Your Own Private St. Petersburg

Finding the perfect guide is not that difficult. The hardest part is being honest about your own interests - are they historical, culinary, or architectural? Three to know:

Ludmila Kolesova of Exeter International is extremely good at cherry-picking the best parts of the Hermitage and the city's numerous palaces. She also knows fashionable restaurants that don't normally appear on tourist itineraries.

Tamara Dubko is a freelance guide recommended to us by one of our contributing editors, Cathryn Collins. Dubko generously shares her personal experience of growing up under communism and, by taking hires behind the city's closed doors, gives you true insight into domestic life in Russia today.

Madlena Kuklina of Esperance Travel was indispensable in her area of expertise, which is St. Petersburg's many glorious churches.