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Bucket list experience:

Statue of tsar in boulevard

The Statue of Catherine the Great, in a small square just off Nevsky Prospekt

Last updated: 29 May, 2023
Expert travel writer: Jennifer Eremeeva

St. Petersburg’s history is also that of the Romanovs, the dynasty that ruled Russia from 1613 to 1917. For two centuries these lavish and colourful rulers left their indelible imprint on the city and its environs, beginning in 1613 with Peter the Great. His yearning for access to the Baltic Sea determined the city’s strategic location at the mouth of the Neva River, and it was his fascination with Western Europe which gave the city its look and feel.

Peter’s daughter Elizabeth took a city made of stone and gilded it with gold. This expansive empress, famous for her 5,000 dresses, many lovers, and frequent bouts of religious guilt, commissioned Italian Bartolomeo Rastrelli to design some city’s most iconic Baroque buildings, including the Hermitage, Smolny Cathedral, Peterhof, and the Catherine Palace.

Catherine, Elizabeth’s successor, and those that came after her, maintained the city’s place at the forefront of trade, creating a glittering social scene and cultural hub, until the downfall of Nicolas II at the hands of the Russian revolution in 1917.

Peter the Great on horseback statue

Bronze Horseman

St. Petersburg , Northwestern Region, Russia

Celebrating the city’s founder, Tsar Peter the Great, this impressive equestrian statue is one of the city’s most loved, and was opened to the public in 1782.

Best for ages: 13+ | Free

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Catherine Palace

St. Petersburg, Northwestern Region, Russia

A summer palace that’s a showcase for the grandeur of Imperial Russia, and a fascinating insight into the gilded lives of the Tsars.

Best for ages: 13+ | £10

Faberge Museum

St. Petersburg , Northwestern Region, Russia

Discover the art of Peter Carl Faberge, creator of the Imperial Easter Eggs, in the museum dedicated to his craft.

Best for ages: 8+ | £5

Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around

Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay near this experience, closest first

Faces Historical Center

St. Petersburg , Northwestern Region, Russia

Enjoy the convenience of a central location, in-room amenities, and friendly staff at a very affordable price.

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Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace

St. Petersburg, Northwestern Region, Russia

Incomparable elegance, comfort, and service await at the Four Seasons Lion Palace, just steps from the Hermitage.

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Grand Hotel Europe

St. Petersburg , Northwestern Region, Russia

St. Petersburg’s grand dame, a 5-star luxury hotel that harps back to more graceful, elegant age.

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Hotel Astoria

St. Petersburg , Northwestern Region, Russia

One of the city’s oldest and most elegant places to stay in the city, it offers luxury accommodation and an excellent location.

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Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

St Petersburg

Northwestern Region, Russia

On the shores of the Baltic, Russia’s dazzling cultural capital is a treasure trove of art, music, literature, and history.

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