Best of Russia
Arrive St. Petersburg
Welcome to Russia! If you’ve got time today then head out to explore before meeting your other travellers & Tour Manager tonight to let the good times start! Get ready for arrival at the imperial city of St. Petersburg, sitting right at the crossroads of Europe and Russia. Built by Italians, dreamt up by Peter the Great, St. Petersburg has been the home town to many original thinkers. With its fantastic cultural heritage, Venice-like canals, wide avenues and phenomenal buildings, this grand city will give you goose bumps. This evening, meet up with your fellow travellers and Tour Manager & get to know each other over dinner.
Get a feel for the city’s UNESCO World Heritage centre and a look into Peter the Great’s imagination as our Local Guide uncovers many of St. Petersburg’s best-known sites. You’ll see the Admiralty and the stunning Church on the Spilled Blood, where Alexander II was killed Make a visit to Petrodvorets, Peter the Great’s summer palace. This place is breathtaking! Explore the spectacularly manicured grounds, cottages, fountains and palace. Choose to visit St. Peter and St. Paul Fortress in our fascinating optional, where the remains of many Tsars are held. The group takes a once in a lifetime opportunity to visit one of the world’s top art collections at the Hermitage gallery. The Hermitage itself is a gorgeous palace and was once home to Tsar Royalty. It makes a scene-stealing backdrop for the priceless works inside, which are the remains of Catherine the Great’s personal collection. There’s free time to walk along St. Petersburg’s main street, Nevsky Prospekt. There’s a bit of everything along this street: palaces, lavish shops, museums, churches and buildings from many different eras. Take off down Nevsky Prospekt for a slice of glitzy new Russia and see how the country is shaking off its past with style. Take advantage of an optional cruise on the Neva River and get another angle on the city from the water. There’s also a chance to get up close to St. Petersburg’s traditional art and romance in an evening excursion to the Russian ballet, where world-class dancers perform classics such as Swan Lake and The Nutcracker. Otherwise liven things up with your new friends and head to a bar or club to try out Russia’s national drink, vodka.
St. Petersburg to Novgorod
There’s a definite change of pace as we enter the peaceful, shady streets of Novgorod, an ancient fortress city. Filled with old churches and a Kremlin of its own, this lovely town once suffered terribly at both the hands of Ivan the Terrible and, more recently, the Nazis. Head into central Novgorod with the group and get an insider’s look into the old town, where Russian history is captured in a nutshell - or actually in a bell! The landmark Millennium Bell is a 300 tonne sculpture covered in 127 figures – all of them key players in Russia’s history which our Novgorod Local Guide brings to life with stories.
Novgorod to Moscow
En route to Moscow we make a stop in Klin, the former home of famous Russian composer Tchaikovsky, and see where the creator of Swan Lake and The Nutcracker worked. Later today, we arrive in Moscow, Russia’s economic powerhouse, political point of power and cultural core. As the country’s historical heart, this massive metropolis mixes up extravagance from the time of Tsar Royalty, relics from the Cold War and a new, progressive Russia. Moscow is a popular destination for travellers, its rich historical past makes it the perfect place to explore & get a serious learning fix on days gone by.
With two full days, there’s plenty of time to uncover Moscow. Chalk up a truly local experience with a ride on one of the planet’s busiest subway systems. The Metro is packed with art that was installed under Stalin, meaning that Moscow’s Metro stations double as fascinating historical art galleries. You can learn more about them in an included tour and get an insider’s look at the art with our expert Local Guide. Discover the city’s centre with our Local Guide, who’ll give you the background on the famous Red Square, St. Basil’s Cathedral with its iconic onion-shaped domes, and on Lenin’s Mausoleum, where the former leader of the Russian Revolution still lies, preserved in wax. Learn how Russia only came out from behind the Iron Curtain in 1991, and is still opening up. Walk through Russia’s political heart with a visit to the Kremlin, whose construction marked the birth of Moscow. Your Local Guide will reveal the inner workings of the Kremlin as the group explores the grounds of this stunning fortified complex, made up of cathedrals, palaces and treasures. The former home of grand princes as well as to Stalin and Gorbachev, the Kremlin is now the current Russian president’s place of residence. Learn more about it and see treasures up close by joining our fascinating optional through the Kremlin Armoury with our expert Local Guide. In your free time, get a feel for the old Communist regime by heading to the Garden Ring, where grey blocks, former min Otherwise, make the most of a beautiful shopping experience at GUM, once the favourite shopping mall for Soviet leaders and now a favourite spot for Russia’s elite. There are 150 shops to explore in this elegant turn-of-the-century building, selling anything from designer labels to local products and great souvenirs. Food-wise, Moscow mixes it up. You could try out blinis (pancakes) or borshch (beetroot soup) at a street stand, caviar in a gourmet store, or grilled meats in one of the city’s many cafes. While you’re here, get a taste of local culture at the Moscow Aquamarine Circus. Be amazed by highly-skilled artists and performers on this fun night out.
The tour ends after breakfast and it’s time to say farewell to your new friends.