If you don’t like crowds Peterhof on a pretty summer weekend is a generally a bad idea. The early 18th century palace and gardens, originally commissioned by Peter the Great, was mostly destroyed by the Russians during WWII to prevent Hitler from using the palace for a victory celebration. The palace and grounds have since been restored to their former glory.
As one of St. Petersburg’s top destinations the palace and gardens are overflowing with tourists in the summer season, especially on a sunny Saturday. Although I plan to return to the palace in October I wanted to see the gardens when the beds were in bloom. My plan was to arrive early and only stay long enough to see the fountains in operation. Although the lower park, where the fountains are located, opens at 10 or even earlier (I was let in at 9:30), the main attraction, the Cascading Fountain, isn’t operational until 11am. At this hour the place is packed with cruise ship groups waiting for the magical moment.
Besides the Cascading Fountain there are a number of fountains and gardens on the property connected by verdant forested walkways. It’s lovely on a nice day and pleasant with manageable crowds just after opening. While the garden grounds do have some nice flower plantings, this is mostly a forest type garden and lacks the impressive plantings that you find in other in other European gardens.
The Cascading Fountain, however, is worth the visit even with the packed crowds. After the opening ceremony the crowds thin out somewhat, enough that you can take photos and marvel at the golden statues glistening in the sun surrounded by columns of water.
Getting to the Palace: I took the metro to Avtovo and then bus 200 (Bus 210 and Minibuses 224, 300, 424 supposedly also go there) to the upper garden park. Just be sure to catch the bus on the opposite side of the street from the metro station. From the city center it took me about an hour and half to reach the gardens. I then took the hydrofoil, Peterhof Express (850 rubles), back to the city center. Boats leave from the dock below the fountains.
For more detailed information on Peterhof see https://russiau.com/peterhof-palaces-gardens/
August 10, 2019
For links to all the posts in this series see the St Petersburg page.
For more posts on travel in Russia see the Russia page.