The White Nights of St. Petersburg are simply too beautiful to sleep through. Celebrate, dance and enjoy life with the locals. You should experience this time when the sun doesn’t set in the former imperial city at least once.

You can’t dance as well anywhere else in the summer! During the magical White Nights from the end of May to the middle of July, the northern regions of our planet don’t go completely dark. In this time, St. Petersburg becomes one of the most romantic cities in the world. It’s as though it’s enchanted. The sun creates a unique light, which shines on the majestic cathedrals and golden palaces and makes them gleam and sparkle. It’s a real spectacle.

The White Nights of St. Petersburg

What to expect | Things to do | Events | Accommodation

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Photo: yulia grigoryeva/shutterstock.com

The White Nights Phenomenon

Saint Petersburg is one of the rare cities, which has a latitude of 60°. It is about level with Helsinki and the most northerly city with a population of over 1 million inhabitants. Because of its proximity to the Arctic Circle, St. Petersburg is blessed with a special nature spectacle. Around the summer solstice, from the end of May until the middle of July, the sun (almost) never goes down. With almost 19 hours of sun per day, the night, if it happens at all, is only ever dusky.

“Saint Petersburg is bathed in a silvery light”

At this time, dusk begins just before midnight and St. Petersburg is bathed in a silvery light. This is where the name “White Nights”, or “Belye Nochi” in Russian, comes from. This half-dark lasts for about five and a half hours before the sun starts to move higher in the sky again at four in the morning. The night literally becomes day. Every year, a special date, or rather a special occasion, pulls locals as well as countless tourists into the streets. The longest White Night of the year takes place this year from the 21st to the 22nd of June. The midnight sun paints the city in a magical light. The cupolas of the palaces look even more golden than usual and even prettier for it. There are concerts and performances all over the city and the cafes and restaurants are bursting with people until the early morning.

Things to do during the White Nights

No matter what you do during the White Nights, everything seems extra-special at this time. It’s best to explore the city on foot. Stroll through the magnificent palace and city gardens where you can admire the gold leaf statues along the way. The already impressive palaces look even more imposing in the magical light of the White Nights. The Peterhof Palace and the Catherine Palace with its gardens are the best places to catch the spectacular light.

Would you rather explore this fantastic city, also known as the Venice of the East, from the water? Then you should definitely take a boat tour through the many canals. You can even enjoy a gondola ride over the water – how romantic! There are boats all along the canals where they cross the Nevsky Prospect, a 4.5 kilometre-long street in the historic centre of the city. The price of a ride is a matter of negotiation so you have to settle it with the gondolier at the beginning. On average, you have to pay about 50€ per hour.

If it’s your first time in the city on the River Neva, the White Night tours are a great opportunity to get to know St. Petersburg and its most beautiful corners. On this special city tour, a guide takes you past the most impressive sights.

Special events for the White Nights

Have any of you heard of the Scarlet Sails? The ship is really famous in Russia and it makes a big appearance during the White Nights. Every year between the 18th and 23rd June, a ship with red sails cruises down the River Neva and docks between the Hermitage and the Peter and Paul Fortress. The occasion celebrates the end of the school year and it’s the biggest in Russia. After a grand firework display for pupils and curious sightseers alike, the arrival of the ship and its scarlet sails is the highlight of the evening. If you happen to be in St. Petersburg at this time, the best place to watch the show is from the banks of the Neva, on the promenade with the Scarlet Sails right in front of you.

Another special event is the raising of the bridges along the Neva, including Palace Bridge. The show takes place between half one and five in the morning. 13 of the 400 bridges are opened at night so that the big ships can sail through them. On the banks of the River Neva, people party all night long. Sleep isn’t an option!

There are also lots of special performances in St. Petersburg’s theatres during the White Nights. Museums open their doors especially as well. So, enjoy a time full of art, music and ballet – the Russians are world-famous for it!

Accommodation in St. Petersburg

As you can imagine, Saint Petersburg is very popular during the White Nights, so from the end of May until the middle of July. I advise you book accommodation early enough, otherwise, it will either be very expensive for you or you’ll have to dance through the night. ;)

Visa:

To enter Russia, you’ll need a valid visa before travel. The only exceptions are ferry and cruise ship passengers. See the Foreign Office website for more details.

During my last stay in St. Petersburg I stayed at the Mini-hotel ProPiter. In my opinion, the hotel has an attention to detail that makes it really special. You can get a double room from 37€ per night.

If you’re looking for something a little more up-market, I can recommend the comfortable Ligotel. A double room there during the White Nights costs from 124€ per night. The hotel is clean and has great facilities. In addition, it’s right next to the station and its price is unbeatable. A good alternative to a hotel is a private property on Airbnb. Take a look and find the best property for you.

Off to St. Petersburg!

Because of the special atmosphere in St. Petersburg during the White Nights, a trip at this time is an amazing experience. Set off now and be amazed by the magic of the night. Of course, it’s a great opportunity to take a closer look at the whole city. Check out my current deals to see if there’s a suitable deal so you can finally explore the former capital of Imperial Russia. You can also send me a message if you can’t find the right thing for you. I’d love to help you plan an unforgettable stay in Russia!

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