Founded by Peter the Great in 1703, St Petersburg’s designed to wow you with its grand palaces, pretty parks and intricate canal network (it’s called the Venice of the North for a reason!). Enter the world of Imperial Russia at its finest when you tour top attractions like the Winter Palace or Hermitage Museum; or get off the beaten path to enjoy its folk traditions and remote country palaces. In the evenings, you’ll have the chance to take in a classical ballet or opera performance and enjoy fine dining. With jaw-dropping architecture at every turn, this is one stunning city to explore.
It’s usually a good idea to sign up for an organised tour in St Petersburg to ensure that you tick off all the boxes – licensed operators will sort out your visa and make sure you don’t miss anything. The Hermitage Museum should be at the top of your to-do list, rivalling the Louvre for its collection of classical artworks. The buildings alone are worth a visit, including the sparkling Winter Palace in all its baroque finery. Tours will also include a visit to St Isaac’s Cathedral with its standout gold dome, and the Russian Museum with its history and culture.
St Petersburg’s cruise terminals are modern and efficient, with clearly marked areas for passport control and transportation. If you’re travelling with an organised excursion you’ll find buses near your point of debarkation; otherwise, it’s easiest to get into the city by official taxi. Taxis are lined up at all major tourist attractions like the palaces and Hermitage, so you won’t have to wait long. You can also try and negotiate with the pier’s taxi drivers to drive you around for the day, stopping off at all the main sights on your list – band together with fellow passengers to save.
The city’s passenger port is newly renovated, with car rental offices and taxi ranks on offer. If you’re driving, you’ll find secure parking facilities close at hand as well. These vary depending on the terminal – there are four in total, each with its own facilities. For example, in terminal one you’ll find 66 covered parking spaces for tourist buses, 36 for tourist minibuses, and 119 places for private cars. The largest parking area for private cars is located in cruise terminal three, which offers nearly 250 spaces. All are covered and secure with CCTV on the premises.
One of St. Petersburg’s most famous and popular visitor attractions, the palace and park at Peterhof (also known as Petrodvorets) are often referred to as “the Russian Versailles”
A ‘Gem of the Baltic’, St. Petersburg is a mecca of cultural, historical, and architectural landmarks. It bears the unofficial status of Russia’s cultural capital and most European city.
One of the most beautiful cities in the Baltic. Steeped in history, there's so much to see: marble columns, chandeliers in the underground stations, palaces, grand boulevards, some of the best art museums.
Do you want to learn more about the city’s origins? You can visit the Peter and Paul Fortress, built in 1703 to defend the region in a war against Sweden. After this time, it was used to house political prisoners and today many czars are buried here.
While the palaces inside St Petersburg are undoubtedly magnificent, you can see a whole new level of opulence by visiting the stately homes outside the city limits. Peterhof was built for Peter the Great, and it rivals Versailles for its richly detailed interiors and lavishly landscaped garden grounds.
Russian ballet is famous throughout the world for its artistry and skill, so don’t miss the chance to see a ballet performance in the city’s glittering theatres. The Mariinsky Theatre is the home of the Kirov Ballet troupe.
Shop for souvenirs along main road Nevsky Prospekt, where you’ll find mini markets well stocked with caviar and vodka to take back with you. Stalls are also on hand outside most major tourist attractions, with nesting dolls and other trinkets.
Sample Russian delicacies like bliny, pastries and potato dishes in the city’s eateries. Tepko is a local favourite with its stuffed potato pancakes and beef Stroganoff, or you can pick up a delicious stuffed pie at Stolle.