Flights to St Petersburg
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ST PETERSBURG – THE VENICE OF THE NORTH
St Petersburg is not only the second-largest city in Russia, but also one of its most important ports. It is the most Western city in Russia and one of Europe’s youngest metropolises.
St Petersburg stands out for its wealth of cultural heritage: historical palaces and parks, majestic museums and grand churches and cathedrals. Since the city was founded on the Neeva River and is well known for its network of canals and bridges, it is often compared to the Italian city of Venice.
These are just some of the sights worth visiting in St Petersburg:
- The Hermitage: One of the world’s largest and oldest museums of art, the Hermitage was constructed during the reign of Catherine the Great in the 18th century. It is home to more than three million artworks, including the world’s richest collection of paintings.
- St Isaac’s Cathedral: The largest Russian Orthodox church in St Petersburg, St Isaac’s is one of the biggest domed sacral structures in the world. It stands 101.5 metres high and its main dome has a diameter of 26 metres.
- Peter and Paul Fortress: The start of construction of this citadel on Hare Island in the 18th century is also considered the foundation of the city of St Petersburg. The central part of the fortress is the Peter and Paul Cathedral, where the greatest rulers of Russia are buried.
- Trinity Cathedral: This Russian Orthodox church is one of the main sights of St Petersburg. It gained fame thanks to its location: it was constructed on the site where Tsar Alexander II was fatally wounded in the 19th century.
- Summer Garden: This sprawling park is home to the summer palace of Peter I. It stands out for its many sculptures.
- Nevsky Prospekt: This is the main street in St Petersburg, impressive for both its width and its length. At its widest point the street spans 60 metres.
- Boat ride on the Neeva River: St Petersburg is among the world’s leading cities when it comes to the total surface area of the waterways and bodies of water within its city limits. The Neeva River flows through 32 km of the city, of which a large part is no more than three metres above sea level and at risk of flooding. St Petersburg is also the number-one city in the world by number of bridges – there are around 620 in the city, 218 for the exclusive use of pedestrians.
- Leningrad Zoo: This is one of the oldest zoos in Russia and is home to more than 2000 animals.
What is there to do around St Petersburg?
- Peterhof Palace: This grand assembly of parks and palaces was built during the time of Peter the Great. Its palaces are also referred to as the Russian Versailles, since the complex bears a resemblance to the French palace.
- Catherine Palace: This monumental Baroque palace was constructed by Peter I and dedicated to his wife Catherine I. It served as the summer residence of the Russian tsars. Its most famous and eye-catching feature is the Amber Room.
Shopping in St Petersburg
Although most visitors come to St Petersburg for its history and sights, the city also presents an excellent opportunity for shopping. Here you will find luxury boutiques, department stores and markets.
Bolshoy Prospekt: This street is home to Russian boutiques where you can buy the chic fashions of local designers.
Galeria shopping centre: The largest shopping and entertainment centre in the heart of St Petersburg, Galeria houses more than 300 stores, 20 restaurants and cafés and a cinema.
Nevsky Centre: This shopping centre is situated on the city’s main street, where you will also find the Stockmann department store familiar to Estonians.
Eating out in St Petersburg
You’ll find everything in St Petersburg – from hip pocket-friendly street food and cosy cafés to luxurious restaurants. Bear in mind, however, that eating out is generally quite expensive.
Stand-outs if you are looking for the true pearls of Russian cuisine are Stroganoff Steak House, Palkin, Puff Cafe and Cafe Idiot (named after the Dostoyevsky novel).
Getting about in St Petersburg
St Petersburg boasts an efficient public transport network made up of trams, buses, trolleybuses and private minibuses or ‘marshrutka’. There is also a five-line metro system in the city which is considered one of the world’s most elegant.
Although there are a plethora of options with public transport, St Petersburg is a big city and you should take into account that getting from one place to another can require a great deal of time. As such, it is recommended that you pick a hotel in the city centre, from which you can also reach the main sights on foot.