Majestic Peterhof Palace is one of St Petersburg's enduring masterpieces, a grand park and palace complex that exudes royal charm. A series of palaces and buildings fill a vast area in the St Petersburg suburb of Peterhof. Exploring the full complex requires an entire day, with walking paths dipping beneath oak trees on route to hidden gems. Started by Peter the Great and heavily embellished by Catherine the Great, it's amongst the largest royal estates in the world that's open to the public.
The most famous of the attractions, the Grand Palace and Peterhof Fountains provide the iconic introduction. Stunning staterooms are dominated with chandeliers and decorative marble, with their walls plastered with silky red velvet and adorned with golden painting frames. Following the fountains is an excellent way to explore the park, the interlinked waterways leading to the unmissable Grand Cascade. Monplaisir is the original palace building and has a restrained baroque charm. Marly Palace and Peterhof Hermitage are further examples of Peter the Great's unusual architectural taste. Nicholas I's Cottage Palace is another place to view the private rooms of a Russian tsar.
The Peterhof Palace complex is situated outside the city. A train from Baltiyskiy Station to Novy Peterhof takes 45 minutes. From here it's a 20-minute walk or a short bus ride to the entrance gate. Another option in summer is to take a hydrofoil boat from Marine Canal to Hermitage jetty.
Many of the palace buildings have an understated elegance and reflect the quieter tastes of the rulers. These private buildings are a sharp contrast to the ostentatious public chambers, which were lavishly decorated and used to entertain visiting royalty.