Water-loving Peter the Great intended that the Neva River would be the centre of St Petersburg, with Vasilevsky Island as its glittering centrepiece. However, the lack of bridges between the islands hindered development, and most people wanted to build on the higher, less flood-prone land around the Admiralty. Even Peter's despotism couldn't change people's preference and the centre of the city is now solidly south of the Neva, focused on Nevsky pr between Dvortsovaya pi (Palace Sq) and Moscow Station (Moskovsky vokzal).

In this guide we have divided the city into nine digestible neighbourhoods, each with its own characteristic appeal. We begin with St Petersburg's Historic Heart, an area so dense with museums, palaces and churches that one might spend days in this district only (indeed, many tourists do!). The Historic Heart includes the main stretch of Nevsky pr between the Hermitage and the Fontanka River, as well as the area east of Isaakievskaya pi (St Isaac's Sq) to the Summer Garden.

East of the Historic Heart is Liteyny, surrounding the busy avenue of the same name, and Smolny, the quiet but historic government district around which the Neva curves on its final approach to the sea. Due south of here are Vladimirskaya and Vosstaniya, which form the area around the two busy commercial squares, Vladimirskaya pi (Vladimir Sq) and pi Vosstaniya (Uprising Sq). Vosstaniya contains the less dynamic, easterly half of Nevsky pr, home to Moscow Station and Alexander Nevsky Monastery.

West of Vladimirskaya and Vosstaniya is Sennaya, which takes its name from Sennaya pi (Haymarket Sq). The area around the haymarket, Dostoevsky's stomping ground, was overrun with poverty and squalor during the 19th century. Today it is still a gritty but lively place, full of colourful characters. West of the Historic Heart and Sennaya is the Mariinsky district, named after the world-famous Mariinsky Theatre. In these quiet historic streets, graceful canals wend their way to the sea past palaces and churches that are just off the beaten tourist trail.

Dividing the Neva River is Vasilevsky Island, the huge triangle of land that Peter the Great thought would be the centre of the city. Today, Vasilevsky functions as the intellectual heart, housing the university, the Academy of Arts and other august institutions.

North and east of Vasilevsky Island, the Petiograd Side is actually where it all began: Peter's city grew out of the Peter & Paul Fortress, prominently placed on Zayachy Island. The Petrograd Side is dominated by the fashionable, Style Moderne Petiogradsky Island, a busy residential neighbourhood with plenty of shops and restaurants and a handful of museums. This neighbourhood also includes the pleasant, green northern islands: Kamenny, Yelagin and Krestovsky.

The Vyborg Side is a huge swathe of land north of the Neva River. Largely industrial and residential, it contains some of the city's offbeat points of interest, including Kresty Prison, Pis-karyovskoe Cemetery and Udelnaya Fair. Visitors arriving from or departing to Finland will pass through either Finland Station (Finlyandsky vokzal) or Ladoga Station (Ladozhsky vokzal).

Back over the Neva, a vast area stretches south, encompassing Stalin's communist city centre which is still more Leningrad than St Petersburg. The appropriately named Southern St Petersburg includes some wonderful historic oddities, Stalinist monoliths and parkland, as well as the bus station (Avtovokzal No 2), the train stations Baltic Station (Baltiysky vokzal) and Vitebsk Station (Vitebsky vokzal), and Pulkovo Airport.

'The Petrograd Side is actually where it all began: Peter's city grew out of the Peter & Paul Fortress, prominently placed on Zayachy Island'

Amendants I Aero d rom

Gulf of Finland (Finsky Zaliv)



The table below allows you to plan a day's worth of activities in any area of the city. Simply select which area you wish to explore, and then mix and match from the corresponding listings to build your day. The first item in each cell represents a well-known highlight of the area, while the other items are more off-the-beaten-track gems.

Nightlife &

ACTIVITIES Sights Eating Entertainment

QC Historie Heart

Russian Museum (p76)

Pelmeny Bar (pi64)

Datscha (pi 82)

Church of the Saviour on

Onegin (pi 64)

Shostakovich Philharmonia

Spilled Blood (p72)

The Other Side (pi 65)

(pi 89)

State Hermitage Museum

Mod (pi 83)

(pi 25)


Smolny Cathedral (p83)

Black Cat, White Cat (p168)

JFCJazz Club (p185)


Museum of Decorative &

Sunduk (pi 68)

City Bar (p179)

Applied Arts (p86)

Vox (pi68)

Probka (pi 80)

Anna Akhmatova Museum in

the Fountain House (p87)


Alexander Nevsky

Imbir (pi 69)

Che (pi 84)

& Vosstaniya

Monastery (p90)

Bistrot Garçon (p170)

Griboedov (pi 84)

Dostoevsky Museum (p93)

Cat Café (p170)

Fish Fabrique (pi84)

Pushkinskaya 10 (p91)


Railway Museum (p97)

Karavan (p i 71 )

Cynic (pi79)

Sennaya pi (p96)

Testo (pi71)

Havana Club (pi 82)

Yusupov Gardens (p98)

Fasol (p i 71)

Manhattan (p184)


St Isaac's Cathedral (plOO)

The Idiot(p172)

Mariinsky Theatre (pi 88)

Nikolsky Cathedral (pi 03)

Stolle (pi 73)

Shamrock (p180)

Yusupov Palace (p102)

Crocodile (p172)


Conservatory (pi 89)


Menshikov Palace (pllO)

Restorán (pi 73)

DieKneipe (pi 80)


Kunstkamera (pi 07)

Russky Kitsch (pi 73)

Island (pi 83)

Geological Museum (pill)

Cheburechnaya (pi 74)

Black & White (p181)

Petrograd Side

Cruiser Aurora (pi 17) Peter & Paul Fortress (pi 13) Yelagin Island (p120)

Tbilisi (pi75) Aquarel (pi 74) Russian Fishing (p174)

Bridge Lounge (pi 79) Tunnel Club (pi 83) Orlandina (pi 84)


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