The City of Palaces and White Nights

Discovering the capital of culture and gastrobars - Saint Petersburg

Petersburg square by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Welcome to the Venice of the North!

Saint Petersburg, also called ‘the second capital’, ‘the Northern Capital’, or ‘the Venice of the North’, is the northernmost metropolis in the world. Peter the Great, its founder, invited foreign specialists from all over the world to help build the city. This is why Russian culinary traditions intertwined with French, German, Swedish, Dutch, and other cuisines in Saint Petersburg from the very beginning. 

canal in St. Petersburg by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

In the 21st century, Saint Petersburg once again became the capital of Russia – but this time, in gastronomy. There are restaurants and bars here that feature in the most prestigious international rankings. 

Gastrobars – small, cozy establishments with short but interesting and affordably-priced menus – owe their incredible popularity in Russia to Saint Petersburg. Another major attraction of this city are the – sometimes miniscule – cocktail and wine bars.

View of the city of St. Petersburg by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Top 5 reasons to visit Saint Petersburg: Imperial City

For 200 years, Saint Petersburg was the residence of the Russian emperors. The city is full of vivid, beautiful attractions: palaces, residences, monuments, museums, theaters, enormous squares. 

Definitely take a scenic walk through the city center and wrap it up in one of the restaurants located on the upper floors of historic buildings.

These locations often provide unforgettable views of cathedral domes and the city roof-tops.

Venice of the North by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

White Nights

From late May to mid-July, Saint Petersburg’s nights are taken over by twilight. It is said that you can read a book outdoors during the White Nights. 

The Petersburg spire by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Sections of the city are connected by a number of bridges that open at night for ships to pass.

Petersburg square by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

A particularly striking performance is the drawing of the Palace Bridge, located next to the city’s main museum, the Hermitage, set to epic classical music.

canal in St. Petersburg by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

River Сruises and Boat Trips

A number of small rivers and canals criss-cross the center of Saint Petersburg. When the weather is warm, sightseeing boats cruise the water.

Peterburg video by Tatiana ShiskinaFederal Agency for Tourism

In order to fully understand why Saint Petersburg is called the Venice of the North, you need to see the palaces and embankments from the water and go under the bridges. 

New Holland Island-2 by New HollandFederal Agency for Tourism

New Holland

Peter the Great decided to build Saint Petersburg shortly after a trip to Holland. New Holland is a manmade island located in the center of the city, used to dry ship timber. 

In the 21st century, New Holland is a gastronomic island. A variety of restaurants, cafés, and bars are located here, including in the Bottle – a round building that once housed a prison.

The Merry Family (1668) by Jan Havicksz SteenRijksmuseum

Party Street

Rubinstein Street is the center of restaurant life in Saint Petersburg, measuring only 700 meters, but containing almost 100 restaurants, cafés, and bars. This is a place where you will find unforgettable gastronomic experiences or have fun bar-hopping.

Pozharskaya cutlet St. Petersburg by tm agencyFederal Agency for Tourism

What to Eat in Saint Petersburg

Pozharsky cutlet – a juicy chicken cutlet that owes its crispy crust to the white bread crumbs it is breaded in.

This recipe, known since the beginning of the 19th century, was one of Emperor Nicholas I’s favorite dishes.

Peterburg Smelt FishFederal Agency for Tourism

Koryushka, or European smelt – a small fish that locals consider their main gastronomic specialty. People fish for koryushka in the spring in the Neva and other bodies of water surrounding Saint Petersburg.

During the season, European smelt is sold not just in stores, but at stalls everywhere. You will recognize the fish by its cucumber-like smell. It is usually served fried in restaurants. 

Pyshki, Pyshechka cafe by Pyshechka cafeFederal Agency for Tourism


Deep-fried ring-shaped donut-like buns sprinkled with icing sugar, considered one of the culinary symbols of Saint Petersburg.

Pyshki, Pyshechka cafe by Pyshechka cafeFederal Agency for Tourism

They gained prominence during the Soviet period, when Saint Petersburg was called Leningrad. 

Pyshki, Pyshechka cafe by Pyshechka cafeFederal Agency for Tourism

This is a dish for people who want to time travel back to the Soviet Union. You can try pyshki at the Pyshechka cafe.

Beef Stroganov (21st Century) by tm agencyFederal Agency for Tourism

Beef Stroganoff

A dish consisting of thin slices of beef with a smetana-based sauce. It was named after Count Stroganov and became popular in Saint Petersburg in the 19th century.

Sour soup with mushrooms by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism


A soup made from pickles and usually cooked with offal. The recipe of Leningrad-style rassolnik appeared shortly after the October Revolution, when the city was having serious issues with food supplies. That is why the other ingredients for this soup – apart from cucumbers – are very simple: potatoes, carrots, pearl barley.

Delicacy Petersburg by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Koporsky tea — herbal tea named after the village of Koporye near Saint Petersburg. It is made from herbs called Ivan-tea. People have been drinking koporsky tea, which has medicinal properties, in Russia for centuries.

Cake Leningrad set St. PetersburgFederal Agency for Tourism

The word about Leningradsky selection pastries started to spread when Saint Petersburg was called Leningrad. 

The set consisted of a variety of miniature versions of cakes: Soviet bouchée cake, éclairs, pastry cream horns, sponge cake bars, and shortbread tarts packed into one box. These can be found at patisseries and in stores. 

Credits: Story

Сhief Сonsultant — Ekaterina Drozdova, restaurateur, gastronomic entrepreneur, food and social activist, Contributors — Natalia Savinskaya, Anna Kukulina, Proximity Russia, Translation Services Win-Win, Marina Luzina, Alexey Baulin, Alexander Averin

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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