Looking for activities in Pushin, St. Petersburg? Scroll on down to find out about the top 10 things to do there!
If you have visited most of the attractions in St. Petersburg, such as Peterhof, you have to visit Pushkin, a gorgeous and grand suburban estate that is 24 km (15 miles) south of St. Petersburg. It is famous for Tsarkskoye Selo, also known as the Tsar’s Village, and the former residential grounds of the imperial family, founded by Peter the Great. Like Peterhof, Tsarskoye Selo is also recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
During the late spring and summer months, Tsarskoye Selo is super crowded, so if you want to avoid the crowds, try to visit between March and April. You can also visit this imperial residence in the winter. The palace and gardens look so magical in the snow, as if you are part of a Russian fairytale.
How to get there
There are two ways to get to Tsarskoye Selo.
The first one is to take a suburban train from Vitebsky Railway station to Pushkin. If you are taking the metro train, then you need to come out of the station, then go to the national railway terminal upstairs and buy a ticket from the counter. The journey time is between 25 to 30 minutes. When you reach Pushkin, take either bus 371 or 382; just make sure you tell the bus attendant, ‘Tsarskoye Selo.’
Another way is to take the mini-bus, or as the locals called it, the ‘marshrutka.’ From the Vitebsky railway station, take either bus K-371, K-377 or K-382. The most important thing to consider about taking the marshrutka is the traffic jam. If your schedule is tight, it is wiser to take the train than the marshutka early in the day. But if you want to save money, the marshrutka is the best option.
Address: Garden St, 7, Pushkin, Sankt-Peterburg, Russia, 196601
Website: Travel options to Pushkin
Designed in Rococo style, Catherine Palace was named after Empress Catherine I, of Russia, and was the summer residence of all the Tsars (Emperors of Russia) and their families. You will notice that the exterior resembles the Winter Palace at St. Petersburg. In fact, both palaces were designed by the same Italian architect, Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli. The exterior was refined with gold panels and the accents of azure and white. Inside the palace, some rooms are embroidered in ornate detail, with marble, gold and neoclassical artworks.
Prior to visiting Catherine Palace, you can book a guided tour in English, from Viator. On the tour, you will gain a deeper historical insight into how this palace was built and the importance of each of the rooms. You will also see the infamous Amber Room, which is embellished with 6,000 kg (13,227.7 pounds) of pure amber. The room is actually a replica, though. The original Amber Room actually disappeared, during the Second World War. Legend says that the German army stole all of the amber that decorated the room. Until this day, no one knows where the original pieces are.
You may buy a separate entry ticket to go inside Catherine Palace on your own, but I definitely recommend this tour, as you will have a guide, who is super friendly and insightful, and you will be able to better appreciate your educational and exciting visit.
Tour of Pushkin (Tsarskoye Selo) and Catherine Palace
Price: from 87.22 USD
Duration: 4 hours for the Pushkin tour or 5 hours for the tour of Pushkin and Pavlovsk.
2. Stroll around Catherine Park
Surrounding Catherine Palace, is its park, comprised of an English garden and a formal garden, both separated and landscaped by Dutch greenskeepers. You will see that the formal garden has symmetrical features and marble Greek statues, and has been well-kept. The English garden is slightly larger than the formal garden, and it features the Great Pond, boathouses and the Chesma Column, which commemorates Russia’s victory over the Turks, at Chesma Bay, in 1770. If you are visiting the park during off-peak periods, you will definitely enjoy this stroll in tranquillity.
Address: Pushkin, Tsarskoye Selo, Sadovaya ul., 7
Website: Catherine Park
3. Get a glimpse of the Hermitage Pavilion
The architecture of this building resembles Catherine Palace, except it is much smaller and was designed to be more exclusive than the palace. The Tsars held their private formal parties and diplomatic dinners at the Hermitage Pavilion and, similar to Catherine Palace, all of its original ornaments and settings have disappeared - everything you see inside the pavilion has been restored or is a replica of the original. Today, it is an iconic symbol of the everyday life of the Russian emperors and empresses.
Address: Ekaterininskiy Park, Pushkin, St. Petersburg, Russia
4. Visit the Mosque & Turkish Bath Pavilion
The Bath Pavilion was a symbol of the everyday life of the royal family, and you shouldn’t miss checking it out. It’s situated at the south end of Catherine Park, along the Great Pond and was established as a memorial to those who fought during the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-29. The architect decided to incorporate similar features of a Turkish mosque, using mosaic art and white marble details.
Mosque & Turkish Bath Pavilion
Address: Parkovaya ul., 40, Pushkin, Sankt-Peterburg, Russia, 196603
Website: Bath Pavilion
5. Stop by the Kagul Obelisk
The surrounding garden around Kagul Obelisk is a gorgeous area to relax and sunbathe (if it’s sunny, of course)! This monument, made of marble, in dark grey and red, was erected to commemorate Russia’s victory in the Battle of Kagul, during the Russo-Turkish War.
Address: Garden St, 5, Pushkin, Leningrad Oblast, Russia, 196601
Website: Kagul Obelisk
6. Cross the Marble Bridge
Also known as the Palladian Bridge, the Marble Bridge is a great viewing platform, as, from here, you can see and take photos of the Turkish Bath Pavilion and the Great Pond. You may be lucky to see swans from the bridge, as there is a man-made archipelago of seven islands, on which swans live.
The Marble Bridge
Address: Marble Bridge, Podkaprizovaya dor., Pushkin, Sankt-Peterburg, Russia, 196603
Website: Marble Bridge
7. See the Cameron Gallery
Catherine the Great commissioned the establishment of the Cameron Gallery, which was designed to be a site for philosophical thought and conversation, with her guests. Today, the building offers the most stunning views of Tsarskoye Selo and is famous for its beautiful, classical Greek aesthetics.
Website: Cameron Gallery
8. Cross over the Chinese Bridges
The Tsars appeared to have a fetish for the art of the Orient. Apart from the Turkish Bath Pavilion, you will also notice bridges, which incorporate Chinese artistic detail. The fascination with Chinese art is significant for Russia, as it symbolises the great trading relationship between the two nations, and the sentiment of Russia looking towards the East, as a compatriot.
Address: Pushkin, ul. Dvortsovaya, 2А
Website: Chinese Bridges
9. Enjoy a calming stroll around Alexander Park
After crossing the Chinese bridges, you will find yourself in Alexander Park. It is built in two areas, with one called the ‘New Garden’ and the other, known as 'Landscape Park.’ In the New Garden, you will see a Chinese-style village, which is comprised of an octagonal pagoda-observatory and 10 single-story cottages. The buildings in this village served as guest apartments for the imperial family’s invitees. The Landscape Park served as hunting grounds, and even today has a quiet and relaxing atmosphere.
Address: Pushkin, Tsarskoye Selo, Sadovaya ul., 7
Website: Alexander Park
10. Visit Alexander Palace
A favourite residence of Tsar Nicholas II, the last emperor of the imperial dynasty, Alexander Palace is a stone’s throw away from Catherine Palace. Since the Revolution of 1905, the Romanov family used this place as their permanent residence. It was a sanctuary for them, and when Nicholas II abdicated the throne in March 1917, the Romanovs were placed under house arrest, away from the discontented Russian society. Although it is currently undergoing renovation, you should visit this historic site to gain a perspective of how the Romanovs spent their last days in this isolated area.
Address: Dvortsovaya ul., 2, Pushkin, Sankt-Peterburg, Russia, 196601
Website: Alexander Palace
See this secluded, but glorious gem for yourself
If you compare this magnificent area to Peterhof, in terms of tourist destinations, Pushkin is actually underrated. So you should make a point of visiting Pushkin, during your time in St. Petersburg. This historic site is best suited to those who want to learn more about Russian imperial history. Tsarskoye Selo is one of the remaining sites that shows the legacy of the Russian royal dynasty, and while most of the buildings are restored, the place is a fine jewel.