When you're not interested in Tsars

The Winter Palace, one of the buildings that makes up the Hermitage, with the mighty Alexander Column to the left. Making an entrance through the Jordan Staircase in the Winter Palace. One of the many fab painting by Rembrandt. The sculpture Cupid and Psyche by Canova, one of our favs. FYI, there's another version (Canova made two) at the Louvre.

Admiralty Square, across from the Hermitage, is pretty impressive. Pictured here are the General Staff Building, Chariots of Glory and the base of the Alexander Column. While you're in St Petersburg, make sure you try the borsch and vodka.

The very impressive Church on the Spilled Blood with its onion domes. The mosaics inside are amazing and cover every surface. Part of the church has been left as it was following the Siege of Leningrad in WWII. And Nevsky Avenue, the main street running through the city. And out and about in the heart of St Peterburg - outside the Hermitage. 

Field-Marshal Kutuzov, who defeated Napoleon in 1812, outside Kazan Cathedral in the middle of town. St Isaac's is another spectacular church with more mosaics and gorgeous details. During the Soviet era it was a museum to atheism, because where else would you put a museum to atheism?!

St Peter and Paul's Fortress, where St Petersburg was founded in the 1700s. It also served as a prison for political prisoners. Catherine Palace and the infamous crowds it draws. What to do with all those old oil paintings? Completely cover the walls with them, of course!

Enough buildings! Let's get into the garden. This is Peterhof, full of lovely green walkways, canals and gravity-driven fountains. Although it's been rebuilt since WWII (Stalin bombed it so Hitler couldn't have it), the fountains still work in the same way they did when it was first completed in 1725.

Some of the sights you'll see as you travel around St Petersburg: marine flags on the dock at Peterhof (catching a fast ferry back to the city is included in many tours), the Neva River running through the middle of the city,  and Nevsky Avenue with it's churches and lovely old buildings, like the Singer Building. 

The fabulous Faberge Museum is small and easy to get around without fatigue setting in. A pearl-encrusted Faberge egg (yes please!). The museum also has a good collection of traditional religious icons. Most tours include a metro ride, which is a bit of fun, and the stations feature some nice details.

Travelling through the narrow canals of St Petersburg. They may look wide here but they get very narrow. If you do just one thing to do with the tsars, pay a visit to their final resting place at St Peter and Paul's Fortress.

Here's a tip if you're a WWII or navy fan: about an hour and a half after you leave port, head to the starboard (right-hand) side of your ship for a view of Kotlin Island, a Russian navy base since 1703.

Updated: 3 September 2017