I visited St. Petersburg during the summer and was blown away by this beautiful city by the sea, often referred to as the “Venice of the North”. And there was no snow in sight!
We had just missed the “white nights” of summer as we arrived in early August, but we still had more than 15 hours of daylight which was absolutely superb! The streets and cafés were filled with people and the boats cruising along the canals never seemed to stop. It all felt so surreal. This was not the Russia I had imaged. Words cannot truly describe my experience in St. Petersburg and the photographs I took do not do it justice. I had to take a moment each day to ground myself as the city swept me away into a fairytale-like haze.
Dinner while cruising the Neva River, seeing Da Vinci’s Madonna and Child in the Hermitage Museum, eating local cuisine, The Peter & Paul Fortress, dinner and vodka tasting at the Vodka Museum, The Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood, superb shopping, throngs of tourists and friendly faces, summer rains, outdoor cafés, cobbled streets, visiting the Winter and Summer Palace’s and the view of the Gulf of Finland from the Summer Palace - THIS is the magic of a summer in St. Petersburg.
If you ever find yourself lucky enough to travel to the city designed by Peter the Great, I urge you to immerse yourself in all it has to offer! You won’t be disappointed.
|St Isaac's Cathedral|
|The biggest bookshop in St. Petersburg.|
|Peter and Paul Fortress|
|Peter and Paul Cathedral Peterhof|
|St Isaac's Cathedral|
|Alexander Column, Palace Square|
WHAT TO DO
Hermitage State Museum
You'll need at least 2-3 days to explore this monument, and even then I doubt you will fully experience its magnitude. To give you an idea, the official Hermitage State Museum website has 81 pages of highlights! My personal highlight was seeing Da Vinci's Madonna and Child.
The Church of Our Saviour on Spilled Blood
This Russian-style church was built on the same spot where Emperor Alexander II was assassinated in March 1881. It looks beautiful during the day, but it truly dazzles at night when the lights are turned on!
A Neva River cruise gives you a different view of the history in St. Petersburg. Sunset cruises are the most stunning as you get to see the city change from its pastel hues to a lit up memorial of Tsar, Peter the Great.
St. Petersburg's finest and most famous palace, the Winter Palace, is one of the greatest royal residences of the world, the home of the Romanov Emperors for two hundred years, and the main building of the world-famous Hermitage Museum.
The oldest palace in St. Petersburg, Peter the Great's Summer Palace in the beautiful Summer Garden, is an elegant baroque mansion that, under the auspices of the State Russian Museum, has interiors evoking Peter's domestic life.
|View from the Summer Palace towards the Gulf of Finland|
|Looking out over the Gulf of Finland|
Bolshoy Gostiny Dvor
St. Petersburg's largest and oldest department store, Bolshoy Gostiny Dvor, was built in the mid-18th century as a trading point for merchants bringing their wares to the Russian capital.
Looking for a restaurant with an impressive view of the city that serves great food and the most unusual cocktails? This is the place for you!
|Roast Smelt at PMI Bar|
Museum of Russian Vodka
The atmosphere of the museum allows you to experience the diversity of Russian culture, history and traditions of drinking. The museum tour is followed by a vodka tasting and I urge you to stay for dinner - the food is good too!
WHERE TO STAY
Three luxurious options to consider when staying in St. Petersburg:
Demetra Art Hotel
This is a modern 4-star establishment. It has only 60 rooms and caters mostly to business travellers. It is a beautiful little hotel and personalised service is top of the menu! High speed free internet and close to Nevsky Prospekt - the main street in St. Petersburg - makes it an ideal choice.
Belmond Grand Hotel Europe
This luxurious 5-star hotel caters to all your needs. It's great location allows you to walk just about anywhere you need to be. Business travellers, leisure travellers, families - all welcome! I was fortunate enough to have this hotel as my home during my St. Petersburg stay. The best meal I had on the entire trip was served in this hotel's restaurant. Their signature dish - Egg in Egg is divine! Truffle-infused scrambled egg, topped with beluga, oscietra and salmon caviar! Their exquisite cuisine is paired with musical entertainment ranging from jazz to classical music and ballet.
Four Seasons Hotel Lions Gate
The word opulence comes to mind when I think of this 5-star hotel. The Four Seasons is situated within a 19th-century palace with two marble lions guarding the entryway. The building and interior make you feel like royalty! With it's central location close to major attractions, it's suitable for all travellers as well as families.
To book your trip to Russia, contact your nearest Sure Travel consultant.
SURE TRAVEL BLOG CONTRIBUTOR:
With a love of travelling (of course!) and the outdoors, Anthea is always up for an adventure. She is absolutely nuts about foreign cuisine and loves ballet, opera and classical music/theatre. She will try just about anything and the one thing she appreciates most about being in a foreign country is learning about the different cultures and religions.