"In his youth, at least, a man born in this city spends as much time on foot as any good Bedouin. And it's not because of the shortage or the price of cars (there is an excellent system of public transportation), or because of the half-mile-long queues at the food stores. It's because to walk under this sky, along the brown granite embankments of this immense gray river, is itself an extension of life and a school of farsightedness. There is something in the granular texture of the granite pavement next to the constantly flowing, departing water that instills in one's soles an almost sensual desire for walking."
Brodsky, 'A guide to a renamed city' (1979) in Less Than One: Selected Essays
Brodsky's words remain as true today as they were when he wrote them over three decades ago, seven years after he had been forced into exile far from his beloved hometown. St. Petersburg is a city that begs to be explored on foot, and not because the layout or dimensions of the city - and still less the climate - are particularly comfortable or convenient for the walker. Rather, it is only by traversing on foot St. Petersburg's broad avenues and palace-lined embankments, in the passively insistent twilight of high summer or the snow-bright blackness of the long winter nights, that you can really appreciate the inhuman inconvenience of this low-rise, wide-open city, the magnificent artifice and poignant hubris of this urban anomaly, a grand Imperial capital conjured tortuously out of the frozen marshes of the far north.
To give some direction to your exploration of St. Petersburg - "a giant mirror for a lonely planet", according to Brodsky - our travel writers and tour guides have compiled a selection of themed walking tours of the city, each focused on one aspect of St. Petersburg's extraordinary history or culture.