St. Petersburg is Europe’s leading destination according to the World Tourism Awards (WTA). The other candidates were Amsterdam, Barcelona, Geneva, Lisbon, London, Moscow, Paris, and Rome at the award ceremony in Madeira.
The WTA argued that the Russian destination has a bright future on the international hospitality stage and has potential for tourism growth. It is not the first time that St. Petersburg has won the award, it was also crowned as Europe’s top destination in 2017.
The Chairman of the St Petersburg Committee for Tourism Development, Andrey Mushkarev, said: “St Petersburg is now at the peak of its popularity. The city has won the most prestigious award in tourism.”
“The northern capital of Russia hosts a large number of cultural and business events each year and this is recognition of our growing significance in hospitality,” he said.
The WTA President, Graham Cooke said: “St Petersburg is one of the most famous cities in the world and this is a fantastic opportunity for the city to take its rightful place as a top rank tourism destination.”
St. Petersburg Tourism
With a population of more than 5 million, St. Petersburg is Russia’s second largest city. It is located as the eastern tip of the Baltic Sea and the Neva River. During the Soviet era it was renamed as Petrograd and then later as Leningrad.
St. Petersburg is famous for its breathtaking architecture. The center is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site and it is full of attractions including museums, baroque bridges, and some truly spectacular buildings.
Main attractions in St Petersburg
St Petersburg is full of fascinating attractions. Here are just some of the best things to see and do.
The Grand Palace
The Grand Palace is an extravagant building with over 30 rooms. The tsarist palace is open to foreign tourists from June to September but is only open from noon until 2pm and from 4.15pm to 5.45pm.
Peter the Great commissioned the palace after he was inspired by the palace of Versailles. Most of the construction was completed during the 19th century and, along with the city center, it is a UNESCO site.
The Russian Museum focuses solely on national art and it is brimming with masterpieces. The collection includes pieces from Karl Bryullov, Alexander Ivanov, Nicholas Ghe, Ilya Repin, Natalya Goncharova, Kazimir Malevich and many other Russian greats.
Tsar Nicholas II opened the museum in 1898 to honor his father and his love of art. It includes over 400,000 pieces from a period of over 1000 years.
St Isaac’s Cathedral
The flamboyant 19th-century cathedral dominates the city’s skyline. The iconic golden, domed roof is iconic and stunning to see.
Although there are services in the cathedral, nowadays it mainly serves as a museum. Both the exterior and interior are spectacular. Magnificent mosaics, paintings, sculptures, and stained-glass windows are just a few of the cathedral’s highlights.
The theatre has been the home of Russian ballet ever since it was built in 1859. the beautiful green and white building is a must-see and seeing an actual performance is even better.
Now there is also a second stage called the Mariinsky II, a contemporary, state-of-the-art opera stage which is also very impressive.
What are the World Travel Awards?
The World Travel Awards has been running for 23 years and it is recognized throughout the world as the ultimate travel accolade. The panel of judges consists of wide range of senior executives from travel companies, operators, and other industry stakeholders from across the globe.
Awards are given on a global level as well as a regional level. In addition to destinations, award categories include hotels, airlines, travel agencies, and car-hire companies.
Unlike some accolades it is possible for candidates to win consecutive awards. For example, St. Petersburg has won many awards and Peru has won the World’s leading Culinary Destination every year since 2012.