8 Non-Touristy Things to See in St. Petersburg

Non-Touristy Things

Which off-the-beaten-track sites should I see in St Petersburg?

  • Port Sevkabel: A waterfront factory turned cultural centre, with exhibitions, festivals, nearly 100 local businesses, and magical views over the sea
  • Annenkirche: A hauntingly unique church which is completely burnt out on the inside, and houses exhibitions, concerts and more
  • New Holland Island: This sophisticated creative hub is home to delicious restaurants, interesting shops and an events programme for every season
  • Pushkinskaia 10: The home of St Petersburg’s underground artists, where visitors can explore a dozen galleries showcasing non-conformist art, literature and music, and even visit the workshops of the artists
  • Artistic courtyards: Take a walk around St Petersburg to discover art installations hidden in the city’s courtyards, experience the city behind the scenes
  • Street Art Museum: Russia’s first and only museum dedicated to street art allows local artists to showcase their talents on this industrial site
  • Golitsyn Loft: A labyrinthine retail and nightlife complex located in a riverfront mansion, and a favourite haunt of St Petersburg’s residents
  • Artmuza: This modern art museum comprises 10 galleries, hundreds of shops and artists’ studios situated in a former musical instrument factory

St. Petersburg is one of the world’s most culturally diverse cities. World-famous sites such as the Russian Museum, Hermitage and Mariinsky Theatre attract millions of tourists each year. But what if instead of a guided tour of St. Petersburg you are looking for something off the beaten track, and want to experience the city as local people do? Whether you’re looking for museums and galleries, retail, nightlife, or want to admire the local culture on a walk around the city, read on to find some of St. Petersburg’s most unique non-touristy spots.

Port Sevkabel 

Non-Touristy Things - Sevkabel

Photo by Express to Russia staff

Port Sevkabel is a vast cultural centre located on the site of a seafront cable factory. Exhibitions, festivals and markets are held throughout the year, and visitors can explore 90 local businesses: get involved with ceramic or beer workshops, visit local design studios or even the tattoo shops! Sevkabel’s waterfront promenade is the ideal spot to enjoy the sea air and admire the enchanting view over the Gulf of Finland. In summer, visitors can take a boat from the Hermitage to Port Sevkabel or rent bicycles to explore the site, and in winter an ice-rink is constructed on the waterfront. Foodies are spoilt for choice with vegan restaurants, all-day brunch, Georgian food, and much more.

Address: Kozhevennaya Liniya, 40
Nearest metro station: Vasileostrovskaya


Non-Touristy Things - Annenkirche

What may look like a typical St Petersburg church on the outside couldn’t be more different on the inside. Annenkirche was built for German Lutherans living in St Petersburg, and was used as a cinema and nightclub during the Soviet era. The church was desecrated by a fire and Annenkirche subsequently lay abandoned for many years, until the decision was made to renovate the church, but to leave the charred interior as it was. Visiting Annenkirche today is a surreal experience - the baby-blue outside contrasting the burnt-out inside. Annenkirche is a working church today, but also there are exhibitions, concerts and other events held inside the building.

Address: Kirochnaya Ulitsa, 8В
Nearest metro station: Chernyshevskaya

New Holland Island

Non-Touristy Things - New Holland Island

Photo by Express to Russia staff

Initially a shipyard for Peter the Great’s navy, New Holland has been transformed into a vibrant creative hub housed in beautiful red-brick buildings. New Holland boasts an extensive events programme for each season - lectures about art and culture, an open-air cinema during summer, ice rink during winter, markets and gigs. There are many boutiques and restaurants on site - the Israeli and Mexican street food is highly recommended. Coming soon, another of New Holland’s buildings will be renovated into a modern art museum named ‘Garage’, sister to the Moscow museum of the same name.

Address: Admiralteysky Canal Embankment, 2
Nearest metro stations: Admiralteyskaya, Sadovaya

Pushkinskaya 10

Non-Touristy Things - Pushkinskaya 10

What first emerged as a squat and creative commune in the Soviet Union has become an internationally renowned museum of non-conformist culture, and a base for St Petersburg’s underground creative community. Pushkinskaya 10 houses more than a dozen galleries of art, music and literature, Russia’s First National Rock Museum, hosts lectures and poetry readings and much more besides. Preserving its heritage as an artists’ commune, Pushkinskaya 10 still comprises a neighbourhood of 40 flats where artists live and work; the flats are frequently opened up to the public and you never know what you’ll discover whilst exploring the complex.

Address: Pushkinskaya Ulitsa, 10
Nearest metro stations: Mayakovskaya, Ploschad' Vosstaniya

Artistic Courtyards

Non-Touristy Things - Mosaic Courtyard

St. Petersburg is a city of courtyards, located in almost all buildings. Exploring them, you’ll not only experience the city as local people know it, but see how local artists use these communal spaces as the ideal canvas to create hidden gems. For example, visit Nelson’s Yard, where a local artist has transformed his courtyard into a surreal community sculpture garden. Or the Mosaic Courtyard, created by local art students, where swathes of coloured glass span the huge courtyard and adorn the pavements, benches and playground with art and sculptures.

Nelson’s Yard Address: Polozova Ulitsa, 6. Nearest metro station: Petrogradskaya
Mosaic Courtyard Address: Chaikovskogo Ulitsa, 2 . Nearest metro station: Chernyshevskaya

Street Art Museum

Non-Touristy Things - Street Art Museum

Photo by Alexander Shchepin, Photobank Lori

A unique museum situated in a plastic factory in the suburbs, the Street Art Museum showcases contemporary Russian culture in a refreshing contrast to St Petersburg’s traditional galleries and museums. A collective of artists established Russia’s first and only museum dedicated to street art, giving a space for leading Russian street artists to demonstrate their skills. The design of the museum, using the existing industrial site, reflects the ability of street art to transform built spaces into works of art. The museum houses both temporary and permanent exhibitions, and also festivals and other events within its extensive site.

Address: Shosse Revolyutsii, 84 AB, near Industrial'nyy Prospekt
Nearest metro station: Novocherkasskaya

Golitsyn Loft

Non-Touristy Things - Golitsyn Loft

Photo by Express to Russia staff

This mansion on the Fontanka River was a haunt of Pushkin and former residence of the Turgenev brothers. Its present day incarnation comprises 100 unique businesses spread over five buildings and five floors set around a central courtyard. Golitsyn Loft is a favourite spot amongst St Petersburg’s residents who enjoy the complex day and night. There is something for everyone - live music, hidden nightclubs, a rooftop bar, vintage and second-hand clothing, tattoo studios, dozens of restaurants of international cuisine, even an art gallery. Please note that many places take cash only.

Address: Fontanka river embankment, 20
Nearest metro station: Gostinyy dvor, Chernyshevskaya


Non-Touristy Things - ArtMuza

A cultural complex and museum of modern art, visitors to Artmuza will discover ten galleries with a monthly rotation of exhibitions, an expansive roof terrace, shops, salons, studios, and an extensive events programme. The open-plan design of art-filled corridors and open studios gives a sense of creativity open to everyone who visits, and makes you feel like you’re backstage at a gallery. Artmuza aims not just to exhibit art but to involve the public in cultural life, with workshops of many artistic and creative disciplines run by the museum’s residents.

Address: 13-Ya Liniya Vasil'yevskogo Ostrova, 70-72
Nearest metro station: Vasileostrovskaya

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