I will be in St. Petersburg next September. I am taking shore excursions through NCL but opting out of the package and booking half day or one day excursions. For the second day, I am trying to choose between Peterhof or Puskin. For those who have been to both places, which would you recommend.
Wow, this is really hard to say. I loved both and I wish you could do both of these.
My take on these is. Pushkin you'll be seeing the interiors which are magnificent, incuding the famous Amber Room. In Peterhof, I've never done the palace itself becuase the beauty of Peterhof are the amazing fountains and gardnes. I know that most of the Peterhof palace is a reconstruction including the furntiure and etc since the originals didn't survive WWII. During sunny weather Peterhof is lovely and getting there by boat is really fun! You'll be boarding right outside the Hermitage and i think it takes about 40 min?? But it's a pleasant ride. If you do choose to go there, instead of visiting the main palace, I would suggest visiting the Marly Palace and the Monplaisir Palace. They are small and very charming. Actually Peter the Great prefered these intimate quaters to the big palace itself. You'll be able to see the Royal Bathhouse and understand Russian obsession with Banya (Bathhouse/sauna) ;)) At any rate, I think Peterhof needs good weather to be fully enjoyed. Pushkin is great at any time. In good weather, I'd recommend taking a horse carriage ride. They are not too costly and you'll get to see the gardens in style! If you go to Pushikin on your own, it's a bit more challenging getting to and from than Peterhof. That was at least the case when I visited in 2011.
Marly Palace. This is the main structure of the lower park. Three avenues radiate from the palace, one crossing the Sea Channel. Fine examples of antique furniture within; an old lady stands guard in each room, some even with a smile. Open only on Sat and Sun.
Monplaisir Palace. Mon plaisir means "my pleasure" in French. It is located near the Gulf. It also has three avenues radiating from it. This palace greets visitors arriving by hydrofoil. The Peterhof ensemble began with the construction of this palace. Peter the Great sketched its design and gave it its name.
Is there any chance you can prolong your visit to St. Petersburg? I would choose both, I've been to Piter (as locals call it) many times and would recommend you visit both places.
Thank you for your responses. Unfortunately, because it is a cruise and I am on the cruise schedule, I can not extend my visit at all.
I have actually booked Peterhof but a friend of mine who was there many years ago was not too impressed with Peterhof and suggested that I book another excursion.
I am going to have to mull it over.
I love love love Peterhof, but I can only wonder why it keeps getting such glowingly positive reviews from cruisers (your friend seems to be an exception) - a typical cruise excursion covers maybe 10% (if that) of what the place has to offer.
I've been there three times this past summer, and all of the cruise groups I saw seemed to make a mad dash from the hydrofoil to the palace, where they would invariably wait in line for some time, then a quick run through the palace, and then a leisurely walk to the Chess Cascade via Samson fountain and, in some cases, a couple of trick fountains. That's it.
Just take a look at the map to see how much ground it covers.
I agree with Perilofp. The most important thing to do in Peterhof is to visit the gardens and the fountains. I've been to Peterhof 3 or 4 times and I've never visited the palace, at least not the Grand Palace. As I mentioned in my previous comment, I would highly recommend visiting the smaller palaces Marly and Monpliser. They are guided tours with guides provided by the Peterhof palace complex. You just have to get an extra ticket if I remember correctly. Even if there's no English speaking tour at that time, go wiht the Russian. It's all very self-explandatory. And you are allowed to take photos inside too. Then spend the rest of the time to enjoy the gardens themselves. Don't bother with the Grand Palace. I was given the same advise by Russian friends who live in Peter. So to make long story short, if you do go with the cruise excursion and if it's scheduled the way Perilofp mentioned (run through and visit the grand palace), you can leave the group and explore the gardens and fountains on your own. Then meet the group before the departure.
I took a private (8 person) Peterhof tour last summer, a quick cattle tour through the house and then 1.5-2H around the fountains and grounds, but I could have used another hour at least on the grounds. We didn’t even get to “the front yard”!
Thanks for all your responses. I am sailing Norwegian and have sailed with them several times. I have a very good deal with them and will go on a group excursion through them. For now, I will stick with Peterhof. My friend was turned off by all the glitz but he has also traveled the world. I have not so I see the world differently. I am just so glad to go somewhere that I am happy.