Wondering what are the most romantic things to do in St Petersburg? St. Petersburg, Russia is just one of those cities you have to see once in your life. It has the splendour that will wow even seasoned travellers, yet it remains a rather underrated destination.
Table of Contents
Most Romantic Things to do in St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg has many faces: the city of Tsars, the stage for the Red Army’s takeover, the place of many world-renowned art museums and now a European city with a diverse selection of attractions and a great restaurant scene. You can come up with a St. Petersburg itinerary for every budget, but don’t forget to feel the romantic vibes of the Venice of the North. Here are the most romantic things to do in St. Petersburg.
Take a boat tour of the St. Petersburg canals
Start your romantic St. Petersburg getaway on the right note with a boat tour through the canals and rivers of the city. The regular tours usually last around 1 hour and cover the main canals with a short trip on the Neva river. You can also go one step further and get an evening cruise on a jazz boat. If you have the time, choose a nighttime boat tour during the opening of the bridges: the view will be so much better than from the embankment.
Drink cocktails at a secret underground speakeasy bar Kabinet
A candlelit cellar, live music, casino tables and cocktails the like of which you haven't tried before... Whatever you might have expected, you will be pleasantly surprised by Bar Kabinet. This establishment really is secret: you would never find it on your own, even knowing the address, but all will become clear once your reservation is confirmed. Be prepared to draw cards and take a gamble ordering the most unusual of drinks... this date will be one for the books.
Opening hours: 08:00 - 03:00
Ice skate at the New Year Bazaar on New Holland Island
Once the temperature drops below zero and remains so, true winter comes to St. Petersburg. It’s a beautiful time of year, filled with snow, gifts, and winter sports. But the ice skating season begins mid-November when the 2000 square meter ice skating rink is installed on the little island of New Holland. Skating together is the perfect winter activity: lots of laughter, exercise and holding each other up as you steer clear of the other skaters… but that doesn’t mean you can’t explore new territory at the same time!
New Holland is famous for being a big activity hub, modern and filled with events and festivals. You can explore the circular naval prison building nicknamed ‘The Bottle’ for its unique shape and find many fun shops inside. But if you come during wintertime, you might be in time for the New Year Bazaar held in the last weeks of December up to the second week of January. There’s lots to explore and enjoy in this corner in the heart of St. Petersburg.
Rent a rowboat and picnic in one of the St. Petersburg gardens
The state-city parks in St. Petersburg are the most beautiful setting for a romantic stroll that ends with a picnic under the trees. If you're looking for that bit of romance in the very city centre, grab a picnic basket and head to the Tavrichesky Garden.
To take this romantic outing one step further, rent a rowboat in Primorsky Park Pobedy on Krestovsky Island or in Moskovsky Park Pobedy. Both are outside of the city centre and will allow you to explore the recreational side of St. Petersburg that locals enjoy day-to-day.
On Elagin Island you will be able to rent a rowboat for 300-400 rubles per hour which is about 6 dollars. You will need to make a 2000 rub (30 dollars) deposit though.
The opening hours are 10.00 – 22.00 and the boat station stops renting boats after 21:00.
Climb the St. Isaac Cathedral colonnade for unparalleled views of the city centre
The famous St. Isaac Cathedral offers perhaps the best view on St. Petersburg city centre. Even if you're not into churches, consider taking the staircases to the top of the Cathedral. Its beautiful colonnade offers a view on the Neva river as well as to the Isaakievskaya Square and beyond. If you're lucky, you might get to enjoy a memorable sunset during the late hours of the day. While it might be a little windy up there, you will be too taken with the view to really mind that!
Huddle together with a cup of warm chocolate in the grotto cafe 'Bolshe Coffee'
St. Petersburg is known to be a moody city. In fact, the locals have a running joke about how there was summer last year but they were sick that day so they missed it. So if you’re unlucky to get some rain and wind during your visit, I’ve got a solution for you!
Escape the bad weather in this cosy corner only 50 meters away from metro station Gorkovskaya: a tiny grotto coffee shop in Alexandrovsky park. The cute ‘Bolshe Coffee’ cafe is incredibly cosy but also known for serving speciality coffee and educating the public. The owners regularly run coffee tasting events that they announce in their VK group.
Go on a quest adventure in one of St. Petersburg's many escape rooms
Yes, you can find escape rooms all over the world, even so, quest lovers shouldn’t miss the St. Petersburg escape room experience. The amount of quests offered throughout the city is insane. The quality of the setups, the diversity of the puzzles and scenarios are mind-boggling. You will find the quests much better value for money: games start from 25 dollars per group which is a real bargain. Most of the quests are available for teams of two. For English language quests check iLocked and Mir Kvestov. In case you’re already a seasoned player, you can try an active quest which involves physical activity like climbing and running. One such quest is the Fort Boyard, inspired by the original game show. It’s available on Mir Kvestov and is probably the most expensive one.
Take a helicopter ride over the city
If you want a change of perspective, why not hop on a 15-minute helicopter ride above the historical St. Petersburg city centre? The route will take you up and down the Neva river, offering a stunning view of the city. The helicopter can be found at the Peter and Paul Fortress during the weekends starting from 11:30 to 18:00. The short but sweet experience will cost you 5000 rubles (75 dollars) per person.
Explore the Peterhof Lower Garden
The beauty of the Russian Versailles is the dreamiest day trip that shouldn’t be missed! Wandering around the Peterhof Lower Gardens and discovering the beautiful fountains, sculptures, water cascades and alleys leading you towards the Gulf of Finland is unforgettable. There are many opportunities for acting silly and having fun together as well: there are several joker fountains that come into action unexpectedly. There is the Benches trick fountain, the Oak and Fir fountains and the majestic Water Road which is turned on 3 times a day just for one minute. So pack a spare change of clothes and get ready to enjoy Peterhof!
Play board games in 'Playloft Gaga' with a view of the rooftops
If you love board games and want to spend a relaxing couple of hours getting to know each other better, head over to the Playloft Gaga hidden in the heart of the centre. Once you climb the 5 floors of a very traditional St. Petersburg house, you will get to enjoy the cosiest game club with beautiful views of the city.
'Playloft Gaga' is one of the very popular 'anticafe' spots in St. Petersburg. An anticafe doesn't charge people for coffee or tea but charges for the time they spend inside the cafe. That means there's a going rate per minute. Many such cafes exist and they all serve unlimited coffee and tea with biscuits so that you can stay as long as you like. Some also include basic board games like chess or cards.
'Playloft Gaga' however was created by a board game store, which is why the entire loft is filled with all kinds of games imaginable. You can also order takeout to be delivered to their address and you can also bring your own alcohol after 17:00 for a small fee.
Some of the board games available in English are: Codenames, Muse, Say anything, Geek out, Hit or miss, Alias, Time's up, Steel arena, Timeline, Goblin dice, Lexico and others.
The loft also has foosball, Playstation, Twister, chess and anything else that you would expect. Prices vary depending on the time of day between 2 - 2,5 rub per minute, with maximum amount capped at 650 rub so you won’t go over.
Climb the St. Petersburg rooftops on a tour or a date
If you're more of a daredevil, consider taking an informal tour of St. Petersburg's rooftops to
level up your St. Petersburg vacation. Some companies also offer to organize a date including a candle-lit dinner on a flat roof with a beautiful view. Others have a more hands-on approach without any tourism companies. They’re called ‘informal tours’ and they perfectly convey the Russian spirit: free, creative and with a head for heights.
Have a delicious dinner at the vegan-friendly Ukrop
Ukrop (Russian for 'dill') is one of the best vegetarian cafes in St. Petersburg. The menu has many vegan options and there are 4 locations all around the city. At the moment veganism in Russia still isn't too common, although vegetarian options have popped up in many places, especially when it comes to street food. The reason behind this is that a Northern diet was quite dependent on meat and fish for a long time, and many of the dishes revolve around dairy products and various meat. Other cafes that serve vegetarian options include Prana Bar, Prekrasnaya Zelenaya and Jiva Burgers.
Visit the Botanical Garden of Peter The Great
The Botanical Garden in St. Petersburg will surprise you with its scope and diversity. It hosts over 934 different plants. From the stunning orangery to the arboretum, you will find the park a perfect place for relaxation and calm walks. For that bit of extra beauty, join one of the excursions that will lead you through the Japanese garden. They are available during the summer on Wednesdays and weekends. And don’t forget to stop by the rosarium which hosts 118 types of roses.
Spend an evening at the theatre
Russia is known for outstanding ballet and classical music. Well, Saint Petersburg can deliver on both counts. An evening at one of the grand St. Petersburg theatres will complete your cultural program and will make a lasting impression. The most well-known theatres are Mariinsky Theatre, Alexandrinsky Theatre and the Hermitage Theatre. All three show the Swan Lake, among other stunning performances. Please check the playbill and order tickets in advance so that you don’t miss out.
Stay up to watch the bridges part during the summertime
There’s nothing more romantic than staying up until early morning to watch the Palace Bridge part to make way for the big ships. Should you visit during June and July, when the White Nights are in full swing, you will understand why it is the most popular time of year for tourists. You can spend half the night just wandering around a city that never gets dark… finish your day’s adventure by standing against the embankment railing, watching the iconic bridges drift apart.
Lesia Joukova is a dreamer & traveller from Russia, based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Visit her website, Dutch Wannabe, to discover insider city guides, enchanting Europe getaways and fairytale adventures that will transform your vacation.