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A day in Saint Petersburg

St. Petersburg. Neva Embankment St. Isaac’s Cathedral against the evening sky

Splendour and treats

Founded late, in 1703, by Tsar Peter the Great, Saint Petersburg is undoubtedly the most beautiful city in Russia. This imperial destination boasts an impressive number of palaces and religious monuments, each more lavish than the last. It has also been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990. Spending a day in Saint Petersburg is a short amount of time, but enough to marvel at some of the city’s unmissable sites and experience Russian culture. 

10:30 amLose yourself in the museum

We’re not joking: many visitors have been lost in the Hermitage Museum. This is one of the world’s three biggest museums – alongside the Louvre in Paris and the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Three hours aren’t enough to see everything. To make the most of your time here, it’s best to focus on the areas you’re most interested in: from Antiquity, medieval art, French art, Spanish art, German art, Dutch art and British art you can see works by old masters like Titian, Cézanne, Gauguin, Picasso, Rembrandt, Botticelli… The museum is worth a visit in and of itself with its lavish decor: huge staircases, colonnades, gigantic chandeliers, mouldings and paintings on the ceilings, marble, gilding, marquetry… The Winter Palace, formerly home to the tsars, represents all this well. 

1:30 pmDelicious typical food

To recover from your visit to the Hermitage, have a break before you carry on exploring. To give you the strength to continue, there’s nothing like okróshka (cold soup eaten on warm days). It generally contains diced potato or turnip given a lift by onion, dill, parsley and tarragon. Then they add protein (sausage, fish or poultry) and a tart sauce, plus mustard, pepper and pickled cucumbers, before putting in eggs and sour cream. You can add to your meal with pirozhki: little savoury fried boat-shaped breads filled with beef, vegetables, purée, cabbage or mushrooms – or sweet with jam.

2:30 pmNeva cruise

We can thank Peter I, known as “the Great”, for making the Neva River which flows through Saint Petersburg one of the city’s main arteries. If you go on a one-hour panoramic shuttle cruise, you can enjoy lots of historic landmarks like the Winter Palace, Sheremetiev Palace, Stroganov Palace and St Michael’s Castle from a new perspective. 

3:30 pmA resplendent wonder

We can thank Peter I, known as “the Great”, for making the Neva River which flows through Saint Petersburg one of the city’s main arteries. If you go on a one-hour panoramic shuttle cruise, you can enjoy lots of historic landmarks like the Winter Palace, Sheremetiev Palace, Stroganov Palace and St Michael’s Castle from a new perspective.

4:30 pmRussian teatime

Although there isn’t a set time for drinking tea in Russia, afternoon snack time is a good moment to enjoy the ritual. Introduced by Chinese envoys to the court of Tsar Alexis in 1618, tea gradually won over the whole country. Water is boiled and kept at a high temperature using a samovar placed in the middle of the table. It can also warm a teapot containing a concentrated brew. Everyone can then dilute it to taste. Tea is generally served with berries or little sweet biscuits.

5:30 pmFolk evening 

In the heart of Saint Petersburg, Anichkov Palace stands proudly on the corner of the famous Nevsky Avenue and Fontanka Canal. This Baroque-style imperial residence was designed for Empress Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great, in 1741. Having been extended, modified and redecorated over the decades, this sumptuous imperial palace destined for those who would inherit the throne from the 19th century now welcomes visitors. This magical setting is home to the ultramodern Carnival Concert Hall, where a troupe of dancers and singers keep Russian folklore alive by putting on colourful shows.

8:30 pmA traditional dinner

As a starter, foodies will be tempted by blinis served with a tart sauce, smoked salmon or caviar! Fish lovers will enjoy koryushka: fried smelt served with different sauces typical of Saint Petersburg. Those who prefer meat will be happy with some comforting stroganoff: a traditional stew containing marinated, sautéed and braised beef with a sour cream, mustard, paprika, onion and mushroom sauce. And — who knows? — some may even wash it all down with a glass of vodka.

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