Russia is a country of huge proportions – covering nine time zones and taking up the vast majority of the Asian continent, there is a wealth of culture and history for travellers to absorb.
If you’re thinking of heading to Russia, a group tour is one of the best ways to experience the best of the cities. Very few people speak English, and there are very few signs written in anything other than the Cyrillic alphabet, making it rather difficult for non-Russians to know where to go and what to do. It’s good to have a guide on hand to show you where to eat, organise daily activities, ensure that you have smooth check-ins at hotels, and to share local knowledge in general.
Often termed the jewel in Russia’s imperial crown, St. Petersburg is a richly historical and incredibly scenic city. The Church on Spilled Blood and the Peter and Paul Fortress are two of the city’s great highlights, but perhaps the most famous is the Winter Palace; home of the tsars and one of the most extensive art collections in the world. Be sure to visit the Summer Gardens at Peterhof, which overlooks the Gulf of Finland, and the Catherine palace at Tsarkoe Selo. St. Petersburg boasts almost 90 museums, many of them located
within imperial palaces. You’ll also find numerous galleries, churches, restaurants, cafes and bars to explore. St. Petersburg is called the City of the Tsars for good reason!
Stop over on the way to Moscow in ancient Novgorod, listed by UNESCO as one of the top 100 cities in the world. Explore the fortress grounds and take a walk along the Volkhov river visit one of the medieval abbeys, or wander around the town’s shops and bars. There’s also the option of trying the traditional Russian banya (sauna) before having a typical Russian meal – chicken shashlik and (of course) vodka.
As well as being a great place to do some shopping, Moscow is a haven for history buffs and sightseers. With a range of famous landmarks like Red Square, St. Basil’s Cathedral and The Kremlin, there’s definitely no shortage of things to do in Russia’s capital. Our group
tours to Moscow also offer the option of visiting an authentic Soviet-era bunker. Located 65 metres underground in the heart of Moscow, this Stalin-era structure was top secret until recently and was designed to keep a select few safe in the event of a nuclear attack. Featuring authentic Soviet relics, this tourist attraction really does take one back to the days of the Iron Curtain.
Tailor Made holidays
If you’d rather travel on your own or make your own itinerary, feel free design your own tour to fit specifically around your requirements. Russia is a vast country with stunning natural beauty and rich cultural history, with a lot more to visit than just the destinations mentioned above. Visit our Tailor Made section to find out more about travelling Russia your way.
There is a range of Russian festivals and special events to try throughout the year. Some of
the highlights include Russian Orthodox Christmas and New Year (which take place 13 days after the Gregorian versions), St. Petersburg’s International Ballet Festival in April, Night at the Museums, the St. Petersburg Tennis Open and of course New Year’s Eve in Red Square. For a full list of festivals and details of how you can experience Russian festivals for yourself on one of our group tours, take a look at our Russian Festivals and Events page.
Space travel plays a huge part in Russia’s history, and this legacy continues today. Be a cosmonaut for a day and take a tour of the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre (aka Star City) where you can take a spin in the Star City centrifuge, experience zero-gravity in an aerobus IL-76 MDK or take a flight in a MIG 29 or 31 to the very edge of space.
Have you been to Russia? What tips do you have for first-time visitors? Leave your comments below.