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Things to do in St Petersburg

Brave the Russian saunas

The Russian bathhouses are quite an experience – enthusiasts enjoy a sweltering steam bath followed by a freezing dip into ice-cold water. Traditionalists go further, beating their skin with birch twigs to stimulate circulation. Whack your back at Yamskie Banya (tel +7 812 312 5836; and don't forget your slippers, soap and towel.

Enjoy a fairytale sleigh ride

During the Farewell to the Russian Winter festival, traditional horse-drawn troika (sleigh) operators gather at parks across the city and pull passengers through the snow. For a fairytale setting, head over to Pavlovsk Palace (30km (19 miles) south of St Petersburg. The beautiful grounds offer a ride to remember.

Find an electric atmosphere at FC Zenit

St Petersburg is home to FC Zenit (, one of Russia's most successful football teams. Currently based at Petrovsky Stadium, the open stands offer little protection from the weather but boisterous chanting and the odd flare make for an electric atmosphere. Catch a game before the new Piter Arena triples their capacity.

Make the most of the natural ice rinks

With temperatures regularly dipping below -20°C (-4°F) during the winter in St Petersburg, there's no better way to warm up than ice-skating. Many parks with ponds rent out ice skates and there are artificial rinks too, but the best venue is the natural rink on the traffic-free Yelagin Island (

Make the most of the snow with some winter sports

With all that snow, it would be disappointing to miss out on some skiing action. Tuutari Park (tel +7 812 380 5062;, an hour south of St Petersburg, boasts five slopes, sledge runs and inner tube rides. It is a prime spot for winter sports, and the resort also offers lessons for all abilities plus equipment hire.

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Featured Hotels


Pushka Inn

Set in a stately 18th-century mansion overlooking the Moyka River, the Pushka offers tastefully decorated rooms at a reasonable price. A boutique atmosphere pervades, and rooms have wooden floors and fabrics and furnishings in subtle colours. Wi-Fi access is complementary and, unusually, a buffet breakfast is included in the room rates.

Corinthia Hotel St Petersburg

With an enviable location on Nevsky prospekt, the Corinthia offers sleek modernity in place of the usual historical flourishes. The hotel features a grand 19th-century frontage, but inside everything is stylish and contemporary, with designer furniture, LCD TVs and high-speed Wi-Fi. There’s even a Russian restaurant, a Viennese café and two bars.

Kempinski Hotel Moika 22

It would be hard to find grander facilities than at the Kempinski Hotel Moika 22. Minutes from the Hermitage, it combines 21st-century facilities with touches of imperial grandeur. Rooms have high-speed Wi-Fi, 24-hour room service, and goose-down pillows and duvets. The hotel also boasts two restaurants, a bar and lounge, an English-style tearoom and a famously well-stocked wine cellar.

Soul Kitchen Hostel

Budget hotels are thin on the ground in St Petersburg, but Soul Kitchen impressively fills the gap with boutique rooms, comfy dorms and communal areas you'll actually want to spend time in. The impressive list of perks includes free Wi-Fi, free phone calls and a shared kitchen. It also has a lovely canal-side location, a block from St Isaac's Cathedral.

Hotel Dostoevsky

This tidy, contemporary hotel has a great location, across from the Cathedral of Our Lady of Vladimir, in the bustling Vladimirskaya district.. The hotel offers in-room internet access, cable television, IDD phones, a fitness centre, plus the three must-haves for any Russian hotel – a restaurant, bar and sauna.

State Hermitage Museum Official Hotel

You can't actually stay at the Hermitage, but this grand baroque hotel, run by the owners of the State Museum, is the next best thing. Set in a gorgeously modernised mansion, it recreates the grandeur of Catherine's riverside palace, down to the arcades of Ionic columns and lavish ballroom. Rooms have sumptuous fabrics, stylish furnishings and high-speed internet.