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Welcome to St Petersburg Essential Guide - Your Best Travel Guide to Russia

A Fascinating glimpse
into an opulent past period!

Tsarskoye Selo or Pushkin? Both names still apply to one of St. Petersburg's most famous imperial residences.

Just south of Saint Petersburg in the town of Pushkin, lies the popular Tsarskoye Selo, home to The Catherine Palace and Alexander Palace, the Imperial summer residences of the tzars and today a UNESCO heritage site.

Both royal palaces are surrounded by their respective parks which host thoughtfully manicured grounds, natural landscapes, stately pavilions, elegant bath houses, monuments, sculptures, historical exhibits and ruins from Russia's tumultuous past, all of which are now memorialized as the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum-Preserve.

Certainly at the center of the splendor is Catherine Palace. The building is a Baroque masterpiece gifted by Peter the Great to his wife, Catherine in 1708. Tours of the Catherine Palace offer spectacular exhibits, such as the mysterious Amber Room, the Golden Enfilade of staterooms and The Great Hall, where regal dinners and masquerade balls were held. Off the east wing is The Cameron Gallery, an exquisite colonnade designed for strolling, conversing and enjoying the sweeping views of the lush grounds below.

In addition to that there is also the outstanding Catherine Park's English and French and Italian-inspired gardens, known as one of Russia's most cherished attractions, which any visitor should plan a stroll after visiting the main palace. Lastly, there is the less known and less crowded Alexander Palace, which is the second royal residence on the grounds of Tsarskoye Selo, and a very interesting place to see, if you have time.

Visitors say they come to explore Tsarskoye Selo multiple times because the more time you spend wandering, the more wonders you'll see. So if you plan a trip to St Petersburg Russia don't miss it.

a look inside tsarskoye selo

Interested to visit Tsarskoye Selo? If so, click on the links below or scroll down the page to learn more.

the catherine palace

The Catherine Palace was the summer residence of the tsars of Russia and their families. It is a simply-shaped block 300 metres long that is striking for the rich relief work of the walls, making the building resemble some gigantic pipe organ.

Any visit to the palace starts from the Main Staircase and walk though the so called Golden Enfilade.

Once inside you can walk through the following rooms: The Great Hall, The State Study of Alexander I, The Amber Room, The Green Dining Room, The Blue Drawing Room, The White State Dining Room, The Portrait Hall, The Lyons Hall, The Chevalier Dining Room, The Chinese Drawing Room of Alexander I, The Crimson and Green Pilaster Rooms, and many others.

Among them the most impressive rooms are listed below with no particular order:

  • The Amber Room - Famous for its floor-to-ceiling amber panels embellished in golf leaf that were stolen during World War II by Nazi Germany. Their whereabouts remain a mystery, but Russian craftsman recreated an exquisite replica.
  • The Great Hall - A gallery lined with windows that illuminate the gilded interior with light. Also known as the Hall of Light. Used for masquerade balls and receptions.
  • The Cameron Gallery - The Cameron Gallery is an elegant colonnade off the east wing of the palace designed for conversing while strolling and enjoying the sweeping views of the lavish grounds and Great Pond. It was designed for Catherine by Scottish architect and Charles Cameron.  

THE catherine park

The Catherine Park is the most charming place to take a stroll with your family and kids.

The complex park made of beautiful decorative gardens and trees were created during the reign of Catherine I and II and built by different European architects. The gardens of the park are filled with quirky monuments, tricky fountains, and a set of different flowers together with Neo-Classical small and large buildings.

The complex park can be split into two main parts: the Olden Garden and the English Park.

The first one is a regular park featuring the following attractions: The Upper Bathhouses, The Lower Bathhouses, The Park Sculpture, The Hermitage, The Hermitage Kitchen, The Morea Column, The Grotto, The To My Dear Comrade in Arms Gate.

The second one is a landscape park featuring the following attractions: The Admirality, The Hall on the Island, The Chesme Column, The Marble Bridge, The Turkish Bath, The Pyramid,
The Gothic Gate, The Tower Ruin, The Red Cascade, The Orlov (Gatchina) Gate, The Granite Terrace, The Girl With a Pitcher Fountain, The Concert Hall, The Kitchen Ruin, The Creaking Summer House, The Evening Hall, The Monument to Alexander Lanskoi, The Kagul Obelisk
Catherine's Private Garden.


the alexander palace

The Alexander Palace was begun in 1792 and intended by Catherine II for her beloved Alexander, on the occasion of his marriage to the daughter of the Margrave of Baden. The construction of the building was designed by Giacomo Quarenghi and completed in May 1796.

The palace is known for having been the place where the last tsars spent their final days before they were arrested by the Bolsheviks and the literary school museum where the poet Alexander Pushkin studied. Today it's currently undergoing restoration and a reopening date has not yet been announced.

the alexander park

The Alexander Park is equally admired for its historical significance, with the Chinese Village and St. Fyodor's Imperial Cathedral gracing its wilder, more natural setting. Nicholas II, who was born at Tsarskoye Selo, gave the palace and the park the status of an official imperial residence. Today the park is divided between the New Garden, and the Landscape Park.

The first one hosts the following attractions: The Large Chinese Bridge, The Krestovy Bridge, The Mushroom Flowerbed, Mount Parnassus, The Dragon Bridge, The Chinese Theater, The Small Chinese Bridges, The Chinese Village.

The second one hosts the following attractions: The Arsenal, The Chapelle, The Children's House, The Imperial Farm, The Pensioner's Stable, The Horses's Cemetery, The Llama Pavilion, The Elephant Gate, The White Tower, The Martial Chamber.

interesting facts

You should know that the creation of the Tsarskoye Selo ensemble in the town of Pushkin, meaning “Royal Village”, is associated with three empresses: Catherine I, Elizabeth and Catherine II. Originally built to be a country home, it wasn't until years later that Empress Elizabeth hired Italian architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli to expand it into the palace of opulent grandeur we see today.

History tell us that in the early 19th Century, these palatial estates were known as The Tzar's Village, but in 1937, the name was changed to honor Russia's highly-esteemed poet, Alexander Pushkin, who once resided there.


how to get there

Tsarskoye Selo is 30 kilometers south of St. Petersburg, about 45 minutes drive.

To get there you can take the train and the bus, or go by car. From St. Petersburg's Vitebsk Station, take a train to Detskoe Selo Station, from there you can walk to Catherine's Palace (20min), or you can take the bus  N. 371 or N. 382, which will take you directly to the park gates.

Otherwise, you can also go to Moskovskaya metro station which is not to be confused with Moskovskaya railway station. After exiting the metro station look for the big statue of Lenin on the big square, and look for the Mashrutkis N. 342 or N. 545, both go to Pushkin.

Alexander Palace is around 10 minute walk from the Catherine Palace along Dvortsovaya avenue. Alternatively, you can rent a car with a driver and travel faster, safer, and stress free.

where to buy tickets

You can buy tickets at the ticket office located outside of the main entrance, or much better, through the official online website.

In the event you hire a tour guide or you are part of an organized tour group, tickets will be provided to you by those who organize the tour. The same works for visiting Alexander Palace and the Park. Please remember, if you buy tickets online you have to change them at a small booth upon your arrival in Tsarskoye Selo.

practical information


Open: May and Sep: Wed to Sun 12:00 - 17:00. Jun - Aug: Wed to Sun 12:00 - 19:00; Mondays: 12:00 - 20:00. Closed: Tuesdays. October through late April entry hours: 10:00 - 17:00 Wednesday to Sunday, 10:00 - 20:00 on working Mondays. Closed on Tuesdays and the last Monday of each month.

Entry hours for individual visitors during national and school holidays: 12:00 - 17:00 (12:00 - 20:00 on Mondays). All other times are reserved for organized groups.

Palace tickets include Catherine Park entrance fee and are available from 10:00 only at two entrances to Catherine Park (Main Entrance near Lyceum and Hermitage Kitchen). Daily quantity of tickets is limited.

Admission: 13:00 - 16:00: Adults - Rubles 720; Students (with ID), Schoolchildren above 16 - Rubles 360; Visitors under 16 - free. 12:00 - 12:40 and 16:20 - 18:40 (Mondays 16:20 - 19:40). Adults - Rubles 520; Students (with ID), Schoolchildren above 16 - Rubles 260; Visitors under 16 - free. Audio-guide (English, French, German, Chinese): Rubles 150.00.

Individual Guided Tour - Rubles 5,000: admission includes park fee, escort to palace via VIP Room, guided tour in English.


Open: Daily, 7:00 - 23:00 (May 1 through Jul 31), 7:00 - 22:00 (Aug 1-30), 7:00 - 21:00 (Sep 1 through Apr 30).

Admission: Adults - Rubles 120, Students (with ID), Schoolchildren above 16 - Rubles 60, Visitors under 16 - free (Ticketed admission 10:00 - 19:00 from April 27 through October 20. Keep your park ticket - you will need it at Catherine Palace's ticket offices!). Park fee currently includes admission to: Grotto, Maids of Honour Garden, Hanging Garden.

Photo and video are included, and both Catherine Palace and the Park complex are wheelchair accessible.


Since 1 September 2015, the Alexander Palace has been closed for restoration and is no longer open to the public. The date of re-opening for the palace has not yet been announced.

Open: Daily, 9 am to 11 pm. Small gates near Alexander Palace and Lyceum open 24/7

Admission: Free

Photo and video: Free

Accessibility note: The Alexander Park is wheelchair accessible

Website: http://eng.tzar.ru/ or http://eng.tzar.ru/info/price

*For more information please visit the official website.


tips & recommendations

Our Tips

No visit to the city of Saint Petersburg would be complete without a visit to Tsarskoye Selo. Regardless of the time of year, sightseeing opportunities abound. From the magnificent Catherine Park to the Palaces, there is a lot to do and see for everyone, included your kids.

  • Visitors are advised that lines and wait times may be long during the tourist high-season in the summer. Arrive early or be prepared to join long queues, especially for the Catherine Palace. Or make it truly relaxing and set the whole day aside!
  • If you plan to tour on your own we recommend buying tickets online from the official museum website. This will save you a lot of time from queuing.
  • The palace is best accessed with a guided tour because of the long queues in summertime, so if you are an independent traveler be aware of it and plan things in advance. On the contrary Winter time is more quiet!
  • You should know that you are not allowed to take pictures in the amber room but you may in the rest of the palace.
  • Remember you cannot visit Catherine Palace before NOON unless you are with a tour group.
  • Transportation to the palace and park in Tsarskoye Selo may be enough of a hassle to make independent touring impractical, but it can be done, if you arm yourself with time, patience and a little knowledge of Russian.
  • Please pay attention that if you buy tickets online from third parties agency such as Tripadvisor, Getyourguide, Viator, or similar platforms your tickets do not work as they have to be exchanged at the cash desk for the usual ticket.
  • Take note that most museum tickets offices close one hour before the official closing time. Also remember most museums ask you to buy an extra photography ticket if you would like to take photos or videos.


Our picking list of hotels in the town of Pushkin (Tsarskoye Selo)

must-have travel resources

Our picking list of essentials travel resources for your trip to Russia


Book a guided city tour with one of our professional tour guides, and get the most out of your visit to Saint Petersburg, and beyond.



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