Discover Russia - 9 days
Take in the highlights of St Petersburg - city of the tsars and Moscow - the dynamic capital, before getting off the beaten track and exploring Russia's historic Golden Ring towns of Suzdal, Kostroma and Yaroslavl. Loaded to the hilt with beautiful architecture, golden spires and onion-domed monasteries, with picturesque countryside to boot, the Golden Ring is one of Russia's most enchanting destinations.
Tuesday. Welcome to Russia. Arrival transfer from St Petersburg Pulkovo Airport to your hotel and check in. Later tonight you'll be treated to dinner with the rest of your group at the hotel, followed by an informative welcome meeting. Remainder of the evening at leisure - your tour guide can recommend some local bars for you to try out.
Overnight: St Petersburg | Dinner
Today we explore the beautiful city of St Petersburg. Travelling by bus we will make our way along the famed Nevsky Prospekt, past the museum and university districts and a few stops will be made along the way to see the magnificent St Isaac's Cathedral and The Bronze Horseman. Later, we enjoy a guided tour of the Hermitage - which houses one of the biggest and best art collections on earth. The rest of the day is free for you to wander around the city.
During our time in St Petersburg there may be the chance to join one or two of our optional evening excursions, such as a canal cruise (May to September), a traditional Cossacks performance or a night at the Russian Ballet.
Overnight: St Petersburg | Breakfast
St Petersburg - Moscow. Today we'll take in more of the City of the Tsars, starting with a visit to Peter & Paul Fortress and the Peter & Paul Cathedral, which houses the tombs of the Romanov monarchs. Then we'll head out of the city to explore the beautiful gardens of Peterhof on the Gulf of Finland in the summer or visit Catherine Palace at Tsarskoe Selo in winter.
Often referred to as Russia’s ‘Versailles’, the gardens of Peterhof are a wonderland of greenery and flowers, sweeping vistas and ornate architectural decorations, with spectacular gold fountains. At Catherine Palace it's the exterior and the interiors of this lavishly decorated building that really catch the eye - and the lavish Amber room is a real highlight! After stopping for a hearty traditional lunch at a local restaurant, we'll continue on for a guided tour of the exquisite Church on Spilled Blood. This evening we board the overnight sleeper train to Moscow.
Overnight: Sleeper Train | Breakfast, Lunch
Early this morning, we arrive into Moscow. Taking the metro, we will make our way to the legendary Red Square for a guided walking tour. Here we will take in sights such as the epitome of Russian power – the Kremlin, Lenin’s Mausoleum and the ritzy GUM department store. At the south end of the square, feast your eyes on the iconic St Basil’s Cathedral. Spend the remainder of the day at your own leisure.
During our stay in Moscow there will be the chance to join some of our optional evening excursions, such as a night at the famous Moscow Circus (Oct - May), a traditional Cossack Show or a Moscow by Night coach tour.
Overnight: Moscow | Breakfast
This morning we head back to Red Square for a tour of the Kremlin - Russia's political powerhouse, with a guided walk through the grounds. Here we’ll see numerous government buildings, gold-domed cathedrals and the tsar bell - the largest bell that never rang. Later there will be free time for you to further explore the area. Why not venture inside St Basil's Cathedral, or pay your requests to the grandfather of Communism at Lenin's Mausoleum.
We also offer an optional guided tour of a formerly top secret Cold War bunker today which can be booked locally. Up until recently this Stalinist-era Soviet Bunker was a secret symbol of Soviet Power. Hidden beneath an ordinary two storey apartment building in Moscow, 18 floors below ground level, this 75,000 square foot facility was constructed covertly, in the 1950s, to protect against the threat of a US nuclear attack. In the 1990s, with the Cold War thawing, this bunker came off the top secret list and is now open to the public.
Overnight: Moscow | Breakfast
Moscow - Suzdal. This morning we travel by train from Moscow to Vladimir and then transfer to Suzdal, a picturesque Golden Ring town loaded to the hilt with ancient buildings, stunning medieval architecture and an astounding number of churches and monasteries. With pretty meadows and livestock grazing freely along country lanes, Suzdal has the relaxed feel of a small pastoral village.
We take a walking tour around the centre of Suzdal, where we'll see Suzdal Kremlin, Market square, Alexander monastery, Pokrovsky Monastery and Rizopolozhensky monastery. We'll also explore the remarkable Museum of Wooden Architecture which has a reconstruction of an ancient Russian village from Ivan The Terrible’s time. This afternoon you can enjoy a traditional Russia banya (sauna) and if you get too hot you can always jump in the river to cool off!
Overnight: Suzdal | Breakfast, Dinner
Suzdal - Kostroma - Yaroslavl. The next stop on our tour of the Golden Ring is the historic city of Kostroma which sits on the banks of the Volga River. We'll enjoy a bus tour of the city and visit the fairytale land of the Snow Maiden's museum. Here we'll explore the mansion, learn all about Russian fairy tales and visit the chilly ice-room where you can enjoy ice cocktails at the ice bar. From Kostroma we travel on to Yaroslavl for the night.
Overnight: Yaroslavl | Breakfast, Lunch
Yaroslavl - Moscow. After breakfast today we get to test our artistic skills at a wood painting class in the grounds of one of city's oldest monasteries and you can take your artwork home as a souvenir! Then we explore Yaroslavl, a historic UNESCO-listed city which sits on the confluence of two rivers and has a skyline crowded with onion-shaped domes and imposing spires. Yaroslavl is the biggest and most modern Golden Ring town that we visit. On a bus tour of the city we'll see the Assumption cathedral, the remarkable 16th Century Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Saviour, Theatre square and more. We'll also visit The Residence of Her Majesty the Queen of Maslenitsa, which is an interactive museum with colourful wooden buildings. Maslenitsa (Butter Week) is a Russian folk festival where people eat traditional pancakes called blinis and you'll have the opportunity to sample a tasty blini at the museum.
This afternoon we travel by train back to Moscow, where we'll spend our final night in the Big Smoke.
Overnight: Moscow | Breakfast
Wednesday. Our tour comes to an end after breakfast today. Hotel check out and make your own way to the airport.
Prices & Dates
Prices shown are per person travelling. 'Twin/Double' prices per person apply when there are 2 people travelling, sharing a room. The 'single supplement' below applies for single travellers who would like their own room for the entire tour and needs to be added to the 'Twin/Double' price.Read More
The hotels listed below are ones which we frequently use on this tour. We reserve the right to substitute these hotels to ones of a similar standard when necessary.
Asteria Hotel, St Petersburg
Set on the banks of Fontanka River, Asteria Hotel enjoys a prime location in the city centre just a few minutes walk from St Petersburg's famous Nevsky Prospekt. This 3-star hotel features a restaurant and bar, plus free WiFi throughout the property.
Izmailovo Gamma Delta , Moscow
Formerly part of the Olympic Village at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, Divided into two wings, Gamma and Delta - the Izmailovo Gamma Delta is part of one of the biggest hotels in the world. The rooms are comfortable and with modern amenities and there is also a number of excellent restaurants plus a gym and swimming pool. On arrival to the hotel guests are often welcomed with chocolate and still bottled mineral water. Well located with good access to transport links.
Stromynka Hotel, Suzdal
The Stromynka Hotel enjoys an ideal location in the heart of Suzdal, within an easy stroll of the historic town's Kremlin and nearby convents. The cosy rooms are typical of rural Russia and made of wood with simple furnishings. Free WiFi is provided.
Alyosha Popovich Dvor Hotel, Yaroslavl
The Alyosha Popovich Dvor Hotel is a colourful accommodation whose design was inspired by traditional Russian folk tales. The guest rooms are spacious and equipped with plush furniture and gorgeous fabrics. In the restaurant, guests can feast upon authentic Russian cuisine, which can then be washed down by a pint of fresh beer. When it comes to relaxing, visitors can while away the hours in the onsite sauna or take a dip in the Finnish baths. The hotel is conveniently located in the historical centre of Yaroslavl, just steps from the nearest bus stop.