St. Petersburg

Very few cities can offer so many stunning attractions as St. Petersburg.
Established by Peter the Great in 1703 to be his “window on Europe”, St. Petersburg combines captivating Russian heritage and a patently European outlook.
St. Petersburg is a planned city built on more than 100 islands in the Neva Delta linked by canals and arched bridges. St. Petersburg used to be referred to as the “Venice of the North”.
Memories of World War II are still fresh in the minds of many of the citizens after St. Petersburg came under a 900 day siege. Despite all this it is a wonderful place with plenty to see and do.
The Ruble is the currency and there are ATM’s in the city but exchange bureaus are more abundant. Many shops stay open until 8 or 9 in the evening and a lot of them now open on a Sunday as well.
Coming into the city independently is harder than it is in most cities as you will need to obtain a tourist visa. However most cruise lines will organise a blanket visa if you take part in one of their organised shore excursions. Another downside of doing St. Petersburg on your own is you will have to wait in queues for museums and attractions, yet, if you are with a guided group you will not have to do this. Whether you decide to explore St. Petersburg on your own or on an organised tour you will find that it is just 20 minutes’ walk from the cruise ship to the port entrance where you will be able to jump in a taxi.

What to do in St. Petersburg
There are plenty of things to do in St. Petersburg you cannot possibly be stuck for things to do when you get there.
State Hermitage Museum and Winter Palace – The State Heritage Museum and Winter Palace is home to a collection of more than three million works of art and artefacts of the world culture. Amongst them are paintings, graphic works, sculptures and archaeological finds.

Church of our Saviour on Spilled Blood – This fabulous Russian style church was constructed at the site where Emperor Alexander II was assassinated in March 1881. After assuming power in 1855 in the wake of Russia’s disastrous defeat in the Crimean war against Britain, France and Turkey, Alexander II initiated a number of reforms. In 1861 he freed the Russian serfs (peasants, who were almost enslaved to their owners) from their ties to their masters and undertook a rigorous program of military, judicial and urban reforms, never before attempted in Russia. However, during the second half of his reign Alexander II grew wary of the dangers of his system of reforms, having only barely survived a series of attempts on his life, including an explosion in the Winter Palace and the derailment of a train. Alexander II was finally assassinated in 1881 by a group of revolutionaries, who threw a bomb at his royal carriage.
St. Isaac’s Cathedral – St. Isaac’s Cathedral is the third largest domed cathedral in the world and the first monument you see when you arrive on your cruise ship. The interior is lavishly decorated with malachite, lazulite, marble as well as other precious stones and minerals. When St. Petersburg was blockaded in the Second World War the dome was painted black to avoid being a target for enemies.
State Museum of Russian Art – This is the first state museum of Russian fine arts in the county. It was established in 1895 by a decree if the Emperor Nicholas II. Its grand opening was in 1898.
Today the museum is a unique place where you will find artistic treasures, a famous restoration centre, an authoritative institute of academic research as well as one of the major cultural and educational centres in Russia.
Places to Eat
James Cook – When entering this fabulous place you can either turn right for the pub or left for one of the finest coffee shops in St. Petersburg. This place is pretty inexpensive at around €11 for a meal.
Teplo – This is one of St. Petersburg more popular restaurants. It has outdoor seating which is perfect to take in the beautiful views. Reservations are recommended at this popular place which serves red caviar and smoked salmon with potato cakes and beef Stroganoff are just to die for.
Shopping in St. Petersburg
A two tiered system of stores occurs in St. Petersburg. “Western-style” shops taking credit-card payment have replaced the old emporiums. There are also state run shops that are a lot better than they used to be where only the local currency (rubles) are accepted.
The central shopping district is Nevsky prospektand the streets running off it. Do not expect too many bargains – the prices are around the same time as they are in the west.

Cruise lines sailing to St. Petersberg include, NCL Cruise, Celebrity Cruises and P&O cruises

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