Moscow and St. Petersburg
Moscow - the capital of Russia, a home for 10 million people. Extensive guided tours feature all highlights of Moscow. Enjoy Moscow by Night -tour on arrival day. Visit Kremlin, the former residence of the Czars. See Kremlin Cathedrals, Belfry of Ivan the Terrible, the Czar Bell and the Czar Cannon. Admire the Armory - the treasury of the Czars. Stroll across the Red Square and see St. Basil Cathedral - a landmark of the capital with bright onion-shaped cupolas, drive to the Sparrow Hills – the best viewpoint of Moscow, attend morning service in the huge Cathedral of Christ the Savior, visit the ancient Novodevichy Convent, visit Poklonnaya Hill and the largest painting in the world Borodino Panorama. Enjoy a walk through the Old Arbat pedestrian street. Leave Moscow afternoon by comfortable high speed train Sapsan. The distance is 700 km, travel time is 3 hour 40 min. Enjoy the views of Russian countryside.
Arrive in St. Petersburg in the evening. Transfer to your hotel for check-in and welcome dinner. Start with a panoramic city tour with visit to the Peter & Paul Fortress & Cathedral – the sepulchre of all Russian Emperors. Visit the famous Hermitage museum. Visit Catherine's and Paul's imperial palaces in Pushkin and Pavlovsk with lunch at rustic restaurant with Cossack's singing. Tour the Yusupov Palace with a room where Rasputin was killed. Admire St. Isaac’s - a world fourth cupola cathedral and the Church on the Spilt Blood - the site of the murder of a Russian Czar. Have a boat trip along the Neva River and canals. Cross the Gulf of Finland by hydrofoil to reach the famous Peterhof. Enjoy its fountains, Grand Cascade and the Bath House of the Empress. Farewell dinner in the theme Russian Kitch restaurant. Have a pleasant flight home. Good bye, see you again...
Day One, Friday
Your plane lands in Moscow. Fill in the immigration card (usually given on board the plane) and keep it in your passport. Be prepared for some waiting until you get to the passport control booth and then proceed to the luggage belt area. Collect luggage and use a green channel of the customs if you have nothing to declare. There is no need to declare cash or audio-video equipment. Your driver or guide (if you travel with a group) will be meeting you in the arrival hall with a sign bearing your name.
Transfer to the Marriott Tverskaya Hotel, a cozy art-deco 4-star deluxe hotel offering all usual comforts of Marriott hotels. The hotel, refurbished in 2011, is located on the main thoroughfare of Moscow – Tverskaya-Yamskaya Street, in 10 min drive to the Kremlin. The hotel has a bar, transportation desk and small gym.
20:00 Dinner at Gratzi restaurant of the hotel.
Meet your tour guide and your fellow travelers at dinner.
21:00 Moscow By Night City Tour.
When the evening rush hour is over it is time to start your first exploration of Moscow with coach and guide. Moscow, the capital of Russia, which history dates back to the twelth century. Moscow is one of the largest cities in Europe, a home for ten million people. Moscow managed to preserve great number of historical monuments as well as its old urban structure. Russians say that the history of Moscow is the history of the whole Russian country. In the night the city is especially beautiful, enjoy breath-taking panoramas of Kremlin and Red Square. Passing the University, continue to the Sparrow Hills, the highest place in Moscow. Enjoy the beautiful view of the city. Return to hotel around midnight.
Day Two, Saturday
10:00-11:00 Tour of Moscow Metro
Today we explore Moscow highlights on foot. The nearest metro station is just a few steps away from the hotel. Start a tour of the famous Moscow underground. The Moscow metro is not the oldest one in the world, however the architectural style and fascinating marble decor of many stations deserved the name of the "Underground Palace". The first line built in the thirties abounds with naïve revolutionary symbols and sculptures. The decoration of afterwar lines built in the fifties is much more exuberant because it had to demonstrate the advantages of a new socialist society.
11:00-12:00 Tour of Moscow Kremlin
After the metro tour is over your guide will take you inside the Kremlin, the historical nucleus of the city, the former residence of the Czars, now the seat of the Russian President. We begin with a complete walking tour of the Kremlin and its grounds. The Moscow Kremlin is an outstanding monument of Russian history, enclosing an area of 70 acres next to Red Square. The walls are about half a mile long and up to 62 feet high and 21 feet thick, with 20 towers and gates.
12:00-13:30 Tour of Armory
Inside the Kremlin we will tour the grounds, visit one of the cathedrals and the Armory Museum – the Treasury of the Czars. The Armory’s huge collection consists of many precious gifts once presented to Russian Czars by foreign monarchs and ambassadors as well as their thrones, clothes, crowns and armor. You will also see the huge Belfry of Ivan the Terrible, Big Kremlin Palace, Faceted chamber, the Czar Bell and Czar Cannon.
13:30-14:00 Walk through the Alexander Garden
Have a short walk through the historical Alexander Garden, passing by the tomb of the Unknown Soldier with eternal flame – an important monument for all Russians who lost 20 million lives during the World War II.
14:00-15:00 Lunch at the popular Godunov restaurant
serving Russian cuisine of the 18th century. Start your acquaintance with Russian cuisine - try traditional borsch and taste vodka. Do not be surprised to see many tourists, it is a bustling place.
15:00-16:30 Tour of the Red Square
After lunch we start exploring the Red Square. We enter the square through the Iverskaya Gate near the small church of our Lady of Kazan, both ruined shortly after the Revolution and reconstructed in 2000. You can also see the beautiful red-brick building of the History Museum, oldest department store GUM with a very long façade, the place of execution, ending with the famous St. Basil’s cathedral, perhaps the most eye-catching structure in Moscow.
After the tour is over you may return to the hotel by metro (2 stops) or by foot along the main avenue of the capital - Tverskaya Street. It is full of fancy hotels, designer shops and boutiques, restaurants and cafes. A good point is to explore smaller streets to the right of the Tverskaya street – Kuznetsky Most, Kamergesky or Stoleshnikov passage. Here you will find even more restaurants and bars. Dinner is on your own.
Day Three, Sunday
09:30-10:30 Visit to the Christ the Savior Cathedral
Depart hotel to visit the Cathedral of Christ the Savior which has the most dramatic history reflecting the history of the whole country. Built in the course of 40 years and completed in 1883 the Cathedral commemorated the victory over Napoleon in 1812. Closed in 1917 after the Revolution it was blown up by the order of Stalin in 1931. A giant open-air swimming pool was built on its place in the sixties. A decision to rebuild the cathedral was taken in 1990. Restored to its full splendor in 2000, the Christ Cathedral has again become a dominating landmark of the Russian capital.
10:30-12:30 Visit to Novodevichy Convent & Cemetery
The Novodevichy Convent built in the 16th and 17th centuries in Moscow Baroque style, was part of a chain of monastic ensembles that were integrated into the defense system of the city. The convent was directly associated with the political, cultural and religious history of Russia, and closely linked to the Moscow Kremlin. It was used by women of the Tsar’s family and the aristocracy. Members of the Tsar’s family and entourage were also buried in its cemetery. Many prominent Russian scientists, composers and politicians of modern time were buried here.
12:30-13:30 Visit to Poklonnaya Hill
Historically, the hill had great strategic importance, as it commanded the best view of the Russian capital. Its name is derived from the Russian for "to bow down", as everyone approaching the capital from the west was expected to do homage here. In 1812, it was the spot where Napoleon in vain expected the keys to the Kremlin to be brought to him by Russians. Since the 1980s the hill also includes the monumental museum to the Soviet victory in the Great Patriotic War. The main building of the museum was constructed between 1983 and 1995. 'Hall of glory' holds reliefs of the 12 soviet Hero Cities. The Victory Park and the Square of Victors are important parts of the outdoor museum. In the 1990s an obelisk was added with a statue of Nike and a monument of St George slaying the dragon.
13:30-14:30 Lunch at restaurant Sudar
Resembling a mansion of a nobleman, the restaurant specializes on gourmet Russian cuisine of the XIX century. Enjoy traditional Russian specialties, warm Russian hospitality and, of course, vodka!
15:00-16:00 Tour of Borodino Panorama
After lunch visit another unique place – the world’s largest panorama of the Borodino Battle, the largest battle during the Patriotic War of 1812 against Napoleon. It was created at the request of Russian Tsar by French artists F. Roubaud in 1912 at 100-anniversary of the victory over Napoleon. Enjoy the largest painting of the world.
16:30-18:30 Walking tour of the Old Arbat area
After the tour the bus will stop in the beginning of the Old Arbat street. Free time to enjoy the famous Old Arbat pedestrian area full of restaurants and cafes, souvenir shops and street artists. Dinner is on your own.
Day Four, Monday
Free morning in Moscow for independent exploration. Check-out from the hotel.
13:30 Lunch at Gratzi restaurant of the hotel
15:00 Transfer to railway station
16:30-20:25 Fast train Sapsan to St. Petersburg
Depart for Moscow by SAPSAN fast train, the newest addition to Russian trains produced by Siemens within multi-million contract. The cars have open seating. The distance from Moscow is 700 km, and the travel time is 3 hrs 55 min. Enjoy views of Russian countryside.
Arrive to St. Petersburg which was the capital of Russian Empire for almost 200 years. Few cities can offer so many stunning attractions and intriguing moods as St. Petersburg – City of the Tsars. Founded in 1703 by Peter the Great, St. Petersburg combines its fascinating Russian heritage with a distinctly European outlook. Considered the cultural heart of modern day Russia, St. Petersburg is rapidly regaining its reputation as one of the Great Cities of Europe.
20:30-21:00 Transfer to the hotel Sokos Vasilievsky
The hotel, opened in November 2008, is a four-star hotel of the biggest Finnish hotel chain. It is located on the 8 Line of Vasilievsky Island, the largest island of the city. It occupies recently refurbished historical XIX- century buildings. The hotel has 255 rooms. All rooms are equipped with shower and almost all with bath. All rooms have Wi-Fi internet access and latest technical outfit. Music pub "8th line" with large TV plasmas is always full during soccer matches.
Thanks to comfortable location the hotel can become a starting point for walking trips in St. Petersburg. A nice pedestrian area connects the hotel with metro station, the central station Nevsky Prospect is the next stop. St. Petersburg metro has all signs in English and navigation is easy.
21:00 Welcome dinner is served at stylish brasserie Repin.
The hotel also has a cozy lobby bar, music pub and French wine tasting room.
Day Five, Tuesday
10:00-13:30 Panoramic city tour
After breakfast start a panoramic city tour. There is one museum in the city that is never closed – the city itself. Discover St. Petersburg – a city of infinite charm with its majestic palaces, churches and cathedrals, river embankments, beautiful parks and innumerous bridges – a city of imperial proportions and romantic vistas which has been a source of inspiration for the generations of artists.
11:00 Tour of Peter and Paul Fortress It is the historical nucleus of
the city as well as one of the most interesting and beautiful architectural landmarks. St. Peter & Paul Cathedral with its long gilded spire is the burial place of all Russian emperors from Peter the Great to the last of the Romanovs – Nicholas II. Designed to protect newly acquired lands in the mouth of the Neva River, the fortress lost its military significance before it was completed. It was turned into the most dismal political prison of Russia for almost 200 years.
13:00 Tour of St. Isaac’s Cathedral.
Fourth highest cupola cathedral in the world St. Isaac’s has a breathtaking interior design. The cathedral can accommodate 13000 worshippers in a time. The monolithic columns of the portico cut from red granite are seventeen meters high and weigh 114 tons each. The mosaic inside has twelve thousand shades and colors, the walls are five meters thick and the main cupola is coated with one hundred kilos of gold.
13:30-14:30 Lunch is served in the local restaurant
15:00-18:00 Tour of Hermitage Museum
Comprehensive guided visit to the famous Hermitage. The world-known Hermitage museum was the residence of the Russian Emperors in the past, nowadays it comprises five palaces and is one of the largest museums in the world. Admire the State Rooms of the Winter Palace. Continue to the Small Hermitage, then proceed to the priceless masterpieces exhibited in other Hermitage buildings.
There are literally a billion things to see in the Hermitage. The overwhelming richness of the museum is all the more enhanced by the incredible splendor of the buildings, inside and out: ornate and regal facades, huge frescoed halls; marble, wood and mosaic floors; and statuettes, figurines, and antique furniture all on such a grand scale that it fascinates the mind. The tour ends at the hotel.
Dinner is on your own.
Day Six, Wednesday
09:00-12:30 Tour of Pushkin: Catherine’s palace & Amber Room
Drive to the town of Pushkin to see the Catherine’s Palace and park – once the official summer residence of Russian Czars. We enter the beautiful Catherine’s park and visit Catherine’s Palace, considered to be a real pearl of Russian baroque architecture of the 18th century. It was built for Russian Empress Catherine in 1752. The palace, a combination of white, blue and gold, looks magnificent; a huge ballroom called the Grand Hall, ornately decorated drawing rooms, studies and dining rooms. The most famous room here is the Amber Room, which was looted by the Nazis during World War II. The restoration of the Amber Room was completed in 2003. Surrounding the palaces is a park covering more than 570 hectares with bridges, terraces, fountains and small galleries.
12:30-14:00 Lunch at Podvorie restaurant
Lunch is served in the genuine Russian restaurant Podvorie. Enjoy delicious Russian appetizers and famous "borsch" (beetroot soup) accompanied by Cossack’s folklore singing and, of course, free flowing Russian vodka! The restaurant is a typical Russian huge wooden log-house reminding of a fortress. You will be offered to try playing on some traditional musical instruments…
14:30-17:00 Tour of Pavlovsk: Paul’s Palace & Park.
Named after Paul I, Pavlovsk was founded in 1777 when a small ducal palace was built. A large horseshoe-shaped Paul’s Palace was completed in 1786 and renovated again in 1803 during the reign of Paul’s son - Alexander I. This palace is often called a pearl of the classical style as many famous architects of the time took part in designing its beautiful interiors which are synthesis of architecture, decorative painting and sculpture. A beautiful landscape park, the largest in Europe, surrounds the palace
Day Seven, Thursday
10:00-12:00 Tour of Russian Museum.
The museum is located in the former Mikhailovsky Palace. Built for Paul’s youngest son by Carlo Rossi who devoted his life and work to St. Petersburg, the palace was turned into a museum in 1898 by Nicholas II. The palace has preserved an impressive suite of beautifully decorated gala rooms on the main floor. The largest rooms hold some of the collection's most famous works: Ivan Aivazovsky's huge seascapes The Ninth Wave and The Wave, and Karl Bryullov's acclaimed The Last Days of Pompei. The collection of Russian and Soviet art spans medieval icons to grandiose socialist realism and avante guard paintings and encompasses more than 370,000 items dating from 11th century to the present.
12:15-13:00 Tour of the Church on the Spilt Blood
one of St. Petersburg highest buildings. It was built on the spot where Alexander II was fatally wounded by a terrorist, a member of People's Will revolutionary group in 1881. The construction of the memorial church began in 1883 and lasted 24 years. The enormous amount of more than 1½ million of silver rubles was allocated for the construction.
Beautiful onion-shaped domes of the cathedral are covered with precious enamel. The facades of the church are adorned with more than 400 square meters of mosaic. The church has a breath-taking interior design with great variety of semi-precious stones, gold and mosaics covering the area of almost 7,000 square meters.
13:00-14:00 Lunch is served in the local restaurant
14:30-16:00 Tour of the Yusupov Palace
Depart for private visit of the Yusupov Palace. The richest of nonimperial palaces of St. Petersburg, this palace was the home of the noble and powerful Yusupov family, relatives to the Russian Tsars. The Yusupovs were great collectors of art, and their collection was known well beyond Russia. After the revolution most of the collection was moved to the Hermitage, though traces of the incredible wealth that once kept this palace pulsating with life still remain: the various sitting rooms, the intricate chandeliers and candelabras that adorn every room and corridor. The beautiful home theater of the palace looks like a cozy version of the famous Mariinsky theatre.
It was in this palace where the assassination of Rasputin, one of the most scandalous figures in Russian history, took place. One can feel the drama of the moment seeing wax figures of the conspirators waiting in a small room on the ground floor. In the cellar where it happened there are two more wax figures: Rasputin and young Felix Yusupov talking over the set table minutes before the assassination.
16:00-17:00 Private boat trip
There is no better way to feel the essence of the city - often called Venice of the North - than to take a boat trip along the small rivers and canals ending up with powerful Neva River. The period from the end of May to mid-July is a truly magical time to visit St. Petersburg as the city is embraced by White Nights, when the sun disappears below the horizon for only a moment and the skies never darken.
Optional Ballet at Mariinsky or Mikhailovsky Theatre:
This evening you will be offered an option to see the ballet or opera performance at the famous Mariinsky Theatre.
Dinner is on your own.
Day Eight, Friday
10:00-13:00 Tour of Peterhof
Depart for the tour of Peterhof (also called Petrodvorets). It is the most famous summer residence of Russian Emperors, located 25 km west on the Gulf of Finland. It history begins in 1704 when Peter I built a wooden house on the Gulf. In 1723 the enlarged palace became official summer residence, later it was expanded by Empress Elizabeth and called Grand Summer Palace. We do not go inside the palace but focus on the main attraction of the place - the Lower Park with Grand Cascade decorated with more than 150 fountains built in 1722 to rival gardens of Versailles. All fountains of the Grand Cascade are solemnly launched every day sharp at 11Am.
The intricate system of pipes stretches for nearly 22 km. The water flows downhill by force of gravity while the fountains operate according to the principle of communicating vessels. In both artistry and engineering the fountains of Peterhof are truly unique. In the end of the pleasant stroll in the park visit one of the smaller palaces of Peterhof – the Monplaisir, the favorite palace of Peter the Great or the Tsar’s Bath House where you will learn more about everyday life of Russian Tsars. After a pleasant stroll through beautiful park we return to the city by hydrofoil.
13:00-13:30 Return to the city by hydrofoil
14:00 Return to hotel.
Lunch on own. Free time
20:00 Farewell dinner at Russian Kitch restaurant
This unique restaurant has an interesting combination of Kitch and theme décor of the early 90-ies – the gangster’s époque of the new Russian society. Everything here is too much overdone according to the gangster’s taste… One can find portraits of Leonid Brezhnev kissing Russian pop-diva or embracing Fidel Castro on the ceiling and much more. The cuisine is Russian and international. There are 5 different halls with different and sometimes provoking decoration. On Fridays there is a special show and disco is playing until early hours in the morning.
Day Nine, Saturday
Good-bye and see you again...
Depart for the airport in time for your flight home.