Peterhof is an absolute must see if you’re ever in town. Known as the ‘Russian Versailles’, it was deemed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. It makes for a perfect day trip and isn’t far, about 30 kilometres from St Petersburg. We went first to Baltiskiy Station then took a marshrutka directly to Peterhof which took around 45 minutes and cost 70 rubs ( + 45 rub metro fare).
The park consists of palaces and gardens commissioned by Peter the Great. Once you get there, you’re immediately taken by the vastness of it. The first thing you see is the garden, fountains and the main palace in the distance. The garden is impeccably kept with perfectly trimmed, square trees that look like something out of Minecraft. This is known as the upper park, which the leads up to the palace. The park consists of about a dozen attractions, to visit them all would be a whole day affair.
We took a guided tour of the Grand Palace, which was the former summer residence of the Tsars. The tour covers approximately thirty rooms covering styles of French, English, German to Oriental influence. The Elizabethan portion of the halls consists of wood carvings, painted ceilings and grand furniture pieces. You can just about imagine members of the family milling about their home. The Grand Palace was originally meant to be in Strelna but the environment was too boggy to build canals and fountains, so the project was moved to Peterhof.
The lower park is much larger with a record number of fantastic fountains and waterfalls, sourced from natural springs. The first thing you see coming down from the Palace is the Grand Cascade.
If you walk down that canal in the picture, you’ll wind up on the shores of the Baltic sea. There’s a beach where people were somehow swimming despite it being twelve degrees. There’s a ledge off the path that’s a popular place to sit and a deck where you can look out on the ocean, take in the view. If you want, you can even take a ferry back to St Petersburg though it was a bit pricey ($800 rubs).
Looking out on this view was the perfect way to end our day trip. I’d highly recommend paying Peterhof a visit, which happens to be one of many excursions organized by Liden & Denz. See here for scheduling. Hope you get the chance to visit!