I was in St. Petersburg for one evening and one full day on my nine-day baltic cruise. Unless you apply for a tourist visa in advance (in which you have to mail your passport beforehand), then the only way you can exit the ship is with a guided tour. I wish that I had looked up private tours in advance, because I am not a fan of being on a 40-person guided tour bus. For anyone going in the future, I definitely recommend looking up independent tour companies rather than taking a tour through the cruise ship. However, if you do wish to take a tour with the cruise ship, go with the full day tours instead of the half day ones like I did.
However, the first evening, I really enjoyed the tour titled A Night of Russian Ballet. That evening, I had the opportunity to enjoy a special performance by the well-known ballet Swan Lake, in one of the city’s theater venues. Dance is a huge part of Russia’s culture and traditions. St. Petersburg has long been regarded as one of the world’s most famous ballet centers. For two centuries, Russia has maintained its superiority in ballet, an art that was brought from Europe at the beginning of the 18th century. I thoroughly enjoyed the ballet.
On the second day in St. Petersburg, I went on the Cathedrals of St. Petersburg excursion. On this tour, we traveled to the city center and were introduced to the history of St. Petersburg through its most iconic cathedrals.
The Peter and Paul Fortress was founded in 1703 and is considered to be the birthplace of St. Petersburg. Here, we visited St. Peter & Paul’s cathedral, designed by Trezini. It is a distinctive landmark and known to be the burial ground for many members of the Romanov Royal family.
After taking a souvenir and restroom break, we headed towards the Church on the Spilled Blood. It was built in memory of Alexander the II on the spot where he was assassinated. Inside is a collection of mosaics that covers over 8,400 square yards with jeweler’s enamel.
Our final stop was at St. Isaac’s Square where we visited St. Isaac’s Cathedral. Built between 1818 and 1858, it is the largest church in St. Petersburg with a capacity of 10,000 people. Sculptures and massive red granite columns adorn the facade, and its interior is richly decorated with intricate mosaics, paintings, and columns.
I think my experience of St. Petersburg would have been more enjoyable if the weather was cooperating and if I was able to do it with a private tour guide or even on my own. There is so much more to see and do in St. Petersburg that I just didn’t have the time for. The next time I go back to Russia, I will definitely want to get a visa in advance.