Russia’s story is evolving at a rapid pace, and nowhere is this intermingling of the ancient and the avant-garde more apparent than in its two largest metropolises, Moscow and St Petersburg. This carefully crafted Moscow and St Petersburg Tour itinerary tells the tale of two cities – Moscow, the source of Eastern political, economic and spiritual influence, and St Petersburg – Russia’s cultural epicentre and window to Western Europe. During this fabulous 9 day Moscow and St Petersburg tour, you’ll stay in some of the country’s most stylish, centrally located urban hotels. Discover Moscow and St Petersburg plus a portion of the historical Golden Ring route by plush private transport. Travel business class on the high speed Sapsan train between Moscow and St Petersburg and spoil yourself even more with a choice of optional activities including a sublime night out at the opera or ballet at the Bolshoi Theatre, a luxurious Moscow dinner cruise and an evening of classical music at one of St Petersburg’s beautiful palaces turned concert halls.
Type of tour
9 days / 8 nights
Private - Any Date
Welcome to Moscow, the monumental capital of Russia! On arrival at the airport, you’ll be met by your driver and transferred to your centrally located hotel. Spend the rest of the day relaxing or getting acquainted with the local area on your own.
For this evening we’ve booked a table for you and your travel partners at one of the finest restaurants in the world and the most famous gastronomic attraction in Moscow – White Rabbit. Enjoy contemporary take on traditional cuisine while immersed in 360-degree views of the majestic Russian capital.
Our Moscow discovery starts with a walking tour of historical city centre. Meet your knowledgeable guide at the hotel lobby and embark on a tour of Moscow’s main attractions including the Red Square, the State Historical Museum, GUM (a luxurious shopping centre), the colourful Saint Basil's Cathedral and other sights.
Almost every building in the historical centre of Moscow is associated with legendary events and celebrated personalities of Russian history and culture. See and hear the stories behind some of the most beloved places in the city.
The Red Square, the hub of Russia, with its fantastic "stone flower" - St Basil Cathedral, and the fanciful Manezhnaya Square where you’ll find the Zero Kilometre, a starting point for all Moscow roads. At Alexander’s Garden, an eternal flame serves as a moving WW2 memorial, and there’s a chance to watch a changing of the guards.
Have a delicious lunch (self-paid) in Dr. Zhivago restaurant on Tverskaya Street overlooking the Kremlin. In this Moscow institution, vintage art pieces are organically woven into a modern interior for a sophisticated spin on Soviet era nostalgia.
After lunch, your day continues with a tour of the Kremlin and Armoury Chamber, a former residence of the Russian tsars. After the 1917 Revolution it was the centre of operations for the USSR and today serves the seat of the Russian President and a unique cultural museum complex consisting of monuments, palaces and cathedrals. A tour of the grounds will take you to sights like the Assumption Cathedral, where tsars and emperors were crowned. The Archangel Cathedral was the burial vault of the tsars until the 18th century. You will get to meet the two prominent Russian tsars in person - the Tsar Bell and the Tsar Cannon, the largest medieval cannon in the world.
While touring the Kremlin, you will also visit Armoury Chamber, famous for its Tsarist regalia such as jewellery, crowns, clothing orbs and sceptres. The collection contains royal carriages, an impressive display of arms and armour and gifts to the Russian Tsars from various leaders of the East and West, as well as an illustrious assortment of Faberge Easter eggs.
Take your time to relax as we prepare something special as an option* for this evening. After dinner at your hotel, we head out for an unforgettable night at the opera or the Russian ballet at the iconic Bolshoi Theatre. The Bolshoi’s resident opera and ballet troupes rate among the finest in the world, and many consider this experience alone to be worth the trip to Moscow.
Today we explore the city further, giving you a sense of the city’s sheer size, and an impression of how Moscow has changed throughout the ages. Start with a tour of the 19th century Tretyakov State Gallery, the world’s foremost depositary of Russian fine art, containing over 130,000 exhibits, with work by Rublev, Kandinsky, Repin and many others. We’ll get to the gallery via a Metro Tour, stopping on the way to marvel at some of the most elaborately decorated stations of the world famous Moscow subway system.
Next, you’ll visit the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, one of the most important churches in Russia. Beside the cathedral is a bridge with fantastic views of this part of the city. Next, we explore the Red October district, and a vibrant hangout for Moscow’s youth, with its old industrial alleyways and lovingly restored courtyards lined with chic cafes, designer studios and galleries.
After a lunch break, the second half of the day consists of a wandering sojourn through some of Moscow’s most famous streets and squares. Walk through Lubyanskaya Square, the notorious former headquarters of the KGB. Next, visit the starkly contrasting Theatre Square to see the stunning Bolshoi Theatre. Stroll along Tverskaya and Nikolskaya streets, the city’s main boulevard and home to the landmark Yeleseyevskiy Grocery Store, a former palace turned luxury providore. We’ll also explore Boulevard Ring, where Russian nobles built their exquisite 18th and 19th century mansions, and Kutuzoyskiy Avenue with its Triumphal Arch.
Driving through the new business district, we’ll enjoy a panoramic drive along the Mosvka River, where a huge, controversial state of Peter the Great was erected. Pass by the legendary Gorky Park and the White House before a stop at the architecturally stunning Novodevichy Convent, and the observation platform at Sparrow Hills, for a bird’s eye view over this staggering megalopolis.
As an option*, we suggest you spend this night on a sumptuous cruise, taking in the sights and sounds of this mesmerising city by night. The 2.5 hours cruise sails past some of the city’s most remarkable landmarks. Drinks are included, as well as live musical accompaniment every Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Today we’ll travel to the rural provinces north of Moscow to check out one of the most famous towns on the historical Golden Ring circuit, Sergiev Posad, located 75km to the northeast of Moscow.
The spiritual heart of the Orthodox Church, Sergiev Posad is known as the Russian Vatican thanks to the gleaming blue and gold cupolas scattered all around the town. After reaching the city, you will be stroke by the difference of the architecture and way of life. Our afternoon will include a visit to the resplendent Trinity Lavra, dedicated to Russia’s patron saint. Built in 1423, the working monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage site, with a cathedral brimming with works by many of Russia’s greatest religious painters.
Sergiev Posad is also the birthplace of matryoshka, known in the west as the Russian doll or babushka. You can see some rare nesting dolls and other wooden toys and dolls in the town's Toy Museum or do some matryoshka shopping in the market square near the monastery gates.
Lunch will be served at the Russian Courtyard café-restaurant, before our trip back to Moscow. After our arrival, we’ll board a Sapsan – a Russian high-speed train – which will speed us on to our next destination, St Petersburg, completing the 700km journey in just four hours. On arrival in St Petersburg, you’ll be transferred straight to your centrally located hotel.
Meet your St Petersburg guide in the lobby and begin your discovery of Russia’s ‘Cultural Capital’ with a walking tour of the city’s most popular attractions. Your walking tour will include Nevsky Prospect, St. Petersburg’s fanciful high street, the Anichokov Bridge and Palace, viewpoints over the Fontaka and Moika rivers, St. Isaac’s Cathedral, Palace Square and the Senate Square, with its bronze horseman monument to Peter the Great and the Church of the Spilled Blood.
You’ll also get the chance to stroll the grounds of the magnificent Peter and Paul Fortress on the banks of the Lena River, a burial place for the Russian emperors from Peter the Great to Nicholas II.
Take time out for lunch at one of the myriad restaurants and cafes on Nevsky Prospect. We suggest Mamalyga, whose gastronomic ideology is about introducing its guests to the distinctive and delicious Caucasian cuisines, including Georgian, Imeretian, Armenian, Gurian, Megrel, Svan and Adzharia.
Next, relax on a boat ride along canals of St Petersburg. Nicknamed the “Venice of the North” the city is bound together by a complex network of rivers, canals, channels and islands that also mark the borders of St Petersburg’s varying districts and neighbourhoods. You’ll gain a different perspective of St. Petersburg's majestic buildings, ornate palaces and grand architectural landmarks of the imperial age.
As an option* for this evening, we invite you to experience an evening of classical music at one of St. Petersburg’s beautiful palaces. Take a seat in the magnificent Hall of the Palace, then, lose yourself in much-loved works by Russian composers such as Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich and others, played by one of the world class orchestras of St Petersburg. Before the raising of the curtains, enjoy an interesting pre-concert tour of the palace's halls and a glass of sparkling wine.
Today we’ll take a a day trip (5 hours) to the UNESCO World Heritage listed Peterhof (Petrodvorets). Travelling by fast boat, we’ll avoid the rush hour traffic and take in fine scenery along the riverbanks. Peterhof was once the opulent summer resort of the Romanovs. Today, it is a huge open-air museum and a testament to Peter the Great’s contribution to the city’s development. Peter's daughter, Empress Elizabeth, who ordered the expansion of the Grand Palace, greatly extended the park and its famous system of fountains, including the immense Grand Cascade.
Learn about Peter the Great’s maritime passions and plans for his seafront estate. Admire the palace’s grand interiors, including the Throne Room and the White Dining Room. Then, take a walking tour around the fountain-adorned Lower Park.
In the afternoon, enjoy a self-guided tour of the recently opened Faberge Museum, a private collection of over 4,000 Faberge Eggs and other bejewelled objects of desire, elegantly displayed inside the stunning Shuvalov Palace.
Today starts with a walk to the Palace Square to admire the grand designs of the Tsar’s Winter Palace, now a part of the State Hermitage Museum complex. You’ll be treated to a very special private tour of the Hermitage (4 hours), allowing you to ask as many questions as you like while exploring the colossal exhibitions on display. Considered one of the greatest art museums in the world, it preserves over three million precious objects from the Stone Age to the 20th century, including the largest collection of paintings in the world. Housed here are works by classical European masters like Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Veronese and Tintoretto, as well as a gallery of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists.
As an afternoon option* embark on a tour of Konstantinovsky Palace, the revived residence of Grand Dukes of the House of Romanovs. The architecturally dominant structure now known as the National Congress Palace is located on the picturesque coast of the Gulf of Finland, less than 20km from St Petersburg's city centre. The palace is surrounded by parks which are decorated with an inimitable ensemble of fountains, canals, draw bridges and splendid rosaries. Today, the interiors serve as an exhibit for Russian painting, decorative and applied arts of the XVIII-XX centuries including a world-famous collection of M. Rostropovich and G. Vishnevskaya. At the grottos of Konstantin Palace is a cellar housing one of the greatest collection of elite wines in the world. The palace is surrounded by the park, extending to the coast of the Gulf of Finland. The state-of-the-art complex is used official visits of heads of state and has hosted the G20 and G8 summits.
Experience the extravagance of the Imperial rulers on an excursion to the suburban estates of the Romanov Tsars. Tsarskoye Selo (Tsar’s village) is now part of the nearby town of Pushkin and is one of Saint Petersburg’s finest attractions. Amid exquisite parks and gardens you’ll find the baroque Catherine Palace, a dazzling testament to Catherine’s love of luxury and royal excess. Envision Catherine strolling with her beloved dogs through acres of private gardens, where remarkable structures like the Marble Bridge, the Dutch Admiralty and the Creaking Pagoda were constructed for her amusement. We also explore the neoclassical Alexander Palace, whose tumultuous history paints a fascinating portrait of the Romanov family and the replica of the world-renowned Amber Room.
We’ll also visit Pavlovsk Palace and Park, commissioned by Catherine as the summer residence of her son, Emperor Paul I. Unlike its stately counterparts, the Pavlovsk Palace does not feel official at all and has the aura of a country mansion. The 600-hectare park is one of the largest landscaped parks in Europe and undoubtedly one of the most beautiful parks in the world. The park is decorated by statues, monuments and bridges, and is home to several architectural pavilions creating an atmosphere of classic romanticism.
During the second part of the day, tour Yusupov Palace on the Moika River, best known as the scene of the assassination of Rasputin. Having survived much of the WWII destruction that wreaked havoc on many of St Petersburg’s suburbs, it’s one of the area’s few aristocratic homes to have retained much of its original character.
For our final evening in St Petersburg, we have booked a table at the newly opened Birch restaurant, which showcases European cuisine with an inspired Asian touch.
Today you’ll be transferred to the airport, as our Moscow and Saint Petersburg tour has come to an end. We hope you’ll taking a little piece of the Russian spirit home with you, as you farewell this beautiful country, until next time!
Centrally located 4* hotels (twin/double occupancy), can be upgraded to 5*:
Breakfasts at the hotel
Local licensed English-speaking tour guides, professional drivers
Russian visa support documents.
*Russian visa can be arranged by 56th Parallel for an additional cost (for Australian citizens only). Apply for comprehensive visa service here.
Flights, travel insurance, visa, optional excursions, individual transfers, tips
Rosalyn and Geoffrey DidierAustralia
Whether it’s the main sites you’re interested in seeing or getting a taste of the local life, they will tailor your trip with the utmost professionalism, friendliness and fun. My experience began when I was collected from the airport in Moscow and transferred to my hotel, where I was greeted by Olga. Her enthusiasm and charm was instantly apparent and made me feel very welcome and comfortable.
Natalie & Alex PetukhAustralia
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