St Petersburg is, without question, one of the world’s great destinations. It’s a place where almost every house you see tells a story, and where restaurants are found in buildings that are hundreds of years old.
This is where Tchaikovsky, Vrubel, Pushkin and Dostoyevsky all lived. All in all, the elegance of its architecture and the weight of its history are almost overwhelming.
To take advantage of all that this place has to offer, take flights to St Petersburg during the summer. The city’s White Nights – nights in which the city never gets completely dark in the beginning of summer – are legendary. And besides, the snowy, sub-zero temperatures of winter make sightseeing more difficult (although not impossible).
Once here, stuff yourself with blinis and caviar at the city’s high-end restaurants or pop into hole-in-the-wall bakeries for warm pies and tea. Don’t miss the State Hermitage, which has more than three million artefacts in its collection.
And make sure that the Peter & Paul Fortress is on your list, for a glimpse into Russian history. If you have time for a day trip, visit suburbs such as Pushkin (Tsarskoye Selo) or Petergof, both recognised as a Unesco World Heritage Sites, to explore stunning royal palaces, fountains and gardens.
While there are plenty of places to visit in St Petersburg, from markets to churches to Russian baths, some of the best times you’ll spend here will be walking the streets. This is particularly true in Nevsky Prospekt, the main boulevard in the city and home to many shops, restaurants and crowds of locals. Settle into a lounge, or sip tea and watch the world go by from one of the many cafes.
If the weather is good, take a boat tour along the city’s many rivers and channels and explore the city from water. Try to get a sense of St Petersburg history, but make sure to enjoy where it is today – a city with a sense of fun and adventure.