Spend three magical winter days in Russia's "Window to the West". With more canals than Venice and an architectural style that is distinctly European, St. Petersburg is a confluence of art, history, and music. Explore the world-renowned Hermitage Museum, lavish Catherine's Palace, and imposing Peter and Paul Fortress. See the world's largest Orthodox Cathedral and enjoy holiday shopping on the snowy Nevsky Prospekt before catching an evening ballet performance at the Mariinski Theater.

Highlights

  • Explore European architecture and Russian culture in the "Venice of the North"
  • See the world-famous Hermitage Art Museum, housed in the Tsar's Winter Palace 
  • Visit the opulent Amber Room at Tsarkoe Selo 
  • See a winter ballet performance at the Mariinsky Theater

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 General city tour, Peter and Paul Fortress, shopping on Nevsky St. Petersburg
Day 2 Cathedrals, shopping, the Hermitage, Mariinsky Theater St. Petersburg
Day 3 Tsarskoye Selo (Pushkin)  

Detailed Itinerary

Peter and Paul Fortress with the frozen river
Peter and Paul Fortress with the frozen river

Day 1: General city tour, Peter and Paul Fortress, shopping on Nevsky Prospekt

St. Petersburg has been described as the Venice of the North and is as strikingly beautiful as it is historically significant. Visitors familiar with Moscow's austere practicality will find the mood here to be more extravagant and relaxed. Much of downtown St. Petersburg was influenced heavily by European architecture, with art and buildings inspired by Classical motifs. Paradoxically, this very European city—complete with winding canals, ornate mansions, and gilded monuments—was also home to some of Russia's most critical historical moments. From the 1917 Revolution to the World War II siege, St. Petersburg's history has shaped Russia's future. 

Your tour of the city today will include iconic highlights—from the Winter Palace to the Academy of Sciences—as well as numerous cathedrals, notable buildings, and the expansive Nevsky Prospekt

After a tour of the downtown, head across the river to the imposing 1706 Peter and Paul Fortress—the city's original citadel. Tour the grounds and learn about its history a political prison and as a burial ground for Russian Tsars. After lunch, continue to the Nevsky Prospekt to enjoy the winter lights and some holiday shopping. 

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The Chopiniana ballet
The Chopiniana ballet

Day 2: Cathedrals, shopping, the Hermitage, Mariinsky Theater

Spend the morning exploring the city's main religious sites. Start at the Neo-Classical St. Isaac's Cathedral—the world's largest Orthodox cathedral. This 1850s landmark is the city's most iconic and houses a large Russian Orthodox museum collection. 

Continue to the Church of Savior on Blood, which was constructed on the spot where assassins allegedly murdered Tsar Alexander II in 1881. This onion-domed church would look at home in the Moscow Kremlin and its traditional Orthodoxy appearance contrasts greatly with St. Isaac's Cathedral. The long canal street leading up the church is a popular shopping location, with many shops and stands selling traditional crafts and gifts, hot drinks, and roasted nuts to warm you up. 

After a break for a hot drink, head to the Kazan Cathedral, which was loosely modeled on St. Peter's Cathedral in the Vatican in Rome. It is the home church of the Russian armed forces and was once used as a museum to display war-time objects from Russia's war with Napoleon. 

Break for lunch at one of the city's many cafes and restaurants, then continue to the Hermitage, one of the world's greatest art museums. This massive collection is housed partially in the old Winter Palace, the St. Petersburg home of the tsars. Enjoy the interior of the museum—the architecture is as much on display here as the art itself. 

The sun sets early in St. Petersburg winters, so head to the Mariinsky Theater—one of Russia's top performance venues and home to a star ballet company—for a world-class evening ballet performance. 

Catherine's Palace in Tsarskoe Selo
Catherine's Palace in Tsarskoe Selo

Day 3: Tsarskoye Selo (Pushkin)

In the morning, head to Tsarskoe Selo, a large landscaped estate with palaces, fountains, and walking avenues. Built in the popular Rococo style, Tsarskoe Selo was built as the tsar's summer palace and playground. Arguably more beautiful in the winter, the snow-lined walking paths are perfect for a romantic mid-morning walk. To warm up head inside the resplendent Catherine's Palace, which boasts room after room of intricately decorated interiors, including the famed Amber Room. After your tour transfer back to the city for a free afternoon of exploring.