St.Petersburg palaces and parks. Best day trips

Stunning Grand Cascade with the palaces on the background, Peterhof. St.Petersburg palaces and parks
Stunning Grand Cascade with the palaces on the background, Peterhof. St.Petersburg palaces and parks

Visiting royal residences is one of the must do when in St.Petersburg and it’s understandable some of them are incredible; massive parks, fountains, palaces, marble and bronze sculpture and interesting history. I’ve been to all of them many times and everytime they impressed me you can spend all day exploring thee parks and palaces, discovering new details and resting from big city life (though some of the parks are quite busy in summer). We hope our St.Petersburg palaces and parks guide will help you to plan a trip to some of them.

By the way if you’re planning a trip to St.Petersburg check our Ultimate St.Petersburg city guide, there you’ll find a lot of practical information, tips, maps and many photos.

Which royal residence to choose?

We always have a problem of choice when travelling it’s never enough time to see and do everything. There are many interesting places around St.Petersburg; Peterhof, Tsarskoye Selo, Pavlovsk, Strelna, Gatchina and many more.  But for a first time visitor we’d suggest to choose two of them, the most famous and impressive; Peterhof and Tsarskoye Selo (Pushkin). If you have time to visit only one than in summer time definitely go to Peterhof its fountains are incredible. Off fountain season (from mid September to mid May) I’d say Tsarskoye Selo both the park and the palace look amazing any season. Tip! If you are a student always take your ID students get discounts in all park and palaces.

To do a tour or go on your own?

It depends on your budget and preferences if you’re a bit worried that nobody speaks English and you can get lost than take a tour. They will drive you all the way to and back, buy your tickets, explain everything and probably even take to a restaurant. Sounds great but it will be expensive especially for an English tour and you’ll be limited in time. If you prefer to explore places on your own and be independent go alone it’s not that difficult.

Best St.Petersburg palaces and parks

Peterhof

The most famous and visited royal suburb, it was inspired by Versailles but made with more pompous.  I’ve been here many times and it always impresses me; stunning beauty and incredible work of many people; architects, engineers, artists etc. In my opinion Peterhof is one of the most beautiful royal residences in the world. More than 150 fountains and 4 big cascades, the Grand cascade consists of 75 fountains and 255 bronze sculptures you can countinue with impressive numbers forever!  Interesting fact! The fountain system has no pumps all water is supplied naturally using different levels of the terrain, it’s difficult to belive if you think of the highest fountain Samson which jet of water is 20m high!

Working hours

  • Peterhof Lower park; Mon – Fri and Sun from 9am to 8pm, Sat from 9am to 9pm.
  • Fountains are on Mon-Fri from 10am to 6pm, Sat from 10am to 8.45pm and Sun from 10am to 7pm.
  • The Grand Peterhof palace (for individual visitors); opened for entrance Tue-Fri and Sun from 12pm to 2pm, from 4.15pm to 5.45am, Sat from 12pm to 2pm and from 4.15pm to 7.45pm. Closed Mon and last Tue of every month.
The Grand cascade, Peterhof. St.Petersburg palaces and parks.
The Grand cascade, Peterhof. St.Petersburg palaces and parks.

Budget

  • Transport: RUB115/US$2 – metro + marshrutka (commercial bus), one way; RUB800/US$13 speed boat, one way. You can combine both and go one way speed boat/one way bus.
  • Entrance fee: park – RUB750/US$12 adults, RUB450/US$7,5 students; palace – RUB700/US$11,5, students RUB400/US$6,5, children under 16 years visit both for free (for children 14-15 years we’d recommend to have a document).
  • Food: from RUB300/US$5 pp depending where you eat
Map of Peterhof park with the main attractions.
Map of Peterhof park with the main attractions.

Not to miss!

  • The Grand cascade, absolutely stunning composition with Samson wrestling the jaws of a lion in the center.
  • Chess or Dragon Hill cascade.
  • Lion cascade.
  • Water Road trick-fountain. It is on for 15 seconds every day at 1pm, 2pm and 3pm. Located  between the Chess cascade and Monplaisir palace, check for small pipes on both sides of the road and  billboards.
  • Golden cascade.
  • If you’re not on a tight budget in the pond near Marli palace you can catch a sturgeon. Price RUB3900/US$65 for one and RUB6000/US$100 for two (3-4kg each), it includes delivery to the nearby restaurant and cooking.
  • If you visit Peterhof with children they will love fountains-shutikha (trick-fountains) they involve getting wet so will be good to bring some extra clothes to change in.
The Lion cascade, Peterhof
The Lion cascade, Peterhof

How to get by public transport?

Two options

1. Metro, bus/marshrutka. From Avtovo metro station (by the way one of the most beautiful station in the world) take marshrutkas T-224, T-300 or buses №200, 210. From Leninsky Prospect metro station take marshrutkas T-103, T-420. The whole journey will take you between 1h to 1h15min.

2. Metro, train and bus. From Baltiisky railway station (m Baltiiskaya) take a train to Novy Peterhof (New Peterhof), from there take a bus №344, 348, 350, 351, 352, 355, 356. Will take you between 1h to 1h15min.

Grand palace church, Peterhof. St.Petersburg palaces and parks.

Grand palace church, Peterhof. St.Petersburg palaces and parks.

Hydrofoils and tours from the city center

If you don’t feel like moving around by public transport as an option you can take a tour to Peterhof  from the city center. They depart from Ploshad (square) Ostrovskogo, metro Gostiny Dvor, price from RUB2700/US$45 it includes transport (bus) both ways, entrance fee (park and palace), excursion, audioguide, 6 hours.

The fastest way of getting to Peterof from the city center is to take a hydrofoil (Meteor), they depart from Dvortsovaya emb., 39 (in front of the Hermitage), every 30min., from 9.30am till 3pm, travel time 30min. Price RUB800/US$13 one way, RUB1500/US$25 return.

The Water Road trick fountain, Peterhof.
The Water Road trick fountain, Peterhof. Super exciting for both children and adults!

Where to eat?

If you are a budget traveller we’d suggest to bring sandwiches and snacks with you it will save not only money but time you can find a bench and have a picnic. Inside the park you can get hotdogs, tea, coffee, ice cream for very expensive so rather bring food with you or eat outisde the park.

Budget

Brynza restaurant – the closest to the park and palace place; soups, meat/fish dishes, sides, chebureks (fried dough pies with different fillings), pastas, salads, dessert. Average bill from RUB400/US$6,6 pp. Open daily from 10am to 11pm. Morskogo Desanta st., 3.

Middle price range

Restaurant Family, nice place; starters, salads, vegetarian, soups, mains, sushi, dessert, drinks, Russian traditions cuisine. Average bill from RUB600/US$10 pp. Open daily from 11am to 1am. Razvodnaya ulitsa (street), 7/1.

Expensive

Alex House, a fancy restaurant; meat/fish/ dishes, vegetarian, soups, salads, dessert, children menu, drinks. Average bill from RUB800/US$13. Open daily from 12pm to 11pm. St.Peterburgsky prospect (av.), 44.

The Pyramid fountain, Peterhof
The Pyramid fountain, Peterhof

Tsarskoye Selo/Pushkin

I’ve been living all my life in Tsarskoye Selo and spent a lot of time in the Catherine park. It looks beautiful any season be it green summer or white winter. In my opinion the Catherine palace is the most beautiful palace not only in St.Petersburg but in the whole Russia. The palace is a classical example of Russian Baroque style, with its multiple windows, fake columns and bas-reliefs it reminds a wedding cake. If you have to choose one palace to visit I’d suggest the Catherine palace its Ballroom with big windows and mirrors looks stunning especially at sunset and here is the famouse Amber room quite impressive due to the combination of amber, gold and lights.

Working hours

  • Catherine park opened daily from 9am till 10pm (11pm May – June), after 7pm entrance is free.
  • Catherine palace opened (for individual visitors) June – August; Mon, Wed-Sun from 12pm to 7pm. September – Mon, Wed-Sun from 12pm to 6pm. The rest of the year – Mon (except last Monday of the month), Wed-Sun from 10am to 6pm.

There are many small pavilions most of them opened till 7pm, you’ll have to buy separate tickets for each.

Catherine palace, Tsarskoye Selo. St.Petersburg palaces and parks
Catherine palace, Tsarskoye Selo. St.Petersburg palaces and parks

Budget

  • Transport; RUB85/US$1,5 (one way) – metro (RUB45) + marshrutka (RUB40) or train (RUB43) + bus (RUB40).
  • Entrance fee: Catherine park – RUB120/US$2, under 16 years free; Catherine palace – adults RUB1000/US$16,5, students RUB350/US$5,8, under 16 years free. Alexander park – free, Alexander palace – closed for rennovation.
  • Food: from RUB200/US3.
Ballroom, Catherine palace, Tsarskoye Selo.
Ballroom, Catherine palace, Tsarskoye Selo.

Not to miss!

  • Cameron gallery, here you can go upstairs to the hanging gardens, the view from here is very nice. 
  • Big pond with Chesme column in the middle.
  • Grotto.
  • Hermitage, it used to be a dining room with a special elevator mechanism, it’s actually a table that goes up to the dining room from the kitchen. A few years ago it was reopened and now four times a day (12pm, 12.30pm, 3pm and 3.30pm) you can see it working.
  • Marble bridge.
  • Turkish bath.
Cameron gallery, Catherine park, Tsarskoye Selo.
Cameron gallery, Catherine park, Tsarskoye Selo.

How to get by public transport?

Two options:

1. Take a train from Vitebsky railway station (metro Pushkinskaya), get off at Tsarskoye Selo station (Pushkin) and take a bus to the park, there are many buses going there just ask Catherine palace to make sure. You can walk as well it’s about 2km. The whole trip will take about 1h.

2. Go to Moskovskaya metro station (exit Bus to the airport), from there take a murshrutka (№545, 347) all the way to the park. Ask to stop at Catherine palace. Will take between 1h-1h15min.

Catherine palace church, Tsarskoye Selo.
Catherine palace church, Tsarskoye Selo.

Where to eat?

There are quite a few places inside the park and nearby. As an option you can bring sandwiches with you and have a picknick.

Budget options

The Hermitage Kitchen, here you can have a set meal, starters, mains from RUB300/US$5. Next door there is a dougnut place, fresh backed doughnuts as well as pies, tea/coffee, av.bill RUB120/US$2.

Our favorite Keb House and Good Coffee (Leontevskaya st., 9A and Oranzhereinaya st., 23);  set menu (Mon-Fri, from 1am-4pm), shawarmas and kebabs, vegetarian dishes, desserts and coffee, av.bill from RUB300/US$5. By the way the bus stop from where you can get back to Moskovskaya metro station is right here.

Pushkin Cake (Moskovskaya st., 5), a very nice and cozy coffee shop, 10min.walk from the park, they serve food, desserts, coffees and teas, av.bill from RUB300/US$5. Recommended for people with children they will like it.

Middle price range

First House Burger (Oranzhereinaya st., 23/29), the same street, two buildings away, they serve mix of Russian and European cuisine; soups, salads, beef, chicken, burgers, desserts, average bill from RUB500/US$8 pp. 

Expensive places

Bona Capona (Oranzhereinaya st., 39, 15min. walk from the park); an Italian restaurant wtih pizzas, pastas, sides, salads etc. Av.bill from RUB700/US$12. 

Manana Meat$Sweet (Oktyabrsky bulvar, 3/11, 15min. walk from the park); a very nice and specious restaurant with big variety of food from Russian cuisine to sushi, drinks and dessert, big outside terrace, av.bill from RUB700/US$12. There is a bus stop right in front you can catch a marshrutka back to the city.

There are some very expensive restaurants next to the park (Srendaya st., 2); Daniel (av.bill from RUB2000/US$34) or Solenya Varenya (av.bill from RUB1500/US$25).

The Grotto, Catherine park, Tsarskoye Selo.
The Grotto, Catherine park, Tsarskoye Selo.

Pavlovsk

This park is a real paradise for squirrel lovers, there are really many and they are used to people you can buy special food in the park and enjoy feeding these little cuties. Pavlovsky park is a very nice place to visit in winter you can rent a sledge or skis and enjoy the park in a very different way. The park is definitely less impressive and touristy that the previous two but it has its own charm; tranquility and the illusion of wilderness.

Working hours

  • Pavlovsky park opened daily from 6am till 11pm.
  • Pavlovsky Palace opened daily (except every first Monday of the month) from 10am till 6pm.

Budget

  • Transport; metro+ train RUB90/US$1,5, one way.
  • Entrance fee; park – RUB100/US1,5 for adults, RUB50/1 for children and students, from 6am-9am and 7pm-11pm entrance is free. Palace – RUB500/US$8,3 adults, RUB200/US$3,3 under 18 years, children under 7 years – free.

How to get by public transport?

The easiest suburb to get from St.Petersburg. Take a train from Vitebsky railway station (m Pushkinskaya) and get off in Pavlovsk. The park entrance is across the road from the train station. The journey takes 30min.

Pavlovsky park. St.Petersburg palaces and parks
Pavlovsky park. St.Petersburg palaces and park

Strelna/The Konstantin palace and park

For many years the complex was closed for visitors due to restoration and was reopened for public in 2003. Nowadays it’s the official State residence The National Congress palace and museum. It is located between St.Petersburg and Peterhof if you have time you can stop here on the way to or back.

Working hours

Konstantin park and palace; Mon-Tue, Thu-Sun from 10am to 6pm (ticket office till 4pm). During the official events the complex is closed for visitors. For the upcoming events you can check on the website.

How to get by public transport?

Metro + bus/marshrutka. From Avtovo metro station marshrutkas T-224, T-300 or buses №200, 210. From Leninsky Prospect metro station marshrutkas T-103, T-420. Will take you between 40min.-1h.

Budget

  • Transport;  metro+bus – RUB100/US$1,5, one way.
  • Entrance fee; Park and palace (including excursion) RUB330/US$5,4 adults; students RUB200/US$3,3 children under 7 years free.
Konstantin palace, Strelna. St.Petersburg palaces and parks.
Konstantin palace, Strelna. St.Petersburg palaces and parks.

Gatchina

The complex looks quite different from any other royal palace in St.Petersburg, it more reminds a castle. Here you won’t see golden domes, bas-reliefs, bright colors but its restrained decoration makes this palace unique.

Working hours

  • Gatchina park opened 24 hours.
  • Gatchina palace opened daily (except every first Tuesday of the month) from 11am to 6pm.

Budget

  • Transport;  metro + train RUB150/US$2,5, one way and  metro + marshrutka RUB115/US$2.
  • Entrance fee; Gatchina park is free, the palace – RUB350/US$6 adults, RUB200/US$3,3 students.

How to get by public transport?

Two options;

1. Take a train from Baltiiskaya Railway station (metro Baltiiskaya), get off at Gatchina station from here it’s about 5-10min. walk to the park. Will take about 1h15min.

2. From Moskovskaya metro station take a bus №431 or marshrutka №18, 18A get off in Gatchina. Will take about 1h.

Gatchina palace, St.Petersburg
Gatchina palace, St.Petersburg

Kronstadt

It’s a seaport town about 30km west from St.Petersburg. The highlights of Kronstadt; the cathedral, it’s absolutely stunning; multiple forts (to visit them you’ll have to take a tour); the Dam which is quite big and impressive.

Working hours

  • Kronstadt cathedral opened daily from 9am to 7pm, operating cathedral, entrance free.
  • To visit the forts you’ll have to take a tour, ferries leave daily at 1pm, 3.30pm and 5.30pm from Winter Pier of Petrovsky park. You visit 5 different forts including fort Konstantin where you’ll have time to walk around. Price RUB550/US$8, the price includes shuttle back from Fort Konstantin to the town.
The Naval cathedral, Kronstadt. St.Petersburg palaces and parks.
The Naval cathedral, Kronstadt. St.Petersburg palaces and parks.

How to get by public transport?

From Chernaya Rechka metro station marshrutka K-405, RUB79/US$1,3, takes about 40min. From Prospect Prosvesheniya marshrutka K-407.

If it sounds like to much of a hassle you can take a tour from St.Petersburg, buses leave from Gostiny Dvor metro station (ticket offices are there as well). Price from RUB1000/US$16 it includes transport, bus excursion in Kronstadt, visit to the cathedral and Konstantin Fort. The main drawback of the tour very likely it will be in Russian.

The Naval cathedral from the inside, Kronstadt.
The Naval cathedral from the inside, Kronstadt.

Vyborg

A town with a very long and interesting history, the main attraction is medieval castle that was built in 1293. Yes, Vyborg is much older than St.Petersburg and it more reminds Western-European than Russian towns.

Working hours

Vyborg castle opened daily from 11am to 7pm, entrance fee RUB100/US$1,6 adults, under 16 years free.

How to get by public transport?

Two options

1. By train/express train from Finlyandsky Railway station (metro Finlyandsky Vokzal), train costs RUB300/US$5 one way and takes 2h15min, express (Lastochka) costs RUB330/US$5,5 and takes 1h15min.

2. By bus from Nothern Bus station in Murino (metro Devyatkino) or from bus station at Parnas metro station. Takes about 2h, costs RUB250/US$4 one way.

Vyborg castle. St.Petersburg palaces and parks.
Vyborg castle. St.Petersburg palaces and parks.

Oranienbaum

Probably one of the quitest royal parks in St.Petersburg not many tourists get here, it’s difficult to compete with famous Peterhof located nearby. Interesting fact! Oranienbaum is the only one out of all royal suburbs that wasn’t destroyed during the World War II.

Working hours

Menshikov Grand palace (for individual visitors) opened Mon, Wed-Sun from 12pm to 2pm and from 4pm to 4.45pm. Entrance fee RUB400/US$6,6 adults; RUB250/US$4 students; free under 16 years old.

How to get by public transport?

Two options

1. Bus/marshrutka. From Avtovo metro station marshrutkas T-424A, T-300. From Prospekt Veteranov metro station marshrutkas T-343, RUB120/US$2 one way, will take you about 1h20min.

2. Train. From Baltiisky railway station (m Baltiiskaya) take a train to Oranienbaum station (5min. from the park). Will take you 1h.

Menshikov palace, Oranienbaum.
Menshikov palace, Oranienbaum.

 

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