St-Petersburg, Russia is not always seen as a children-friendly destination, especially not for toddlers. But if you find yourself in St-Petersburg, it is good to have a plan and some ideas on how you and your little one can make the most of your travels. In this post we share the best things to do in St-Petersburg Russia with Kids under the age of 4.
What you Need to Know Before Traveling to St Petersburg, Russia With Kids
First of all, before we continue, we need to specify that in this post we are going to talk about summer activities.
Winter in St-Petersburg is not to fear, but we don’t recommend you come in winter with kids.
From our own experience, and we are traveling to St Petersburg twice per year, we advise you to choose another city to explore in winter.
Is St Petersburg a Kids Friendly Destination?
Most of the visitors coming to St Petersburg are searching for cultural activities like museums, theatres and festivals. And we all know, that St Petersburg is magnificent! But these are not exactly the things you do with your kid under 4.
Russians love kids and there are plenty of things to do with your little ones in St Petersburg, but according to the Western standards it is not exactly a child-friendly city.
You will find high chairs, kids corners and playgrounds anywhere you go as well as kids stores and entertainment programms – there is no flaw here. But to our taste most of them are way to bright-busy-loud for little kids.
We are not big fans of constant entertainment and try to find balance between kids and parents activities.
With parks and green areas located mostly outside the city center and with playgrounds squeezed in between busy streets (let’s forget about crazy colors and the smell of rubber under the burning summer sun) it doesn’t make it easy for the parents, especially if you are a visitor.
With Olivia (4) and Maximilian (1,5) coming along every time we travel to St Petersburg, there is always a challenge to find child appropriate places.
But we have our list and would like to share our discoveries with you.
This is probably our favourite place for kids-parents activities within the city premises.
New Holland is a triangular island located right next to the busy city centre, about 30 min walk from the Nevsky prospect.
The New Holland Islands has been serving the military purpose from 1918-2004 and has been neglected for many years.
Starting from 2000 an ongoing restoration takes place and each year something new is added to the islands grounds.
As of today the New Holland island comprises of:
- a green area with comfortable sitting opportunities for young ones and adults
- a food court where your will find enough of tasty things for you and your little one (tasty coffee and great Israeli street food bar among them)
- small kiosks selling ice cram
- a restaurant
- 2 playgrounds – one for small kids and another one for elder ones
- a herb garden
- and some stages for lectures and performances.
- in 2019 a new space for children up to 5 years old has been opened inside the Commandant’s house. Here is the link to what it offers.
The entrance is free and you are more than welcome to bring your own drinks and snacks.
New Holland is great if you want to escape the city noise and let your little one run barefoot across the lawn right in the middle of St-P. It gets very busy on the weekends, so it is better to come during the early hours or on the week days.
If you have time you can spend the whole day here picnicking and people watching.
One of St Peterburg green areas is located between Kronverskaya naberezhnaya and Kronverskiy prospekt. You will most likely end up here if you plan to visit Peter and Paul fortress. It is a green stripe without any special charm, but there are 2 points of interest which you might find attractive planning your family route through the city jungle: Leningrad Zoo and a coffee shop Bolshe Coffee.
‘Bolshe Coffee‘ is a lovely coffee place with an outside and insde areas located in the middle of the park in an old grotto – a rare venue in St-Petersburg.
Don’t expect much from Leningrad Zoo, but it is the only one the city has. It is quite compact, so you don’t need to spend days here like in San Diego. A couple of hours is usually enough.
We figured out that most of the animals are sleepy in the morning and are more active during the midday and feeding hours. I’m not a huge fan of zoo’s in general and prefer watching wildlife in their natural habitat, but if your kids enjoy having a look at furry friends than you might want to give it a try.
If you end up in Petrogradsky district of St Petersburg, then we recommend you to stop at the Botanical Garden.
It has been there since 1714 from Peter the Great times and it’s a lovely green area with old green houses and loads of shade. There is a playground far away from the street and there is plenty of green grass to lay or jump on. I like coming here in the morning when the Garden is almost empty.
There is an entrance fee to pay and an extra fee if you want to explore the greenhouses.
In case you need tips on where to go next from St Petersburg, have a look at our road trip itinerary through Estonia – we have started our trip in St Petersburg.
Playground and Coffee
If you follow uf on Instagram and read our blog, you know that we like to have a good cup of coffee whenever we go.
To make it more relaxed and enjoyable for kids and for us we like when a cafe has a playground or a green area to play.
The cafe Verle Garden in St Petersburg serves great coffee and snacks and is located next to a nice wooden playground – a rare find in St Petersburg.
You can combine your visit here with the Botanical or Alexander gardens visit.
Summer Garden is lovely and is one of the places not to miss in St Petersburg, with or without kids.
It has been created during the Peter the Great times and has seen many prominent Russia writers, composers and politicians walking it’s paths.
The Summer garden is a French garden with little labyrinths and sculptures created by some of the best Venetian artists of that age.
You need to pay entrance to get inside, but nothing is more typical and romantic for St Petersburg than an early morning stroll through Summer Garden under the rays of the sun.
Sevkabel Port is a relatively new addition to the hip places of St Petersburg located inside the former cable factory.
It is located by the water, giving you the feeling that St Petersburg is a marine city. It consists of several buildings, some hosting events like flea markets and exhibitions and the others host creatives and their working space.
There are a couple of cafes and restaurants to choose out of.
One of the best things to do in Sevkabel is sitting by the shore and enjoy the views while sipping on your drink.
Kids will have plenty of space for moving around without traffic and busy streets.
Be sure to check the web page of Sevkabel, since the events change almost every week.
Teplo and Wöd
These two places are our long time favourites. We used to come to Teplo (in Russian literally means ‘Warmth’) when we didn’t have kids and now we come here all together to enjoy good homemade food and cozy atmosphere tucked away inside a St-Petersburg courtyard next to the city centre. A playgound and a sand box is a bonus.
Be sure to book a table in advance especially if you wish to seat outside – this place is a popular one and gets extremely busy during the lunh time.
If you and your kid need a break during your explorations of St-Petersburg you can come here and have a coffee in a lovely new combination sanctum for art lovers and bar WöD located right next to Teplo (in the same courtyard). You can sip on your coffee or tea while your little one climbs the playground or dig the sand. Or you simply built sand castles together. Win win!
Teplo also has boardgames and books inside the restaurant.
Another old time favorite of ours and now family favourite place where comfort food and cozy atmosphere is mixed with a lovely choice of books and simple activities for small kids. Please note, that Zoom only has inside area without a possibility to sit outside, so we’d recommend you visit it on a rainy day.
Book ahead if you want to be sure you get a seat.
Elagin Island is located a bit off the city centre and is more suitable for a half-day visit.
It is a lovely green island with water canals and old trees around – it has a Elagin Palace as a sightseeing point.
The area is a protected natural complex. Elagin island comes from the 18th century and served as a private island to many prominent Russian persons.
Today it is a great recreational are with a boat riding opportunities and a lovely mini zoo for the kids.
Things to Do With Kids Outside St Petersburg
If you are staying in St-Petersburg longer we highly recommend you leave the city and spend a day by the sea. Yes, St Petersburg has sea! Finnish Gulf is mostly flat with no to little waves involved (stormy days occur though), so your kids will appreciate it:
- For those who don’t want to drive far the 300th anniversary park (one of the newest parks in St-P) is a good combination of beach life and green area.
- Zelenogorsk, Repino and Komarovo also have nice beaches, but they are further away (about an hour drive from the city). To get there check for train schedule or take a taxi.
Another good choice for a day trip are the suburbs of St-Petersburg – Tsarskoe Selo (Pushkin), Gatchina, Peterhof and Pavlovsk. They all involve parks and plenty of kids firendly green areas. Our favorite ones are the Alexander park in Tsarskoe Selo and Pavlovskiy Park in Pavlovsk.
To get there we would recommend you take a train – it’s fast, cheap and easy, especially if you go outside the rush hours. Our train experience showed that there was enough space to bring on board and store a stroller. We wouldn’t recommend taking mini buses called ‘marshrutka’ because apart from being highly uncomfortable they are known for bad driving skills and bad hot air.
We hope that you found this post helpful and we wish you a great rip with your kids to St Petersburg.