ABOUT SAINT PETERSBURG
St. Petersburg was the former capital of imperial Russia and the home of its czars. The city has many splendid architectural treasures, theatres and art museums and of course the world famous Hermitage. Saint Petersburg is the second largest Russian city with a population of almost five million people. It is the largest northern city on the planet. Saint Petersburg is often called the Venice of the North, because it lies on 44 islands which are divided by a web of 86 rivers and canals.
Over 100 palaces of the Russian nobility and a great many cathedrals and unique churches built by the greatest architects of the time still remain in Saint Petersburg. Most of them are open to the public now. Saint Petersburg is famous for its "white nights" - a period when there is as much light during night time as during the day time and many bridges are raised. In Autumn time Saint Petersburg is also very beautiful. During the day it is possible to admire it as a museum in the open air, and in the night city sparkles with many lights and offers a big diversity of amusements. The city has recently undergone an extensive renovation in celebration of its 300th anniversary in 2003. More than 80 museums and 40 theatres of St. Petersburg ensure that art, ballet, music, and theatre lovers will find the metropolis an endless source of cultural enjoyment.
Overview. To put it in just one word, St. Petersburg weather is variable. In this Northern city the weather is the topmost source of surprises. That is why even in the heat of summer many wise locals still carry their umbrellas with them. It does not rain all the time, but you never know when it will. It might get quite windy too. At any rate, weather forecasts on TV and radio always get the highest ratings.
St. Petersburg's climate is mild compared to that of the more inland areas of Russia. The city is on the Baltic Sea, which makes winters relatively mild, but summers are not particularly hot either. It is humid all year round.
Summer. St Petersburg's White Nights, which run from the end of May through to mid-July, are legendary. In the seemingly endless twilight, when the sun dips below the horizon for little more than an hour just after midnight, the city has an unforgettable, dream-like beauty that is truly breathtaking.
Bear in mind also that the most popular sights and attractions can be extremely crowded, and queues are almost inevitable. Also, by the end of June, most of the city's great cultural institutions are on holiday until September.
The world-famous Stars of the White Nights Festival, which runs from the end of May through June. Now well established as one of the greatest classical music festivals in the world, it draws a host of international stars every year, and showcases the very best of local talent from the opera and ballet companies of the Mariinsky Theatre (better known as the Kirov abroad).
This is also the perfect time to visit the Tsarist Palaces around the city, see the famous fountains at Petergoff - they are officially turned on at the beginning of June, with accompanying festivities - and admire the glorious parks in Pushkin and Pavlovsk.
From late May onwards, the weather is normally warm and humid, but not excessively so and evenings can be cooler even when the sun is still shining, so it's worth bringing at least one warm sweater. It should be pointed out that, if you're over the age of fifteen, shorts will immediately mark you out as a tourist, and do nothing for your popularity with the locals.
The other thing to bear in mind is mosquitoes, which can be a nuisance, particularly in older buildings. The most effective protection comes from plug-in fumigators, which are cheap and readily available from kiosks, supermarkets and hardware stores. The most common brands are Raptor and Raid, and they should assure a decent night's sleep.