The director of the Hermitage once said, “I can't say that the Hermitage is the number one museum in the world, but it's certainly not number two.” With over three million works of art and treasures housed in five connected buildings along the Neva, the museum can't fail to impress. Give yourself plenty of time and try to go on a weekday to avoid the crowds. Four hours is probably an absolute minimum of time to spend there if you want to see the main state rooms and some of the most popular artworks.
The museum's art collection covers all of the greatest European movements. Lovers of the renaissance shouldn't miss the Da Vincis, Canalettos, Michaelangelos and Raphaels of the Italian rooms. The Rembrandt room filled with works by the old master is another must as are the nearby El Grecos. The great impressionists like Gaugin, Van Gogh, Degas, Matisse, Picasso and the gang are all up on the top floor where there is also a very large selection of Oriental and Middle Eastern art.
The ground floor houses the museum's treasures of ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt and Persia as well as antiquities from the near and central east. There is also a number of cafes and shops on the ground floor just to the right of the main staircase after the entrance to the museum.
The largest number of opulent state rooms such as the throne rooms, ballrooms, boudoirs, the spectacular clock room with its huge peacock clock and other libraries, parlours and the like are largely located on the first floor (in Russian 2nd floor) of the winter palace and lead off in different directions from the Jordan staircase (where you enter the museum just after the ticket offices).
For a more detailed guide to the museum check out our feature here.