On the banks of Neva and at the East of the Baltic, at the very end of the Gulf of Finland, lies the city of St. Petersburg, which is decidedly the ultimate Russian treasure and the easiest to visit, given its location at the Western borders of the country. As the former Imperial capital, expect glamor, opulent architecture and a well represented cultural life. In terms of population, St. Petersburg comes second after Moscow, with a bit under 5 million inhabitants.
The city is home to countless precious architectural works of top architects within the Empire Style and generally displays neoclassical works. Its historical center is included on the UNESCO list and it features the enormous Palace Square.The complex Hermitage art museum, the largest in the world, is the pride of St. Petersburg. The skyline is dominated by the St. Isaac Cathedral with its many golden domes. It is a remarkable sight, along with the Neva banks and the other bodies of water, which led to impressions of a 'Northern Venice'. Speaking about cathedrals, the one called the Church of the Resurrection and commonly knows as the Church on Blood, is a richly ornate and colorful monument, built on the assassination place of Tsar Alexander II. His son ordered the construction in the romantic nationalism style, in response to the Western influence contamination, and therefore its lovely fairytale aspect conceals important aspects of Russia's past and identity.
Apart from the sights, one can enjoy the products of St. Petersburg: locally-produced types of beer and vodka, which are guaranteed to be excellent due to the quality of water here. The local distilleries are an element of pride. You make take some time to relax in a bar or terrace while taking a break from the too many city attractions. To speak honestly, St. Petersburg can be rapturous and overwhelming. There is simply too much to see. Do not expect to have a chance at relaxation in its parks – these are also too rich, decorated with many amazing golden statues and structured in a way that invites you to explore. Other inviting places are the restaurants for a good lunch or dinner, and later you may experience the wild nightlife.
What makes this destination highly exciting is the possibility to have a cruise on the sea and pay a flash visit to Tallin (Estonia) or to Helsinki (Finland), the two attractive capitals situated nearby. This is a very popular weekend trip, and you will also see, for example, many Finns taking advantage of the cheap rides and alcohol taking a merry ferry trip to St. Petersburg and back. St. Petersburg has continental climate, humid due to the sea, with pleasant, warm summers, but very cold winters. The best aspect of its location is having the benefit of the 'white nights' around the summer solstice, an enchanting time when the 'darkest' part of the night is a continuous twilight. Needless to say, this is the top touristic time for the city. However, Christmas is no less of an inspired choice, with the city's ornaments and wintry atmosphere.