A day trip to Peterhof!
It’s a great idea to have a day trip to Peterhof. If you’ve met some locals in St. Petersburg, you’ll notice that they tend to flee the city on the weekends come summertime. And who can blame them! After a long week, it’s great to escape the crowds in the city center and get some fresh air. One of the most beautiful and most popular destinations for a day trip from St. Petersburg is Peterhof (Петергоф), once the summer palace and gardens of Peter the Great.
I visited Peterhof recently and have to say that it was a truly amazing day trip. It is located southwest of the city center on the sea, and you can get there either by bus or a (much more scenic) boat ride from the Hermitage embankment.
The Peterhof estate was built up over several generations of Russian aristocracy. Peter the Great created the original plans, and Monplaisir and Marly Palaces as well as parts of the Lower Park were built during his reign. Later, Catherine the Great had the first landscape garden created on the grounds. Nicholas I also had the gardens extended during his reign. The park was considerably damaged during World War II, but was restored over the following decades — you can view photographic evidence of this at a small exhibit within the park.
While you may have to wait in a rather daunting queue to enter the palace on a nice day, just walking around the extensive series of gardens is an experience in itself. A stroll around the parks and breathing in the fresh air of the gardens is known to have a restorative, refreshing effect on the visitor. The park area is so enormous that even with hundreds of people visiting the park at any one time, you’ll still be able to find peace and quiet among its paths.
The view of the Grand Palace and fountains from below is a truly incredible sight:
Another interesting feature is the Dragon Cascade in the Lower Park, a series of cascade terraces which look like chessboards adorned with dragon sculptures. There are plenty of fountains and sculptures throughout the park, all of which are spectacular! And if you get tired of walking, just take a break on the seaside with this spectacular view: