St. Petersburg: How to make a "grown-up city" fun for kids!

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Our guide Elina was born and raised in downtown St. Petersburg. She is an art history scholar, making her the perfect person to offer both a local's insight and academic's expertise on the Russian city. Elina is also a parent and has joined us today to offer advice on how to enjoy all of St. Petersburg's cultural offerings while balancing the interests of younger travelers.

Are you planning a trip to St. Petersburg with your little one(s) but all the programs you see are full of places of interest for adults? Here are some tips for how to make your trip more enjoyable for everyone.

The Hermitage in summer is one of the busiest museums as it is crowded and stuffy but you absolutely cannot miss it; if you are in St. Petersburg it is definitely a pearl of your trip. And you can do it with kids! Make a stop at Knights Hall, your boys will love it. Many kids like the Impressionists (3rd floor). Let your kids press buttons for 10 minutes at the compute educational center and look at the pictures which pop up with explanations you can read to them or if they can read already, they can be proud to learn some facts by themselves.

Peterhof Gardens are definitely another “must-see” if you are coming to St. Petersburg in summer. Kids will LOVE this place. If it is warm enough, bring extra clothes and towels for your kids and let them splash in the fountains. There are fancy fountains in Peterhof which they will definitely love to watch even if it is too cold for water games. Taking the hydrofoil is also fun for kids and it is a much faster way to reach the suburb than by car.

While traveling through the city, you should also try out the subway ride, as St. Petersburg subway is one of the most beautiful and deepest in the world.

You can customize a private tour to see what piques the kids’ interests, for example the oldest zoo in Russia, the Aurora cruiser, Artillery museum, the open air Old Locomotive museum, the Doll museum, Oceanarium, Dolphinarium, and Zoology Museum where they can see the famous mammoth Dima who was found in Siberia in permafrost. Finally, they will definitely enjoy a river/canal ride, especially if it is private and your guide will take the time to make the story interesting for the young ones. And one more idea: climb up the colonnade of St. Isaac’s Cathedral and see the city from a bird’s eye view.

For lunch most children like Russian crepes called blini and doughnuts called pishki for dessert.

Children can also sit through – and enjoy! – an evening theatre performance after a break at a playground or café: choose the Nutcracker, Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty ballet. Performances in the oldest permanent circus in Russia are also fascinating. Remember that if you want to keep your children’s energy levels up, don’t start your tour early in the morning, especially if you are coming by ship. You will avoid long queues at the customs and passport control, so starting out at 9 or 9:30am would be advised instead of 8am. (Also, museums do not open earlier than 10am.)

On a final note, prepare the kids for a long day, involve them in the planning by asking them what they would like to visit from the tour suggestions; also a visit to the souvenir shop should give them a good break, picking out a matroshka (nestling dolls) is a fun treat.

Good luck in your visit to the Pearl of the Baltics!

Thanks for the great suggestions, Elina. If any one is traveling to St. Petersburg this summer - with or without kids! - Elina is a great resource for getting to know this incredible city. You can get in touch with her through her guide profile page.
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