Introducing St Petersburg
It seemed like a lark. When Peter the Great built this city on a swamp, his subjects humoured the Emperor. When he declared it the new capital, they were less amused.
But history has shown that the forward-thinking, Westward-looking tsar was inspired. Gradually, St Petersburg evolved from a swampy backwater into a modern European city, Russia’s ‘window to the West’. Unlike Moscow’s red bricks and onion domes, St Petersburg’s network of canals and baroque and neoclassical architecture give the city a European flavour, no doubt because it was built by Italian architects. Even the residents of St Petersburg fancy themselves ‘European’ and somehow slightly more sophisticated than their more easterly compatriots.
St Petersburg has always been a city of ideas. Petersburgers incited the Russian Revolution, ushering in 70 years of communist rule. And it was St Petersburg that encouraged democracy when the tide began to change.
Nowadays, this city’s citizens are breaking down the barriers of generations past and exploring new ideas, investigating the possibilities of consumerism, creativity and career. It’s not only Rastrelli’s architecture and Tchaikovsky’s operas that entice visitors, but also beatnik bands, edgy art galleries, underground clubs and delectable dining. St Pete’s bohemian side gives a glimpse into the 21st century; and (to borrow a communist slogan) the future is bright!
St Petersburg is legendary for its White Nights: those long summer days when the sun barely dips below the horizon. Revels start in May, when the city finally succumbs to spring and the parks are filled with flowering trees. But even when the skies are grey and the ground is covered in snow, the rich culture of St Petersburg dazzles and delights.
Ready to go?
These tours & activities make it easy:
Best places to stay in St Petersburg
St Petersburg city guide
Built on a swamp, the imperial capital is today a dazzling metropolis whose sheer grandeur never fails to amaze. Despite all that history has thrown at it, St Petersburg still feels every bit an imperial capital, a city largely frozen in time.
Absolutely Fabergé: Easter eggs with a difference
Chocolate isn't the only variety of egg attracting admiring glances this Easter - the world's second largest collection of Fabergé eggs has just gone on display at a new museum in St Petersburg, Russia...
Baltics to St Petersburg
Decades after the fall of communism, the Baltic countries of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia remain a mystery to most travellers. We’re not complaining, though; more mystery means fewer crowds and an easier time getting to know these fantastic countries.
St Petersburg - Plan your trip (Chapter)
Your journey to St Petersburg starts here. You'll find the tools to plan your adventure: where to go, how much to budget, plus in-depth info on the Hermitage museum.
White Nights and warm days: summer in St Petersburg
Belye nochi, the Russians call them - White Nights. These are the incredible, luminous northern midsummer eves when the high latitudes are bathed in a pearlescent all-night glow. The few brief weeks of the white nights and sun-filled summer days in Russia’s northern city of St Petersburg are an intoxicating time...
Scandinavia - Plan your trip (Chapter)
Your journey to Scandinavia starts here. You'll find the tools to plan your adventure: where to go and when, and how much to budget.
Russia beyond Sochi: 10 ways to explore the world's largest country
The hosting of the Winter Olympics (www.sochi2014.com) in the seaside city of Sochi and nearby Caucasus Mountains has been controversial, but there’s no doubt it has focused attention on the travel potential of the world’s largest country...
Admirers of Russian literature claim that the ‘Slavic soul’ of writers such as Chekhov or Tolstoy can’t be fully appreciated in translation.
Private Tour: Peter and Paul Fortress in St Petersburg
Visit Peter and Paul Fortress in St Petersburg with a private guide and learn about its rich history on a 3-hour walking tour! The sprawling site is fascinating to explore, with old prison buildings and an ornate Baroque cathedral.
Trans-Siberian Railway - Planning (Chapter)
Your journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway starts here.
Half Day Tour of Peterhof (Petrodvorets)
Peterhof is perhaps St Petersburg's most famous and spectacular Imperial estate. The Grand Palace, filled with fascinating and elaborate interiors, sits on top of a high seashore ridge overlooking the vast Lower Park. The palace at Peterhof sits amidst an enormous park, adorned with fountains, statues and pavilions.