Blending Russian culture with a variety of Western influences, Saint Petersburg is a curious creation. It was Russia’s imperial capital for two centuries after being founded by Peter the Great, whose legacy is preserved in the city’s iconic Bronze Horseman statue. He and his successors invited Europe’s leading architects to fill the city with spectacular palaces, baroque cathedrals and Renaissance-style buildings – all of which remain perfectly intact today.
Cruise along the city’s historic Neva River on a canal boat tour and take in the neoclassical facades of sights like the Mariinsky Theatre, Winter Palace and the Hermitage Museum. The latter is the world’s largest art museum, housing everything from ancient Greek sculptures to masterpieces by Michelangelo in its staggering three million-strong collection. You’ll need at least a couple of days to properly appreciate this major tourist attraction.
Other landmarks not to be missed include the Peter and Paul Fortress, Church of the Savior of Spilled Blood, and Peterhof Palace – a vast complex of extravagant palaces, gardens and fountains.
But there’s much more to Saint Petersburg than elegant architecture. On Nevsky Prospekt, the city’s main street, you’ll find countless bars, restaurants and shops to keep you occupied when you’re not sightseeing.
Direct flights to Pulkovo Airport, which serves Saint Petersburg, are common throughout Europe.