St. Petersburg is incredibly atmospheric all year round, but the golden fall glorified by many poets is arguably the city’s most captivating season. And when it comes to the warm light and rich hues of St. Petersburg’s fall, it only makes sense to visit a location beautifully bathed in the golden fall glow – the beloved Pavlovsk Park, which holds a special place in my heart as Pavlovsk is my hometown.
It is a delightful venue for a weekend getaway, long walks amidst nature in gorgeous fall colors, a breath of fresh air, and finding your inner peace (your soul and lungs will thank you later) while soaking up those last days of crisp bronze sunlight before the first chill promise of winter. And its valleys are eerily romantic under a fresh coat of leaves! And don’t forget to treat yourself with a coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or anything warm and comforting because nothing feels better after a long and nice day.
My favorite place to experience fall is Penaty, the country estate of the famous Russian painter Ilya Repin. Located in a place now called Repino, about a half-hour drive from St. Petersburg on the north shore of the Gulf of Finland, it’s an architectural wonder as much as it is a trip back in time. Visitors get to tour the artist’s home and his workshop and feel the creative atmosphere of the time.
The surrounding park, which Repin designed himself, is almost as enchanting as the house itself, with its winding alleys and shady ponds inspired by the works of Manet. It’s a perfect place to experience one of those moments of quiet contemplation that once inspired one of Russia’s greatest artists.
To catch fugitive warm rays of the sun and yet calm fall breeze, it’s high time to head to the Gulf of Finland. St. Petersburg boasts numerous locations from which to enjoy scenic views of the Baltic Sea, but my personal favorite is a nook near the Primorskaya metro station. Good news, a stroll to the destination point includes a tour of late Soviet architecture rather worth seeing.
Of course water, rocks, and sand may give you an asсetic impression in comparison to golden parks, but maybe it’s good to forget about fading beauty for a moment and enjoy something eternal. After a stressful week here you can finally find peace, lulled by the waves and enchanted by the endless horizon, which easily engulfs huge ships one by one. Otherwise, why not throw a beach scarves-and-blankets party, sharing a hot cider and the latest stories with your friends to make a perfect farewell to a coatless fall? Needless to mention, there’s nothing like this place to watch the sunset.
Shuvalovsky Park is the place I’d choose for a sweet autumn stroll. It’s located in one of the remote parts of the city and your way there may take a while but it’s all worth it. There, you’ll be able to enjoy both interesting architecture (you don’t get to see neo-gothic orthodox churches every day) and amazing nature – it feels more like a forest than a park. It’s stunning all year long but hurry to check it out while it’s still not too cold and rainy!
The days are getting shorter and the nights are getting longer, but autumn is nevertheless probably my favorite time to be in St. Petersburg. And there is probably no better place to witness it in all its colorful glory than the Botanical Garden. A storied institution and a former medicinal garden, it’s a place of unrivaled serenity among the hustle and bustle of central St. Petersburg. This is the perfect spot to spend a few hours “decompressing” in any season, but especially now that the “Golden Autumn”, as we like to call it here, is in its peak. And with the garden’s proximity to a myriad of public spaces, cafes, coffee shops, and landmarks you could end up spending the whole day here just taking it all in.
When we lived in safer times, I loved watching autumn unfold through the giant windows of the National Library of Russia. Peace, quiet, books, and busy-looking bookworms all around me at work on their theses. These days, I had to relocate outside and discovered the perfect fairytale route. Starting by the water in Lopukhinskyi Garden, I cross the river to Kamenny Island with its rather mysterious mansions, now covered in golden and copper-coloured leaves. It always seems like the time has stopped there and no one has even heard about any recent technological advances. Finally, I would move on to Yelagin Island, a park reigned by squirrels and sometimes roller skaters. It now has an abundance of fallen leaves and acorns, and thus offers a wonderful place for getting the best of this fall and meditating on the time flying by.