St Petersburg Day 2 – Catherine’s Palace, Peterhof Palace and Hydrofoil

Departing Peter and Paul Fortress, we settled into the bus for the almost 1 hour trip to Catherine’s Palace in Pushkin, a St Petersburg suburb. It was only about 20 miles, but took almost an hour. Yes, St Petersburg traffic is similar to any major city.

For me, one of the Alla Tours selling points was rather than lunch in a fancy restaurant, they provided a quality boxed lunch to eat on the bus. We had limited time, so I was happy enjoying lunch on the bus, rather than losing an hour sight-seeing while sitting in a restaurant.

This is the 4th and final post covering our 2 days in St Petersburg. Some may say they kept the extreme opulence and more than a little gold, to the end of the tour.

Arriving in Pushkin, traffic was crazy and our driver couldn’t get close to Catherine’s Palace, so he dropped us on Garden Street, about 3 blocks from the entrance. With timed entrance tickets, this resulted in a few hundred yards of power walking.

Catherine’s Palace entrance 

Originally built in 1717, by Peter the Great, for his wife Catherine, it was significantly upgraded to the current opulence and splendour by their daughter Empress Elizabeth. She specified a reconstruction to match the Palace of Versailles.

Catherine’s Palace is considered as the Imperial Family’s summer home.

Gold domes at the entrance

Catherine’s Palace declined during the Soviet era, this photograph depicts the remains before they commenced the restoration to its former glory


Before & after, our group walking along the front of Catherine’s Palace towards the main entrance

Main entrance looking down the driveway

The Palace was closed on our first day in St Petersburg, so the crowds on the day we visited were huge, with lots of large tour groups. Inside the Palace it was really busy, although the staff did try to manage the crowds by delaying entry. This resulted in about a 1 hour delay.

Enjoy a few photographs from inside the palace.

You exit to the rear of the palace, where you are free to walk the gardens at your leisure.

Catherine’s Palace rear from the gardens

Path from the palace through the gardens

Upper Bath House in the gardens

Upper pond with palace wing in background

At this point I exhausted the main camera battery, having taken so many photographs and the back up was also discharged, so I switched to Judi’s phone.

Once we walked through the gardens, our driver picked us up for the 40 minute drive to Peterhof Palace gardens. Normally the tours are dropped off at the upper gardens, but since we lost so much time at Catherine’s Palace the driver headed straight to the palace, dropping us right at the entrance.

Peterhof Palace entrance

On entering the grounds, we walked through the lower gardens towards the hydrofoil harbour. Peterhof Palace was created by Peter the Great and consists of a collection of palaces and gardens meant to replicate Versaiiles.

Peterhof Palace and gilded water garden

We had no time to visit inside the palace, but the gardens and water features were simply spectacular. Enjoy some of the photographs.

We walked along the canal leading from the palace to the hydrofoil harbour.

From palace looking out to sea and the hydrofoil harbour

The hydrofoil we took back to downtown St Petersburg

From hydrofoil looking back up the canal to the palace

Docking in downtown St Petersburg on the Neva River, close to the Winter Palace, it was a short trip on the bus back to the ship. After a quick wander through the terminal souvenir shops, we headed through immigration and returned to the ship just before departure from St Petersburg.

This completed an exceptional 2-day tour of St. Petersburg, which is a truly remarkable city, which I concur, is definitely the Venice of the North.

4 thoughts on “St Petersburg Day 2 – Catherine’s Palace, Peterhof Palace and Hydrofoil

  1. I consider Venice to be the St Petersburg of the south.

    Enjoying your blog immensely. You have the best travel website I’ve ever seen. So happy I checked your CC profile and found it.

    Searched out this blog specifically for your comments on the Columbus. Taking my first C&M cruise (on the Columbus) next May. To the Fjords!!!


    • Hi Elaine, welcome to our travel blog. Ha Ha, had to read your comment twice about Venice being the SPB of the south, had a good laugh. You may have guessed, but we thoroughly enjoyed SPB, could easily have spent a 3rd day.

      Our expectations of CMV were not great, but they were the only cruise line offering R/T from a London port to the Baltic during the time frame of our flights, so we booked with them. They had only purchased the Columbus a couple of months earlier from P&O Australia and it had just completed a dry-docking, so while an older ship (built late 1980’s) it was better maintained than we expected.

      Meals were reasonable. MDR is very cramped and their tea is ghastly. No individual pots – all served from a large thermos jug, which we found very surprising, as they focus on the UK market. Cabin were a reasonable size and comfortable.

      The primary reason that I didn’t discuss my issues with CMV is they most likely wouldn’t be apparent to most passengers, suffice to say it is almost as if their safety, security and bridge operations are stuck back in the 70’s & 80’s. Marine operations have change significantly over the years, but based on my observations aboard Columbus, they are firmly entrenched in a bygone era.

      Enjoy the Fjords, as this is another of cruising areas we still have to visit.


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