Gazing west across the blue of the Baltic Sea, Russia’s second city was created by Peter the Great in 1703 to function as a window into Europe. Such was its splendour and importance, St. Petersburg became the capital of Imperial Russian culture, its reputation propelling it to being known as the ‘Venice of the North’.
In just over three centuries, the city has become one of the largest economic, cultural and scientific centres of Russia and the world, and despite being a young city, it’s a cultural hub too, home to more than 250 museums, while its mesmerising historic centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In addition to its museums, galleries, ballet shows and opera performances, the city’s cultural significance is easily matched by its beauty, in fact, St. Petersburg is frequently referred to as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Defined by its majestic architecture, winding canals, baroque bridges, striking plazas and verdant parks and gardens, there’s an undeniable picturesque quality to the city.
While the city is recognised as a year-round destination, there’s no better time to experience St. Petersburg than during the White Nights phase of the summer. These long summer days, when the sun barely sets, ensures that the city’s contemporary scene of fine dining and vibrant nightlife truly thrives. The longer days will also help visitors pack all the city’s attractions into their visit, from the masterpieces found at the Hermitage Museum to ticking off the numerous palaces and churches that populate the city skyline.
When to go
One key rule that many visitors abide by is 'St. Petersburg during the week and Moscow on the weekend'. This is because many people from Moscow like to spend their weekends in St. Petersburg, which leads to inflated prices. Generally, St. Petersburg can be visited year round, though it's worth noting that winters here can be very cold, so wrap up warm. In the summer, you'll find the city comes to life during the long daylight hours, making it one of the most vibrant times of year to visit.
What to do
- Marvel at the works of the Hermitage Museum
- Hop between the city’s many palaces
- Gaze at the Church of the Saviour on the Spilled Blood
- Stroll along Nevsky Prospekt boulevard
- Take a cruise along the waters of the Neva River
- Visit the Peterhof Palace