Scandinavia & Russia Plus
Check-in to the hostel from 2pm and the rest of the day is yours to enjoy Berlin. Tomorrow you'll meet up with tour Contiki team & travel buddies at 7.30am to make your way to Copenhagen.
Berlin to Copenhagen
This morning we make our way from Berlin to Denmark’s harbor-side capital, Copenhagen. Get to know the group over dinner and head out into Copenhagen’s diverse nightlife – with live jazz, pumping clubs and chilled-out bars, there’s heaps of choice.
Full of history, Copenhagen is a compact city with a really festive feel. Jump start your travels with a look into Denmark’s culture on our city tour, as your Tour Manager tells you the story behind the Little Mermaid statue, the Resistance Museum and the Royal Palace. Later, use your free time to explore the waterways and streets of Copenhagen, where the major sites are all within walking distance. Put your feet up, treat yourself and order some Danish pastries, cake and coffee. If you’re feeling up for something different, opt for a tour of the Carlsberg Brewery for a look in at how they make this famous brew. Later, maybe find a spot waterside & indulge in some typical Danish food or kick back with a beer & do a bit of people watching.
Copenhagen to Oslo
Say farewell to the stylish capital of Denmark as we make ourway to Oslo for a taste of how the Norwegians do it! Oslo is a cute little city with loads of character. From castles on the hill, to modern Opera Houses, great shopping & delicious seafood, there's something for everyone here. On arrival your Tour Manager will introduce you to one of Oslo’s most famous spaces, the Vigeland Sculpture Park in Frogner Park. Packed with over 200 sculptures and bronzes, this outdoor gallery serves up heaps of local art and gorgeous greenery.
As Scandinavia’s oldest capital, Oslo is an easy-going city oozes culture and has some amazing museums to visit. This morning your Tour Manager will get you in the know on Oslo with an orientation tour of the city to get your bearings for a day of exploring. With free time, get inspired at Aker Brygge, Oslo’s cultural hub and central gathering spot for locals. Once an old ship yard, it’s now a popular shopping area with a sea-front promenade, galleries, cinemas and food stalls. Otherwise, find out about a fellow adventurer, Thor Heyerdahl at the Kon-Tiki Museum (no, it’s not ours! Kon-Tiki was the raft Heyerdahl used to cross the South Pacific) or explore the medieval dungeons, banquet halls and crypts of Akershus Castle. Tonight you could head out & meet some locals along the stunning new district around the Oslo Opera House.
Oslo to Voss
Cruise through Norway’s famous Telemark region and across the Hardangervidda, Europe’s largest mountain plateau. If you’re lucky, you might spot some wild animals. Then we journey onwards to the small town of Voss, Norway’s adventure capital.
Voss to Geiranger Fjord
Travel 25km (15.3 miles) through the impressive man-made marvel, the Laerdal Tunnel, which is the longest road tunnel in the world – and it cuts though 3 caves. Get back to nature on our journey through Norway’s rugged wilderness and take in the spectacular Boyabreen glacier, as well as the 200km long Sognefjord.
Geiranger Fjord to Gjovik
For awe-inspiring views, jump on board our included cruise and get out on the water of Geiranger Fjord. The picture perfect scenes keep coming, complete with dramatic waterfalls pouring down the sides of massive sheer rock walls. Cruise past old farms and unspoilt wilderness to the alpine ski resort of Lillehammer, home of the 1994 Olympics and the impressive 136 metre ski jump! If you’re up for a bit of Olympic action yourself, have a go at bob-sledding in an adrenalin-pumping optional activity. We pull into small-town Gjovik, which is set on Norway’s largest lake, for an overnight stop. Walk around the picturesque town and get a feel for traditional Norwegian village life.
Gjovik to Stockholm
Into Sweden today, we pass the massive Lake Vanern and cruise through woodlands, lakes and gorgeous natural surrounds. With down time on the coach, chat to your new friends and keep your camera handy for photo ops of bears, moose and wolves. Get ready for the dramatic scenery of Sweden’s cosmopolitan capital, Stockholm. Surrounded by forests, deep blue waters and 24,000 islands, this cutting-edge city is one of Europe’s hot, creative capitals. Enjoy a night out with the group and head to the modern and lively district of Norrmalm, for a more up-beat vibe.
This morning, there’s an option to visit to Stockholm’s stunning town hall, where the Nobel Peace Prize banquet is held. Learn about its unique architecture with our Local Guide. With its 8 million red bricks and 19 million gold mosaic tiles, this place will make your jaw drop. Then, your Tour Manager gets you right to pretty Gamla Stan’s (the old town) core spots, as the group explores the quarter’s quaint medieval streets. You’ll see the Royal Palace and perhaps the changing of the guard – a tradition dating back to the 16th century. The old town is a great place to pull up a seat and try out classic Swedish food like salmon, herring or game as you take in the atmosphere. Free time means a chance to explore the many trendy boutiques, galleries, and cool vintage stores of the hip island of Södermalm or window-shop the big label and design stores of grand Drottningatan.
Stockholm & sail to Helsinki
Free time this morning in the city to grab your last dose of Swedish cool then live the high life this afternoon as we board our luxurious cruise to Helsinki. Kick back with a drink on the deck and watch the sun set over the Baltic Sea, check out the shops of the promenade deck or maybe try your luck at the casino tonight.
A blend of Finnish and Russian influences, Helsinki is a 21st century city with a lot of quirky aspects. Your Tour Manager will take you to check out Temppeliaukio, a church cut out of solid rock, and to see the famous Sibelius Monument, a gravity-defying sculpture made out of 600 steel pipes. Round off your Helsinki introduction with a drive past the Olympic Stadium and the historical heart of Senate Square. Helsinki is all about location, so with free time on your hands, head harbour side to soak up the great views and mingle with the locals at South Harbour Market. Rummage through stalls selling flowers and local foods, handicrafts, fresh fish and tasty baked goods. You could visit Suomenlinna, the fantastic and impressive sea fortress where Swedes and Russians once fought.
Helsinki to St. Petersburg
Leaving Helsinki today, the coach travels through pine forests and Finland’s vast wilderness, before crossing over the border into Russia, the world’s biggest country. 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.
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.
Moscow to Minsk
We pass by Borodino, where the bloodiest single day of battle took place during the Napoleon led invasion of Russia. Later, pull into the capital of Belarus, Minsk. Torn to the ground in World War II and then rebuilt by Stalin, Minsk became the model Communist city of the Soviet era with its wide avenues, monumental buildings and vast squares. You’ll get a good look into its grand style on our city tour. Check out the Leninsky Prospekt and Victory Square as you get the background on Minsk from our Local Guide.
Minsk to Warsaw
Start the day with a visit to the 19th century Brest Fortress, a stronghold of Russian resistance during the German invasion of Russia in World War II. Back on the coach, journey on to budding Warsaw. See how Poland’s capital started up again from scratch after World War II and see how it’s now looking to the future. Get a feel for the city’s buzzing café scene, relax with a drink, order some perogies (Polish dumplings) and soak up the vibes of this energetic city.
Go back in time as our Local Guide gives you a crash-course in Warsaw’s troubled history. You’ll see Warsaw’s Ghetto, Chopin’s park, as well as the old town. Hear how this town has been all about survival, being literally reduced to rubble, and how Warsaw then picked up the pieces, using these ruins to rebuild the city. Check out St. John’s Cathedral and the Royal Palace, which was blown-up during World War II. Free time means a chance to discover Warsaw’s modern, festive side. Relax in Lazienki Park, a favourite haunt with the locals, or dip into the city’s many museums, galleries and theatres. Get some hints on what to explore from your Tour Manager. Tonight, make your last night on tour one to remember and join the group for a final night dinner. Then hit Warsaw’s thriving nightlife. The choice of clubs, live music and bars here is mind-blowing, so be ready for a fun night out!
The tour ends after breakfast in Warsaw and it’s time to say farewell to your new friends. Otherwise catch a free transfer back to Berlin where your tour ends upon arrival.