From Russia With Love:
Saint Petersburg, Russia – somewhere I’d never thought of visiting before but will definitely visit again! I had air miles to use with British Airways so we looked at where they could take us. My family and I love history and city breaks so we decided to combine the two and settled on Saint Petersburg.
The city is Russia’s second largest behind Moscow and is nicknamed the ‘Venice of the North’ due to it’s beautiful canals and impressive architecture. It’s Russia’s most westernised city and is also it’s cultural capital. Saint Petersburg is particularly popular with cruise companies.
Most major UK airports have scheduled flights to the city so it’s pretty easy to get to – if you have a visa that is. The Russian tourist visa process can take a while so make sure you apply for this well in advance. It will set you back between £80-£100 and you will be required to submit your application in person. Click here to visit the official website and find out more information.
We stayed in The Official State Hermitage Hotel and boy was this special. This five star hotel has been designed in the style of the Hermitage, the former palaces of the Russian Tsars. We paid around £180 per night for a premium twin room. The hotel staff were extremely friendly and helpful which was especially nice considering none of us had been to the country before and could only say ‘thank you’ in Russian.
As with any city break I think one of the best ways to see the sites is via a bus tour. I always choose City Sightseeing, they’re the worlds biggest open-top bus company and I always find their commentary really informative, and who could argue with a 90 minute tour for £8.50! A word of caution though – don’t book the combined bus and boat trip ticket. The boat trip is in conjunction with another company who didn’t honour our tickets. I’d advise you to book river cruises actually at the river.
One of the must see sights is the awe inspiring Hermitage Museum. Comprising of five buildings it ranks as one of the worlds largest museums. The most impressive building is by far the Winter Palace which dominates Palace Square. I highly recommend booking your tickets in advance and visiting later in the afternoon to beat the crowds.
Saint Petersburg, like any major city is not short of restaurants. Italian seems to be the most popular – we actually struggled to find anything different. Food and drink is VERY reasonably priced. You can enjoy a three course meal with a litre of wine for around £15-20 per person.
Another must see is The Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood. This typically Russian style church is beautiful from the outside but is simply stunning on the inside. It costs around £2.50 to gain entry and whilst there is only one ‘room’ you could spend hours looking at the incredibly detailed mosaic walls and ceilings. I think it’s the most beautiful church I’ve ever seen.
We had an awesome time visiting Saint Petersburg, the trip was made all the more special after I received news of my best friends engagement whilst there. There was so much we didn’t get to do and see so it’s on my list of places to re-visit.
Have you ever visited Russia or would you like to? Let me know!
Thanks for reading.