St. Petersburg starts to smell like fresh cucumbers in April and May when koryushka, or smelt, from the nearby water bodies hit the city’s stalls. This little yet nutritious fish is more than simply a local delicacy. Its history is long and illustrious: it has reportedly played a pivotal role in the founding of our beloved city and has certainly saved many lives during World War II. Even today, people still love koryushka. They line up to indulge their cravings; the city hosts yearly celebrations to mark the beginning of the fishing season; and its images can be found on varied souvenirs, including tote bags. It even has its dedicated restaurant, Koryushka, where the specialty is served all year round. 


Around the same time, marine residents, particularly pusas, some of which are on the IUCN Red List, make infrequent trips to St. Petersburg's coastal districts. The cause for this "sealfall" isn't so much the city's grandeur (though it may be), but rather the migration season of the species that makes them opt for St. Petersburg as their sunbathing pit stop. In this case, you may just enjoy the show – from afar, of course. 

Then again, it could also be that a lil’ seal pup or a grown-up seal who got injured had to come ashore due to the ice drift. If you’ve spotted one, immediately call 699-23-99 (the city’s official hotline) and report your “discovery” so that the seal can receive professional help.

Broken Ring

St. Petersburg bears the status of a hero city, as Nazi troops encircled Leningrad (as it was called back then) in September 1941, cutting it off from the outside world for a horrendous almost-900 days and nights, known as the Siege of Leningrad. The sole remaining path linking the besieged city to the rest of the country went over Ladoga Lake. The Road of Life, as it was dubbed, was used to provide supplies and evacuate people. A series of memorials and monuments known as the Green Belt of Glory was built along the frontline to honor the feat of the city’s residents. Among them is the Broken Ring on the western shore of the lake (ca. 50 km away from the city), which symbolizes the breaking of the siege.

White nights

In summer, St. Petersburg’s residents are split into two groups: those who can’t stand the white nights season and those who adore it – and have a themed playlist and blackout curtains ready. The fact is, from June to July, the city earns the moniker “the city that never sleeps” as its skies stay bright even after midnight. This is the perfect season for nighttime strolls around the city (but be cautious of drawbridges – another signature of St. Petersburg), boat tours to enjoy those bridges being drawn, and all kinds of open-air events like concerts and festivals, including…

Scarlet Sails 

Inspired by Alexander Grin’s novel of the same name, Scarlet Sails is a traditional celebration of youth and dreams held in late June that brings together school graduates  – and everyone else, as well – as they step into adulthood. The event, well-beloved, most-anticipated, and grandiose, takes place on the city’s main square, Palace Square. It starts with an electrifying lineup packed with big-name performers (in my year, the headliner was the local rock band Splean), followed by an emotional and magnetic show on the Neva River, during which everyone freezes in anticipation of the festival’s (and also the city’s) main symbol – a gorgeous ship under bright-red sails that appears to come straight from the novel’s pages. 

Find even more exciting facts and news about St. Petersburg here.