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Catherine's Palace

We will be with a local guide in St Petersburg during the second week in June and wish to see Catherine's Palace. All three tour companies (all listed by Rick in his guide book) have recommended that we go to other sites at this time of year rather than Catherine's due to lengthy traffic jams getting to this site and once there dealing with the overwhelming crowds of selfie stick wielding tourists and loud talking guides elbowing their way through each room.

What have been your experience during the summer months?

Posted by
4669 posts

It was several years ago, but I agree that the Palace is crowded and has delays to enter. You might wish to check whether your tour qualifies your guide for a special entry line (our cruise-ship tour did) that would reduce your wait before entry. But you will still have to adjust your forward progress (once inside) to cope with the crowds. Not to overstate the issue, Russia is very big on special privileges for the ... elite. Who knew, that Windstar Cruises was slightly elite? I sort of remember that it wasn't air conditioned, either.

Since the Germans burned and smashed the palace before retreating, everything (architectural) you see is a re-creation. But it was an important visit for me. Of particular interest for us was the re-created Amber Room. The original amber works were removed long before the palace was destroyed, but no one knows what the Nazis did with it, or whether it survives anywhere.

Posted by
6538 posts

We came off a cruise ship and got with one of the tour companies running 14 passenger vans for two days' tours. Our driver carried us down alleys and the back streets to get us to all the big tourist sights before the ships' 50 passenger buses had time to get there. The Hermitage is truly incredible. We also found the subway system to be incredibly plush--and clean.
We caught one of the many 50 mph fast ferries that took us out to Catherine's Palace. And the bus met us and brought us back to town later.
St. Petersburg has a bunch of tour companies that are very highly rated. Our tour guide was an independent licensed guide, and a university graduate. Her knowledge of Russian history was like having a college professor taking us under their wings. They even advanced us with Russian Rubles for purchases and we didn't pay for the tour or settle up with her until the end of the second day. We did pay for lunch with our home ATM card at a restaurant too.

Posted by
316 posts

David, the ferry (a Meteor-class hydrofoil) would take you to Peterhof, not Catherine's palace, which is in landlocked Pushkin/Tsarskoe Selo.

I last visited in very late May/early June 2018, I think, in a group of about 20. We came to Pushkin really early, and the wait time was maybe 30 minutes, if that. Still, they pretty much push you through the enfilades, so the tour of the palace proper takes about 20 minutes. The grounds are splendid, though, very different from Peterhof, too.
We spent a couple of hours walking the grounds and on our way back walked past the palace again, and the crowds gathered by the entrance were mind-blowing.

Posted by
4057 posts

We did Catherine's Palace while on a Vantage World Travel river cruise and tour. This was in August, a buy time of the year. We managed quite well.

Don't miss Catherine's Palace, as well as Peterhof. Are you there on a cruise or tour?

Posted by
6 posts

geovagriffith

Did you visit Catherine's Palace during the day during normal business hours or in the evening during one of their special offerings for only cruise passengers?

What is have found is that there is an evening tour after normal hours but this is available only for cruise ship excursions. This is not available to the local guide services.

Posted by
4057 posts

We visited Catherine's Palace during the day, starting in the morning. We were on a Vantage World Travel tour of Russia that included a river cruise.

Posted by
13 posts

TRUST ME on this! Go to Peterhof and don't worry about going inside. I went on a Monday last July and the Palace is closed but you pay about $9 for the grounds. IF you can walk then just cover the grounds they are magnificent. It will take you hours believe me and don't miss the bay of Finland in your walk.Take the Hydrofoil there and back it is worth it! You get it in back of the Hermitage. Museum Write to me if you need any help.I did go to Catherine's Palace as well a 4 hr wait. Forget it! Start walking. walked/hiked the entire grounds and saw so many gems on the grounds. Your tour guide cannot possibly walk the grounds to see it all. I did it and it was a beautiful sunny day as they all were for 6 weeks while I was there

Posted by
7153 posts

Catherine's Palace was the highlight of our trip, and should not be missed. We hired a toursbylocal.com guide and he secured tickets for us with no wait. Absolutely a must-see.

Posted by
4057 posts

We visited Peterhof and did the inside as well. Glad we did.

Yes, the Germans damaged Catherine's Palace in WWII, but most of it was restored. The original Amber Room was stolen and never recovered, but the new amber room is amazing.

Posted by
67 posts

We were supposed to go mid March but then Corona happened and the rest is history... could you please share your experience with tour guides if you are able to actually visit? I would really like to book a guide when we do get to travel again - I love historic houses and palaces and have written quite a bit about them but my partner gets tired of hearing me drone on. So it's easier to get a guide to show us around -best for both of us.