If you’re travelling to Saint Petersburg, paying a visit to the beautiful Peterhof Palace is a must! This palace is known as the Russian Versailles and with its beautiful gardens, fountains, and golden statues, it’s not hard to understand why. The palace was built by Peter the Great at the beginning of the 18th century and reflects the emperor’s taste for luxury.
Although it’s a place that’s famous for its big crowds, I really enjoyed the palaces’ majestic architecture and loved wandering around the beautiful gardens. Make sure to plan an entire day to visit the complex because there’s a lot to see and it’s a 1-hour ride from Saint Petersburg.
Here’s everything you should know if you’re planning on visiting Peterhof Palace.
How to Visit the Peterhof Palace near Saint Petersburg
A little history
The Peterhof Palace (which means Peter’s court in both Dutch and German) was constructed by Peter the Great between 1714 and 1723. The Russian Tsar had travelled to France and was so impressed by the Palace of Versailles that it inspired him to build the Peterhof Palace. He dedicated the palace to the victory of Russia in a decisive battle in Ukraine during the war with Sweden.
After Peter the Great’s death in 1725, the palace was abandoned until Peter’s daughter Elizabeth came to the throne in 1740. Elizabeth ordered wings to be added to the palace and the fountain to be decorated more lavishly. The Peterhof Palace would serve as the residence of the Tsars until the Revolution of 1917. One year later, in 1918, the complex was transformed into a museum.
During the Second World War, the Peterhof Palace was occupied and later damaged by German troops. In addition to this, the palace was bombed by Soviet raids because Stalin was determined to keep Hitler from hosting a New Year’s victory celebration there. Many of the fountains were demolished and part of the palace was left to burn. Restoration began immediately after the war and continues today.
What to see
There’s a lot to see at the Peterhof complex and you’ll have to plan your visit according to your pace, budget, and the time you have there. However, the Grand Palace and the Lower Park are things you shouldn’t miss while you’re there. If you’ve been to Versailles, you’ll probably see the resemblance, although the fountain is completely different.
The Grand Palace is the former residence of the Russian Tsars and the most impressive palace of the complex. It’s built in Baroque style and houses approximately 30 pretty impressive rooms. The entrance fee to the Grand Palace is 1000 Rubles. Note that photography is not allowed inside any of the palaces.
‘Mon Plaisir’ is Fench for ‘my pleasure’ and this palace was Peter the Great’s favourite retreat. Only his closest friends and advisors could join him here. This palace was completed in 1723 and the decoration inside was inspired by Dutch architecture of the 18th century. The entrance fee for this palace is 400 Rubles.
The Marly Palace was the last palace to be built during Peter the Greats reign. And like the Monplaisir Palace, it was completed two years before his death. You can find some personal items of the emperor on display inside. The admission fee for the Marly Palace is 150 Rubles.
The Upper Park is free to visit, it’s located at the entrance and consists of five fountains. Originally, the Upper Park was used to grow vegetables and stock fish into its ponds, but it would later serve as a formal garden.
Although you have to pay an entrance fee (700 Rubles) to enter the Lower Park, it’s more impressive than the Upper Park. The Lower Park offers some amazing views of the palace. Its centrepiece is the Grand Cascade with bright golden statues. You can find the Monplaisir Palace on the east side of the Lower Park and the Marly Palace on the west side. There are also as many as 150 beautiful fountains and 4 cascades to discover here. This is the place where I spent most of the time during my visit, it’s very beautiful and there’s so much to see in the Lower Park alone.
The building of this park began in 1826. It includes a small palace and a Gothic church, and it was one of Tsar Nicolas II’s favourite places. Alexandria Park is free to visit, and it’s also possible to take a train ride through the park.
When to visit the Peterhof Palace
The best time for visiting the Peterhof Palace is when the fountains operate, which is from May to mid-October. Note that the Peterhof Palace can be very crowded during the summer months. I visited the palace in May, and although the weather was perfect, it was already pretty crowded. The complex is also open during the winter months, and although it may be less crowded then, you won’t get to fully enjoy the gardens.
How to get there
The Peterhof Palace is located 30 kilometres from Saint Petersburg. It can take anything between 45 minutes and 1,45 hours to get there, depending on the way of transport that you choose:
- Public transport: This is the cheapest way to get there and there are lots of options, from buses and minibuses to trains and the metro. Ask your ho(s)tel staff for the easiest way to reach the palace from where you’re staying.
- Hydrofoil: The hydrofoil takes 45 minutes and is the fastest and most direct way to get there. It’s more expensive than the minibus or the train and taxi though. You can catch it next to the Hermitage Museum (on the left side).
- Taxi: This may be the most comfortable way to visit Peterhof Palace, but it’s also the most expensive way (depending on the number of people). Expect to pay something around 2000 Rubles.
- Tour: You can easily book a tour that starts from Saint Petersburg. Some of these tours also include other beautiful palaces.
Tips for a visit to the Peterhof Palace
- There are two restaurants at the lower park and small kiosks throughout the complex. Pack lunch and some snacks if you want to save some money though.
- Check the opening hours of the palaces and gardens on the official website of the palace because they’re a little confusing and vary according to the season. There are foreign tourist hours and Russian citizen hours to visit the Grand Palace.
- Audio guides are available for an extra fee.
Pin it for later: