These are a few of our favourite places and things to do see and buy in St Petersburg. We have also added a few what to miss at the end!
We love anything to do with Chekhov – his stories, his plays, and the unique atmosphere of Russian country estate life in his work. See this come to life at this St Petersburg restaurant. With linen, wood and mis-matched furniture and a fantastic pianist the food is some of the best Russian food we have ever tasted.
Is it a spa? Is it a Hamman? Is it a sauna? The answer is no, it is a unique experience all of it’s own. We can arrange cheap and cheerful or deluxe, but either way it’s an extraordinary experience.
Amber Room Workshops
Before you see the workshops you will see the completed Amber room in Catherine’s Palace. Restored and perfect. When you see the workshop, scruffy, with empty tequila bottles acting as brush holders you will be in awe of these amazing craftsmen whose skill belongs to a bygone age.
The fact that the Cupola of St Isaac’s is open until 04:00am in the summer for amazing views of the city.
The Chinese Palace is the jewel of all of Catherine’s palaces and the palace that has remained the most originally intact of all. Incredibly it was saved from destruction during WWII despite it’s proximity to Peterhof which was razed to the ground.
Some of the most beautiful porcelain – either buy in the shop on Moskovsky Prospekt, or go to the factory and buy there. They ship world wide.
Backstage Tour of Mariinsky
Backstage tours are possible in most theatres around the world, but you can really feel the ghosts of past dancers here; Pavlova, Njinsky, Nureyev. Everything from the sloped stage, gilded front of house to the incredible wardrobe area is a revelation.
If you have a spare day, or you are a return visitor to the city, we suggest heading out to Repino for a day in the country that is palace free!
If you do want some culture the studio of Ilya Repin is here and is an interesting visit, otherwise you can hop from beach side restaurant to beachside restaurant watching the locals and enjoying a delicious shashlik (charcoal grilled kebab style). This is not seasonal! The majority of restaurants are open in the depths of winter and you can take a walk by the frozen Baltic sea. If you do have the urge to see a palace, there is one en route – the beautiful Yelagin Palace, designed by Carlo Rossi.
Shoppping in St Petersburg
Paloma – for wonderful fur hats – your guide will be able to take you to one of several branches.
Lomonosov – Beautiful (and still a bargain) Russian porcelain. From the most simple cobalt blue and white to more elaborate designs.
Linen – buy Volga Linen for less at the Hotel Astoria, or ask your guide to take you to some local linen shops – design and style has improved greatly and it’s wonderful quality at really good value prices.
Amber – The amber is all from the Baltic’s, but we would recommend having a look at the upmarket shop at Pushkin for a beautiful one off piece.
5 things to miss…
Sushi, sushi everywhere. You will have had it fresher and better almost anywhere else.
Cooked fish in general – pike perch and sturgeon really are bland and tasteless. Avoid. Smoked sturgeon and salmon are however, delicious.
Taxis from the street & hotel cars. Can be a rip off. Do not despair – we recommend a good company that have English speaking controllers if not drivers.
Caviar – officially illegal, but like many things this is a grey area. With prices now often more than London in caviar bars that do serve it we suggest you give it a miss.
Most souvenir shops – we will suggest a couple, but the rest are best avoided.
Support Father Alexander and Exeter International’s charity by arranging a tour to the Maltese Chapel which is strictly closed to the public. All proceeds from the tour will go directly to the charity which helps make the dreams of terminally ill Russian children come true.
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