I'm going to be in St. Petersburg next week on business. I'll have one day to see some of the city. What would you recommend?
Walk around Nevsky prospect and visit the Savior-on-the-Spilled Blood church (closed on wednesday)- very impressive.
If you like the palaces - visit the Hermitage - at least the gala rooms. and take couple of good pictures at the palace square.
I agree with Eugenia about where to focus your time. The area around Palace Square, at the foot of Nevski Prospect, is historic and spectacular, with views of the Neva river. The Winter Palace at Palace Square, is both a spectacular former palace of the czars as well as the main building of the world famous Hermitage Museum. And Palace Square is one of the world's spectacular public spaces.
But with only one day, I would book a tour with a private guide if at all possible, who could pick you up at your hotel and help you understand this amazing city. I do not usually use guides when we travel, but in your circumstances, it might be the best use of your limited time. I think Eugenia herself is a private guide-- not sure, you could message her privately if interested-- or I think you could arrange a guide through your hotel (but maybe at a premium). If you are staying at a central hotel, you should not need a car and driver, just a guide, as most of the sights you would want to see in one day are within a very compact area. Forget about the palaces in the suburbs, etc, for a one-day visit.
There are daily city tours on buses leaving from the side of Gostinny Dvor which would give a great overview of the city and is setting amid rivers and canals, palaces and parks. After the 1-2 hour tour you will know where you want to explore on foot in greater depth. An overview such as this really opens up the city because you see how each area fits in relation to each other and knowing that, you will feel more confident exploring on your own. The Hermitage is a great place to get a sense of the history as well as being one of the best museums in the world.
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