The city of Dostoevsky and Pushkin, Rimsky-Korsakov and Nureyev is a feast for the eyes. Be romanced by the Russian city’s imperial grandeur
Built on an imposing scale with dazzling palaces, churches, museums and theatres, St Petersburg will leave you breathless and planning a return trip.
Celebrate White Nights in June and July, when the sun hardly sets, and the lingering twilight makes for a nightlife like nowhere else.
What to see and do
In its grand and glorious Winter Palace buildings by the Neva River, the Hermitage (hermitagemuseum.org) is an essential part of any visit to St Petersburg.
This is the world’s largest art museum, with more than three million items – and the rooms are as stunning as the treasures they display.
Stroll along Nevsky Prospekt, the city’s long main street lined with designer shops and restaurants, then hop on a canal boat tour for a great view of the 18th and 19th-century buildings.
To get an understanding of St Petersburg’s history, visit the Peter and Paul Fortress and St Isaac’s Cathedral, and don’t miss the brightly coloured Church of Our Saviour on Spilled Blood – it’s as spectacular inside as out.
An evening at the ballet, opera or a concert will be unforgettable, or take an evening stroll along the Neva River.
For a day trip, there are two breathtaking imperial palaces. Peterhof has spectacular Grand Cascade fountains – it’s Peter the Great’s summer palace, built to rival Versailles. And the sheer size and opulence of Catherine Palace at Pushkin is overwhelming.Highlights include the glittering Throne Hall and the extraordinary Amber Room.
Where to eat
For a glamorous setting and fine French food – always the epitome of elegance in Russia – Lumiere (lumiere-spb.ru) is the place to go. Backstage (mariinsky.ru) is the perfect end to an evening at the Mariinsky Theatre.
Café Idiot (idiot-spb.com), named after the novel by Dostoevsky, is great for vegetarians. Over-the-top Onegin is the place to see New Russians at play – it turns into a late-night dance club.
The décor at Karavan may be kitsch but the Central Asian grills are excellent.
At Dve Palochki (dvepalochki.ru), a trendy local chain, you’ll find great sushi.
Where to drink
Successful young locals go for the neon-lit cocktail bars and dance floors of Metro (metroclub.ru), where the music, – Euro-dance to Russian pop – plays till 6am. This is the timing, too, at Revolution (revolutionclub.ru), where you can see in the sunrise from the top floor with panoramic city views. Small, packed and very popular, the JFC Jazz Club (jfc-club.spb.ru) features eclectic jazz.
Where to stay
The boutique-style Renaissance St Petersburg Baltic Hotel (renaissancesaintpetersburg.ru) has comfortably furnished rooms, a good restaurant and great views.
In the Angleterre Hotel (angleterrehotel.com), which boasts a spa and indoor pool, the rooms have a cool simplicity and Italian marble bathrooms. Just off Palace Square, the Kempinski Moika 22 Hotel (kempinski. com) imitates the full luxury and glamour of Tsarist Russia.
|Climate||Warm to hot summers, very cold winters.|
|Currency||Russian rouble (£1=R46)|
|Dialling Codes||+7 812|