Built in defiance of nature and logic, St. Petersburg is a monument to the will of Peter the Great. His city became a 'window on the West' and remains Russia's cultural capital. Spruced up in celebration of its tercentenary in 2003, the city's sights range from the humble log cabin from which Peter oversaw the construction of his city, to grandiose buildings such as the Admiralty, headquarters of Peter's beloved navy. And then, of course, there's the incomparable Hermitage with its (conservative estimate) three million artefacts and art works, and its extraordinarily opulent interiors. Whether you
see Saint Petersburg draped in a blanket of snow or under the light of its midnight sun, this Russian icon is undeniably picturesque. In the winter, bundle yourself up in a hat and fur-lined boots, and skate on the frozen Neva River. Come summer, take in the city’s intricate architecture during its sleepless nights. The eternal capital of the tsars, founded by Peter the Great, will delight art fans and history lovers alike. Take a tour of the city: visit the Hermitage, Pushkin and Dostoevsky museums; soak up the regal atmospheres of the Menshikov, Catherine II and Summer Palaces; and breathe in the fresh air by the fountains, canals and gardens. Enjoy a moment of peace and quiet inside St. Isaac’s Cathedral; dress up for a night of culture at the Mariinsky Theatre (formerly the Kirov); or go on a shopping spree at the old Gostiny Dvor department store. When you’re feeling peckish, taste caviar at the Eliseyev Emporium, before enjoying a traditional Russian meal in one of the restaurants on Nevsky Prospekt. Saint Petersburg holidays have it all and more.
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We had a fabulous time: all the planning and detail were worth it. I know I am a travel nerd but it (usually) pays off. This time it did. Thank you again for bearing with me. The guide in St Petersburg was especially good.
What you can find on Saint Petersburg holidays that you won’t find elsewhere:
The list of famous St Petersburg residents reads like a who's who of Russian history: Dostoyevsky, Fabergé, Rasputin, Tchaikovsky, Lenin and Putin, to name just a few, but the buildings are what really take the breath away. Splendid palaces line the rivers and canals, their pastel-coloured façades reflected in the water, and no fewer than eight cathedrals grace the skyline. 20th century landmarks include the battleship Aurora, which fired the shot signalling the start of the 1917 Revolution, and the impressive Monument to the Defenders of Leningrad, a memorial to those who resisted the 900-day Nazi siege during World War Two.
Sublime year-round, Saint Petersburg is a city so full of beauty and culture that art and history lovers will think they've died and gone to heaven. Designed as the eternal city of the Tsars - built by Peter the Great as the capital of the Russian Empire for over 200 years - it’s not surprising that Saint Petersburg is bursting with must-sees: the Hermitage, Pushkin and Dostoevsky museums; the city's magnificent main street, Nevsky Prospekt; St. Isaac’s Cathedral; the Peter and Paul Fortress with it's own cathedral and 400ft tall gilded spire, and the magnificent Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood with its onion domes are all unmissable. All of this, plus the hundreds of serene canals that flank the city, make Saint Petersburg holidays a real winner, and that's before you even venture out of the city to explore the extraordinary palaces outside the city. As a minimum requirement you out to visit the Catherine Palace and Peterhof to gain a better understanding of how bling has been a Russian thing for centuries.
Who is Saint Petersburg best for?
Art admirers who are perpetually longing for something beautiful to gaze at and literary lovers who have long imagined walking through Tolstoy’s beautifully described city will fall head-over-heels in love with Saint Petersburg. If you always feel as though your holidays fly by too quickly, take advantage of Saint Petersburg’s bright summer nights to make your stay last that much longer. Or, if you’re looking to explore canal-lined streets away from Venice or Amsterdam, this Russian jewel is the perfect choice.
The best ways to discover Saint Petersburg
Stay an elegant hotel in the heart of the city close to all the top sites. After enjoying a performance in the opulently designed Mariinsky Theatre, get a sound sleep in your room to recharge ready for another day of exploration. If you’ve got time to spare, why not turn your holiday into a tour of the Baltic cities? Travel to Helsinki and then to Stockholm while you’re in the north. For a shorter trip, opt for a cruise from Moscow to Saint Petersburg along the Volga River.
Special things to do in Saint Petersburg
Celebrate the New Year like a prince (or princess) with a stay in an opulent hotel in the heart of Saint Petersburg. Treat yourself to a performance at the Saint Petersburg Ballet Theatre and indulge in a five-course feast, celebrating Russian-style with vodka and local champagne. You’re guaranteed to feel like a royal as the clock strikes 12 in this magical city.