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Bucket list experience:

Last updated: 09 November, 2022
Expert travel writer: Jennifer Eremeeva

Built originally for Peter the Great’s wife, Empress Catherine I in 1723, this extraordinary Baroque summer palace was later expanded upon by their daughter, Empress Elizabeth using the services of her favorite Italian architect, Bartolomeo Rastrelli.

Rastrelli designed the palace’s showpieces, including the magnificent Marble Staircase, the Grand Ballroom, and the interior of the incomparable Amber Room, which houses the priceless amber panels gifted to Peter by Frederick William I of Prussia. The stunning, turquoise 1,200-foot palace facade features Rastrelli’s life-sized caryatids (stone carvings of female figures, used as pillars) and glittering domes of the Imperial chapel.

A showcase for the grandeur of Imperial Russia, and a fascinating insight into the gilded lives of the Tsars.

Don't miss

The Amber Room is a stunning 18th-century chamber decorated in amber panels, backed by gold leaf, mirrors and gemstones. The room was sadly looted during WW2 and the original lost. A reconstruction by Russian craftsmen was completed in 1979.

Price from: £10
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 13+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

If travelling independently, the most efficient and cost-effective way to get to Tsarskoye Selo is via minibus (marshrutka) service running from Moskovskaya Metro Station on Moskovsky Prospekt. Numbers K-342 or K-545 go directly to the Catherine Palace and Park. Many sightseeing hop-on-hop-off services also offer extension tours to Tsarskoye Selo. A round trip from the city will take around five hours.

Tickets to the palace may be purchased from the palace’s rather confusing website and advance planning from May to September is essential. It’s better to book on an organised tour, where the arrangements are made for you by those in the know, and where be hosted by knowledgeable guides. There are hours of history to uncover here…

When to do it

Cruise ships often begin their days with an early entrance to the Catherine Palace, so later afternoon visits in summer may help avoid crowds. Winter offers a more leisurely experience.

Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay near this experience, closest first

Hotel Astoria

St. Petersburg , Northwestern Region, Russia[24.5 miles]

One of the city’s oldest and most elegant places to stay in the city, it offers luxury accommodation and an excellent location.

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Grand Hotel Europe

St. Petersburg , Northwestern Region, Russia[24.6 miles]

St. Petersburg’s grand dame, a 5-star luxury hotel that harps back to more graceful, elegant age.

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SO Sofitel

St. Petersburg, Northwestern Region, Russia[24.7 miles]

A hip design hotel opposite St Isaac’s Cathedral, with a basement spa and rooftop bar and restaurant that’s one of the city’s premier party spots.

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Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace

St. Petersburg, Northwestern Region, Russia[24.8 miles]

Incomparable elegance, comfort, and service await at the Four Seasons Lion Palace, just steps from the Hermitage.

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Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

Our writer’s recommendations of other bucket list experiences our writer says you must do in this destination, closest first

Tsar’s Village

St. Petersburg, Northwestern Region, Russia[0.1 miles]

The extraordinary summer retreat of the Russian tsars, home to exquisitely restored Baroque palaces and formal gardens, including the Catherine Palace.

Best for ages: 18+ | £6

Ballet & Opera at the Mariinsky Theatre

St. Petersburg , Northwestern Region, Russia[23.9 miles]

Enjoy an unforgettable evening of classical ballet or opera at the world-renowned Mariinsky Theatre. It was here that Tchaikovsky’s famous ballets, The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, and Swan Lake were first performed.

Best for ages: 18+ | £40 | 2+ hours

Walk Nevsky Prospekt

St. Petersburg , Northwestern Region, Russia[23.9 miles]

Wander through history as you traverse St. Petersburg’s main thoroughfare, Nevsky Prospekt – a grand, 3-mile boulevard of elegant facades, imposing buildings, basilicas, monuments and theatres.

Best for ages: 18+ | Free | 2

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Faberge Museum

St. Petersburg , Northwestern Region, Russia[24.4 miles]

Discover the art of Peter Carl Faberge, creator of the Imperial Easter Eggs, in the museum dedicated to his craft.

Best for ages: 8+ | £5

Other worthwhile experiences near this experience if you have time or interest..

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Dostoevsky Museum

St. Petersburg , Northwestern Region, Russia[23.5 miles]

Dostoyevsky’s apartment/house museum, located in the Haymarket, is where much of ‘Crime and Punishment’ is set and offers fascinating insights into the writer’s life and work.

Best for ages: 18+ | £3

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Kuznechny Food Market

St. Petersburg , Northwestern Region, Russia[23.5 miles]

Kuznechny Market offers a chance to step off the sightseeing trail and visit the city’s largest farmers’ market, with fresh produce, meat and fish.

Best for ages: 13+ | Free

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Yusupov Mansion

St. Petersburg, Northwestern Region, Russia[24.2 miles]

Visit the elegant mansion of the wealthy and colorful Yussupov family, the notorious site of the grisly murder of Grigory Rasputin in 1916.

Best for ages: 18+ | £8

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Philharmonic Hall

St. Petersburg, Northwestern Region, Russia[24.6 miles]

Enjoy a night of Russia’s outstanding classical music at the elegant Philharmonic Hall, right in the center of the city.

Best for ages: 18+ | £30 | 2+ hours

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Round-ups that include this experience

101 World’s greatest historic buildings

Multiple countries

The great civilisations of the past have left a legacy of constructions that still stand out and inspire. Built without the wonders of 20th-century technology, many are also monumental feats of engineering; others offer such grace and beauty, that they’ll literally take your breath away.

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