Travelogue: Exploring Russia in summer
Our City by Appointment Manager Elizabeth Patch explores two of Russia’s greatest cities amidst the summer sunshine.
Summer in Russia, with its long light evenings and palatable temperatures, makes for the perfect European break. I left my thermals at home and headed off to discover the summertime highlights of Moscow and St Petersburg.
The perfect start to any Russian adventure is dynamic Moscow, where the country’s dramatic history and iconic architecture are proudly on show. I am a strong advocate for exploring a new city by foot, and, with its balmy weather, summer lends itself to a walking tour of the capital. Accompanied by my experienced local guide, I began the day with a visit to the Kremlin and stood in wonder at the cathedrals: Assumption – the cathedral of coronations and the burial place of leaders, and Archangel – the royal burial church. A short walk brought us to the illustrious Red Square, home to the colourful multi-domed complex of St Basil’s cathedral and Lenin’s Tomb. Whilst here, I recommend popping into Gum, the luxury department store located a few minutes’ walk from Red Square; enjoy the lavish décor and indulge in the ice cream.
The next day, we continued our exploration by bicycle as we visited the famous Gorky Park. The outdoor area has been transformed over the past century into one of the most extravagant and exuberant urban recreational spaces in Moscow. As well as its beautiful gardens for strolling and calm ponds for paddle boating, the park in its current form is an entertainment destination. There are more than a dozen restaurants, two dance platforms, an outdoor movie theatre, and Garage – a buzzy modern arts centre housing an exhibition hall and concert space.
After a day’s touring, what better way to cool down than with a shot of ice-cold vodka accompanied by the finest caviar? My A&K guide curated a private tasting of Russia’s most famous food and beverage in one of Moscow’s top restaurants.
Next, we followed in the footsteps of the Russian aristocracy who would escape Moscow and relocate to northerly St Petersburg in the hot summer months. In contrast to Moscow, St Petersburg is as romantic as it is pretty. Home to museums, gardens and theatres, it is an art lover’s haven.
Over June and July, the sun never fully sets in St Petersburg and bathes this magical city in a dreamy glow. This natural phenomenon is known as “the midnight sun” or “white nights”, and is celebrated across St Petersburg with a plethora of arts festivals and performances. The Mariinsky Theatre presents ballet and opera whilst some museums keep their doors open all night. Embrace your inner night owl and take a midnight stroll in almost broad daylight, or catch sight of a spectacular fireworks display.
Known as the “Venice of the North”, St Petersburg is an intricate maze of canals, and one of the best ways of exploring the city is by private boat. Your cruise will afford you a unique perspective of the city not observed when driving along the streets.
Head out of the main city to Peterhof and the sprawling summer estate of Peter the Great. Whilst the palace itself is spectacular, the extensive grounds and immaculately manicured gardens are a joy in summer. No visit would be complete without glimpsing the Grand Cascade, which consists of gilded bronze sculptures and 64 fountains.
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