Kelly Paras
Kelly Paras
Washington, D.C., District of Columbia, USA

Walking St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg, while a large sprawling city, doesn't feel overwhelming and is actually quite accessible and easy to walk around. Beyond every corner is something new; street art, a soaring cathedral, yet another palace or graceful canal. Very few signs in town are in English and navigating by cyrillic alphabet is both challenging and immensely entertaining. As is people watching while you walk - Russia is a strange strange place that will absolutely pique your curiosity.
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Kazan Cathedral

Kazan Square, 2, Sankt-Peterburg, Russia, 190000

Entering Kazan Cathedral is a spiritual blast to the senses. lt's full of people praying to icons, prostrating in front of crucifixes and waiting in line to kiss icons on the alter while a cantor’s chants and smoldering incense fill the Cathedral. Watching people worship in this grand place will give you chills. TIP: Ladies, you must cover you head with a scarf to enter the Cathedral.

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Field of Mars

St. Petersburg, Russia

It might be in the middle of all the action in central St. Petersburg, but Field of Mars is actually a calm note in the city. From the park you have excellent views of the Savior on the Spilled Blood Church and can peer out to the Neva and Moyka Rivers.

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St. Petersburg Beach

St Petersburg, Russia, 197046

This was such an unexpected and wonderful thing to stumble upon while wandering the perimeter of Peter and Paul Fortress. Though the area is relatively small, this beach is almost always empty and has stunning views of water traffic on the Neva and The Hermitage across the river! Bring a blanket, book and snack to camp out for a bit and really make the most of it!

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Nevsky Prospect, 60, St Petersburg, Russia

I so wish we had fast food like this in the United States! Теремок is pretty much the national standard when it comes to fast food, but not only is it cheap and fast, but it's actually healthy! From pancakes to buckwheat porridge (try it!) the number of healthy options is really surprising. It's the perfect place to taste the local color and see what easy Russian cuisine is all about.

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Saint Petersburg Mosque

Kronverkskiy prospekt, 7, St Petersburg, Russia, 190000

When your walk take you to the north side of the Neva River, be sure to walk by the sensational Saint Petersburg Mosque. To say it is gorgeous is an understatement - it's rich blue and teal hues can be seen from blocks away. Upon closer inspection, you'll be amazed at the intricate tile work and the striking dichotomy the building creates with the rest of the city's skyline.

Palace Square

Palace Square, Sankt-Peterburg, Russia, 198324

Architecture buffs, design lovers and history nerds take note, Palace Square is a remarkable confluence of these things. It's the expansive front door of The Hermitage, is surrounded by monumental buildings and is the site of some of the most pivotal events in Russian history, including the October Revolution.

Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines

Kuznetskiy Most St., 12, Moscow 105005, Russia

What a random place! As you extend you walk out of the city center, head north of the Bolshoi Theater and pop into the Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines. You will feel like you've gone through a black hole back to the 1980's! It's arcade heaven that not only offers a bit of a history lesson on some of the popular games, but many machines are still operation and can be played!

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The Grand Cascade

Pravlenskaya ul., Petergof, Sankt-Peterburg, Russia, 198510

Talk about jaw-dropping! The Grand Cascade at Peterhof Palace is like nothing I've ever seen before. The elaborate movement of water fountains, waterfalls and shooting streams of water look like some kind of melodic dance. Given that it's so impressive today, I can only imagine how mind blowing it was in the 1700's.

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Peterhof Hermitage

Razvodnaya ulitsa, 2, St Petersburg, Russia, 198516

Did you know that The Hermitage was originally at Peterhof Palace? Just a quick hydrofoil ride from the current Hermitage, the original building is comically small. It is still filled with artwork and is opulently decorated, but it's original use was as a dining house. I also love that it has a moat around modest.

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Nevskii Prospekt

Nevsky Prospekt, St. Petersburg 190 Russia

When Nevsky Prospekt was built it was meant to be the main road from St. Petersburg to Moscow. Today it is just that and so much more. It's the main thoroughfare in St. Petersburg and is home to a bustling shopping and nightlife district that's rife with people watching opprotunities.

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St. Isaac's Cathedral

St Isaac's Square, 4, St. Petersburg, Russia 190000

In a city full of monumental and inspiring Cathedrals, it can be hard to stand out. But St Isaac's stands as the largest Russian Orthodox Cathedral in the city and towers over Alexander Park. It's scale becomes even more impressive when you take into account that the original foundation was made of hundred of logs!

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Alexander Gardens

Pamyatnik N.M. Przhevalskomu, Admiralteyskiy pr., 1, St Petersburg, Russia, 190098

Alexander Gardens reminded me an awful lot of the National Mall in Washington, DC in the United States. It's a long, narrow green space in a prominent location that's sandwiched between some of the most visiting sites in the city. To stroll it's whole length is to get a flavor for the more leisurely side of St. Petersburg.

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Birzhevoy skver

Saint Petersburg, Russia

This little park packs a major punch! Set in front of the Old St. Petersburg Stock Exchange and jutting out into the Neva River, it offers some of the best river views of the city. You get clear shots of Peter and Paul Fortress and the Hermitage. From here you can also learn a bit about the Greek architecture of the Stock Exchange building and check out the oddly captivating Rostral Columns.

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Vodka Museum

Konnogvardeiskiy Blvd., 4 | Metro Gostiny Dvor, St. Petersburg 190000, Russia

Break up your ambling around the city with a stop at the crazy Vodka Museum. If you love vodka as much as I do, you will be a kid in a candy store as you learn the history of this infamous, pervasive and distinctly Russian spirit. There are tasting to be had (hallelujah!) and a fancy if not kitschy restaurant where you can try traditional Russian fare.

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Mikhailovsky Garden

St Petersburg, Russia

Take a stroll around the scenic and calm Mikhailovsky Garden after a long day out in the city. It's centrally located and often has vendors selling street food - try the hot roasted almonds, yum! Here you'll see locals walking their dogs and playing with their kids in the evenings after work.

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Severyanin restoran

Stolyarnyy per., 18, St Petersburg, Russia, 190031

One of the most strange a foreign things that I came across in St. Petersburg was Cowberry liquor. Say what? It's a bitter, but strong liquor made from lingonberries (a common berry in Scandinavian cuisine) that the Russians call Cowberries. Severyanin is a great spot to grab dinner and follow it up with some shots of this odd but satisfying elixir.

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Museum of Russian Political History

ul. Kuybysheva, 2-4, Sankt-Peterburg, Russia, 197046

This place gave me the chills! It's in the Mansion of Kshesinskaya and was once the headquarters for the Bolshevist movement. Which means, you can see Lenin’s still intact desk and office space. There is something eerie and cool about seeing the place where the movement started and the balcony from which Lenin gave the majority of his speeches.

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Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood

Griboyedov channel embankment, 2Б, Sankt-Peterburg, Russia, 191186

Easily one of the most recognizable buildings in St. Petersburg, this church delivers in a big way. Walk around the grounds to take its sheer scale and then head inside for a visual overload. The exterior is modeled after St. Basil’s in Moscow and inside every surface is covered in bight bold frescos and tile mosaics. It is stunning.

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Peter and Paul Fortress

St Petersburg, Russia, 197046

I love this place! Encompassing an entire island in the Neva River, it was built by Peter the Great in the 1700's and is an official burial site for the imperial family and Tzars. History permeates out of every pore of this place and the views it offers of central St. Petersburg are pretty great too.

Bolshe coffee!

Alexandrovsky park 3-G, St. Petersburg 197101, Russia

The indie coffee scene is still relatively new in St. Petersburg, but Bolshe was one of the first and remains one of the most beloved coffeehouses in the city. Not only will their brew give you a good caffeine buzz, but it also has a charming atmosphere that is something of rarity in town.

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St. Nicholas Cathedral

Nikolskaya pl., 1/3, St Petersburg, Russia, 190068

The thing that I love about St. Nicholas Cathedral is that it's a bit set back from the core of downtown activity meaning that not many people visit it - you'll likely have the grounds to yourself. It's clean blue and white exterior make it a welcoming place that is wonderful to photograph.

Griboyedov Canal

Griboyedov Canal, St Petersburg, Russia

St. Petersburg is often referred to as the Venice of Russia due to the lengthy and complex network of canals that cut through the city. These canals give the city a lovely easygoing vibe and Griboedov Canal is the most prominent of all. Walking over it's bridges you'll catch a glimpse of the Church of Savior on the Spilled Blood and won't be able to resist breaking into a smile.

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Mariinsky Theatre

Theatre Square, 1, St Petersburg, Russia, 190000

Regardless of if you are a high society, ballet and opera lover, you'll be wise to at least walk around the gleaming Mariinsky Theatre. The classic light green and white facade will give you a sense of 19th century architecture. Coming here in the evening, you'll see patrons dressed in their finest gearing up for a night of culture.

Kuznechny Market

Kuznechnyy per., 3, Sankt-Peterburg, Ленинградская область, Russia, 191025

Kuznechny Market is quite an experience! All over Russia you'll find huge indoor markets where vendors sell everything from produce and meats to small trinkets and household items. Exploring these markets is a great way to see local culture in action and maybe even dust off your bartering skills!

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Smolensk Orthodox Cemetery

24 Kamskaia Ulitsa, St. Petersburg 198 Russia

If you're looking to really stretch your legs and you're a weirdo who likes cemeteries (like me) head to Smolensky Cemetery to the west of city center. This is the longest continuously operating cemetery in St. Petersburg and it is wonderfully peaceful and inadvertently beautiful. Catching the dusk light over the sea of tombstones is absolutely haunting.

Last updated at May 23, 2016