Kempinski Blog Article
What to do and see in St Petersburg
There are few places as awe-inspiring as St Petersburg. It may no longer be the capital of Russia - a title that was bestowed on Moscow in 1918 following the Russian Revolution – but the city is an artistic hub and, despite its gloriously historic setting, boasts modernity at every turn.
Visiting St Petersburg
As well as being a popular city for visiting cruises, St Petersburg is easily accessible through Pulkovo Airport - 20km south of the city. The airport is a modern one - a new terminal opened just last year - and you will find plenty of business lounges to enjoy while you wait to board your return flight.
You will be expected to have arranged all your relevant visa before arriving in Russia - and your local Russian consulate is best placed to advise you on the application procedure. Most residents of western countries will need a visa to visit Russia, but check with your government advice channels to see if that applies to you. Rest assured, the visa application process is quite easy to navigate - almost as easy as getting around St Petersburg while you are there!
Taxis are abundant, and once you are in the city centre, everything you are likely to want to see on your visit is easily reached by foot, or the St Petersburg metro. Bear in mind that it is unlikely your driver will speak any English, so perhaps arm yourself with a few simple phrases to aid your travel around the city.
St Petersburg's climate is one of the main draws to the city - all year round. Winter sees Russia with its traditional snowy façade, where as in the height of summer, you will be able to witness White Nights. These are the long, long evenings where the sun does not fully set, and are at their peak in mid-June. Expect revelry until late into the night, with concerts, festivals and an abundance of culture.
But where to stay during all the festivities? No matter the time of year, Kempinski Hotel Moika 22 is always a friendly place to stay on your visit to St Petersburg. Combining European elegance with amazing facilities, there is nowhere more relaxing after your busy day in the city.
Architectural St Petersburg
From buildings to Venetian-style waterways, on seeing St Petersburg, there is no denying that it is a city with a distinct architectural style. Boosted by a UNESCO World Heritage Site accolade, this is very apparent when you see the Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments. Though its formal name is a little lengthy, the award refers to the oldest and most impressive part of the city.
Within it, you will find a whole host of important buildings - from forts to palaces and parks - as well as a collection of canals that have earned the city's comparison to Venice. The structures are very important architecturally - in fact, the design heritage of many buildings here is a magnificent blend of traditional Russian-Byzantine styles with Baroque and Neoclassical hints.
To explore everything this centre has to offer, dedicate at least a day to wandering around, and discovering the many secrets of this area - and remember, you will definitely want to pack a camera.
St Petersburg's cuisine
Home to a whole host of restaurants celebrating national dishes, it seems only right to extend your palette while visiting St Petersburg. Why not sample Borscht as a light lunch or a starter? Comprising beetroot, meat broth, tomatoes, celery, onion, carrot and dill, it originated in Ukraine, but the dish is now a staple in the Russian diet. There is a lot of pride in the inherited Borscht recipe, and there are many variations of this dish.
Fancy something sweet? Perhaps partake in a blini - a Russian type of crepe. Best served with homemade jams or fresh fruit, you might also find savoury blinis that house anything from mushrooms to caviar - the dish even has its own appreciation week called Maslenitsa!
Whether you are in St Petersburg for business or pleasure, there are some sights you simply can't leave the city without seeing.
Often cited as Imperial Russia at its very best, the Hermitage is one of the most thorough collections of art and sculpture in the world - something that is true even when you disregard the incredible building the collections sit within. To ensure a group tour - recommended for seeing all the museum's highlights - be sure to book ahead of your arrival.
Church of the Saviour on Blood
Also known as Church on Spilled Blood - there have been many translations over the years - this magnificent structure was built on the site of where Emperor Alexander II died as a memorial to him. The unique onion-like towers have to be seen to be believed, and the church only gets more beautiful when you step inside.
Russia's history is undoubtedly complicated, but a trip to the Ysuspov Palace can help explain the past, as well as giving visitors an insight as to how parts of 19th century Russia would have looked. To see the whole of the palace - a must for any history lover - be sure to book yourself onto a guided tour, as some parts of the building are inaccessible without an escort.