Day trip to Pushkin, or Tsarskoye Selo, is perhaps one of the most interesting day trips from Saint Petersburg, Russia that you can do on your own. This small town is known as a former summer residence of Russian Emperors. The highlight is a beautiful grand palace surrounded by stunning garden. Lately, the amber room has been recreated after being lost since WW2 and the palace has been attracting thousands of new visitors ever since.
How to take a Pushkin day trip from Saint Petersburg without guide
If you decide to make this trip on your own, you will need to know your way around this place a little. The advantage of organizes tours is the simplicity – you get picked up at your hotel, the guide is with you all the time and it’s impossible to get lost. How to do this on your own?
First thing you need to do is ride the metro all the way until Pushkinskaya metro station. Once you are outside the metro, turn left and walk towards the huge railway station (Vitebskiy Vokzal). Don’t worry, its impossible to miss this giant. The station is quite an attraction on its own. Now you need to pass security gates, walk past the ticket counters and turn left.
Walk all the way to the back of the station until you eventually reach the local station for small local trains. There is a separate ticket counter. One way ticket to Pushkin/Tsarskoe Selo cost 49 Rubles (0.70$). Incredible price, considering its at 40 minute journey!
Moving around Pushkin
Once you have arrived at Pushkin train station, you can either walk to the palace or take a local bus. Just make sure the bus is going to the palace (it should say „Екатерининский дворец“ on the windshield). You literally need to ride two stops, so walking may be a good option, too. Beware, that entering the park will cost you 150 Rubles. Tickets can be purchased outside the park gates.
When we went on a Pushkin day trip from Saint Peterburg this summer, we arrived way too late (around noon) and the line to the palace was huge! Some local ladies offered quick access for 1500 Rubles, but its unsafe to trust them. The way it works – they have someone standing in line from the morning and then make money by pushing people through the line to these people. I specifically asked a local guard and he advised not to trust them.
Visiting the palace is a must if you can make it outside the tourist season – best in late autumn, winter or early spring. Sadly, we weren’t able to enter ourselves due to huge lines. However, on our way back, I spoke with local bus driver and asked if its worth it. From what he said – you can basically pick any 1 of the palaces for a visit. They all look pretty much the same. Considering that, we chose to visit Hermitage (winter palace) and were fortunate enough to enter without almost any queues.
Famous amber room is just a reconstruction of what it once was. Installed in 2003, the new amber room is a copy made from blueprints and pictures. Sadly, the original amber room had disappeared (most probably stolen) during the WW2.
Catherine’s Palace is not the only memorable attraction of Tsarskoye Selo. The park around the palace is also worth a mention. In summer, it’s a true masterpiece and a great please to walk in. Russian Tsars and their numerous relatives enjoyed the rich life and surrounded themselves with all kinds of beauty. Important landmarks of the park include Cameron gallery, Marble bridge, Turkish baths and small Hermitage. The park is particularly beautiful in autumn (early October), when the fall is blooming with all the colors.
We made a full round around the lake and took time enjoying all this beauty. Although we really wished we could visit the palace as well, it was literally impossible to get inside due to huge masses of (mainly) Chinese tourists. Will have to come back in a different time.
Going back to Saint Petersburg
Getting back to the city has proven to be even easier. Once we left the premises, we spotted a local bus with a sign „Купчино“. This is a final stop of the metro and perhaps the fastest way to get back to the city. The bus ride cost us around 50 Rubles and 20 minutes later we were already at the metro station. You can use this method the other way around, too.
We didn’t stay in Pushkin for lunch, but rather opted for a quick bite in the city center. All in all, this was an interesting day outside the city. If it wasn’t for the crowds, I would really enjoy it. If you are visiting in summer, it’s probably better to go with a tour. This way you are at least guaranteed a visit to the palace.
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