A cruise of northern Europe includes many must-see ports, such as the Scandinavian capitals of Copenhagen, Stockholm and Helsinki. You may also want the itinerary you choose to include St. Petersburg – to see this Russian city on the Baltic Sea is truly an extraordinary experience.
St. Petersburg is the city of the tsars, founded by Peter the Great. It was the capital of imperial Russia from 1712 until 1914 and still contains many of Russia’s greatest cultural treasures.
When visiting St. Petersburg, it’s important to book shore excursions through your cruise travel agent, which will assure that you are dealing with the best operators. Exploring St. Petersburg on your own can be difficult, and you may need a Russian visa, which you would have to obtain in advance of your cruise.
The most famous of St. Petersburg’s many attractions is The Hermitage, the world’s second-largest art museum (behind the Louvre). The museum’s incredible collection includes Botticellis, Michelangelos, El Grecos, Rembrandts, Renoirs and much, much more. One of the four buildings that make up The Hermitage is the stunning Winter Palace, which is beautifully restored. Other landmarks of St. Petersburg are St. Isaac’s Cathedral, the Peter & Paul Fortress, the Russian Museum, and a number of spectacular imperial palaces surrounded by parks and gardens.
Because there is so much to see, many visiting cruise ships spend one or two nights docked in St. Petersburg. You can use the evening hours to see some legendary Russian ballet, take a boat ride along the city’s canals or even visit a nightclub.
When you visit St. Petersburg, be sure to dress for the weather – most of the museums and attractions are not air-conditioned, so wear lightweight clothing on warm days. Take a bottle of water with you, as local water supplies may cause a case of “traveler’s tummy.” Stay with your tour guide – if you wander on your own, it may be difficult to find someone who speaks English to assist you. Your personal cruise expert can provide more information about visiting the city of the tsars.