The best time to St Petersburg is between 10 June and 2 July during the iconic White Nights, a magical midsummer period when the sun barely sets and evenings are bathed in light. The city is dubbed ‘Venice of the North’, so be sure to take a leisurely boat trip through its myriad rivers and canals, punctuated with hundreds of charming bridges.
Explore an array of dramatic architecture including the medieval Church on Spilled Blood and the imposing St Isaac’s Cathedral, where you can ascend 250 steps for incredible 360-degree views. The spectacular former Winter Palace now houses the Hermitage Museum, where you’ll find an astonishing art collection featuring masterpieces by Leonardo da Vinci, Picasso, Michelangelo and Rembrandt. Another must-see is the 18th-century Shuvalov Palace, which hosts the Fabergé Museum where you can view nine elaborate jewel-encrusted eggs that were created for Russian Tsars.
Nevsky Prospekt is the city’s cultural and social epicentre. Stretching for three miles, Russia’s most legendary street is lined with a frenetic blend of restaurants, bars, art galleries, perfumeries and shops – including Gostiny Dvor, St Petersburg’s largest and oldest shopping mall. For a unique souvenir, head to the Udelka flea market and rummage for Soviet-era collectibles, dusty antiques and vintage leather suitcases.
St Petersburg’s lively gastronomic scene encompasses grand fine-dining establishments, trendy modern eateries and humble local cafés. L’Europe is the country’s oldest continually-serving restaurant and oozes timeless elegance – don’t miss the spectacular Sunday caviar and champagne brunch. Super-sleek Ginza, meanwhile, offers the city’s best sushi, while at Beau Rivage you’ll find sophisticated French Cuisine. For traditional local fare, Pelmeni Bar serves Russia’s famous meat-filled dumplings or you can tuck into hearty borscht at Na Zdorovye.
The city is renowned for its classical performing arts – after dinner, head to the Mariinsky Theatre, a spectacular ballet-and-opera house, for a spellbinding performance of Giselle or Swan Lake. Those in the mood for a livelier evening should make their way to Dumskaya Street’s array of bars, nightclubs and live music venues.
St Petersburg is laden with big-name luxury hotels – lavish Hotel Astoria sits next to the magnificent St Isaac’s cathedral and has a pampering spa, historic Belmond Grand Hotel Europe oozes old-school glamour and boasts a caviar bar, and the hip W St Petersburg has a sleek rooftop bar. For something smaller-scale, the boutique Alexander House is a 14-room guesthouse located opposite the Nikolsky Cathedral.
There are a number of airports to consider when flying into St Petersburg, take a look at our airport guide to choose the airport most suited to your needs? Simply contact our team and we’ll arrange everything you need to charter a private jet to St Petersburg.