The grand imperial estate of Tsarskoe Selo in the town of Pushkin, 25km south of St Petersburg, is often combined on a day trip with the palace and sprawling park at Pavlovsk, 4km further south. It’s a great combination, but start out early as there’s lots to see: Pushkin can easily be a full-day trip in itself.
The railway that connects Pushkin and Pavlovsk with St Petersburg was Russia’s first, opened in 1837 to carry the imperial family between here and the then capital. The town changed its name to Pushkin in 1937 after Russia’s favourite poet, who studied here and whose school and dacha you can also visit. While the palace and park complex's name has reverted to Tsarskoe Selo (The Tsar's Village), the town remains proudly named for the national bard.