Your Best Tips for Visiting the Hermitage

If you have more than a day in St Petersburg, Hermitage is a must-see, even if you are not an art geek. It is the second largest art museum in the world, and its collection is immense. The amazing part is that buildings are not less impressive than exhibitions. Built in 18th century, Winter Palace used to be an imperial residence. It has more than thousand rooms, many of them in different styles, and every piece is stunning. Ceilings, floors, stairs, columns, furnishing.. it is definitely something worth seeing.

Room at The Hermitage

I guess not everyone gets their furniture in IKEA

As one of the most popular tourist destinations in St Petersburg, Hermitage is often overcrowded and has long lines. Here are some tips about how to best arrange your trip and not get stressed while visiting the Hermitage.

1. Skip the line when visiting the Hermitage

Who likes standing in the queue to get into the museum? Not us. The line to get tickets to the Hermitage can get quite long. On the free-entrance-day our friend waited for more than 3 hours to get in; on normal days queues are still quite long. Here’s a surprise: you don’t have to stand there! This is how to get in faster:

  • Purchase your ticket online. Buy from the Russian website – I know it’s more complicated, but that’s the only way to get the real price. 1-day ticket costs 730 rubles (July 2019), but English websites will sell it to you for twice the price. Don’t be fooled! 730 rubles is what you should pay.

  • Use ticket machines. They are located in the yard of the Winter Palace and in the General Staff building. During our visit some ticket machines didn’t work, but hopefully they it is fixed by now. You can buy normal ticket there, but not the discount one.

  • Go to the General Staff building. P.S. OUR FAVOURITE TIP! This is the easiest thing to do. We didn’t wait a minute when we visited the Hermitage on a busy Saturday in July. Cross the Palace Square from Winter Palace to the General Staff building, which is also a part of the Hermitage Museum. Enter the second door from the left (east wing), and voila – you can buy your ticket here! Use same ticket to enter the Winter Palace and other parts of the Hermitage Museum on the same day. You can start your visit in the General Staff building, where I recommend to go no matter what. Besides temporary exhibitions, it displays French art, impressionism and post-impressionism. There, for example, you can find extensive collections of Picasso and Matisse. After you finished your stroll around the General Staff building, take the same ticket and head to the Winter Palace.

General Staff Building map, the Hermitage

This is the picture I took of a brochure that shows where to enter the Hermitage part of the General Staff Building

Once you have a ticket, you don’t have to go to the end of the line – that one is for people without tickets. You pass the queue and go straight ahead – welcome to the Hermitage!

2. Plan your visit

There’s lots to see in the Hermitage, and some exhibitions might be more interesting to you than others. Luckily, on the official website you can find maps, information about collections, and even download the museum map to your phone. Do take a look in advance and choose what you’d like to see, because all of it might not be possible. Yes, visiting the Hermitage is complicated!

Ceiling and chandeliers in the Hermitage

Never skip looking at the ceiling when in the Hermitage

3. Take several days and don’t spend there more than few hours at a time

As you plan your visit, consider splitting it to 2-3 days. It can be quite tiring and confusing to spend all day looking at art pieces. Therefore, we would suggest to take a few days, but to spend not more than 3-4 hours at the time.

Stairs in the General Staff building

Inside the General Staff building – something you need to include in your itinerary when visiting the Hermitage

4. Bring noise cancelling headphones

Winter Palace can be stuffed with people on a busy day. Therefore your experience might be very different from what you expected. Tour guides, big groups, school trips – it’s far from calm and peaceful experience you might have hoped for. If you are not planning to rent audio guide, bring your favourite music or your noise cancelling headphones and enjoy this visit your way.

Queue in front of the Hermitage, St Petersburg

Unfortunately, it’s only a tiny fracture of the line: it starts at the entrance in the yard from 2 different sides, goes all through the yard and only then to the Palace Square. Day of the free entrance!

5. Visit cafe in the General Staff building

Surprisingly, we had some very descent Russian food in that cafe and they have a nice selection of desserts as well. That would make a good stop between the two buildings and give you time to rest and  to replenish your energy. So, if you’re looking for some local food to try in Russia, you can combine your visit with new culinary experience!

Ceiling art in the Hermitage

Sorry, no pictures of food – wouldn’t want you to go and raid your fridge now.. instead, one more photo of the ceiling!

We hope you find time to visit the Hermitage and our tips would help you to enjoy the experience even more. Don’t forget to sign up for our email newsletter on the right and explore all the cool things to do in St Petersburg!

Resources:

The Hermitage English Webpage

Russian Website for Purchasing Tickets

St Petersburg The Hermitage

We are very happy that we decided to visit the Hermitage. And yes, I now officially possess photos of Anders in the art gallery!

Read about other Russian destinations:

16 Places to Visit in Yekaterinburg

Exploring Russia: What to do in Novosibirsk in 1 Day

Exploring Russia: Krasnoyarsk

Pinterest Image The Hermitage

Pinterest Image The Hermitage

33 Comments

    1. Oh, I can imagine. I’m from Estonia, so we need visa, but it’s not as difficult.. many people also went there this year during the championship. But I guess it’s still possible, if you really want to, so give it a try! 🙂

  1. I’d love to visit the Hermitage someday! These are all really helpful tips, especially the ones about how to skip the line and bringing noise-cancelling headphones. I always hate waiting in lines at museums so it’s good to know the tips for getting around that!

  2. Ive never been to St Petersburg, but the Hermitage looks amazing! I actually never though to bring noice cancelling headphone to places like that but its such a great idea! This one you can definitely enjoy more and feel the atmosphere ! What a beautiful photo

  3. What an excellent post. This is exactly the type of info we need – insider info! You are right that english websites do charge more AND they do not give all the insights your post does. I am subscribing too!

    1. Hahaa thank you Michelle! Really glad having you here. Let us know if you’re going to St Petersburg – we’ll be happy to give some more tips about it!

  4. What an excellent post: it covers everything one visitor should know! Tourist websites do charge wayyy more and the experience is much worse than doing things your way. That’s the case everywhere. Thank you for sharing 🙂

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Daniel! I myself love reading insider tips and tricks on how to not end up paying 5x the price or how to get somewhere faster and easier. Glad you liked it!

  5. This is a thorough guide to one of the world’s most important museums. We haven’t been there yet but it’s definitely on our list. Thanks for sharing!

    1. My pleasure! I really hope you get to go one day, not just because of its art collection, but also because of the history, designs and decors these buildings have.

  6. Very interesting and useful post! I have to admit I didn’t actually know about the Hermitage.
    The noise cancelling headphones are a great idea! That would definitely be useful for lots of other tourist-crowded places too.

    1. I’m happy to hear that there is some useful information 🙂 Yeah, headphones could be great! I just wish we came up with that before we went there haha)) Thanks for stopping by, Alex!

  7. Wow. The Hermitage is beautiful! So much to visit so little time! I hope that I’ll make it to visit here one day! Thanks for the insider tips! The noise cancelling headphone is definitely a super useful tip!

  8. That’s one grand museum there! Thanks for the tips, especially the noise-cancelling headphones, got me laughed for a little. Totally agree that it can be too noisy especially when the crowds came in.

    1. Haha, right? 😀 I’m more or less used to crowds, but they drive Anders nuts, especially in a place where you’re supposed to be silently enjoying something. Hence the idea! Thanks for your feedback, much appreciated 🙂

  9. I have never been to Russia but St Petersburg has always interested me! It is supposed to be beautiful and your pictures of the Hermitage really showcase it!

    1. That’s true, it is quite a special city. They call it a cultural capital of Russia and many people say that you move to Moscow because of work, but you move to St Petersburg because of love! 🙂 Thanks Claire!

  10. Thanks for sharing the tips! I visited Hermitage when I was a teenager, when I traveled to Russia to see my friend. We were lucky that she knew all the tips on how to get there but think it would be hard for someone who has never been there before and doesn’t speak the language if it wasn’t for the advice. Very impressive place!

    1. Thanks Anna!
      I’m glad to hear you enjoyed Hermitage. It’s true that sometimes having someone speak local language is much easier! 🙂 I remember, I was once in the Hermitage, as a kid, but it was loooong time ago, school excursion! I really don’t remember anything, and I guess I’m only able to truly appreciate it now. Thanks for your comment!

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