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Hermitage - online ticket v. lines v. with guide

Oregon
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Hermitage - online ticket v. lines v. with guide

Hi,

Please clear up my confusion about the best way to expedite getting into the Hermitage. I've read to buy tickets online to avoid lines waiting to get in. Apparently tourists don't all buy beforehand? If everyone had purchased tickets beforehand, wouldn't there be lines for this group? I have also read that being with a guide gets you in front of the line. I mistakenly thought that at the Vatican musueum in Rome, and although with a guide, waited in a long line under a hot sun for 2 hours along with everyone else.

The Hermitage is so vast, I know it's not possible to see everything! The guidebooks I've been reading have detailed descriptions and maps of the various rooms. Is it sufficient to have this info(as well as check out the Hermitage's website before going to get a better idea of what there is and where to find it), or is it a good idea to have a guide? Accompanying friends believe that they will see "special" things not normally available or open if we're with a guide.

Thanks for your help!

Canberra, Australia
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1. Re: Hermitage - online ticket v. lines v. with guide

When we went there a year ago (Sept) there were surprisingly few doing this pre-purchase thing. We had pre-booked on-line before we left Australia. Got there about 9.30 I guess and the queue was about 40 metres long. With the on-line receipt you go to a different counter, but surprisingly they don't process you there. Instead, they escort you over to literally push in at the head of the queue at the ticket office (after the current transaction completes, though). You then basically trade your voucher for a normal ticket (you need to show ID).

We were surprised at this fairly crude and slightly embarrassing procedure. But it does avoid the queue. If you have a multi-day pass then this is the only time you have to do this.

As to guides, we got the audio guide and had the museum map and a fairly detailed Lonely Planet book description - and that was ample for us. But I suppose a good guide may be able to offer extra insights and colour - don't know abourt special access though. Yes, it is indeed vast but there are sections that may not interest you - and there is art of lesser quality too, like everywhere.

One tip is to try to avoid the crowds-with-guides, often from ships, as they swarm all over and in front of you as if they own the place, with guides talking loudly to reach everybody. Go off and see the less famous stuff first, then return later in the day when the swarms have disappeared.

Pasadena, California
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2. Re: Hermitage - online ticket v. lines v. with guide

The Hermitage provides brochures at the entrance, and has a website like any other major museum. So from that point of view, you will not need a guide. It is no harder to navigate than, say, the Met or the Louvre.

We were lucky and did not encounter long lines. However, the cruise/tour bus folks were in a separate, seemingly endless line. Don't get in that one!! Suppose it can't hurt to buy tix ahead and online, if you are sure what day you want to go.

The Scythian Gold collection (Treasure Room) requires a separate ticket and a docent-led tour. I bought the tickets for that in the morning for an early-afternoon, same day, English tour. Same ticket counter. It sells out so go early for those tickets, if interested.

I THINK that the Scythian Gold ticket also entitles you to visit the whole museum. Not sure if you can buy that special ticket online. IF you want to see that collection, and you have to buy that ticket in person anyway (which I do not know), then just do the whole thing when you get there.

I'd ask a "local expert' about this.

Wellington, New...
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3. Re: Hermitage - online ticket v. lines v. with guide

Hi

Definitely buy on-line. It may be slightly more expensive but when we went in July the queues stretched from the inside courtyard to right outside into the main square. Tour groups go in through a different door but there is still a queue (and you will be rushed through the Hermitage, instead of choosing your own pace). With an on -line voucher however you go to the tour guides office just inside the main entrance on the right (have your internet voucher clearly visible and you won't be chased away). The voucher is then exchanged for tickets. You should then head towards the head of the the queue (which will be waiting to enter the right hand door) and veer over to the left hand (exit) door. You can walk in here unhindered and show your tickets inside. We planned carefully what we wanted to see, using the Lonely Planet St Petersburg Guide (one of their best)and spent the whole day there. You need something like Lonely Planet because the free map does not identify which room holds what.

Russia
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4. Re: Hermitage - online ticket v. lines v. with guide

It also depends on WHEN you are coming to StPete. If it's in winter time - there is no need to buy any tickets in advance since there very few visitors. Just avoid school holidays - or you will walk into the line of shouting, jumping and running pupils :)

St. Petersburg...
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5. Re: Hermitage - online ticket v. lines v. with guide

It definitly depends on WHEN you come. If it is not high-season, you are free not to have pre-arranged ticket. If not, you are recommended to do that.

Both options are cheaper than to order special tour.

St. Petersburg
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6. Re: Hermitage - online ticket v. lines v. with guide

Also it is possible to buy so called "VIP ticket" to the Hermitage - a special program to collect donations from private individuals in support of bringing to the State Hermitage.

Buying a VIP ticket you receive a special invitation to visit the State Hermitage without staying in a queue on any date you choose (don't forget to check the museum’s schedule). This special offer also allows you to visit the “Hermitage 20|21” exhibition of recent and contemporary art.

You may receive your invitation at the Main Entrance to the State Hermitage and in St Petersburg hotels: Comfort Hotel, Grand Hotel Europe, Nevsky Forum Hotel and some other hotels.

Brazil
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7. Re: Hermitage - online ticket v. lines v. with guide

<As to guides, we got the audio guide >

where you gotta this audio guide??

thanks and Merry Christmas for all

St.Petersburg...
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8. Re: Hermitage - online ticket v. lines v. with guide

You can get an audio guide directly at the Hermitage, after passing ticket control turnstiles.

hong kong
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9. Re: Hermitage - online ticket v. lines v. with guide

We are going there in mid January 2010, would I need to buy tickets in advance? Many thanks!!

St.Petersburg...
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10. Re: Hermitage - online ticket v. lines v. with guide

Mid January is a low season and advance booking is not needed - but there might be lines on the weekend due to checkrooms' capacity. Try to come during weekdays (except Monday - it is a day off at the museum)