A Perfect Day in ... St. Petersburg

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Philip Gould / Corbis

Unmissable The Winter Palace belongs on any St. Petersburg itinerary

Marina Gisich, gallery owner
I might head to the W hotel for breakfast then walk along the Admiralty Embankment, by the Neva River. There you find some of the city's most important 18th century architectural masterpieces, including the Academy of Arts and the Winter Palace of Empress Elizabeth. When lunch beckons, I head for Stolle, tel: (7-812) 328 7860, which serves some of the city's best Russian cuisine, particularly pierogi and borscht. Later that night I would go to the Mariinsky Theater and watch top ballerinas like Ulyana Lopatkina or Diana Vishneva perform their magic. Afterward, dinner is at the nearby Russian Vodka Room No. 1 restaurant, tel: (7-812) 570 6420, where the vodka flows as freely as the live gypsy music.

Leonid Alexeev, fashion designer
I'd begin an ideal St. Petersburg day shopping for my evening meal at the Kuznechny Farmers' Market or the Lavka farmers' stand on New Holland Island. I usually buy poultry and seasonal vegetables, then head for the Georgian grocery stand at Andreevsky Dvor on Bolshoy Prospect, Vasilyevsky Island, where I pick up figs, Turkish delight and other confectionery. Then I take the groceries back to my apartment and rest before heading out to the cinema. My favorite theater is Rodina, tel: (7-812) 314 2827. It's vintage-looking and cozy, and shows independent films and cinema noir. Before heading home for dinner, I might stop to buy tablecloths and napkins from a traditional Russian manufacturer like Russkiy Lyon at 15 Nevsky Prospect. On the same street is the Sever bakery, which sells the kinds of cakes and pastries that people there love.

Mikhail Ovchinnikov, director, Erarta Contemporary Art Museum
I'd devote a day to St. Petersburg's museums and historic city center. You could begin at the Peter and Paul Fortress, the city's original 18th century core. In the Peter and Paul Cathedral, you can view the graves of the Romanov emperors, and outside there's a bronze monument to Peter the Great by Mikhail Shemyakin — one of the city's rare examples of contemporary public sculpture. Climb to the top of the cathedral for a wonderful view of the Winter Palace, part of the Hermitage complex, and of the Marble Palace, part of the Russian Museum. These museums are must-sees and you can reach them via a splendid walk across the Trinity Bridge. Don't miss the Palace of the Russian Emperors at the Hermitage, home to one of the world's best collections of European art.

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