St Petersburg is a beguiling mix of palace-lined waterways and crumbling houses. With quaint canals, great restaurants and culture, it’s easy to see why it’s dubbed the ‘Venice of the North’.
Russia’s national airline is Aeroflot (website: www.aeroflot.co.uk), flying into St Petersburg’s Pulkovo airport (website: www.pulkovoairport.ru). For the adventurous, the city is also a starting and end point for the Trans-Siberian railway (website: www.trans-siberian.co.uk).
July sees St Petersburg bathed in permanent sunshine as the city enters summer with the White Nights Festival. This month-long carnival of dance, music and opera celebrates the fact that the sun never fully sets on St Petersburg during July thanks to its northerly position, making this a city that truly never sleeps.
Stroll around Palace Square, St Petersburg’s focal point. With the magnificent Winter Palace and Hermitage Museum (website: www.hermitagemuseum.org) on your left, and the former staff buildings of the Russian army on your right, this is a perfect place to start exploring the city.
Sail down the Neva River to the Peterhof Palace and Gardens. Once home to Peter the Great, this opulent estate now displays over 80 restored marble statues and sculptures. Check out the amazing cascading fountains.
Watch an opera at the Mariinsky Theatre (website: www.mariinsky.ru/en). The theatre has been turning out top quality performances for over 120 years.
Rent a boat and take a ride on the canals out to the Neva River. The water is part of St Petersburg’s soul and allows you to see all sides of the city.
Take a ride on a Marshrutka (privately owned taxi bus). No rules, no seatbelts and no designated stops, this is the best way to pick up tips from those who live in the city. A typically Russian experience.
Wander round one of St Petersburg’s many markets. Smell fresh frying fish, taste dill pickles and watch the babushkas (grandmothers) selling their produce.
Try a Russian favourite in blinis (thin pancakes). Think caviar and crème fraiche if you’re rich, jam and butter if you’re not.
Did you know?
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky is set in St Petersburg. The famous writer lived here for 28 years, and you can find out more about him at the Dostoevsky Memorial Museum (website: www.md.spb.ru).