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Peterhof or Petrodvorets is the site of the summer palace of Peter the Great. Renowned for its spectacular waterfalls, the palace is also magnificant, having been heavily restored after the damage done during the war. Entry to the park is available throughout the day, but foreign tourists can only buy tickets for the palace from 11-00 to 12-00 and from 2-30. At other times, entry is for Russians only. You can get there by private tour where the guide can get you in at any time but expect to pay 3000 rubles each for a five hour outing. Alternatively you can get a coach outing for three hours from Gostinyy Dvor for about 1800 rubles, most leaving between lunch and 2-00pm. Only one of the companies does such tours in English and those not every day. You can get a train from Baltic Station to Novyy Petergof and then a bus to the park - it is quite easy. During the summer, hydrofoils run every hour or so from the piers opposite the Hermitage across the Gulf of Finland direct to a jetty in the Peterhof grounds. These cost 500 rubles for a single journey.
Tsarskoe Selo is the site of St Catherines Palace with its associated park and the later Alexander Park. The palace is magnificent and is renowned for its baroque interiors and the 'amber room'. It is best to use a private tour guide who wil take you there and escort you around in a five hour tour costing about 3000 rubles or you can take a coach outing for three hours from Gostinyy Dvor for about 1800 rubles, most leaving between lunch and 2-00pm. Only one of the companies does such tours in english and those not every day. You can get a train from Vitebsk Station to Detskoe Selo and then get a bus, but beware that tickets for the palace cannot be purchased in advance and are only available to individual visitors (without guides or tours) after 4pm and the palace closes at 5pm! If there are few tour groups, however, you might get tickets earlier. For private transport, the best route is arguably the metro to Moskovskaya then a 287 bus or any of the minibuses labelled 'PARKS AND PALACES' or going to Pushkin that will drop you at the gates.