Day One

  • Historic Heart

Begin your first day by taking a stroll down Nevsky pr, the city’s central avenue that connects the Hermitage to the Alexander Nevsky Monastery at the far end. Start at Ploshchad Vosstaniya, cross the lovely Fontanka, drop into the Church of the Saviour on the Spilled Blood and the Kazan Cathedral and end up at the dazzling ensemble of Palace Square, the Winter Palace and the General Staff Building. Wander along the embankment to the Summer Garden and then wander back along the Moyka River.

  • Lunch Dine with adorable cuddly toys at cosy Zoom Café.
  • Sennaya & Kolomna

Continue along the Moyka to St Isaac’s Cathedral, visit the astonishingly elaborate interiors and then climb to the top of the dome for superb views of the city. Follow the Moyka down to the Yusupov Palace and the Mariinsky Theatre, ending up at the beautiful sky-blue Nikolsky Cathedral.

  • Dinner Enjoy the antique atmosphere and vegetarian dishes of Idiot.
  • Historic Heart

If the dive bars of Dumskaya ul don't appeal, Apotheke Bar is a convivial spot for cocktails nearby. Alternatively the Belle View rooftop bar at the Kempinski Hotel Moyka 22 does indeed offer superb views.

Day Two

  • Historic Heart

After a hearty breakfast, head to the Hermitage and get ready for a day of artistic exhilaration. Choose which parts of the collection you want to see, though leave some room for on-the-spot decision making – the exhibition is so enormous that you’ll inevitably discover something new. As well as the art, don’t miss the staterooms, and allow yourself plenty of rest stops to avoid exhaustion.

  • Lunch Savour some excellent Russian cuisine at Yat.
  • Historic Heart

You may still want to spend a few hours in the museum and make the most of your day ticket. But if you leave and still have some energy, wander along before picking up a sightseeing cruise around the canals – the best way to sightsee without having to do any more walking!

  • Dinner Enjoy a pre- or post-theatre meal at The Répa.
  • Sennaya & Kolomna

If you’ve booked ahead, dress up to spend the evening watching a ballet from the classical repertoire of the Mariinsky Theatre. Even if you haven’t booked, it’s usually quite possible to do so last minute in one of the other theatres in town. For a late-night drink with live jazz drop by Hat.

Day Three

  • Petrograd & Vyborg Sides

This is your chance to explore the beautiful Petrograd Side. Start with a visit to the Peter & Paul Fortress to see where the city began, wander past the mosque and perhaps drop in to see either Peter’s Cabin or the very interesting Museum of Political History. Wander down Kamennoostrovsky pr to take in the Russian Style Moderne architecture.

  • Lunch Enjoy great views over the Neva at Koryushka.
  • Vasilyevsky Island

After lunch, walk across to Vasilyevsky Island, and wander the historic ensemble around the Strelka. Visit the Kunstkamera, Peter the Great’s personal cabinet of curiosities, and drop in to the very interesting Menshikov Palace to see the oldest standing palace in the city. If you enjoy contemporary art, continue on to the excellent Erarta Museum of Contemporary Art.

  • Dinner Dine in understated Russian elegance at Restoran.
  • Smolny & Vosstaniya

Head south to happening Vosstaniya to gallery-, bar- and gig-hop around Ligovsky pr. See some new artwork at Loft Project ETAGI and, if it's summer, enjoy a drink in the sand and some table football at Dyuni.

Day Four

  • Around St Petersburg

Head out of the city early to spend the day in tsarist opulence. Go first to Tsarskoe Selo in order to visit the Catherine Palace and have a walk in the gardens. If you’re still wanting more, head for Pavlovsk, a quick bus ride away, where the park is even wilder and more beautiful.

  • Lunch Eat at White Rabbit in the town of Pushkin.
  • Historic Heart

Return to the city in the afternoon and slot in the Russian Museum, the perfect complement to the Hermitage. This spectacular (and far more manageable) museum showcases seven centuries of Russian art from church icons to the avant-garde.

  • Dinner Settle in for a wonderful set meal at EM restaurant.
  • Smolny & Vosstaniya

Bar hop from ul Rubinshteyna north along the Fontanka, sneaking into the secret bar Commode, followed by Union and Terminal Bar. Catch a live band at Fish Fabrique, Cosmonaut or alternative favourite Griboyedov for a taste of what's cooking on the local music scene.