For those who only have 24 hours in St Petersburg, here’s an itinerary to help make the most of a whirlwind trip
Threaded through with canals and studded with beautiful, gilded and domed architecture, the city of St Petersburg has much to offer the culture hungry traveller. You could spend days exploring the State Hermitage Museum alone, appreciating the city’s colourful architecture, dining in the best St Petersburg restaurants and exploring St Petersburg at night. But if you’ve only got 24 hours in St Petersburg, never fear: with this itinerary you can enjoy some of the best sights, tastes and sounds of the city.
Buoyed up by a delicious breakfast at the Café Vienna at Corinthia St Petersburg, go for a stroll down Nevsky Prospekt (and don’t be afraid to do a little window shopping as you walk). Your destination is the State Hermitage Museum, home to the works of Michelangelo, Picasso, and Rubens, to name but a handful of the artists found within this cultural behemoth.
Getting here early means you should be able to beat the queues, giving you more time to explore the world-class collection. You could spend days wandering through the Hermitage’s exalted halls (it is one of the largest museums on the planet, after all), but since you only have 24 hours in St Petersburg, perhaps try to see the Top 10 pieces?
If the weather allows, get a breath of fresh air with a walk through the Field of Mars on your way to St. Isaac’s Cathedral. This golden-domed house of worship is a commanding feature of the St Petersburg skyline, but it’s even more eye-catching up close with its colonnaded, ornate exterior. Make sure to climb the stairs up to the dome itself for panoramic city views.
Back at street level and ready for lunch, take a five-minute walk to Dom, found within a 19th century mansion on the banks of the Moika River. With its fine, contemporary Russian cuisine and light, elegant dining room, Dom is one of the best St Petersburg restaurants and the perfect spot to indulge in a long, languorous lunch – perhaps with a glass or two of delicious Russian wine from its well-stocked cellar? You are on holiday, after all.
Once suitably sated, it’s a gentle walk over to the top-notch Russian Museum with its fine arts collection and the impressive Church of the Spilled Blood, or a jaunt over the River Neva to the Peter and Paul Fortress, the burial place of the Romanovs. The choice is yours. But whatever you do, spend a good portion of the afternoon on a riverboat tour; it’s one of the best ways to see the sights if you’ve only got 24 hours in St Petersburg.
Back on dry land, treat yourself to a little caffeine boost in the sumptuous surrounds of the Eliseyev Emporium Coffee Shop. Once you’ve finished your rich, dark espresso and wonderfully flaky pastries, make sure to explore this bastion of Russian shopping, picking up delicacies like caviar and chocolate as you go.
With only 24 hours in St Petersburg, you have to make the most of St Petersburg at night. Despite your afternoon repast, by now you’ve probably worked up an appetite for dinner so hop in a taxi and head off to Palkin. The cuisine here is Russian and proud, with fantastic dishes like “Lake Herring Under the ‘Fur Coat’” (an innovative dish of herring and potato foam) and Borsch (beetroot soup).
Palkin is also the perfect jumping-off point for a touch of after-dinner decadence at the historic Mariinsky Theatre. The grand dame of St Petersburg’s theatrical scene, a night of opera or ballet here will be one to remember. And then, for the ideal end to your 24 hours in St Petersburg, make your way over to The Hat for live jazz and cocktails, before heading back to Corinthia St Petersburg for a well-earned, restorative night’s sleep.