Carriage near the Hermitage in St. Petersburg

Home of the Tsars, St. Petersburg was once Russia’s imperial capital and is today seen as the country’s cultural hub. Home to stunning museums, neoclassical palaces, a bustling art scene and some wonderful restaurants, St. Petersburg is a destination with so much to offer. To ensure you get the most from this immersive city, take a look at our guide to St. Petersburg.

A fashionable culinary scene

Throughout the city, you’ll find a great mix of both contemporary and traditional restaurants, and wherever you choose to dine in St. Petersburg, you’ll dine in style. 

One of the most popular restaurants in the city for fine dining is L’Europe, housed in the Grand Hotel Europe. A blend of European and Russian cuisine, food is served in a decadent Art Nouveau setting. The restaurant often has live music, with Tchaikovsky nights every Friday and the chance to rub shoulders with the city’s elite crowds on Sundays, during a caviar and champagne brunch. 

For somewhere a little more contemporary, dining at miX is always an experience. Headed by celebrated chef Alain Ducasse, this restaurant boasts a modern interior inspired by art and design, accented by grand chandeliers, and featuring an open kitchen. It’s contemporary cuisine done at its best.

World Class Galleries

One of the most popular destinations for visitors in St. Petersburg is the mammoth State Hermitage Museum, it draws countless visitors through its doors each day. People come to admire the building itself, the Winter Palace, as well as the staggering collection of art. Once the home of the Romanov Tsars, the palace houses the main collection, but it would take years to see every exhibition on show. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to arrange a guided tour during your visit.

For something a little more alternative, head to the Nonconformist Art Museum. Part of the Pushkinskaya 10 Arts Center, this building is a base for unusual art in St. Petersburg and is a great place to visit if you want to see the emerging Modern Art scene in Russia. Made up of galleries, studios and venues, there’s a great selection of independent art to be seen.

Regal Palaces

As well as the Winter Palace, St. Petersburg is home to some truly breath-taking examples of neoclassical architecture, and was home to many of the movement’s pioneering architects. The Mikhailovsky Palace is home to the Russian Museum, which houses the city’s largest collection of fine art, and is famous for being a great masterpiece by architect Carlo Rossi.

Another celebrated architect and pioneer of neoclassicism, Antonio Rinaldi is celebrated throughout St. Petersburg for creating such great builds as the Marble Palace. Made using 32 different types of marble (giving the palace its name), construction on the Marble Palace began in 1768, and today it’s one of the most popular palaces in the city.

Rivers & Canals

So much enjoyment can be had simply from walking along the many rivers and canals of St. Petersburg, a city which is unique for its labyrinth of waterways, which stretch for almost 300 kilometres. One of the most interesting rivers to explore on foot is the Moyka River, which is near to St. Petersburg’s main island, Vasilyevsky Island.

On the banks of the Moyka River you’ll find iconic buildings such as the Court Stables, by Nicholas Gerbel, and the Glinka State Academic Kapella, by Leon Benois. The latter is one of the city’s most prominent concert halls, and its interior is lavishly decorated throughout. Don’t forget to stroll through the stunning St. Isaac’s Square, where you’ll find a beautiful cathedral designed by French architect Auguste de Montferrand. Whatever the weather, a stroll along the rivers of St. Petersburg is always an enjoyable pastime.