The Best Activities for Kids in St. Petersburg

Fun for kids in St Petersburg

What are the best family-friendly attractions in St. Petersburg?

  • Summer: With canals, fountains and beach islands, summer in St. Petersburg always starts and ends with a SPLASH!
  • The Navy: Being one of Russia’s main ports, there’s plenty of impressive giants of the sea to be seen (and clambered aboard!).
  • Culture: there are so many historical museums, ornate palaces and prestigious theatres in this cultivated city, that you’re bound to find something to capture your child’s interest.
  • Winter: Though St. Petersburg is famed for its white nights, we think most children will like its white winters even more. With the snow comes magic, ice sculptures and queue-free attractions.

For that little prince or princess in your life, St. Petersburg truly is *the* fairytale city to whisk them away to for a week they will never forget. Every way you turn there’s a regal palace, magnificent cathedral or one-of-a-kind museum begging to be explored. St. Petersburg is also a lot more compact than the chaotic sprawl of Moscow, making it more short-leg friendly and it’s as flat as a pancake, which makes it ideal for zipping round on scooters (but not bikes— it’s way too dangerous!). We recommend that you wait to visit St Petersburg till the toddler years have passed and the little rascals have a long enough attention-span for museum visits, say 7 years plus.

For Summer's Sunny Days:

Fun for kids - Peterhof

Peterhof: Built to entertain royalty, this sprawling sea-side wonderland of fountains, rolling parks filled with inquisitive squirrels and glimmering palaces ought to be good enough for any child. The booby-trap sprinklers which the mischievous emperor used to surprise his guests with by stepping on secret stones will delight and SOAK children (and adults alike!). Bring swimsuits, towels, sunscreen and a picnic blanket for you to chill on while your little ones have a ball! Oh, and while there why don’t you let your children’s fantasies run wild by renting the prettiest of gowns and the most dashing long-coats for the whole family to stroll down the avenues in? Trust us, the pictures will be well worth the small price tag.
Address: Razvodnaya Ulitsa, 2, St Petersburg
Nearest metro station: train from Baltiysky railway station

Krestovsky Island: For those scorchers which can be surprisingly frequent during St. Petersburg’s summer, the best place to kick off you shoes and cool off is Krestovsky Ostrov; an island entirely devoted to leisure. There are rollerblades, bicycles, segways and much, much more to rent out. Unlike in other Russian parks, the lawns are there to be enjoyed so don’t forget to bring balls and picnic baskets along! Volleyball is a particularly favorite of Russians, but feel free to play badminton or frisbee if that’s your family’s thing. It’s unbelievable how voracious children’s appetites can be, so when the inevitable hungry whines start, head to the island’s picturesque promenade which is lined with California-cool, beachfront restaurants. At Russkaya Ribalka, the kids can even catch dinner for mom and pops! 
Nearest metro station: Krestovsky Island

Canals: There really is no better way to explore St. Petersburg, especially on a hot day, than onboard one of the many tour boats zipping up and down the city’s canals. If you’re a sporty family, you could even SUP through the centre of the city, ducking under the thousands of beautiful bridges— just keep in mind that the water isn’t exactly pristine. If you’re planning to visit Peterhof, don’t put your children through the ordeal of an hour in a stuffy taxi. Instead, for only a few more roubles, travel as the royals would by setting off from the Hermitage to their summer playground by boat and not just any boat; choose a hydrofoil. Children will love how it seems to skim across the surface.
Address: hydrofoil departs from Admiralteyskaya Embankment, 2
Nearest metro station: Admiralteyskaya 

Aerolift: Though boats may be the best way to explore St Petersburg, there’s really no better way to see St Petersburg than from the sky; and what better way to take to the skies than a stationary helium-balloon? Offering the same sweeping views as a helicopter at a fraction of the price (1500rub/adult & 800 rub/child) and without any of the safety concerns (even infants are allowed on!), this newly-installed 150m-high Aerolift has quickly gained popularity. Book tickets early to avoid disappointment, but do be aware that the flight schedule is at the mercy of the elements. *Aerolift only operates in summer.
Address:  Pirogovskaya Naberezhnaya, 5/2
Nearest metro station: Ploschad' Lenina

Boisterous Boys & Girls:

Fun for kids - Krasin

The Aurora Cruiser: The battle ship that started the Russian Revolution with a bang has seen it all. At 120 years old, this juggernaut is the oldest surviving ship of the Russian Navy. Which boy or girl wouldn’t get a thrill going under the decks to the cannon-hold that reverberated non-stop with blasts throughout the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905, WWI and the Great Patriotic War (WW2)? When it wasn’t fighting, the hold was even home to a pair of crocodiles! 
Address: Petrogradskaya embankment
Nearest metro station: Gorkovskaya, Ploschad' Lenina

Krasin Ice-Breaker: If one ship isn’t enough to satisfy your wanna-be General Commando then the Krasin Ice-breaker— which makes the Aurora look like a dingy in comparison— ought to provide more than enough military might to impress them out of their socks! *Entrance only with guided tours which can be organized in English.   
Address: Leytenanta Shmidta embankment
Nearest metro station: Vasileostrovskaya

S-189 Submarine: A relic of the cold war, this spine-chilling, killing-machine was left to rust on the seabed till it was rescued by a Russian naval officer. There aren’t any tours or descriptions in English, but surely just being within the suffocatingly-cramped body of this submarine will be enough to set your kiddo’s imagination firing.
Address: Leytenanta Shmidta embankment
Nearest metro station: Vasileostrovskaya

Artillery Museum: This museum has so many unique weapons and covers such a vast stretch of the history of combat that it really is worth setting aside a whole day to see it all. Within its imposing walls, one can find the sabre of Peter the Great and a set of Napoleon’s own personal weapons. The line-up of tanks, missiles and other heavy artillery which children can clamber on with wild abandon at the front of the museum will definitely be the bomb!  
Address: Aleksandrovskiy Park, 7
Nearest metro station: Gor'kovskaya

For Little Einsteins:

Fun for kids - planetarium

Kunstkamera: Peter the Great’s pet scientific project is certainly not for the squeamish, but if your kids are the type who swoon rather than scream at a worm then they’ll be enthralled by Kunstkamera’s cabinet of scientific (and grotesque) curiosities. Stuffed two-headed calves, one-eyed foetuses…you get the picture. Once you’ve managed to drag your kids away from the ghastly vats, there’s a sprawling ethnographic museum to run through which covers the customs and traditions of almost every ethnicity from the native cultures of the north to the Tartars. 
Address: University Embankment, 3
Nearest metro station: Admiralteyskaya

Planetarium No. 1: St. Petersburg’s Planetarium truly is number one, being the planetarium with the largest dome in the world! It also provides a perfect opportunity to rest your feet which are bound to be aching from all that walking. All you have to do at this museum is grab a bean bag and gaze heavenwards as you’re taken on an out-of-this-world, HD journey to infinity…and BEYOND! *The narration of the videos is only in Russian, but the richness of the 360º video experience is more than enough to capture the imagination. 
Address: Obvodniy channel embankment, 74
Nearest metro station: Frunzenskaya

Zoology Museum: It’s definitely worth popping in to see this museum. Though it may be a bit old-school, with its dusty, glass cabinets and insipid descriptions, the sight of the world’s ONLY stuffed wooly mammoth is sure to make up for the lack of interactive screens. Apart from the mammoth, there’s another 30,000 stuffed, pickled and preserved animals from every corner of the globe to gape at. 
Address: University Embankment, 1
Nearest metro station: Admiralteyskaya

For Budding Artists:

Fun for kids - Hermitage

The Hermitage: Even if your child doesn’t have the patience to dawdle around paintings all day (who can blame them?), the Hermitage still has plenty to offer them. There are knights in shining armor on metal-clad horses, giant gold clocks, velvet thrones and there’s even an impressive underground exhibit of ancient Egyptian sarcophagi and the like which is always a huge hit with kids.
Address: Palace Square, 2
Nearest metro station: Admiralteyskaya

The Hermitage storage facility: This practically top-secret storage facility-cum-museum is arguably more interesting than the Hermitage itself. It houses countless treasures that are simply too big to display in the winter palace; think gilded carriages, embroidered, Turkish cashmere gazebos, Catherine the Great’s impressive wardrobe and the sleds of the royal children. *Your children will have to have royal manners if they want to visit, as entrance is only allowed with a group tour that will most likely consist of ill-humored seniors.  
Address: Zausadebnaya Ulitsa, 39
Nearest metro station: Staraya Derevnya

The Mariinsky Theatre: In Russia, especially sophisticated St. Petersburg, theatre is so ingrained in the culture that it is not unusual to see parents taking toddlers to world-class ballet performances. Though we would hazard against taking any child below the age of 7 as there is the risk of being asked to leave should they misbehave, the sheer grandeur of St. Petersburg’s crowning jewel, the Mariinsky, will stun visitors of any age into a stupor lasting the whole performance. Though there really isn’t a performance that is anything short of spectacular at the Mariinsky, for a child you can’t get better than the annual New Year’s Nutcracker ballet. It is simply magical and it is worth booking tickets months in advance to ensure your child has the opportunity to experience Russia in all its richness. *If unsure whether a performance is suitable for your child, there are generally age-guidelines (not restrictions) indicated on the playbills which can be found online.
Address: Theatre Square, 1
Nearest metro station: Sennaya

Upsala Circus: Russian circuses are renowned for their skilled artists; unfortunately they are also infamous for their maltreatment of animals. Luckily, one doesn’t need to support chaining up bears to take your child to a Russian circus. Upsala circus is one of the only circuses in Russia that is animal-free. The social good this charity-cum-circus is doing is as applaudable as its performances which feature disadvantaged children and young adults. The company often goes on tour to Europe, so even if you aren’t coming to St. Petersburg anytime soon you should still check out their program. 
Address: Sverdlovskaya Embankment, 44
Nearest metro station: Ploschad' Lenina

For Petrol Heads: 

Fun for kids - rail museum

The Russian Railway Museum: Half a day of hopping on and off trains in the huge sheds of this museum will be sure to excite even those who thought they were indifferent to the beauty of royal-red engines and velvet-clad carriages. The variety of locomotives, from little coal-fired chuggers dating back to the 19th century to state-of-the-art trains with missile launching-platforms, is truly impressive. The interactive displays, many of which are in English, will answer all the “Whys?” and “Whats?” that are sure to arise from your inquisitive little one. 
Address: Bibliotechnyy Pereulok, 4/2
Nearest metro station: Baltiyskaya

Train journey: If your children love Harry Potter, then you have to take them on an overnight train. The thrill of dozing off to sleep on the top bunk and then waking up in a completely different city makes it the ultimate way to travel in Russia. We recommend you take the Moscow-St. Petersburg route and, if you’re a family of 3 or more, booking a whole, 2nd class compartment which has 4 beds will be the best option.

Address: Moskovsky train station - Nevsky prospekt, 85
Nearest metro station: Ploschad' Vosstaniya

For White Winter Days:

Fun for kids - White Winter days

The Peter and Paul Fortress: Any time of year is a good time to visit this bastion that once protected the whole city. On the tiny island where the fortress stands, there’s a lot to see and do: from the church that holds the remains of the Romanov family to one of the world’s oldest coin mints. But in winter, Hare Island becomes particularly interesting for children. The military barricade with its dozen of damp and dimly-lit prisons is transformed into a winter wonderland with the arrival of the annual ice sculpture festival. Though it won’t take long to run through, the memories of the glimmering, life-size lions, or whatever other larger-than-life fantasies the artists carve out that year, will be sure to last long after the ice has melted. 
Nearest metro station: Gor'kovskaya

New Holland Island: Ice-skating through the twirling snowflakes to Christmasy jingles, holding a gourmet hot chocolate in one hand and the hand of a loveable, helpful fairytale character in the other….is there anything else a child could want? Oh, I forgot to mention there’s also slides for sleds and the best playground in town that’s open in summer. For adults, there are dozens of trendy restaurants and cafes to rewind at on this tiny island beloved by local families and artsy students.   
Address: Admiralteysky Canal Embankment, 2
Nearest metro station: Sennaya

Igora Resort: St. Petersburg might not be a renowned skiing destination— there’s not so much as hill, never mind mountain, to break up its flat plains— but if your children aren’t pro snow-borders, the slopes at St. Petersburg’s best ski resort, Igora, will definitely be more than sufficient to wear them out. Whether they choose to try skiing, snowboarding or even just tubing, the thrill of skimming over snow with a mighty whoosh will bring forth a smile so bright that it will light up even the coldest of winter days. 
Address: 54th kilometer, Priozerskoe highway, Leningrad Oblast

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