The pond on New Holland island in St Petersburg.

©Kira Tverskaya/Lonely Planet

New Holland

Top choice in St Petersburg

This triangular island was closed for the most part of the last three centuries, and has opened to the public in dazzling fashion. There's plenty going on here, with hundreds of events happening throughout the year. There are summertime concerts, art exhibitions, yoga classes and film screenings, plus restaurants, cafes and shops. You can also come to enjoy a bit of quiet on the grass – or on one of the pontoons floating in the pond.

In Peter’s time, the complex was used for ship-building (its name refers to the place where he learned the trade). The impressive red-brick-and-granite arch, designed by Jean-Baptiste Vallin de la Mothe in the late 18th century, is one of the city’s best examples of Russian classicism. In the 19th century, a large basin was built in the middle of the island and experiments were conducted by scientist Alexey Krylov in an attempt to build a boat that couldn’t be capsized. In 1915 the navy built a radio transmitter here – the most powerful in Russia at the time.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby St Petersburg attractions

1. Central Naval Museum

0.15 MILES

Following a move to this beautifully repurposed building opposite the former shipyard of New Holland, the Central Naval Museum has moved into the 21st…

2. House of Music

0.18 MILES

This fabulous and fully restored mansion on the Moyka River belonged to Grand Duke Alexey, the son of Alexander II. The wrought-iron-and-stone fence is…

3. Rumyantsev Mansion

0.21 MILES

History buffs should not miss this oft-overlooked but superb local museum. Part of the State Museum of the History of St Petersburg, the mansion contains…

4. Yusupov Palace

0.29 MILES

This spectacular palace on the Moyka River has some of the best 19th-century interiors in the city, in addition to a fascinating and gruesome history. The…

5. Small Synagogue

0.35 MILES

Behind the Grand Choral Synagogue, this red-brick synagogue is generally open for guided tours only. Make inquiries via the website.

6. Grand Choral Synagogue

0.35 MILES

Designed by Vasily Stasov, the striking Grand Choral Synagogue opened in 1893 to provide a central place of worship for St Petersburg’s growing Jewish…

7. Mariinsky Theatre

0.36 MILES

The Mariinsky Theatre has played a pivotal role in Russian ballet ever since it was built in 1859 and remains one of Russia's most loved and respected…

8. Russian Vodka Museum

0.37 MILES

This excellent private museum tells the story of Russia’s national tipple in an interesting and fun way, from the first production of ‘bread wine’ to the…