5 Summery Things to Do in St. Petersburg
Anyone keeping track of the articles coming out of the St. Petersburg campus at the moment will realise that we are not being blessed with the best summer weather. As far as sightseeing goes in these circumstances, it’s limited to wandering around museums (like the Erarta museum – a little bit of self-promo never hurt anybody…). However, that just means that on the rare occasion the sun does decide to grace us with its presence, like in the last few days, it can leave you feeling bewildered and unsure what to do with yourself. Here are a few suggestions for making the most of St. Petersburg, which only gets more beautiful in the sun:
Visit the Botanical Gardens
Here’s a bit of history for you: the proper name for the gardens is the Botanical Garden of the V. L. Komarov Institute of the Academy of Sciences and it is one of the oldest in the country. It was founded in 1714, you can guess by who, as the Apothecary’s Garden and soon became a centre for research that was equal of any other in Europe in terms of the importance and size of its collection.
Most of the Botanical Garden is designed in English landscape style – very popular in the 18th century and the same style as Tauride Gardens and the Alexander Garden. The collection was seriously damaged during the Second World War, and unique examples of palms, ferns and cacti died. Despite all the hunger and deprivation during the Siege, the Botanical Garden’s collection of seeds and plants was not touched. After the war, the collection was gradually built back up, and today the Botanical Garden is as beautiful and varied as ever. The garden has 25 greenhouses built between 1823-24, but make note of the fact that you cannot access the ones open to the public without a guide.
The Gardens are a tranquil, pleasant place to walk or sit on a sunny afternoon, and stalls dotted around sell frozen yoghurt, drinks and ice cream.
To get there: get the metro to Petrogradskaya, turn right out the metro, cross the Karpovka river and follow Professor Popova ulitsa. Entry is only 100 roubles.
Go for a beer at a stolovaya
There are hundreds of stolovayas dispersed around the city, and they sell a near-essential ingredient for dealing with hot weather: ice-cold, cheap beer. Stolovaya 1 kopeeka sells beer for only 90 roubles and you can sit outside, but the best thing about it is that it’s located on the Griboedev canal with a direct view onto the Church on Spilled Blood.
Ok so our Italian and American students might dispute my use of the word
beach, but in my mind as long as there is sand and water then it counts. There is a strip of beach along the walls of the Peter & Paul fortress where locals gather to sunbathe, and which also offers a lovely view of the city – just don’t go for a dip! There is also the 300-year park (closest metro stations are Chernaya Rechka or Staraya Derevnia), which boasts an Aquapark and a beach. If you’ve got a bit more time and want something bigger, there is a sandy beach at Tarkhovka across the Finnish Gulf which you can get to by elektrichka from Finlyandsky station.
Soak up the view at a rooftop bar
Petersburgers love their rooftops, as has become clear from the ever more popular trend of exploring them and organising tours on them. If wobbling precariously away on a rooftop is not for you, there are several rooftop bars around the city which make for a great, chilled atmosphere when the sun is shining. Solaris Lab (Pirogova pereulok, 18) is more of a hushed-up place and thus never attracts too big crowds, but boasts a panoramic view of the city (particularly of St. Isaac’s Cathedral) and tasty cakes and pastries. There are cool art and graffiti installations also.
Go on a boat tour
There is not a more ideal way of soaking up some rays than wandering down the Neva by boat and learning a bit more about your surroundings. Liden & Denz’s partner Aqua Marine offers lots of different boat cruises at reasonable fares: the Fabergé Canal Cruise, a standard Neva City Sightseeing cruise, and even a late-night cruise taking in the opening of the bridges with a jazz band. Some cruises offer dinner on board! For more information, check out their website.
Whatever you decide to do, enjoy it while it lasts!
This post was written by Claire, currently studying Russian at Liden & Denz.