As soon as you arrive in Russia's northern capital, you will understand why St. Petersburg has captured the hearts of millions of tourists. Founded as an imperial capital by Peter the Great (whose equestrian statue dominates Senate Square), St. Petersburg is an astonishing maze of canals and historical sites. Lose yourself in this blissful paradise of palaces and churches, gardens and galleries, as your tour the "Venice of the North."
Start your day at the fascinating Hermitage Museum. The complex consists of six buildings, including the Winter Palace, a baroque masterpiece and former residence of the Tsars. Inside, explore one of the greatest collections of art in the world. And take your kids: outside of the Hermitage, imperial Russian nobles wait to greet you and send you on a carriage ride around Palace Square! Only five minutes away, admire the Church on Spilled Blood, a fresh take on Orthodox architecture. Later, head over to the 19th century St. Isaac's Cathedral. Discover the gorgeous interior and become acquainted with Russian Orthodox culture as you examine gold-plated walls, ancient icons, and soaring copulas. You can even take a trip up to the top of the Cathedral for a breathtaking view overlooking the entire city!
Just a short trip outside the city limits, find the small town of Pushkin. Don't let its size fool you: you will want to explore every inch of this Tsars' Village! Next-door to the Lyceum – where, by the way, Pushkin studied – find Catherine's Palace, a stunning sky blue baroque summer mansion. Inside, prepare for astonishing beauty as you head for "The Amber Room," constructed from six tons of pure amber. Join in the mystery to uncover the original amber: it was never found after being looted by Nazi soldiers. Afterwards, grab a ride back to the city to visit the peaceful Smolny Convent, once a monastery that now houses government and educational buildings.
From anywhere in the city, take the metro to the famed Nevsky Prospekt and mingle with the warm, hospitable citizens of St. Petersburg, your hosts at the gateway to Russia. Dine in the renowned Café Zinger above St. Petersburg's biggest bookstore and look out upon the massive Kazan Cathedral. After dinner, take a ride on one of the many ferries paddling through the city's waterways, before walking along the Neva riverside during a white, Petersburg night!
Your tour of St. Petersburg will acquaint you with the warm, artistic side of Russian culture that will leave you feeling refreshed and delighted.