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The Hermitage

I will be in St Petersburg late September. Taking a cruise and taking shore excursions through my cruise line.

Going to The Hermitage is very important to me and I have seen pictures and videos of the crowds. I have chosen to take an evening shore excursion of The Hermitage in the hopes of avoiding the huge crowds.

So for those of you who have gone to the Hermitage, will it be less crowded in the evening (6 to 9 pm)? al

Also, I will be in St Petersburg late September. Am I correct to assume it will be less crowded than during the summer months?

One more question. What about purses? What size purse am I allowed to take with me as I explore the museum?

Posted by
343 posts
  1. Yes, less crowded in the evenings.
  2. Yes, less crowded in September (but you will still be brushing shoulders with the passengers of whatever cruise ships are in port at that time - plus all the locals and Chinese tourists).
  3. Don't remember the exact size, but there are cloakrooms where you can check your bag. The security people at the entrance will let you know in no uncertain terms of your bag is too big.
Posted by
343 posts

Matisse

Totally! Just remember the impressionists are housed in a separate building (General Staff building) - if you're doing the cruise tour, you want to make sure it's included.

Posted by
2998 posts

Evenings at The Hermitage are delightful , no crowds , and many galleries are fairly deserted . The General Staff Building across the square from The Winter Palace houses the nationalized ( 1918 ) collections of Sergei Shchukin and Ivan Morozov , both major collectors of impressionist and post impressionist French art . The Matisse works were part of Shchukin's holdings .

Posted by
613 posts

The Hermitage is grammatically incorrect. It should be The Hermitages for there are two different experiences within one giant building. The first Hermitage is the Czar's palace. The second Hermitage is an art museum. To some extent they overlap in that tree is a lot of art in the palace, but most of the art is not displayed in the palace. It is in the many many rooms of the not-palace art museum. Most tours only visit the palace so you don't have a chance of seeing most of the art. If you are on river cruise you can dump the tour and go off on your own & spend the whole day at The Hermitage because you will have a Russian Visa.

If you are on a ocean cruise, you are probably out of luck since you don't have a visa & can only be in Russia when with your tour guide. There is a possible work around. Many tours go first to The Hermitage. I don't know the protocol for doing this, but for a generous tip to your guide & bus driver, you can arrange for them to leave you at The Hermitage while they go off on the rest of the bus tour and then comeback and pick you up at the end of the bus tour. I know people who have done this.

The Russians take this visa stuff seriously We have a friend who was held at the St Petersburg airport for two days because the Russian Embassy in USA had misspelled her name on her visa. Do not try to go to The Hermitage on your own if you don't have a visa unless your tour director promises you that its OK.

Posted by
131 posts

I am a senior citizen who can not afford to get in trouble. I think that I will stick with my shore excursion through Norwegian. I have bought the shore excursion that goes to the Hermitage (s) in the evening. I have read and heard that the crowds are much less in the evening. I am also going to be there late September, end of season. Almost certainly the crowds will be less.

Norwegian also offers a 5 hour shore excursion to the Hermitage that includes the gold room. However that is during the day time.

Thanks for all your responses.

Posted by
131 posts

Visiting the Hermitage is at the top of my list. I have chosen the excursion that goes in the evening so that it will be less crowded. However, since I am going to be there in late September, I think (and hope) that it will not be as crowded because of the time of year.

Posted by
50 posts

Yes, it will be less crowded in the evening and you can definitely enjoy the Museum better. We went there in the afternoon and there were just so many people, I wished we just opted for the evening admission. I hope you have a great time!

Posted by
5723 posts

You can buy tickets from machines in the courtyard that allow you to simply walk past the long line waiting to get in. We have done this half a dozen times and never had a wait. There was no purse police when we were there, but if your bag is an issue there are free lockers and check room for stuff like that.

I don't think crowds are a problem -- you just push through tour groups that rudely block the way. Some areas are more crowded than others. The very interesting Siberian artifacts, carpets etc on a lower floor were deserted when we were there and there was almost no one in the General Staff Building where the the impressionists are kept. In that huge gallery there were maybe 25 or 30 people in the whole place when we were there.

IMHO the most impressive things in the main building are the Rembrandts -- two of his greatest paintings are in this collection: Sacrifice of Abraham (tell that to Isaac) and Prodigal Son -- just wonderful. The other thing I particularly loved was the gallery of portraits of general in the wars that are featured in the Novel War and Peace -- you felt like you knew these people -- amazing -- maybe a couple of hundred portraits in one gallery with larger paintings of key political figures and generals like the Duke of Wellington and the Tsar.

It is well worth more than a day if you have the time.

Posted by
131 posts

Janette from Chicago

Thanks for your response.

I am going to be on a shore excursion and time will be at a premium. I will not need to worry about the purchase of tickets but I will also be on an escorted visit. My time at The Hermitage is, sadly, only 3 hours from beginning to end.

There is one other shore excursion which is 5 hours at the Hermitage including the Amber or Gold Room. However that one is during day hours and I prefer evening and night.

I have other excursions during my overnight in St. Petersburg but it is impossible to see all that I wish I could see in a day and a half.

Posted by
327 posts

From personal experience, take the smallest size cross-body handbag (better yet use a money belt) - and leave your valuables in your safe on the ship. Pickpockets are an issue in St. Petersburg (you will see the signs everywhere and our tour guide warned us). Even so, one of our ship-mates had his wallet lifted in one of The Hermitage galleries (this was September 5th) and he never felt a thing. It was only when he went to buy a souvenir that he noticed the wallet was gone.

Posted by
131 posts

Mardan,

Thanks you for your input.

Someone else posted something similar about walking along Nevsky Prospect. In a short period of time, every one of the pockets on his backpack was opened by pickpockets but he lost nothing or almost nothing.

A friend of mine went to Barcelona and I guess the situation is similar with pickpockets. She cautioned me to buy a secure money belt or Fanny Pack.

I am going to get one off of Amazon.

Posted by
343 posts

Bostonphil,
Didn't quite get it - what do you mean by "...5 hours at the Hermitage including the Amber or Gold Room"? The Amber room is not at the Hermitage, it is at Pushkin - the Hermitage only holds a couple of surviving artefacts.

Posted by
131 posts

Perilopf,

yes I was able to include the link to the 5 hour Hermitage with Gold Room as offered by Norwegian. I believe that I have also read the Gold Room described as the Amber Room.

Posted by
2 posts

Another option would be to visit the Hermitage before the official hours. There are tour companies that offer this option and it is not really expensive, the difference is about 25 euro in comparison to the normal admission ticket.
We did it on our tour last year and were really happy with this option, we entered the museum at 9:40 (at 10:30 the museum officially opens) and had a private guided excursion with nearly no people next to us. I could give you a recommendation of the company, which we used, is was Fontanka Travel LLC.

Saile12, that is actually very good to know. I was thinking of going to the Hermitage at night to avoid the crowds, but I am only in St. Petersburg for 2 days. So if I go in the morning I can use the evening hours for a folklore show or the ballet....
Thanks for the tip!

Posted by
18 posts

Normally the Hermitage closes at 6pm, but on Wednesdays and Fridays, it remains open to the general public until 9pm. My Getaway cruise was there on a Friday night, and my friends on the late night excursion said that although it was nowhere near as crowded as during the day, there were still plenty of non-tour group crowds to deal with (we called the large masses of Chinese tour groups blocking every passageway "the great walls of China"). I went on a morning excursion where the first 60-90 minutes were good, but by the end of the 2 1/2 hour tour it was quite packed. But this was July, it should be much better off in September.

Posted by
131 posts

I will not be in St, Petersburg until the 27th of September. The crowds should be much smaller everywhere. I believe that The Getaway will be one of the few large passenger cruise ships in port.

I have changed my excursion. I cancelled the evening at the Hermitage and signed up for the five hours at The Hermitage including The Gold Room which is not open to the public.

This is an afternoon into evening excursion which begins at 12:45 p.m.

Posted by
343 posts

Sounds like a good plan.
Just returned from SPB, having done an evening run through the Hermitage (6 to 9pm) on a Wednesday. Totally breathable and not crowded at all if you steer clear of the Peacock Clock room (the clock is wound at 8pm every Wed).

For the record, both Gold and Diamond storage rooms are open to the public - but require separate tickets.