Burcu Başar

St. Petersburg, White Nights

I for a long time wondered why the phenomenon of white nights was this closely linked to St. Petersburg. There are so many other locations in the World, which are positioned further north and experience the white nights for even longer terms. As an example – it never gets dark in Svalbard (where I also had a chance to visit) during the summer season – I am talking about 24 hours of daylight! Why was then St. Petersburg perceived almost as the only city where you could experience the White Nights?

I now see that I had to travel all the way up to St. Petersburg during the white nights to find my own answer. While there are many locations to experience the white nights in the World, St. Petersburg is the only big city with such a historic and stylish architecture where you can experience the phenomenon. When the phenomenon of the white nights is combined with a city skyline and the history, the experience is sure elevated to a whole new level. I had to see this to understand all the fuss about the white nights and St. Petersburg. I don’t think white nights would look as good in anywhere else. 

The white nights – when it never gets dark even at 2 am – happen in June and the best way to experience the phenomenon is to take a boat tour on the river. This will allow you to experience beautiful St. Petersburg architecture under the night lights (they still turn on the lights!) and also the opening of St. Petersburg’s bridges. While it is not possible for the ships to navigate during the winter due to the lake getting entirely frozen, the bridge opening season starts in the April to give way to the cargo ships and kick-off the transportation season. You however need to be careful. Bridges in St. Petersburg are essential for your transportation plans and if you need to cross those during their opening hours, you may have to wait for hours to reach your destination! It is hard for me to decide whether to focus on the opening of the bridges or the looks of Hermitage under the lights or just to watch the engagement party happening right in the next boat, which is decorated with colorful balloons. It is worth taking the boat tour each night that you are in St. Petersburg – especially during the White Nights so that you can each time concentrate on some other marvelous happening.  

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