Catherine Palace
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Catherine Palace: Tours & Tickets

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History of Catherine Palace

Though this former residence of Russian tsars has experienced architectural influences and succumbed to the plunders of a war in its 300-year history, this grande dame of palaces still exudes the opulence that reflects the golden era of Europe's royal houses.

What's in a name?

The tsars founded the town of Pushkin in 1710 as a royal residence known as Tsarskoye Selo, or "Tsar Village," which comprises the Catherine and Alexander Palaces and parks.

A labor of love

Peter the Great commissioned the initial palace in 1717 and named it after his wife, Catherine I. Yet, today's structure dates to 1756, thanks to their daughter, Empress Elizabeth.

Money's no object

The Empress spared no expense after razing the original palace to the ground, in order to build an austere summer residence. The exterior alone drips in 100 kilos worth of gold.

Out with the old and in with the new

When Catherine the Great ascended the throne in the 18th century, she found the Rococo style old-fashioned and had some rooms refurbished and parts expanded in Neoclasical style.

Amber Room

The Nazis removed the original 450 kilos of amber panels in 1941 and sent them to Königsburg, but the ultimate whereabouts of these remain a mystery.Today's room dates to 2003.

Our insider tips

Opening hours

During the peak summer season (June - August), the palace is open from Wednesday - Sunday from 12:00PM to 7:00PM; Monday from 12:00PM to 8:00PM; Closed Tuesdays.

Tickets

You can purchase tickets only at two park entrances from 10:00AM: at the Main Entrance and the Hermitage Kitchen, also known as the Red Gate. Tickets indicate the time you may enter the palace. Admission includes entry into Catherine Park and costs 520 rubles for adults, children under 18 are free. An audio guide costs 150 rubles. Tours in English are free for a group minimum of 15 people.

Advanced bookings

You will receive a voucher once you book your tickets in advance online. You need to present this voucher at the Church Gate entrance (May - September), in order to get the actual tickets. Don't forget to bring your photo ID and arrive no later than 10 minutes prior to your scheduled entry time.

How to get there

Take the suburban trains from either Vitebsy Railway Terminal or Kupchino Railway Station to "Tsarskoye Selo" (Pushkin) station. Then transfer to bus 371 or 382 or minbus taxi 377 to Catherine Palace and Park. From Moskovskaya metro station, take minibus taxi 342 or 545 to Catherine Palace Park. Bus 186 runs from Zvezdnaya and Kupchino metro stations to the palace.

Good to know

  • When should I visit?
    From June to August, the palace is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 12:00PM to 7:00PM; Monday from 12:00PM to 8:00PM.
  • Is it expensive?
    Adult tickets are 520 Ruble, which is just under $10.
  • Will I need a guide?
    It will definitely help. Might be worth it to check out these best-selling tours.
  • How to get there
    Check trains from your location, then buses 371, 382, 186, or minibus taxis 377, 342 or 545 to Catherine Palace/Park.
  • Additional information

    • Consult a map to plan your visit in advance.

    • Wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather.

What people are saying about Catherine Palace

Perfectly organized and interesting 2 days

This tour was perfectly organized and our tour guide Maria from JT Travel gave us so many information about St. Petersburg history. We can highly recommend this tour.

Great if you want to see a lot in a short time

This is a whistle stop tour of the main attractions at both palaces. Which suited me fine, Olga is a great guide and clearly knows what she is doing. You will see the key items but be warned you will be moving fast. If thats what you're after then this tour is for you. If you want a more sedate pace then you need something else.

St. Petersburg Imperial Residences Tour Reviewed by Richard, 08/26/2018

Excellent 2 day trip costing much less than the ship's excursion!

Nina was a fantastic guide and very knowledgable and passionate about the history and great art works of St Petersburg! We had the same 2 day excursion as the ship but we probably had a better guide!

Great 2 days in St Petersburg, Thanks to our guide Ksenia, and driver

we were apprehensive about our 2 days in St Petersburg, as we are in our 70s and worried incase we couldn`t keep up with the tour. Our guide took us everywhere at our pace, she made it very interesting as she really knows her history and her English is perfect. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience and amazed at how much we saw in 2 days

Yana was an excellent guide and very knowledgeable

We thoroughly enjoyed St Petersburg. It is an amazing city and you need two days to see all the magnificent palaces and museums. Our driver, Victor and the van for 14 passengers were perfect.

Things to do near Catherine Palace

Cover photo: Frank Prieto, CC BY 2.0