St. Petersburg City Guide

St. Petersburg is a popular destination with travellers looking for a city break in Russia, and its coastal location makes it a great base if you’re travelling around the Baltics for your holiday. The country’s cultural epicentre, St. Petersburg, is known for its distinctive European flavour that blends with traditional Russian style.

St. Petersburg’s location right next to Europe and Scandinavia makes it a very accessible holiday destination from many countries. Most travellers fly into Pulkovo Airport, which is just a 30-minute drive south of the city centre. The airport is well-linked to the centre of St. Petersburg, and a number of buses regularly run between it and Moskovskaya Metro station.

It’s also possible to drive to St. Petersburg from Helsinki and Tallinn, which is a popular option for those wanting to see more of the Baltic Coast during their holiday. Travelling by ferry is another option, and ships sail frequently between St. Petersburg and many other port cities including Stockholm and Hamburg.

Once the capital of Imperial Russia, St. Petersburg and its historic buildings and architecture are constant reminders of the city’s decadent past. Peter the Great founded the city in 1703, and there are still many landmarks and buildings standing today that date back to his reign, such as the Peter and Paul Fortress and the Cabin of Peter the Great, both of which are in the Petrogradskaya district.

The life of the tsars is on full display at the Imperial estates in St. Petersburg’s suburbs. The gardens, stately buildings and Grand Palace at Peterhof are right on the banks of the Gulf of Finland, just a 45-minute train journey out of the city. In the summer, hydrofoil boats run from the centre of St. Petersburg down the River Neva to this large estate. Comparable to Versailles, this splendid royal residence is also known for its Grand Cascade, a huge network of fountains and canals.

The area around Palace Square is one of St. Petersburg’s oldest and is the location of many high-end hotels. There are plenty more five-star establishments dotted along the city’s main road, Nevsky Prospekt, which is known for its impressive facades and numerous bars and restaurants. There is also a large number of mid-range mini-hotels along Nevsky Prospekt, and a lot of St. Petersburg’s cheap hostels are situated in the stretch between Vosstaniya Square and the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.

Popular with families, hotels in Petrogradskaya often benefit from quiet locations, away from the busy tourist spots. There is plenty to see and do in this area of St. Petersburg, especially with children. Kids can come face-to-face with polar bears in Leningrad Zoo and gaze up at planets and stars in the St. Petersburg Planetarium. Even if you aren’t travelling with children, staying in Petrogradskaya will place you within easy reach of the many museums and galleries on neighbouring Vasilyevsky Island.

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