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Saint Petersburg is the second-largest city in Russia and widely regarded as one of the most beautiful destinations in Europe. With a population of more than 5 million, it has a huge historic city center, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is a city of architecture and culture but the nightlife is pretty great, too.
This is one of the world's greatest museums, with more than 3 million exhibits. It has countless priceless artworks by the great masters and the building itself is fabulous.
Seeing an opera or ballet at the Mariinsky Theatre is one of the city's great treats.
There are no towers in Saint Petersburg, so for the best views you need to take a rooftop tour or eat in one of the rooftop restaurants.
This is a more leisurely way to see the best of the city and enjoy its beautiful network of canals.
The city contains some astonishing architecture and just walking in the historic center allows you to enjoy some of the most splendid buildings.
Saint Petersburg can get very cold in the winter. Daylight is also short, at less than six hours. Summers are wet and warm but spring is perhaps the best balance of dry and cool.
Saint Petersburg is served by Pulkovo Airport (LED), which has many international connections. It is 12 miles south of the city center and the number 39 bus will take you there for ₽40 in about 30 minutes. A taxi into the center will cost around ₽1,000.
Saint Petersburg has no fewer than five main train stations. There are many domestic and international connections and the high-speed service will take you to Moscow in five hours for ₽2,000.
Driving in Russia can be challenging, with Cyrillic road signs and some poor road surfaces. The main M10 motorway runs from the Finnish border to Saint Petersburg and Moscow and is a little better than most.
Saint Petersburg's main bus station is Avtovokzal, which has extensive connections to the Baltic States and major European cities.
The 1912 hostel on Chapayeva Street offers basic but central accommodation. At the other end of the scale, the Hotel Astoria by St. Isaac's Cathedral offers comfortable luxury rooms.
Palace Square - this is Saint Petersburg's historical and cultural center and is home to the beautiful Winter Palace.
Nevsky Prospekt - this neighborhood has some of the best hotels and shopping in the city and also some good bars.
Vasilievsky Island - Vasilievsky Island is an artsy district with lots of theaters and is home to the Saint Petersburg State University and Menshikov Palace.
Saint Petersburg has a huge subway system with frequent trains and a flat fare of ₽35. Buses and trolley buses cost from ₽30.
Taxis are plentiful but watch out for scams. The initial fare is ₽200 and then ₽30 per mile.
Driving in Saint Petersburg is relatively trouble-free within the city and car rental is widely available from around ₽3,000. Hertz and Avis outlets can be found in town.
The area around Nevsky Prospekt is home to most of the big stores. Here you will find fashion, leather goods, jewelry, and technology stores.
24-hour supermarkets are common around the city. Milk is around ₽60 per quart and a loaf of bread is ₽44.
Pirogi on Nab. reki Fontanki offers dishes of traditional Russian pies and salad for around ₽200. Austeria on Iohann Alley, by the Peter and Paul Fortress, has high-quality Russian cuisine for around ₽1,150.