St. Petersburg is the second biggest city in Russia with about 5 million inhabitants. It was founded in 1703 by Peter the Great and it became the capital of Russia in 1712.
While the city had several names throughout history (Petrograd and Leningrad), since 1991 it’s called St. Petersburg, though locals often lovingly call their city by its nickname Piter.
In any case, St. Petersburg is a beautiful city with impressive buildings, great restaurants and lots of things to see and do!
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St. Petersburg with kids: a complete guide
We traveled to St. Petersburg with our 10-month-old baby and can say from our own experience: St. Petersburg is a great city to visit with kids!
In this guide I’ll share everything you need to know to plan an amazing family trip to St. Petersburg.
The best time to visit St. Petersburg?
We visited St. Petersburg in May (2019) and had good (but not perfect) weather during our visit. It wasn’t too hot, around 20 degrees Celsius and during our sightseeing tour it was a bit cloudy but dry. We also had some rain, though luckily not that much.
Obviously, you can’t control the weather (our tour guide said there was snow at the start of May, which was very unusual), but in general Spring is a great time to visit St. Petersburg.
Temperatures are perfect for sightseeing (not too hot or too cold) and the long days mean you have plenty of time to explore this beautiful city.
Do I need a visa for St. Petersburg?
That depends… Some nationalities don’t need a visa to visit Russia. Furthermore, when you are visited St. Petersburg as part of a cruise (or a ferry trip from Finland) and you stay 72-hours (maximum) you do not need a visa. More information can be found here.
However, we visited St. Petersburg as the starting point for our Trans Mongolian Express trip and therefore we needed a visa (we spent 13 days in Russia in total). It wasn’t difficult to get a Russian visa with a Dutch nationality, but we needed a whole bunch of documents (such as a letter from our Health Insurance and a visa support letter).
Requirements may be different for other nationalities, you can check with award-winning tour organisation Real Russia (we booked our trip via them, they provide excellent service and can help out with visa as well) or look online to check which rules apply to you.
How to get to St. Petersburg city center from the airport
There are official taxi stands at Pulkovo airport selling tickets with a prearranged price (between 900-1100₽, depending on your exact destination in the city). You pay at one of the taxi booths located within the airport and will be handed a paper with your destination. You hand this paper to a taxi driver and off you go.
Alternatively, you can book a taxi via Gett (a taxi app similar to Uber). We paid 1234,70₽ (€17) for our trip into the city. Mind you, this can be a lot cheaper if you book the economy car but we ordered a Gett Kids with a baby seat (suitable for babies older than 9 months) which costs more.
You can also get to the city center via public transport. More information can be found here.
How to get around in St. Petersburg?
St. Petersburg has a metro system, buses, minibuses (called marshrutkas) and trams. However, the city center is quite compact and we explored everything on foot as our Airbnb was very centrally located.
That being said, some attractions in St. Petersburg are located further from the city center (such as the Peterhof Gardens and Catherine’s Palace) and you’ll either need to use public transport or a taxi to get there (unfortunately we didn’t have time to visit either of these places).
More about public transport in St. Petersburg and which types of tickets are available can be found here.
The best things to do in St. Petersburg (with a baby)
Things you must see in St. Petersburg (with and without kids)
Real Russia walking tour around St. Petersburg
We did a 3-hour walking tour around St. Petersburg (booked via Real Russia). Our guide was a lovely Russian lady called Anna, who has been living in St. Petersburg her entire life. Anna led us around her city, showing us the many highlights and impressive buildings.
We admired the beautiful Church of our Savior on Spilled Blood, strolled over buzzing Nevsky Prospekt and marveled at the size of the Hermitage. All along the way Anna shared her in depth knowledge of Russian history and culture.
The length of the tour was perfect for us. Little D. was happy to sit in his stroller during the 3-hour tour watching the world go by, but he started to get a little fidgety towards the end.
The second biggest museum in the world (only surpassed by the Louvre) holding over 3 million artifacts… Our guide told us that if you would spend one minute admiring each item in the Hermitage it would take you 14 years (without eating or sleeping) before you would have seen everything.
Fun fact: did you know the Alexander Column in the Palace Square (in front of the Hermitage) isn’t fixed upon the square block but it held into place purely by it’s own weight?
The entrance fee for the Hermitage is 700₽ per adult, free for kids under 18.
The Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood
The Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood is officially known as the Church of the Resurrection of Christ. However, in 1881 there was a (mortal) attack on Tsar Alexander II when his carriage passed by this church and it subsequently received its more ominous nickname…
Despite this rather depressing historical fact, the Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood is beautiful and impressive. It was built in the typical medieval Russian style, with the colorful onion shaped domes (similar to St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow).
The interior of the church is cover by more than 25.000 square meter of mosaics which took 25 years to create!
The entrance fee to the Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood is 350₽ per adult and free for kids younger than 7.
The Russian Museum
Here you can find Russian art, both classic as well as contemporary. The building itself is very beautiful as well!
The entrance fee for the Russian Museum is 500₽ per adult and free for (pre)school children. This ticket is also valid for St. Michael’s Castle (see below).
St. Isaac’s Cathedral
We didn’t visit the Cathedral itself but climbed 262 steps to the 43 meter high colonnade. From the balcony around the colonnade we had a great view over the city!
Note: bring a baby carrier if you are traveling with kids too young to climb the many steps (or a baby that can’t walk yet, like our 10-month-old). We left our stroller at the entrance to the colonnade, under the watchful eye of the person checking the tickets.
The buzzing life line of St. Petersburg with lots of things to see, on both sides of the road. We really enjoyed walking along this famous street! There are many many many buildings and stops to make here, here is my top 5:
- Malaya Sadovaya Street (find the cats!)
- Yelisey Brothers store (your kids will love the Nutkraker inspired display on the outside, as well as all the amazing candy and other creations for sale on the inside in this lavishly decorated shop).
- Catherine Square and Alexandrinsky Theatre
- Kazansky Cathedral
- The Singer House
St. Michael’s Castle
Who doesn’t love to explore castles… I always find it fascinating to imagine how life must have been behind the walls in ancient times.
The castle was built for emperor Paul, unfortunately he didn’t get to enjoy his time there for long as he was murdered only 40 nights after he moved in.
The entrance fee for St. Michael’s Castle is 500₽ per adult and free for (pre)school children. This ticket is also valid for the Russian Museum (see above).
Peter the Great Monument(s)
Commissioned by Catherine the Great and another one by her son Paul (the one who was murdered in his castle). The sculpture ordered by Catherine is the most famous and stands upon a huge piece of granite.
Where to find the best (family friendly) restaurants in St. Petersburg?
Authentic Russian food at Kвартирка Soviet Cafe
After our tour we had lunch at the Kвартирка Soviet Cafe located at Malaysa Sadovaya Ulitsa 1 just of Nevksy Prospekt (look for the red motorbike with sidecar). This restaurant was recommended to us by our guide Anna and rightfully so!
Stepping into this restaurant is like stepping back in time, into your grandmother’s apartment… The old lamps, black and white televisions, record player and other paraphernalia from a different century made for the perfect decor to enjoy authentic Russian cuisine.
We ordered Pelmeni, fish cakes and syrnyky (a round sweet cheesecake served with sour cream). Everything was very tasty! The only downside was that they didn’t have a high chair for our baby, but the interesting interior kept him busy enough during our lunch;-).
Vietnamese at Pho ‘n’ Roll
I love Vietnamese food so I was thrilled when we found this place. Pho ‘n’ Roll has two restaurant locations in St. Petersburg, we visited the one at the Fontanka river embankment.
The food was delicious, the staff very friendly and there was a baby high chair available for little D. Definitely recommended!
Where to stay in St. Petersburg with a baby?
Airbnb in St. Petersburg
We stayed at an Airbnb in St. Petersburg, in an excellent location very close to the city center. We could easily walk to all major sights. The apartment is very compact, but newly renovated and very clean. Communication with the hostess was excellent, she replied in English within minutes each time I sent a message.
Accommodation discount: if you have never traveled with Airbnb before you can get €30 of your first Airbnb stay with this link!
There were some downsides as well though. The bed is quite narrow and I didn’t feel it was very comfortable. Also, while the Wi-Fi worked perfectly on our phones, it was configured in such a way (according to the hostess) that it didn’t work on our laptop and tablet. Which was a bit annoying as I tried to get some blogging done while little D. was taking a nap.
Finally, and this has never been a concern before but traveling with a baby is just different than traveling as a couple, I found the place just a bit too small for the three of us.
D. likes to roam around and play football with his dad, but there wasn’t much space for that. Also, we had a lot more luggage than when we were traveling with just the two of us, so it was a bit difficult to store everything. That being said, it’s a nice apartment in a great location. I’d recommend it for couples or single travelers (if you don’t mind an uncomfortable bed;-), but not for families.
If you prefer to stay at a hotel, check these wonderful family hotels on Booking.
St. Petersburg with a baby: in conclusion
We had two lovely days in St. Petersburg, it was the perfect way to start our Trans Mongolian Express adventure! You can download the list of things to do below.
Read more about our Trans Mongolian Express trip in my Irkutsk itinerary and Beijing itinerary. Want to read about our other family travel adventures or family travel tips? Also check out these posts:
- Athens with a baby
- Cities to visit in East Europe with kids
- Cities to visit in the UK and Ireland with kids
- Cities to visit in Scandinavia with kids
- Cities to visit in West Europe with kids
- Delhi with kids
- Jaipur with kids
- Free things to do in Singapore with kids
- Niagara Falls with kids
- Ochos Rios with kids
- Prague with kids
- Sydney with kids
- Yorkshire with kids
- What to pack for a baby’s first trip