St. Petersburg

Historic Centre of St. Petersburg and its suburbs (Russia):

Urban Retreat This former seat of imperial Russia has a surreal beauty, especially in the colder months when its fairy-tale architecture—the mint-green Winter Palace, the multi-striped onion domes of the Church on Spilled Blood—stands in sharp relief to the crystalline snow. The landmarks are worth a visit: the new 2,000-seat Mariinsky II theatre, which reflects the original in its glass-walled lobby, opened in 2013. But save time to discover some local favorites. Order hot squid salad at Vincent, just two minutes from the Mariinsky, or spicy stew and cheese-stufed bread at nearby Hochu Harcho. The less-discovered Vasilievsky Island, west of the city center, is home to the low-lit Restoran, known for its house-infused vodkas and pelmeni, Siberian dumplings filled with ground elk meat. Spend the night in one of the painstakingly restored rooms at the new Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace (doubles from $350), a grand yellow mansion guarded by marble lions.

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