09:00 Start the day adjusting your eyes at Kuznechny Market (3 Kuznechny Pereulok), where you’ll find fresh fruit and warm pastries to enjoy while soaking up the busy ambience.
10:00 Wander on to Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s House (Kuznechnyy Pereulok 512). Here, the Russian novelist wrote The Brothers Karamazov. The house has been restored and is now a museum displaying his original manuscripts.
11:00 The Palace Square is just a short walk away. It’s hard to miss the red granite Alexander Column that marks the square, which is a vast monument to the Russian victory over Napoleon. The yellow-and-white Winter Palace, former home to tzars, is also here and holds the Hermitage Art Gallery (hermitagemuseum.org). Don’t miss the Gold Rooms and the Diamond Rooms, which display the development of the jeweller’s craft from as early as the
third millennium BC.
13:00 For a wild lunch, go across the street to Okhota (Dvortsoviy pr 65A). This rustic restaurant has stuffed animals from around the world displayed above patrons, seemingly ready to pounce.
14:00 Now it’s time to soak up some sun in Senatskaia Ploschad, a park by the Neva River. At the centre, The Bronze Horseman is an impressive monument to the founder of St Petersburg, Peter The Great. The statue was built by German-born empress Catherine The Great as a tribute to her famous predecessor.
15:30 Explore inside the gilded dome of the largest cathedral in Russia, St Isaac’s Cathedral (Isaakievskaya Ploschad 1). Built in
1818, the cathedral’s breathtaking façades are decorated with sculptures.
17:00 Next, tour the Cabin of Peter The Great (6, Petrovskaia Naberezhnaia), the first house built in St Petersburg. At only 60sqm, the small space combines the architecture of a traditional Russian house and a Dutch home. It’s still filled with Peter’s original belongings.
18:00 After all that history, kick off your evening with music ranging from jazz to rock to indefinable in live venue Experimental Sound Gallery (Pushkinskaya 10).
20:00 Immerse yourself in the Russian way of life by sampling a variety of vodkas at N.E.P (Naberezhnaya Reki Moiki, 37). The experience includes waiters clad in Soviet fatigues and a menu that makes fun of proletariat fare. As the night goes on, the place transforms into a dance hall.
10:00 Blow away the hangover with a stroll through Peter The Great’s Summer Palace and Gardens (Muzey Letny Dvorets Petra 1). Peter fondly called it the ‘Venice of the North’, due to its marble statues and fountains amid wandering canals. The yellow-and-pink palace boasts seven bedrooms containing artefacts owned by the man himself.
11:30 Cruise across the Neva River on a short ferry ride to the Peter and Paul Fortress (Zayachii Ostrov). Originally built to protect the area from possible attack by the Swedish army and navy, in the 1700s it served as a high-security political jail. Among the first inmates were Peter’s rebellious son Alexei, and later Trotsky, Dostoyevsky and Lenin’s older brother, Alexander.
13:30 Grab lunch at the Stray Dog’s Café (5/4 Square of the Arts), the former hideout for early 20th-century writers including Anna Akhmatova, Vladimir Mayakovsky and Oscar Meyerhold. Sample some sturgeon while listening
to performances by local poets.
14:30 Walk it off down the embankment of the Neva to Kresty Prison Museum (Arsenalnaya Naberezhnaya, 7), St Petersburg’s main jail. Originally Europe’s largest solitary confinement facility, it has held the likes of Trotsky and, in October 1917, the entire provisional government. Due to overcrowding, prisoners were moved to a larger facility, and it has transformed into a museum educating tourists about the significance of Russian criminal tattoos.
16:30 Spend the late afternoon exploring the bizarre at Kunstkamera Anthropology Museum (Universitetskaya Naberezhnaya, 3). Among the exotic reptiles, insects and animals are human skeletons. Peter The Great issued decrees to bring living and dead humans to Kunstkamera after he attended a lecture in the Netherlands about human anatomy. The collection holds Siamese twin skeletons, human brains and fetuses.
19:00 End your weekend sniffing the aromas from open grills lining the dining room in Karavan (Voznesensky pr 46). The grilled meats and vegetables are guaranteed to make your mouth water, while the vodka and wine list offers some unusual (and rather strong) complements.
Return flights from London City Airport to St Petersburg Pulkovo, via Frankfurt, start at about £157 with Lufthansa
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