Olga's Private Tour Guide Service in Saint-Petersburg, Russia

email: olguide@gmail.com Skype Olgamiheyeva home +7(812)365-3682 cell# +7-921-757-50-32.

Major Attractions

The Hermitage Museum

The Hermitage Museum - now contains more than 3 million items: among them 15,000 original paintings by the world’s greatest artists: the biggest collection of art in Russia and one of the world’s greatest museums. The Hermitage consists of The Winter Palace, Small Hermitage, Old and New Hermitage and the Hermitage Theatre - all interconnected by passages.

My tour includes highlights of Western-European art as well as some interiors of the formal reception rooms of Russian Emperors situated in the Winter Palace which nowadays is also part of the Hermitage Museum.

But what’s the use of a more detailed description?  It is so much better to see and experience it in reality than to read even the best of descriptions. If you have any preferences concerning this tour please let me know and I will do my best to accommodate them.

The Hermitage tour can last between 2 and 5 hours (or even more!) depending on your wishes. Please note that there are practically no paintings by Russian artists in the Hermitage. If you are interested in these, then I recommend you include a tour of The Russian Museum.

The Russian Museum

The Russian Museum – former Mihailovsky Palace, originally built for the youngest son of Paul the First: Mihail by name, hence the name of the palace. Today, as the largest museum of Russian art, it houses artifacts of exclusively Russian origin, from icons of the 12th century to Russian 20th century avant-garde paintings. It also has a department of Russian Folk Art where you can see authentic embroidery, famous lacquered boxes, funny toys, bright colorful clothes, wooden and glass ware of the 18th to the 20th century.

As a former Imperial Palace it also displays some beautiful Empire style interiors on its 2ndfloor.  

St. Peter and St. Paul Fortress.

St. Petersburg as a city and later as the capital of Russia began with the construction of this fortress during the war with Sweden in 1703. The Fortress is situated on a small island.  Now there are several museums here, the most popular being St. Peter and St. Paul Cathedral where the Russian Emperors are buried: from Peter the Great, the city’s founder, to Nicholas II, the last Russian Emperor together with his family, who were buried here for the first time in 1997…

On the grounds of the fortress there are many different museums, sights and spectacular river-side views. To mention just a few:

  • The prison for Political Convicts, among which there were such famous people as Lenin’s elder brother and Dostoevsky;
  • The Museum of Space Exploration is situated in the former gas-dynamic laboratory;
  • The History of the City is shown in many curiosity items in the large Commandant’s house.

The House of Peter the Great.

The very first house built in St. Petersburg.
Peter the Great lived here on and off for several years while supervising the construction of St. Peter and St. Paul Fortress: his new city was gradually built around the Fortress. This modest wooden cabin was built in 3 days and contains original furniture and possessions of Peter the Great. The stone “capsule” was built over the wooden cabin by orders of Catherine II – to preserve it for future generations.

When you see this small wooden house you are surprised that its doorway is lower than Peter’s actual height of 2.4 meters {about 6.8 feet}.

St. Isaac’s Cathedral.

It is the 4th tallest domed cathedral in the world: 101.5m high and it is the only church in the world which has 112 monolithic columns. Its construction took 40 years and was finished in 1858.

Jasper, porphyry, lapis lazuli, malachite and 14 kinds of marbles of various colours were used to decorate the interior.

It is also possible to climb some 260 steps and see the city from the upper colonnade. The cathedral building is a state museum now. In recent years, however, the church services have again been held here on religious holidays.

The Cathedral of the “Saviour on the Spilt Blood”.

This cathedral was built in the truly Russian style in 1907 on the site where the Emperor Alexander II was mortally wounded by terrorists in 1881 - thus it is a memorial church devoted to Alexander II.

It looks very attractive with multi-coloured and golden cupolas and mosaics. This is the only church with a total area of mosaics of both interior and exterior of 7,000 square meters.

The cathedral building is a state museum now.

The Summer Garden and the Summer Palace of Peter the Great.

Please do not confuse this 10 hectare park situated in the very center of St. Petersburg with the Summer Gardens and Parks of Peterhof which occupy a much bigger territory and are rather far from St. Petersburg - about 1 hour drive by car or 40 minutes by hydrofoil. The Peterhof Summer Gardens and Parks are described below in the section “Palaces outside St. Petersburg”.

The 10 hectare park in the center of St. Petersburg was called the Summer Garden by Peter the Great who invited the best French gardeners to lay it out in the French style, decorating it with many beautiful Italian sculptures and a large variety of trees and flowers. Also, by orders of Peter the Great, pipes were laid along the Fountain river (which got its name precisely because of this) to bring water for the garden fountains. Unfortunately the whole fountain system was destroyed by one of the most disastrous floods in 1777 and has never been restored since. But now the Summer Garden is undergoing its first extensive restoration and next season we will see the fountain system restored for the first time after the 1777 flood, we will again enjoy looking at the sculptures, and the museums will be re-opened. These will include: the Summer House of Peter the Great where he lived with his beloved wife Catherine the First, The Tea House and The Coffee House.

It is an exciting prospect!

Palaces outside St. Petersburg

  All of the suburban palaces were greatly damaged by bombardment during WWII. So you will have the chance to see impressive and very accurate post -WWII reconstructions.

Catherine Palace in Tsarskoye Selo and Paul’s Palace in Pavlovsk.



It is worthwhile seeing both palaces in one day with a short break for lunch. Please count on at least 6 hrs for the whole tour : from the time the guide picks you up at your hotel or wherever is convenient for you - to the time the guide leaves you safely wherever you choose.

These 2 destinations are very popular with tourists and they are often mentioned together in guide-books simply because they are situated close to each other, only 5 to 10 minutes drive apart. Tsarskoye Selo is the original name of the suburban small town which in Soviet time was re-named after the greatest Russian poet Alexander Pushkin, but now has been re-named back to Tsarskoye Selo.

Catherine Palace with its legendary Amber Room and the surrounding parks were created by Elizabeth (Peter’s daughter) and the architect Rastrelli in grand Baroque style. Catherine the Great and the architect Charles Cameron later altered some of the palace interiors to the Classical style, as well as adding some new buildings to the Palace.

Other attractions in Tsarskoye Selo are Catherine Park with its Cameron Gallery and Catherine’s private Bathhouse called the Agate Rooms; Alexander Park and Alexander Palace which now displays an exhibition devoted to the last days of the last Russian Tsar’s family.



Despite being smaller than Catherine’s Palace, the fascinating Paul’s Palace with its magnificent neo-classical interior is a veritable feast to the eyes. All the rooms on the ground floor and the 1st floor were restored after WWII in their original style and are now available for visitors. Paul’s Palace is surrounded by a huge quiet and romantic park in the ‘so-called’ English style with tall trees, scattered streams, hills, and seemingly endless paths.



  For a non-rushed, relaxed and comprehensive acquaintance with Peterhof it is best to allow at least 6 hours : from the time the guide picks you up at your hotel or wherever is convenient for you - to the time the guide leaves you safely wherever you choose.

Located on the Gulf of Finland, Peterhof was the main summer residence conceived and built on the whole according to the original plan by Peter the Great between 1709 and 1723. Later, after Peter the Great, his ideas were fully realized and improved but the general main plan of Peterhof remained unchanged.

Its greatest feature is 150 stunning water fountains located on the surrounding grounds of 14 parks with more than 15 museums, most of which are former imperial palaces, summer houses, bath-houses, etc. The total area of Peterhof and its surrounding areas with parks and palaces is 2,500 acres or 1,000 hectares. These impressive figures are mentioned here not only to impress you but also to make you realize that it is not possible to see most of it during a few hours.

I recommend devoting more time to exploring Peterhof’s Lower Park which is a fantastic place if you need a break from crowded and stuffy museums, the chaos of the busy St. Petersburg streets and the hooting of impatient drivers. There are fountains everywhere you look, the park is in the French symmetrical style and it is rightly called the “Russian Versailles”.

Please notice that fountains are working from late May to beginning of October and then they are switched off for the cold season. And the best way to get to Peterhof i s by hydrofoil (i.e. speedboat) which are available only from mid May to first week of October. Boat tickets are from 500 Roubles (one way). Boats leave every 30 minutes and the trip to/from Peterhof takes about 35 to 40 minutes.

email: olguide@gmail.com Skype Olgamiheyeva home +7(812)365-3682 cell# +7-921-757-50-32.