Perhaps nothing can genuinely prepare the first-time visitor for the majesty and grandeur of St. Petersburg, the cultural capital of Russia and the northernmost large metropolis in the world, located like a jewel at the mouth of the Neva River flowing to the West on the shores of the Baltic Sea. You may have heard that St. Petersburg was the main stage of Russian history, both imperial and revolutionary, but the city is no less famous as the "Window of Russia" to the rest of Europe and the world in general. With the introduction of a unified e-visa to visit Russia from January 2021, travelers will have many more opportunities to get to know St. Petersburg better than ever before.
Thanks to its privileged location, St. Petersburg is both a magical destination on its own and also a starting point for exploring Russia, and high-speed Sapsan trains bring their passengers to Moscow in just a few hours. Add to that the seaport and international airport, facilitating global transport links, and the introduction of an e-visa, and you will easily realise that St. Petersburg is a perfect match for business travelers. St. Petersburg is a leading MICE destination, and the St. Petersburg Convention Bureau guarantees the success of all your events.
Stay at one-of-a-kind hotels, dine at fabulous restaurants and see world-class events spanning the entire year. In winter, visitors may dive into the Christmas tale of the Festival of Fire. In spring, during the last week before the onset of Great Lent, the city celebrates Maslenitsa with plenty of pancakes to go around and with the traditional burning of the straw man. Summer awaits travelers with the colorful Scarlet Sails and classical nights at the international White Nights festival. In autumn, guests are invited to revel in the world of fabulous installations at the annual Festival of Lights.
St. Petersburg ticks all the right boxes not only as a cultural destination with a rich rhythm of events for all seasons but also as a center for sea cruising and yachting, advanced medicine and ecotourism, offering opportunities for having a relaxing time in nature, too. Be sure to visit the exquisite Peterhof Palace for its stunning gardens and fountains, but do not forget to make time to the remarkable Kronstadt Forts, which construction was started by Peter the Great on Kotlin Island that separates the Neva Bay from the Gulf of Finland.
The most iconic architectural monument of St. Petersburg is the incomparable Winter Palace, home of the phenomenal State Hermitage Museum with three million magnificent works of art in the labyrinth of rooms. It will take over nine years to see them all, but you can take in highlights like the museum's unmatched galleries of the Old Masters and works by Picasso, Kandinsky and Matisse in a day. In a more contemporary style, St. Petersburg Street Art Museum, or SAM, is located in the building of a former plastics factory in the eastern part of the city.
However, it would not be an understatement to say that the city of Pushkin and Tchaikovsky is an artwork itself. Stroll along purpose-built canals framed by the steep, regal facades of Italian mansions and see how the pastel shades reflect in the mirror-like water. This visual feast unfolds along the entire Nevsky Prospekt, the main architectural highway of St. Alexander Nevsky monastery. Main sights include the gorgeous Stroganov Palace, designed by Bartolomeo Rastrelli in the 1750s and featuring a delicate but dramatic pink façade, the neoclassical Kazan Cathedral, the Art Nouveau Bookhouse, the Eliseev Merchants' Shop, a luxurious dining hall where you can stock up on all sorts of delicacies, and many other architectural monuments of bygone eras.
At the same time, St. Petersburg knows how to move with the times. The city was the first in Russia to join the international WTTC program for safe tourism: Safe Travels. For tourists, this sign is a guarantee that the services provided by city tourism organisations meet the requirements of sanitary, hygienic and safety standards. In line with international trends, the Safe Travels SPb sign will help you feel secure and safe during your visit.
Along with that a new tourist geography of St. Petersburg is being formed for those looking for a more contemporary edge. For example, on Vasilievsky Island, home of the old St. Petersburg Stock Exchange, linked to the rest of the city by drawbridges, visitors can enjoy the Erarta Museum of Contemporary Art, which boasts not only Russia's largest collection of contemporary art but also a stunning restaurant with some of the best of St. Petersburg's desserts. And when it comes to gastronomy, just a short walk from Erarta you will find Sevkabel Port, a vibrant creative gastronomic space with many restaurants and cafes located in a restored former cable factory building facing the sea. Stroll along the embankment with a delicious coffee or a slice of real Italian pizza in hand and admire the view. Also on the island, the Vasileostrovsky market tempts gourmet travelers. How about panoramic views? You can't miss Lakhta Center because with a height of 462 meters it's Europe's tallest skyscraper. Soon the observation deck will be open for everyone to admire the unforgettable views of the city.
Every night when the bridges are raised over the Neva River letting the maritime traffic pass through, you're reminded again that for all its history St. Petersburg is also a city that beats to a modern rhythm. Even a stay as short as two or three days will be a sensory feast on every level. Visitors will find that St. Petersburg is not only the most cultural city of Russia and a unique example of skillful urban planning but also the place with a special atmosphere where the most memorable tourist routes begin.