Saint Petersburg Holidays
Saint Petersburg is the second largest city in Russia and is truly a world-class destination, perfect for anyone looking for a European city break! Saint Petersburg is one of the world’s most beautiful cities as it is studded with baroque bridges and stunning, historic buildings. Indeed, the historic centre has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The Hermitage Museum is a must-visit in Saint Petersburg. This interesting museum is one of the oldest museums in the world as it was founded by Catherine the Great in 1764. The museum boasts an extensive collection of items from Palaeolithic to contemporary times and has the largest collection of paintings in the world, including works by Picasso, Rembrandt and Leonardo da Vinci. The vast collection is distributed between 6 historic buildings at Palace Embankment.
The Winter Palace, which houses part of the Hermitage Museums massive collection, is certainly worth a visit. This beautiful palace used to be the official home of Russian monarchs between 1732 and 1917, now most of the palace is open to the public.
The Peter and Paul Fortress is another site definitely worth visiting. The fortress is located on Hare Island opposite the Winter Palace and was set up by Peter the Great in 1703. There is plenty to see at the citadel; highlights include: the Museum of City History, Peter and Paul Cathedral and a former high-security prison for politicians.
If you enjoy ballet and opera, you should definitely consider watching a performance at the world-class Mariinsky Theatre. The beautiful, green and white theatre opened in the mid-nineteenth century and has been considered a Russian cultural hub since tsarist times. In the past, the Mariinsky Theatre was the stage for the first performances of a number of masterpieces by prolific Russian composers such as Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov. Today, it is home to the famous Kirov Ballet and Opera Company.
Where to Stay
Unlike Moscow, Saint Petersburg boasts a large and varied collection of hotels. From the luxury chain hotels to the cheap mini hotels, there is a hotel to suit everyone in Saint Petersburg.
The most luxurious hotels tend to be located in the historic Nevsky Prospekt. Where luxury corresponds with sophisticated minimalism elsewhere in Russia, in Saint Petersburg luxury takes on another meaning. The high-end hotels of Nevsky Prospekt are often set in stately mansions and nearly all of them have sumptuous interiors complete with heavy tapestries and ornate furniture.
If you are on a budget, you may want to stay in one of the many mini hotels that dot the city. While these mini hotels are conveniently located and often very cheap, don’t hold any high expectations as many of these mini hotels were once kommunalka, communal apartments built during the time of the Soviet Union in an attempt to resolve the housing crisis. Indeed, most of these mini hotels are very basic with shabby entrances and usually no elevators.
When booking your hotel in Saint Petersburg, you will find that hotel prices will vary considerably depending on when you decide to make your visit. High season runs between May and July, in correspondence with the White Nights festivals that are held during the extraordinarily bright summer. If you want to experience the White Nights of Saint Petersburg, make sure that you book your accommodation well in advance and be prepared to pay a premium price for your room.