There are several grand imperial palaces and estates surrounding St Petersburg. Peterhof and the palace-park ensembles at Tsarskoe Selo and Pavlovsk are the best and a visit to St Petersburg is not complete without a trip to at least one of them. Be warned that at the height of summer the endless tourist crowds can be frustrating. Moreover, while Peterhof is the most impressive palace, it’s overpriced for foreigners. Tsarskoe Selo is the best value-for-money day trip.
If you have more time, there are several other options, including the charming old Finnish town of Vyborg, the sleepy village of Staraya Ladoga and the monastery town of Tikhvin. For something completely different, head to the relaxing pine forest-backed beaches near Repino.