Sep 7, 2015
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Saint Petersburg named Europe's leading destination 2015

Sep 7, 2015

Saint Petersburg, the glittering metropolis which was once home to Russia’s tsars and is now known as the “Venice of the North,” was crowned Europe’s leading destination 2015 at an event attended by industry travel leaders.

Hermitage of Saint Petersburg ©Losevsky Pavel /shutterstock.com

Lauded for its “exceptionally rich history, centuries-old traditions and bright future,” Russia’s capital of culture was the big winner at the World Travel Awards Europe, held in Sardinia, Italy over the weekend.

Saint Petersburg won the title over 13 other nominees including Berlin, Barcelona, Istanbul, Paris, Porto, and Venice.

In addition to its network of 342 bridges, opulent palaces and famed summer White Nights in which the sun never sets, the city is an art lover’s dream for the Hermitage museum, a library of masterpieces from Leonardo da Vinci, Picasso and Rembrandt, in addition to galleries that showcase local Russian talent.

Meanwhile, other big winners include German carrier Lufthansa, which defended its title as Europe’s leading airline for the fifth year in a row; Geneva, Switzerland, which was named the leading city break destination in Europe; and The Algarve in Portugal, which took the title of best European beach destination.

The big winner in the hotel category was the Excelsior Hotel Gallia in Italy which was crowned the leading luxury hotel. Reopened last spring, the historic palace was fully restored to evoke the golden era of the belle epoque, while a new modern wing with a facade of steel and glass was also added.

Guests are greeted by a 30-meter Murano glass waterfall chandelier, while the property also houses more than 500 pieces of art and furnishings created exclusively by local designers and craftsmen.

Here are some of the major winners from the World Travel Awards Europe Gala 2015:

Europe’s leading airline: Lufthansa
Low-cost airline: Norwegian
Leading airport: Zurich, Switzerland
Tourist attraction: Guinness Storehouse, Dublin
Themed resort: Disneyland Paris
Spa resort: Evian Resort, France
Island destination: Sardinia, Italy
Leading hotel: Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul, Turkey
Leading luxury hotel: Excelsior Hotel Gallia
Design hotel: The Vine Hotel, Portugal
Boutique hotel: Vila Joya, Portugal
Leading new hotel: JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa

Winners of the World Travel Awards Grand Finale will be announced in Morocco Dec. 12.

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