Summer in Russia’s most cultured and beautiful city is glorious. The days are so long that the sun barely even sets before it rises again in the morning. Street parties, live music events and food festivals are just the norm of St. Petersburg during the summery White Nights.
Belye nochi, what the Russians call “white nights,” are what locals wait for every year. When mid-summer arrives, the city never sleeps, and not just because there is so much to do, but because the sun hardly sets! The wee hours of the night fill the city with a pearly, golden glow as the sun sets and rises, almost at the same time. It’s by far the best time to visit St. Petersburg.
Heathrow to Pulkovo for £178
Catch this deal onboard Aeroflot, Russia’s national airline, departing from London Heathrow and landing at Pulkovo International Airport for £178 (return, all taxes and fees included). Mid-July is a great (and cheap) time to visit, although it’s just at the end of the White Nights period, which typically lasts from mid-June to the beginning of July.
Experiencing St. Petersburg culture and summer festivities
- Eat lots of ice cream. Russians love their ice cream, called morozhenoe, and it’s an essential part of summer in St. Petersburg. Grab a cone and wander the riverside embankment.
- Visit the Summer Gardens. The beautiful Letnii Sad in St. Petersburg are specially designed for hot, summer strolls. The shady avenue is lined with trees and white marble statues and fountains. It’s as cool as can be on a hot day.
- Go for a swim at Lake Ladoga. Lake Ladoga is the source of the Neva River and a favourite spot to swim for locals. Hop on a train from the city and don’t forget to pack a picnic lunch. For something a bit more refreshing, a dip into the Baltic Sea is also nice!
- Watch the Neva Bridge go up. For some reason, this is really a highlight during White Nights when the ginormous Neva Bridge heaves apart to let all the boats through. Just make sure you’re on the right side of the river when this happens as the metro stops around 12:30 and the bridge stays open until 5am.
- Go to the ballet. Midsummer was usually when all the city’s performers went on holidays until the famous Marinskii Theatre launched “Stars of the White Nights Festival” in the early 1990s. Now, June and July are the best times to see daily operas, ballets and classical concerts around the city.
Have you ever experienced St. Petersburg’s white nights?
Img: St. Petersburg, Russia – Bank Bridge (All Rights Reserved), scarknee / Flickr: All Rights Reserved