, Rachel.