The Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg is one of the largest museums in the world: nearly 3 million works are exhibited there! But it is also the TOP places to visit in St Petersburg, before Petergof Palace and Catherine Palace. In this post, I will give key information about the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg: its history and works not to be missed, as well as skip-the-line tickets and the best days to visit the museum.
Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg: between history and art
History. It was through Catherine II that the Hermitage Museum was founded. It was she who then decided in 1764 to house the various art collections that she bought from all over Europe. However, before this date, the place was first the winter residence of the Russian tsars: the Winter Palace. Indeed, it is the oldest building. Built by the Italian architect Rastrelli in 1754, the baroque style of the Winter Palace has an architectural style that is often encountered in Saint Petersburg.
Some key figures
- Almost 250,000 m² of surface area, including 66,000 m² dedicated to the exhibition of works
- Over 700,000 archaeological objects
- 17,000 paintings and nearly 13,000 sculptures
- Over 1 million numismatic works (currency, medals)
What to see in the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg?
You can find everything there: paintings from France, Italy, Flanders. Works from Egypt, Ancient Greece, Japan or the Orient! As with the Louvre Museum, it would take several days to see all of the museum’s collections (according to some calculations, more than 8 years!)!
For example, The Virgin and Child by Fra Angelico, Madonna Litta by Leonardo da Vinci, The Lamentation of Christ by Veronese, The Lute Player of Caravaggio, Fields of Poppies by Monnet, The Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt, The Market Snyders fish.
The site of the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg is pretty well done. You can then see all the collections on this link.
The most remarkable halls
Here are the most remarkable halls (in my opinion, and even if everything is very beautiful):
- The Jordan staircase
- The Pavilion room
- Raphael’s lodges
- The Italian hall (small italian skylight room)
- The War 1812 gallery
Visiting the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg: practical information
All the tips you need to know!
How to get there to the Hermitage Museum?
The State Hermitage Museum is located in the heart of the historic center of Saint Petersburg. On one side, one of the two main facades of the museum looks at the Neva and the Peter and Paul Fortress, while the other is open on the Place du Palais. In addition, Nevski Avenue, the city’s main artery, leads there. So there is no doubt, you will find the museum easily.
Opening hours of the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg
Here are the opening hours of the Hermitage Museum:
- Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday: open from 10:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
- Wednesday, Friday: 10:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
- Closed on Monday, as well as on January 1 and May 9.
- More details on the Museum’s official website
Days to avoid and when is the best time to visit?
In high season, from May to September. Tuesday is the day with the most visitors, especially groups, because it is the day after the closing day (Monday). In addition, on Tuesday, the Russian Museum and the Catherine Palace are closed. We will see later in the article how to avoid waiting.
The best days for the visit: Thursday or Wednesday afternoon. Overall, the number of visitors drops after 4 p.m. Indeed, groups who are in Saint Petersburg on an organized trip come to visit the museum rather in the morning or, at least, during the day.
Good to know! Entrance to the Hermitage Museum is free every 3rd Thursday of the month and December 7. But beware: there are really a lot of people. If you want to visit the museum more serenely and without waiting, we do not recommend choosing these days.
How much does the Hermitage Museum entry ticket cost?
- 800 rubles for the main part of the Museum, as well as for the other annexes which depend on it: the General Staff building, at the Winter Palace of Peter I, Menshikov Palace and Museum of the Imperial Porcelain Factory ( it was 700 rubles before February 2020).
- Free every 3rd Thursday of the month and December 7 (museum founding day).
- Free for students, whatever the nationality (proof to be presented: international student card) and those under 18 (proof to be presented) through the museum cash desks, once on site only.
- Senior rates are only valid for Russian citizens.
- More details on the Museum’s official website
Good to know! There are some pickpockets inside the Hermitage. The more people there are, the more the pickpockets benefit, and places like the Hermitage are perfect for them. Pay attention to your personal belongings during the visit.
Where to buy the Hermitage Museum tickets and skip-the-line tickets in Saint Petersburg or in advance?
There are 5 possible ways to enter the Hermitage Museum, in order from cheapest to most expensive:
- At the museum cash desks
- Automatic machines
- On the Hermitage museum site (in advance)
- By booking a guided tour in English (in advance)
Based on our experience. If you come across holidays, free visit days or Russian school holidays, then the wait can be very long. In our experience, to avoid waiting, you must: either make a visit with a private guide, or buy tickets at the automatic kiosks on site, or buy tickets in advance on the website. In summary: avoid the boxes. It’s a bit the same for Catherine Palace.
Now let’s see the pros and cons of each of these solutions!
Buy the Hermitage Museum tickets at ticket offices
The boxes close 1 hour before the museum’s closing hours.
- The pros of this solution: taking advantage of the entry will be free for students or those under 18, in the presence of supporting documents.
- The cons of this solution: waiting times which can be longer than an hour. Besides, you have to wait outside.
Skip-the-line tickets to the Hermitage Museum at automatic machines
Also in the same inner courtyard, when you return to your left, you will find automatic machines (in English and Russian) where you can buy entry tickets. Once the tickets in hand, go directly to the entrance, passing the queue.
- The + of this solution: There is much less waiting at the automatic terminals than at the museum cash desks. We save time!
- The – of this solution: You can not benefit from free entries (students, under 18) for which it will be necessary to queue at the cash desks.
Visiting the Hermitage Museum with a English-speaking guide [in advance]
- The + of this solution: No waiting; Accompaniment by a French-speaking guide who will share with you his knowledge of the Hermitage Museum and Saint Petersburg. In a mini-group, the price is lower than the price for a private visit.
- The – of this solution: More expensive than a ticket without a guide.
For example, here is a 3-hour guided tour in the Hermitage in English (about 35$/person).
Buy the skip-the-line tickets on the Hermitage Museum official website [in advance]
You can get skip-the-line tickets directly on the museum’s official website and therefore in advance.
- The + of this solution: Little waiting compared to the cash registers. In general, the waiting time between the skip-the-line purchased online and tickets purchased on-site via the automatic kiosks is almost equivalent.
- The – of this solution: On the other hand, as for the automatic machines, you cannot profit from free entries (students, less than 18 years). Of course, you can indicate the number of beneficiaries, but you will still have to wait to collect the free ticket at the entrance. Unlike tickets bought on site, the skip-the-line ticket bought on the site does not give access to other buildings mentioned above which belong to the Hermitage (Winter Palace of Peter I, Menshikov Palace and Museum of imperial porcelain factory). It is only valid for the essential: the Hermitage museum itself including the winter palace, but also the staff building.
Good to know! On the Russian version of the site, the skip-the-line ticket purchased online costs less. In addition, entry with tickets purchased online is not through the museum’s inner courtyard. Below is the map showing where the entrance with the e-tickets is located.
Hope you found all this information useful for your visit to the State Hermitage Museum! Read also this blog post to discover what to see and to visit in St Petersburg: TOP things to do in St Petersburg.
In any case, during the summer months, do not hesitate to get away from places that are too touristy: take walks along the canals and go through other less well-known routes.