There are lots of interesting suburbs around St. Petersurg and perfectly suitable for a one-day trip. Most of them are imperial residences with beautiful parks, and it seems that practically every Russian Emperor aspired to have a palace in the suburbs of St. Petersburg that would be more luxurious than that of his predecessor.
Petergof is undoubtedly No1 on this list. The legendary 18th century series of palaces and gardens with the world’s largest systems of fountains and cascades founded at the wish of Emperor Peter I impress the world with their beauty and scale even in our days. The park is divided into two parts: the Upper Garden is a regular garden with sculptures and the Low Park is the “aquacade” with channels, cascades and fountains. The ideas for most of them were offered by the Emperor himself. Their variety is impressive, from many grandiose Grand Cascade throwing down huge water masses to almost invisible Joke Fountains unexpectedly spraying water on unwary tourists. Fountains do not work from mid-October till May, so the warm season is preferable to visit. Independently of the season, it is worth visiting the Grand Palace with luxurious baroque style halls (the Ball Room shines with gold and mirrors is especially beautiful), as well as separate palaces and pavilions with museum exhibitions dedicated to the life of the Russian Emperors and the art of the 18th -20th centuries.
Tickets to different palace located at the Park territory should be bought separately. The Upper Garden – free entrance. The Low Park – 500 roubles. The Grand Palace – 600 roubles. Other palace, the grottos, and exhibitions – from 200 to 400 roubles each.
Opening hours: parks are open every day from 09:00 till 20:00, the fountains work from 10:00 to 18:00 on business days and till 19:00 on weekends. The Grand Cascade ceremonial launch takes place at 11:00.
The Grand Petergof Palace: 10:00 – 18:00, the ticket office closes at 17:00. The palace is closed on Mondays and on the last Tuesday of the month. Some museums in the Park work till 17:00 (please check the timetable).
You can get to the Park by bus or shuttle bus from different metro stations in St. Petersburg: from Avtovo metro station – by shuttle buses No Т-224, Т-300, Т-424, Т-424А and buses 200 and 210 (the travel time is 30 minutes), from Leninsky Prospekt metro station – by shuttle buses No Т-103 (K-224) and Т-420, from Prospekt Veteranov metro station – by shuttle buses No Т-343 and Т-639Б (the travel time is from 40 to 60 minutes). Whichever route you take, get off the bus at the “Fountains” stop.
By a suburban train go to the station New Peterhof (about 40 minutes) and then it takes about 10 minutes by buses No 344, 348, 350, 351, 352, 355, or 356 to the “Fountains” stop.
Tsarskoye Selo is another amazing residence near St. Petersburg inhabited in different years by 3 most influential Russian Empresses. This is a vast (over 300 hectares) series of palaces and gardens of the 18th – 19th centuries that is designed in baroque style and included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The Catherine Palace accommodates the legendary Amber Room that is completely lined with amber (more than 6 tons were used for the decorations!). The priceless interiors were lost during World War II and afterwards carefully restored by old drawings and photos.
The Tsarskoye Selo Lyceum where studied the greatest Russian poet A.S. Pushkin is located at the territory of the complex. The former Lyceum building is now a museum dedicated to its history and its distinguished graduates. Other palaces located at the territory as well as parks with huge ponds inhabited by swans also deserve attention.
Tickets to each place in the territory need to be purchased separately. The Catherine Palace – 580 roubles, the Catherine Park – 120 roubles. Exhibitions and other places – 200-300 roubles each. The Memorial Lyceum Museum – 200 roubles.
Opening hours: The Catherine Palace: 10:00–18:00 (the ticket offices close at 16:45), closed on Tuesdays. The last Monday of the month is cleaning day.
The Catherine Park: entry with tickets from 9:00 to 19:00. The park is open from 7:00 to 21:00 (from May to July – to 23:00, in August – to 22:00). The admission to the Park is free out of the working hours of the ticket offices, but tickets to the Palace are sold only together with the tickets to the Park.
The Memorial Lyceum Museum: 10:30–18:00, the ticket office closes at17:00. Closed on Tuesdays. The last Friday of the month is cleaning day.
Getting there is possible from metro stations Moskovskaya (shuttle buses No 286, 287, 342, 347, and 545), Zvezdnaya (bus No 186), and Kupchino (bus No 186 or shuttle buses No K-545а, K-286, K-287, and K-347а). The name of the stop is the “Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve”. The travel time is about 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the traffic.
It is also possible to take a suburban train from Vitebsky railway station to Tsarskoye Selo and make a connection with buses No 371 or 382 or shuttle buses No 371, 377 and 382. The name of the stop is the “Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve”. The travel time is about one hour.
From the time and comfort perspective, it is better to go by bus or shuttle bus as suburban trains are crowded (especially on weekends) with people going to Tsarskoye Selo or to their summer houses. With the same reason, it is better to visit Tsarskoye Selo on week days.
Pavlovsk is another imperial residence with its unmatched identity. It was built in the 18th – 19th centuries in strict classical style according to the taste of Emperor Paul I. The enormous park (over 700 hectares) is considered to be one of the best landscape parks in the world. Small pavilions and modest personal gardens of the imperial family members; a cloistered colonnade and sculptures hidden among the foliage, beautiful turns of the Slavyanka River and shady groves – all these create a special atmosphere of tranquillity and the sense of being lost among centuries.
Within the 3 floors of the Pavlovsk Palace, one can continue acquaintance with the unique atmosphere of the end of the 18th – beginning of the 19th centuries. First of all, it is worth visiting the state rooms of Paul I on the 1st floor lined with precious stones and decorated with the best frescos and works of art.
On the ground floor there are more modest but equally elegant living rooms of Empress Maria Feodorovna, Paul I’s wife. The 2nd floor is dedicated to the interiors of a noble house of the 19th – beginning of the 20th centuries. The image of the epoch is completed with permanent exhibitions of costumes and household items. You can also visit Empress Maria Feodorovna’s private garden.
Tickets to each exposition have to be purchased separately. State rooms – 500 roubles, the living room of Empress Maria Feodorovna – 150 roubles, residential interiors of the 19th -20th centuries – 150 roubles, exhibition “The World of Woman and Her Hobbies” – 100 roubles, the Costume Museum – 150 roubles. The Pavlovsk Park – 150 roubles from 10:00 to 17:00, at the other time entrance is free. The private garden (open in summer season only) – 150 roubles, the Rose Pavilion – 150 roubles.
Opening hours: the Pavlovsk Park: 06:00-21:00, the Pavlovsk Palace – 10:00-18:00, closed on Fridays and on the first Monday of the month. The entrance to the Palace closes at 17:15. The state rooms close at 17:45. Exhibition “The World of Woman” – 10:00-18:00, closed on Tuesdays, Fridays and the first Monday of the month. The Costume Museum in the Northern semicircular building of the Palace works on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and on the first Monday of the month from 10:00 to 17:00.
Pavlovsk is accessible by bus, shuttle bus or suburban train (with 1 correspondence).
Shuttle buses start from the Moskovskaya metro station, take No 299 and 545 to the “Pavlovsky Palace” bus stop, or from Kupchino metro station – take bus No 286 and 521. The travel time is about 30 minutes.
If you want to go by railroad, first take a suburban train from Vitebsky railway station to station “Pavlovsk”, then take bus No 370, 372, 375А, 383, 493, or shuttle bus No 286, 299, 521, bus stop “Pavlovsky Palace”. The travel time is about 45 minutes.
On weekends in summer season suburban trains are very crowded, so it is more pleasant to go by shuttle buses.
This residence of the closest follower of Peter I Aleksandr Menshikov is unique by the fact that during World War II it was not captured by the invaders, that is why all palaces and interiors are truly authentic. The Grand Menshikov Palace was built in the beginning of the 18th century in the Petrine Baroque style and is one of its best specimens.
The luxurious Chinese Palace, some interiors of which are made in Chinese style according to the fashion of those days, is very beautiful. The Glass Beaded Salon with interiors preserved from the 1760s is especially famous. It is also worth taking a walk at the Upper Garden with its charming Katalnaya Gorka (roller coaster) Pavilion that used to be a part of huge entertaining erections and other nice ancient buildings.
The Oranienbaum Park works from 9:00 to 20:00 in summer season and from 10:00 to 19:00 in winter season. The Grand Menshikov Palace: admissions for individual visitors are from 12:00 to 14:00 and from 16:00 to 16:45. Working hours are from 10:30 to 18:00 (the ticket office closes at 17:00), closed on Tuesdays and the last Wednesday of the month. The Chinese Palace: from end of May to end of September − from 10:30 to 18:00 (the ticket office closes at 17:00), closed on Mondays and on the last Tuesday of the month. Closed in rainy weather and if the humidity is high. Admissions for individual visitors are from 12:00 to 14:00 and from 16:00 to 16:45.
Museum “Peter III Palace” and other pavilions: from 10:30 to 18:00 (the ticket office closes at 17:00), closed on Mondays. The Chinese Kitchen and the Picture House, museums are also closed on the last Tuesday of the month.
Tickets: The Oranienbaum Park – 200 roubles. The Menshikov Palace – 500 roubles. The Chinese Palace – 400 roubles. Museum “Peter III Palace” – 250 roubles. Other pavilions – 250-500 roubles.
How to get there: from Avtovo metro station shuttle buses No Т-300, Т-424А; from Prospekt Veteranov metro station shuttle bus No T-343; from Baltiyskaya metro station shuttle bus No T-404 to Oranienbaum station. The travel time is about one hour.
Suburban train from Baltiysky railway station to station “Oranienbaum-1”. The travel time is about 50 minutes.
The way from the Oranienbaum station to the park and the palaces takes 5 minutes. Go along Peterburgskaya Street and turn to Dvortsovy Prospekt.
Strelna. Another residence owing its existence to industrious Peter I. Here you will see his en route palace built in the beginning of the 18th century that is open for visitors. It accommodates an exposition of the Emperor’s personal items. During the summer season, there is a flower garden and a small kitchen garden where on the Emperor’s order exotic plants brought from his journeys were grown.
Another attraction of Strelna is the Constantine Palace destroyed during World War II, but restored to celebrate the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg and turned into the Palace of Congresses. Nowadays, this is the place to welcome the most honored guests. Tourists can also get there to visit the state rooms, but only with an excursion that needs to be booked in advance on the official website. Tourists need to take into account that the whole territory of Strelna is under video surveillance and in many places taking pictures is prohibited.
Tickets: The Palace of Peter the Great – 400 roubles. The Constantine Palace with an excursion that needs to be booked in advance – 300-350 roubles depending on the program.
Opening hours: The Palace of Peter the Great: 10:30-17:00 (in summer season till 18:00 18:00), closed on Mondays. The Constantine Palace – depending on the booked excursion time, but usually from 10:00 to 18:00. Closed on Wednesdays. Closed during governmental measures.
How to get there: from Avtovo metro station, buses No 200 and 210, shuttle buses No T-224, T-300, T-424, and T-424a; from Leninsky Prospekt metro station shuttle buses No T-103 (K-224) and T-420; from Prospekt Veteranov metro station shuttle buses No T-343 and T-639б, and from Baltiyskaya metro station shuttle bus No T-404.