Day 1: Arrive to Moscow
Today you arrive in Moscow. Your driver will be waiting for you at the airport arrivals gate, you will see him holding a sign with your name. He will take you to the hotel where for the rest of the day you can relax after your flight. If you would like to explore the city just step out of your hotel which is located in the city center. There are plenty of things to see and do, not to mention great places to eat.
Day 2: The Red Square and the Kremlin
The tour starts after breakfast. Today we will head to the heart of it all in Moscow - the Red Square. After spending some time in the most famous square in the world which you’ve seen so many times on TV and in movies, we will proceed to the St. Basil's Cathedral. You might not know it by name, but this is another infamous architectural structure – everyone has seen the colorful domes of the church on the Red Square. Finally we will proceed to the Kremlin. The Kremlin of Moscow is one of the most recognizable symbols of Russia, you will experience it for yourself by going inside. Half of its territory is reserved for the government and the other half is open to the public. You will explore the Kremlin with one of the best guides in Moscow who will tell you about many interesting stories which took place inside these walls since 1147!
For today we also planned a walk in the famous Memorial Park to the Great Patriotic War (that's what Russians call the World War II). On our way, we will also see the Cathedrals of Christ the Savior – which is a colossal church that was demolished by the Bolsheviks in 1920s and only recently rebuilt. The duration of the tour program for this day is 8 hours. You will be accompanied by a guide at all times. Optional, recommended activity for the evening: ballet or opera performance in The Bolshoi Theater. Please ask your tour specialist if you would like to arrange the tickets.
Day 3: Moscow - St. Petersburg
The Red Square and the Kremlin are the most popular sights in Moscow, but there are plenty of other interesting things to see and do. Two other must-see places are the Moscow Subway and the Tretyakov Picture Gallery. We will commence the tour of both places right after breakfast. Moscow Subway - Located deep underground, the subway in Moscow is not only a nuclear shelter but also an incredible museum of Soviet socialist art which symbolizes and celebrates the unity of Soviet republics. Although the republics broke apart with the fall of the Soviet Union, the most amazing subway system in the world remains. The Moscow Subway carries 3 million passengers daily! You will take a ride on the Moscow Subway not only to get a taste of life in Moscow but also get a feel for Russian history.
Tretyakov Picture Gallery started as a private collection of a wealthy 19th century merchant, Ivan Tretyakov, who donated his collection to the city. Today this is Moscow's best collection of art and happens to have one of the best collections of Russian paintings in the world. This evening, you will depart from Moscow and fly or take a train ride to St. Petersburg. Economy air or first class train tickets are included in the price of your tour. Transfers to the airport or train stations are also included. If you prefer to spend an extra night in St. Petersburg, we recommend taking a flight. If you would like to experience a train journey from Moscow to St. Petersburg, you should take a train ride.
Notes: Hotel check out is at noon. You have two options: you can either check out before going on today’s tour and leave your bags in the hotel luggage storage room, or you can request your travel specialist to arrange late checkout.
Day 4: St. Petersburg City Tour
Welcome to St. Petersburg, the crown jewel of Russian cities and one of the world's most amazing travel destinations. Today, you will explore the city with stops at Peter and Paul's Fortress, the Church of Savior on Spilled Blood and the St. Isaak's Cathedral. This afternoon, you will have some free time to explore the city independently. During this city tour you will also see visit St. Isaak's Square which will give you a perfect panoramic view of the Mariinsky Theater, the Hermitage, the Winter palace, the Palace Square, the Spit of Vasilievskiy Island, the Bronze Horseman Statue, Peter's Log Cabin, Cruiser Aurora, Smolny Palace, the Nevsky Prospect, the Square of Arts and more!
Peter and Paul Fortress was built by Peter the Great to defend the city from invasion by sea. Later, the tsars converted it into a prison for political dissidents. The Bolsheviks turned the fortress into a museum of tsarist oppressions. After the collapse of Soviet power, the Fortress was turned into the tomb of the Russian imperial family. The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the most distinct churches in Russia. You will notice that it stands in the middle of the road on the very spot where one of Russia's greatest emperors, Alexander II, was attacked and murdered by a dissident. Alexander II is most famous for liberating Russian serfs two years before abolition of slavery in the US. The church is rather ascetic so we will not go inside, but you can always do so on your own as it is just few blocks from your hotel.
St Isaac's Cathedral is the symbol of the city. It is the fourth largest cathedral in the world with gigantic golden cupolas and an excellent observation deck which overlooks the entire city. Optional evening program: St. Petersburg boasts some of the best theaters in the world. Ask your tour specialist to arrange you the tickets. You can learn more about the venues from our Guide to St. Petersburg Theaters
Day 5: The Winter Palace and The Hermitage
This day is reserved for the infamous Hermitage Museum, which is to St. Petersburg what the Kremlin is to Moscow. St Petersburg has dozens of beautiful palaces, but the Winter Palace stands above them all. First of all, it has one of the best collections of art in the world. Secondly, this collection is located in the residence of Russian emperors. It is here that Russian nobility rose to power and ruled 1/5 of the world, it is also here that the Bolsheviks overthrew their reign. The Bolsheviks were tempted to destroy the palace, the symbol of tsars, but its artistic value was so immense that they decided to transform it into a museum.
The Hermitage.They say that if you were to spend three minutes by each of the exhibits in the Hermitage, it would take you three years to see all the works. But not to worry, you will have an experienced guide who will show you the best rooms and halls in just four hours. When the guided tour ends, you can continue exploring this enormous palace-museum on your own. An optional tour of the Diamond Room is available for $85 per person. The diamond room is a jewelry collection of Russian emperors. A recommended activity for the afternoon/early evening is to take a boat ride through St. Petersburg canals. It is quite an experience because the boats will stop at most central bridges.
Day 6: Peterhof or Catherine's Palace
This day is reserved for the trip outside of the city to Peterhof or to the Catherine's Palace. During summer, Russian emperors stayed outside of the city where they built numerous summer palaces. Two of the most prominent palaces are Catherine's Palace and Peterhof. The two are located on the opposite ends of the city, each an hour away from the city center. Because of this you will have the option to visit either one of them.
Peterhof. Located on the banks of the Gulf of Finland, Petershof is a royal residence which is most famous for its parks and fountains very reminiscent to those of Versailles. Peter designed the fountains of this palace to entertain his noble guests, including you! It was here that Peter the Great spent most of his time due to its proximity to the wharfs where Peter was raising his innovative Russian navy. Lunch in Peterhof's cafe is included in the program. Optional: Replace the car ride to Peterhof with a boat ride for an additional cost of $35 per person.
Catherine's Palace was a gift from Peter the Great to his wife Catherine, whom he loved very much, ironically he build the palace on the other side of the city. Catherine's Palace is located in the town of Pushkin and is most famous for its Amber Room which was looted during World War II by the Germans during their 300 day siege of St. Petersburg. The remnants of the room were recovered by American troops, but it took more than 50 years to reconstruct the legendary room.
The program includes lunch in "Podvorye" restaurant which resembles traditional Russian houses and serves delicious traditional authentic Russian cuisine accompanied by folk performances. In addition, in the afternoon we will visit Paul’s Palace which is the nearby. Due to its ascetic appearance, Paul’s Palace greatly contrasts Catherine’s.
Tip: Want to see both palaces, the Peterhof and Catherine’s Palace? Add an extra day to your tour. Ask your tour specialist for details.
Day 7: Departure. This is the last day of your amazing private tour of Russia. You will be leaving the country fascinated with your experience of Russia’s past and present, and her two beautiful capitals of Moscow and St. Petersburg. Your airport transfer is arranged.
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