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If You Have 3 Days
If you have only three days, begin your visit of the city on Vasilievsky Island and the Left Bank. Most of the city's historic sites are here, including the Rostral Columns, the Admiralty (Admiralteistvo), and St. Isaac's Cathedral. If you have the energy after lunch, dedicate some time to the State Museum of Russian Art, one of the country's most important art galleries. On your second day, rise early to tackle the gargantuan Hermitage, one of the world's richest repositories of art. Don't try to see it all in one visit, instead, cross the river to the Petrograd Side and have lunch by the Peter and Paul fortress. After lunch spend the afternoon touring the Peter and Paul Fortress. On your third day, consider an excursion to Pushkin (formerly Tsarskoye Selo), south of St. Petersburg, once the summer residence of the Imperial family and a popular summer resort for the Russian aristocracy. The main attraction here is the Catherine Palace, with its magnificent treasures including the famed Amber Room. If you have the energy, take in a performance at the famed Mariinsky Theatre.
If You Have 5 Days
Follow the three-day itinerary described above. Devote your fourth day to St. Petersburg's inner streets, squares, and gardens. Begin with the grandeur of Ploshchad Iskusstv, or Square of the Arts. Here you can visit the Ethnography Museum before moving on to the colorful Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood and the Field of Mars (Marsovo Pole). Finish your walk at the Summer Garden with its famous railing designed by Yuri Felten in 1779. After lunch, visit the Kazan Cathedral. On the fifth day, head west of St. Petersburg to Peterhof (Petrodvorets), accessible by hydrofoil. The fountains, lush parks, and the magnificent Great Palace are at their best in the summer.
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