The Russian Countryside: 2 Day Trips from St. Petersburg

Words by:

Nyssa P. Chopra
Straying away from the splendid architecture, royal ballet performances, and the excitement of urban culture in St. Petersburg can be difficult, especially if you are an urban gal like me. But there are times where the hustle and bustle of city life can take its toll on you, and all you feel like doing is retreating to more peaceful suburban/rural areas. There are two day-long excursions that can be taken from St. Petersburg that will help to revitalize your energy and allow you to appreciate the cultural and architectural beauty of Russia.
1) Novgorod
Novgorod is a must if in Russia. You may also hear the town being referred to as Veliky Novgorod. It is not only a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but its cultural significance is resonant all throughout the country. It is located between St. Petersburg (189 km away) and Moscow (531 km away), and is easily accessible by car, bus, and train. Some of the buildings in the city have been established since the 11th century, making it a unique, prized locale in Russia and its surrounding areas. One of the most stunning monuments I visited was the Millennium of Russia, a historical emblem in the middle of the city square that represents some of Russia’s most important figures in bronzed avatars. Housed within the walls of the Novgorod Kremlin are some of Russia’s most aged and cherished monuments—the oldest palace (the Chamber of the Facets), the oldest Russian bell tower, and the oldest Russian clock tower. The splendor of Russian architecture does not stop there, as there are scores of monasteries and cathedrals such as the Yuriev Monastery and the St. Sophia Cathedral, to feast your eyes upon and keep you in awe.
2) Catherine the Great’s Palace in Pushkin
The magical kingdom of Catherine the Great is located in close proximity to St. Petersburg, only about 25 miles southeast in a lovely town called Pushkin. The light blue and white contrast of the facade of the palace radiates a certain kind of Rococo European-style elegance. It served as the summer vacation home of the Russian Tsars. All throughout the palace, the parquet floors beautifully match the opulent intricacy of the wall decor. In every room, the walls are smothered in fine art masterpieces and regal collectibles. There is a grand ballroom trimmed with gold leaves on the ceiling and encapsulated by windows on all four walls. If not for its historical significance, it is well worth a visit for its high aesthetic value. It’s truly a majestic experience. The surrounding areas of the quaint town of Pushkin are also really beautiful, but I found the Palace to be at the center of all the main attractions. There are a slew of churches and displays of ancient architecture scattered throughout the town for your viewing after you have experienced the glory of the Palace.