From Russia with Love: Things To Do in St. Petersburg

Whilst tourism in Russia is largely centred on Moscow and the famous Red Square, clued-up travellers know that St. Petersburg, with its glorious architecture and imperial history, is equally worth a visit. St. Petersburg is, in fact, much closer to home for visitors from the UK. This city, which was founded in the 1700s by Peter the Great, sits right at the entrance to the Baltic Sea and is a popular destination for cruise trips.

Visit One of Russia’s Most Spectacular Cities Often cited as one of Russia’s most spectacularly beautiful cities, St. Petersburg is home to the largest port in Russia’s northwest, with cruise liners docking at Vasilevsky Island, right at the centre of the city.

From here visitors can explore the many attractions that the city has to offer, from ornate palaces and cathedrals to breathtaking views and illustrious museums and galleries. Part of the city’s appeal for time-pressed cruise visitors is the fact that the centre is small and compact and many of the key attractions are within easy walking distance of each other. There are many cruise lines operating tours that call at St. Petersburg and interested parties can visit to find the best deals on cruises.

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Palaces, Cathedrals and Stunning Views

St. Petersburg’s imperial history is visible in its wealth of ornate and imposing palaces; there are more to be seen here than anywhere else in Europe. Coupled with the equally elaborate churches and cathedrals, handsome university buildings and impressive statues and monuments, the skyline of St. Petersburg is impressive to say the least and visitors should keep their cameras handy, as there is a picture opportunity at every turn. The city is home to broad avenues flanked by historic buildings and lavish parks and gardens and it exudes a feeling of imperial opulence. Set across a series of islands, the city is linked by bridges, many of which are tourist attractions in themselves.

A Top Spot for Culture

Culturally minded visitors should make a beeline for the Hermitage Museum, which is the second largest art gallery in the world (trumped only by the famous Louvre in Paris). The museum is home to some three million artworks and the building itself is an architectural wonder. The setting for the museum is the ornate Winter Palace, which was formerly home to Russian tsars and is as luxurious and lavish as one would expect.

Nearby, the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood is a quintessentially ‘Russian’ building, with its colourful domed spires and it makes for a fantastic photo opportunity.

For spectacular views over St. Petersburg’s stunning domed cityscape, visitors can ascend to the top of St. Isaac’s Cathedral’s highest dome and take in sweeping vistas. Be warned, though, as you’ll need a head for heights to make the ascent. The cathedral itself is the largest of the many religious buildings in the city and well worth a visit. The building features wonderfully intricate mosaics and stained glass windows and was completed over a 40-year period from 1818 to 1858.

Ballet and opera are major forms of entertainment in St. Petersburg, making the city a top spot for highbrow travellers.

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