St Petersburg's most spectacular venue for ballet and opera, the Mariinsky Theatre is an attraction in its own right. Tickets can be bought online or in person, but they should be bought in advance during the summer months. The magnificent interior is the epitome of imperial grandeur, and any evening here will be an impressive experience.

Known as the Kirov Ballet during the Soviet era, the Mariinsky has an illustrious history, with troupe members including such ballet greats as Nijinsky, Nureyev, Pavlova and Baryshnikov. In recent years the company has been invigorated by the current Artistic and General Director Valery Gergiev, who has worked hard to make the company solvent while overseeing the construction of the impressive and much-needed second theatre, the Mariinsky II, across the Kryukov Canal from the company's green-and-white wedding cake of a building. It is pretty certain that the Mariinsky Theatre will close at some point in 2018 or 2019 for a full (and, again, much needed) renovation, so visit the Mariinsky's faded grandeur while you can.