Elegant and exotic, St Petersburg somehow feels familiar and far away at the same time. Set on the Gulf of Finland, Russia’s second city has a more relaxed, European flavour than anywhere else in the country - and its fluctuating name reflects the rebellious city’s turbulent history. Envisioned by Peter the Great as a ‘window into Europe’, St Petersburg is a grand city of waterways and wide boulevards. Stacked with museums, galleries, soaring architecture and open squares, St Petersburg is Russia at its most inviting and culturally eclectic. See Faberge eggs in the museum, which holds nine of the legendarily precious objects. Or indulge in world-class culture at the Mariinsky Theatre, where ballerinas perform in a truly exquisite setting.
St Petersburg is known for its astonishing white nights during summer, a period when the sun never truly sets, and the city revels in light for 24 hours a day and the sky glows like a work of art, as it shifts from blue to pink. Many bars and restaurants work all night, while events and festivals feed off of the city’s extra energy.
While St Petersburg has a modern, contemporary sheen - with lively bars and restaurants – the elegance of emperors’ palaces, mighty cathedrals and river walks lend a timeless, old-world grace. Beautiful gardens and canal cruises add to the laid-back appeal, but Russia's imperial capital also has a fiercely revolutionary history. See the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood’s gloriously flamboyant, colourful onion domes, on the site where Emperor Alexander II was murdered. Winter Palace is another landmark of this city, located on Palace Square, where seismic historical events have unfolded – including the Bloody Sunday massacre and October Revolution.