St. Petersburg in Russia is sometimes called the ‘Venice of the North’ because of its many canals. It could with equal justice be called the ‘New York of the North’ because of the shopping and eating options available.
Anyone interested in the shopping experience in St. Petersburg will naturally gravitate first to Nevsky Prospekt. Along this boulevard are dozens of shops, restaurants and nearby sights.
Foremost among them is the Bolshoi Gostiny Dvor Department Store. Many of the goods are similar to what you might find in other metropolitan cities. Which is already a big change from Russia of the past. But the ambiance alone is worth a visit.
In Gostiny Dvor you’ll find not only clothing, sporting goods and souvenirs. You are surrounded by huge crystal chandeliers and other architectural elements that make shopping an art. Wind your way through the sections, then take a trip upstairs to the outdoor balcony.
Many of the items for sale are less expensive and higher quality than you might find at one of St. Petersburg’s outdoor flea markets. But be sure to bring a mixture of Traveler’s Checks and cash. To get the best exchange rates, get rubles beforehand. Many stores in St. Petersburg, even major ones, don’t accept credit cards.
But while you’re shopping don’t miss out on at least one of those flea markets, either. Go for a special scarf or the unique Soviet memorabilia. But be aware of your surroundings. There are pickpockets here just as there are in any large, outdoor shopping venue in a major city.
You can visit something as simple as a fruit stall at Kutznechny Market and have something fresh off the cart. Perfect for those in a hurry and traveling between sights.
Take in not just the food but the sights at Yeliseev’s, designed in 1902. The gilded ceilings, ornate chandeliers and stained glass are alone worth a visit. While you’re there, pick up some excellent Russian air-filled chocolate wrapped in paper depicting scenes of St. Petersburg. For the truly adventurous, try some of the red caviar.
When you’re ready to sit down and enjoy some food and drink, try the Canal-Side Cafe. Simple, but delicious fare of soups and sandwiches with an excellent view of the Griboyedov Canal. The people watching is great and the atmosphere is quiet. While you’re there try the peroshkis for dessert.
The Mocco Club is another great spot for soups and sandwiches, but they also have a wide selection of cakes made like nowhere else. Centrally located along Nevksy Prospekt, you can strike up a conversation with one of the many university students that frequent the venue.
Or, visit the Olympia (14 Liteiny Prospekt), which serves traditional Russian and European dishes. Part of the restaurant contains a casino and club where visitors can play roulette, slots or blackjack.
Don’t leave St. Petersburg without sampling some of the many shops and restaurants in this four-star city.
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