By tram

The first time I went on a tram-tour was when I was ditching school. I just never got off the tram at the right stop and took it all the way to the depot, discovering a large portion of the city in the process. I still sometimes do that – not so much to ditch school, but to explore cities.

The first tram in St. Petersburg was launched in 1907 and laid the foundation to what at some point was the largest tram network in the world. It’s still a major mode of transport here. Grab a window seat and tune into the cluckity cluck of the wheels as it makes its way through the hustle and bustle of the city.

One of my favorite routes is the #3. It goes from Finlyandsky Railway Station, past the Peter and Paul Fortress, across Troitsky Bridge, past the Summer Gardens, Nevsky Prospect and past beautiful churches and originary living quarters of the downtown. In essence, it’s a sightseeing tour but for only 40 roubles. It’s even better with an ice cream in hand.

By boat

With the White Nights just around the corner, everyone and their boat will be on the rivers and canals enjoying the view and the breeze. Somewhat crowd-averse, I still love that experience. You get to duck under low-hanging bridges, take photos from the water, wrap yourself in a blanket when the boat enters the Neva River and the wind picks up, and maybe even listen to a little jazz.

You can usually buy tickets at boat stations by the Anichkov Bridge on the Fontanka River, by the Hermitage, and at plenty of other spots, as well as online.

My new favorite is taking a Meteor hydrofoil boat to Peterhof. It departs from the Palace Embankment and takes you through the city, past the new Gazprom Arena stadium built for the 2018 World Cup, past Lakhta Center, the tallest skyscraper in Europe, into the Gulf of Finland and brings you right to the piers of Peterhof. It’s all imperial splendor and world-famous fountains from here.

From above

The easiest way to get above it all is the Colonnade of the St. Isaac’s Cathedral. You’ll have to climb over 200 steps to get there, but the combination of awe-inspiring architecture and spectacular views is well worth it. Many of the roofs you’ll see below can be accessed, as roof tours are extremely popular in St. Petersburg.

If that’s not high enough, there’s the Aerolift - a tethered helium balloon that takes you 150 meters (that’s almost 500 feet!) above the city’s historical center. I intend to try it out this summer. Don’t forget to bring a windbreaker!

And if that’s not high enough for you, Lakhta Center’s viewing platform is expected to become open to the public in late 2019. At 360 meters high, it will be the tallest of its kind in Europe!