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Russia’s grand dame is forever the belle of the ball.
Can a city snatch Amsterdam’s crown? Peter the Great undertook a mighty challenge when, inspired by the Dutch capital, he built his own city from scratch on Russian marshland. Three centuries on, his splendid cathedrals, parks and bridges leave a living, breathing and awe-inspiring legacy.
Catherine the Great furnished this vast six-building complex with masterworks, starting with the smallest. El Greco’s “Peter and Paul”, Rembrandt’s “The Return of the Prodigal Son” and the kooky “Peacock Clock” rank high in this cultural treasure trove, as do the rooms. Seek out the unassailable “Diamond Room” for Fabergé jewels and the “Golden Room” for Scythian artefacts.Accommodations near The State Hermitage Museum
Saint Petersburgians call it “Isaky”. In fact, this 19th century cathedral is so beloved that it’s like visiting a local home. From holy space to museum, it’s the scene for brushes with all walks of life – blushing brides posing for wedding snaps, tourists traipsing the 562-step stairway to heavenly views, and folks admiring awe-inspiring devotional images and gold-leaf lustre.Accommodations near Saint Isaac's Cathedral
Tsar Alexander II’s royal carriage was bombed here in 1881, killing him later that day. A congregation of artists sprang to action, erecting this poignantly named Orthodox church on the spot of his assassination. Mosaics line the marble walls and onion dome, formed into devotional images of Christ. This church is both a memorial and paean to the past.Accommodations near Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood
Veer off Nevsky Prospekt and enter another world. Completed in 1818, this cathedral is a shining example of Empirical style. Dedicated to Our Lady of Kazan, it's a beacon of peace and quietness, where the Orthodox pray and visitors stand awe-struck at its magnificence. The semi-circular colonnades, like the pathways, envelop the congregation.Accommodations near Kazansky Cathedral
The story of the Rostral Columns is one of triumph and glory. Built in front of the old Stock Exchange in celebration of naval victory over the Swedes, they’re prowed with statues representing Russia’s four rivers – the Volga, Dnieper, Neva and Volkhov. While the building behind it is its own cabinet of curiosities, your eye will be drawn to the dramatic views – among the best in the city.Accommodations near The Strelka (Spit of Vasilievsky Ilsand)
It all began here. Peter the Great broke ground on this fortress on Zayachy Island in 1703, hoping to protect his new city from the Swedes. A cultural cache lies within. The entire Romanov dynasty rests beneath the Cathedral’s spires and Trubetskoy Bastion was used to imprison Tsarist transgressors. Oddly, the beaches that run alongside are the city’s prime spots for sunbathing.Accommodations near Peter and Paul Fortress
Peter the Great had a great idea. Take a massive heath; add marble statues, ponds, grottoes and fountains; plant bright honeysuckle bushes and hawthorn trees and voilà – paradise on earth. Founded in 1704, this park is both opulent in the imperial mould, and startlingly modest. For proof, see “Letny Dvorets”, Peter's two-level summer house at the northern end.Accommodations near Summer Garden
Hit the city’s commercial nerve. Assailed with smart-suited eight-to-fivers and blithe browsers all the live-long day, come here to shop, dine or assess your “prospects”: Anichkov Palace, a baroque message-in-a-bottle from Russia’s long-lost imperial family; traverse a triumvirate of beautiful bridges (Anichkov, Kazansky, Zelyony) or take the kids to picnic-friendly Tavrichesky Garden.Accommodations near Nevsky Prospekt
Chassé the night away at the ballet! Since the curtains rose on Tchaikovsky's "Queen of Spades" in the winter of 1890, virtually every major ballet (and opera) has been performed here for the city's cultivated classes. Pavlova and Nizhinsky have both danced here. Its ceiling is occupied by a huge mural of angels holding hands, possibly in celebration of the heavenly acoustics!Accommodations near Mariinsky Theatre
A convent near the shipyards. Sounds like an odd place to lead a life of silent devotion, let alone house a murmur of nuns. Yet this site inspires curiosity at the very least, with the white-and-blue confection Smolny Cathedral its centrepiece - baroque on the outside, neo-classical on the inside. Come here for chamber music, exhibitions and ambling the grounds.Accommodations near Smolny Convent
A cluster of inner-city areas. Culture meets commerce on Nevsky Prospekt, a rolling strip of neon-lit storefronts, church edifices and non-stop people-movement. Veer off for the best bits: the Hermitage for boundless paintings and bejewelled Tsarist trinkets, Tavrichesky Garden for solitude under the oak trees, and cappuccinos at Schastye Café.Accommodations in Tsentralny
A nod to the neoclassical. The Admiralty Building (a naval academy) and Saint Isaac’s Cathedral represent the style at its finest. This is an affluent area, where Saint Petersburg’s elite live lives of pomp and privilege in the city’s oldest district, with canals reminiscent of Amsterdam. Stroll in Yusupovsky Garden, then take tea at Teplo (an inviting little café).Accommodations in Admiralteyskiy
Gateway to Saint Petersburg. Most journeys along Moskovsky Prospekt pass the Moscow Triumphal Gate, a cast-iron neoclassical construction. The entire area bears an air of incompleteness because development was halted after Stalin’s death. Dig a little deeper, and you’ll find Moskovsky Victory Park, awash with cafés and wholesome family entertainment.Accommodations in Moskovskiy
Romantic and affluent. These seven islands, the largest of which is Petrogradsky, are all linked by bridges. See the stunning environs of the Peter and Paul Fortress and Aleksandrovsky Park. Founded in 1842 during the reign of Tsar Nicholas I, the park holds small-scale bronze reproductions of iconic Russian buildings, and an impressive Planetarium.Accommodations in Petrogradskiy
Scholars, hipsters and urbanites. This slightly secluded area teems with students from the State University. Industrial leftovers, colonised by students, dovetail between hole-in-the-wall cafes and quirky local bars. For the area’s prime picks, see mixed media exhibitions at the Erarta Museum of Modern Art, or views from the “Spit”.Accommodations in Vasileostrovskiy
A concrete rose. Awash with forsaken steel-and-brick factories, scorned buildings and uncherished old churches, this quiet outer-city district is celebrated for one rare bloom. Unsung Shuvalovsky Park is wild and verdant, a mere taste of Russia’s incredible wildlife – come here with good walking shoes.Accommodations in Vyborgsky
Anastasia is in love with travelling, and is most inspired by globetrotting adventures in Asia.
Housed in a former bakery, this 5-storey art cluster lets you admire modern art galleries, dine at the café or shop for books on design and architecture. Head to the rooftop if you want to capture beautiful historical shots of the city on film.Accommodations near Loft Project Etagi
Ekaterina believes that the secret to happiness is good company and the right attitude!
If you’re in Saint Petersburg on a beautiful summer’s day, take a one-day trip to the town of Pavlovsk to “ooh” and “ahh” at the sight of the majestic 18th-century neoclassical Russian palace, the Russian state museum and surrounding public park.Accommodations near Pavlovsk
At the tender age of seven, Galina watched a theatre performance and fell in love – with ballet.
The Chizhik-Pyzhik statue might be one of the smallest in Saint Petersburg, but the fact that it was stolen on more than one occasion tells you its worth. People say your wish will come true if the coin you throw stays on the monument, so bring some change to find out how lucky you are!Accommodations near Chizhik-Pyzhik
Cinema lover Lizaveta thinks Saint Petersburg’s beauty is not just limited to the winter season.
If you have no issues with heights, this unique experience allows you a bird’s eye view of the entire city from steep sloping rooftops. Warning: Some climbing and a lot of guts are needed. Only for those with a thirst for adventure (and perhaps danger!)Accommodations near Rooftop excursions
Rafael loves to find nature in large cities: in Saint Petersburg, that means Kirov Central Park.
Kirov Central Park on Elagin Island is the perfect summer place to enjoy some fresh air, go on a boat trip, ride a bike or just say hello to the cheeky squirrels. In the colder season, you can also indulge in some skiing, sledging or ice-skating fun!Accommodations near Kirov Central Park
Stanislav is not kidding when he says Saint Petersburg is the most beautiful city in the world.
Take a short trip to Pushkin, to the peace and quiet of Ekaterininsky Park. You can find various sculptures amid the beautiful landscaped greenery. While you’re here, hop over to Catherine Palace to see where famous Russian poet and author Alexander Pushkin studied.Accommodations near Ekaterininsky Park
Originally from Moscow, Vera is fascinated with anything new – including habits, people and places.
The best way to experience Saint Petersburg is to get lost walking along one of the many side streets or canals. If you’re here between late spring and early autumn, try all the routes on the river cruise and you’ll discover the many different sides of the Venice of the North!Accommodations near Boat tours and walking tours
Saint Petersburg is the city of Yana’s dreams, and she thinks the best way to travel is to get lost!
Saint Pete has hidden courtyards with extraordinary designs: head to 46 Liteyny Prospekt or Birds' Courtyard at 11 Nevsky Prospekt. Ulitsa Chaykovskogo is the courtyard where everything – including the sculptures, walls and pavement – is decorated with colourful mosaics.Accommodations near Courtyards
Adventure-seeker Alla believes that everyone is a tourist, even in the city in which they live!
Located on the 2nd floor of bookworm heaven House of Books, Café Singer is where you can indulge in a slice of cake or a pastry and a cup of coffee (accompanied by a good book of course). Choose a window seat to delight in views over the Kazansky Cathedral.Accommodations near Café Singer
Moscow-born Natalya has a degree in Southeast Asian studies and speaks fluent Malay.
If you’re looking for great views, get on Troitsky Bridge, which connects the Field of Mars to Troitskaya Square. Tip: Stand right in the middle to get the most stunning views over the Spit of Vasilyevsky Island and 7 other bridges of Saint Petersburg!Accommodations near Troitsky Bridge
Booking.com asked travelers...Which fine art museums should a first-time visitor to Saint Petersburg start with?
United States of America
The Winter Palace. The Hermitage. The Russian Museum. Visit in the winter! No crowds, no waiting, no rushing. Pure bliss.See all 32 answers
Booking.com asked travelers...How can you enjoy the sights in Saint Petersburg while avoiding the crowds?
Consider taking the night trip on the hired boat. Channels are beautifulSee all 14 answers
Booking.com asked travelers...What did you discover about the museums in Saint Petersburg that wasn't in the guidebooks?
We downloaded an app for the Hermitage that worked great for a free tour.See all 13 answers
Booking.com asked travelers...What is it in Saint Petersburg that makes history come to life?
The architecture and atmosphere.See all 12 answers
Booking.com asked travelers...How can you get the most authentic cultural experience in Saint Petersburg?
Just go to the shows, there is something for everybody: museums, churches, theaters, opera, balet, books and I can keep going like this.....See all 9 answers
Booking.com asked travelers...What makes Saint Petersburg one of those classic city-trip experiences?
Hermitage, fine dining, shopping, nice neighbourhoods and more!See all 6 answers
Booking.com asked travelers...Why is the atmosphere in Saint Petersburg something people rave about?
great architecture, spirit of barocco, royal familySee all 5 answers
Booking.com asked travelers...What's the best way to make the most of Saint Petersburg by foot?
Walk the city center, everything is close by.See all 5 answers
Booking.com asked travelers...Did the theater performances in Saint Petersburg live up to their reputation?
YesSee all 4 answers
Pukovo is Saint Petersburg’s main airport. A 30-minute taxi ride to the city centre costs RUB 600-900 – book at the counter in Arrivals. Alternatively, you can take the K39 marshrutka (minibus) to Moskovskaya Metro Station. It runs every 5 minutes from 07:00–23:30 and the 15-minute journey costs RUB 36. You can also get there on the non-stop 39A bus, which takes around 20 minutes and costs RUB 25. From Moskovskaya, it’s another 20 minutes by metro to the centre.
Moskovsky is the city's central train station, but there are 4 other stations so check carefully to ensure you’re at the one your train departs from. The high-speed inter-city Sapsan or overnight trains connect you to Moscow (from about RUB 1040-19448). There are also direct routes to other parts of Russia, Europe and even Asia (including China, Mongolia and North Korea!) Ticket prices vary according to destination and can be bought online or at stations.
The metro is so stunningly beautiful you can hardly believe you’re here to take the train. Even better, it's the fastest and most convenient way to get around the city. Trains operate between 05:45–00:00 and arrive every 2-3 minutes during the day, except early in the morning and late at night. A RUB 28 zheton (token) can be bought from a ticket desk or machine at most stations. There are booths with information in a variety of languages for non-Russian speakers.
The upside is that Saint Petersburg has an extensive bus network, but the downside is that it can be confusing and your journey might take longer depending on traffic. Buses operate from 05:30–00:30 and routes are indicated at most bus stops, but only in Cyrillic! Buses are green/white or yellow and bus stops can be identified by the letter ‘A’ (Avtobus) sign. Tickets cost about RUB 25 and can be bought at any metro station, or directly from the bus conductor.
Trams are a slow but cheap way to check out the city if you don’t want to walk. Stops have a letter ‘T’ sign above the tracks and trams arrive every 20-30 minutes, usually running between 06:00-00:00. On board, conductors wearing uniforms or red armbands will sell you tickets at RUB 25 (have small change ready!). The kontrolyor (inspector) comes around at times to make sure no one’s getting a free ride. Don’t expect anyone to speak anything other than Russian.
There are many unlicensed taxis in Saint Petersburg (including some that look like official ones), so avoid flagging taxis in the street. Though pricier, it’s safer to book a taxi by calling a reputable company. An approximate amount will be quoted for your journey and a car will be dispensed to you within around 20 minutes. English speaking operators are not guaranteed. Try to avoid travelling in rush hour traffic (08:00–10:00 and 18:00–20:00).
Driving in Saint Petersburg is not everyone’s cup of tea. Traffic can be daunting, roads may be bumpy, and both parking spaces and signs in English are rare. Adding to that, your fellow drivers may not be the friendliest or most courteous in the world. If you decide to rent a car, note that the eagle-eyed local traffic police are constantly on the prowl, demanding Russian-translated proof that you are at least 18 and have an international driving licence.
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