Arriving in Moscow and St Petersburg in winter has been likened to stepping into a novel – a land of exotic fur hats and snow-dusted cathedral domes. This tour will take place between December 29 and 5 January to include an unforgettable New Year’s Eve in Moscow, one of the most exciting cities in the world to celebrate with the locals and “party like a Russian”! Or you can choose any other dates.
While in Moscow you’ll discover some of the city’s most iconic attractions and lesser known gems, including a guided tour of the Kremlin and a day excursion to opulent royal estate of Kolomenskoye. Next, we’ll travel by high-speed train to St Petersburg to experience the romance of one of the world’s most beautiful cities in dazzling white winter dress. Delve into the treasures of the Hermitage Museum (without the summer crowds!) and enjoy a traditional troika sleigh ride in Pavlovsk Park.
3* hotels (can be upgraded to 4* or 5*)
Sightseeing, Winter wonderland
Type of tour
8 days / 7 nights
min 2 people
You’ve arrived! Welcome to Moscow, the monumental capital of Mother Russia! Your driver will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your centrally located hotel. Spend the rest of the day relaxing or exploring the local area. This is a good time to shop for winter clothes if you need them – just check out what the locals wear and follow suit!
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. On this 2,5 hours cruise, you will enjoy the most remarkable sights of Moscow and drinks. Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday you will be able to enjoy a live musical accompaniment.
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 a day with a tour of 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 Moskva 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 Cathedral of Christ the Saviour; the observation platform at Sparrow Hills, for a bird’s eye view over this staggering megalopolis.
After a lunch break (self-paid), the second half of the day you will visit 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 and with a short stroll at famous Arbat street.
There’s no better way to acquaint yourself with Moscow than a walking tour of the historic city centre. Our guided walk will include a stroll through the Red Square, the hub of cultural life in Moscow, with its fantastical St Basil’s Cathedral – a postcard-perfect symbol of the nation. Walk the fancy Manezhnaya Square and the Zero Kilometre, the starting point for all roads in Moscow. Admire the grandiose façade of GUM, the city’s most luxurious shopping centre, and visit Alexander’s Garden, with its eternal flame and the chance to watch a changing of the guards.
If you’re looking for the perfect Christmas gift for that special someone, or maybe you’re just wanting to soak up that joyful Christmas spirit, possibly with a side of Russian caviar, no matter what’s got you in the mood for a Christmas market at the Red Square, the selection here won’t disappoint. There are more than 200 wooden stands, where you can try traditional Russian foods, such as crepes with caviar, and baked potatoes with mushrooms and pickles. You can also keep yourself warm by drinking mulled wine! If you need to pick up a few souvenirs, this is a good spot, with traditional items such as Khohloma toys, Orenburg shawls, and Russian gingerbread for purchase. Of course, there are also plenty of Christmas tree decorations to tempt you. If you’ve got kids, be sure to head to the middle of the market, where there’s a carousel and slide to keep them entertained.
Touring the grounds, you’ll discover the history behind the ancient frescoes and icons of stunning cathedrals like the Assumption Cathedral and the Archangel Cathedral, the royal burial vault until the 18th century. You’ll get to meet two prominent Russian tsars in person – the Tsar Bell, and the Tsar Cannon, the largest in the world.
Within the Kremlin complex is the Armoury Chamber, famous for its collection of tsarist fashion, with regalia such as jewel-encrusted crowns, orbs and sceptres as well as arms and armour, exotic gifts from faraway lands, and an illustrious case of Imperial Faberge eggs.
Take your time to wake up after celebrations. Closer to lunch time, we’ll embark on a tour a few kilometres from busy central Moscow to Kolomenskoye, a former royal estate in the middle of a scenic expanse of parkland. Spanning over 900 acres, the estate was a former country residence for the Grand Dukes of Moscow. Built in 1532, the stone Ascension Church is the oldest original structure and has been recognised for its World Heritage value. Various Tsars over the centuries built their own fanciful summer palaces here, and Kolomenskoye became famous for its masterful examples of Russian wooden architecture.
In 1923, it was converted into an open-air museum, featuring original structures from the 17th and 18th century and a reconstruction of Tsar Alexei’s great wooden palace, regarded as one of the most beautiful examples of 17th century Russian architecture.
As an option* we also can visit Izmailovo District in the northeast, home to Moscow’s lesser-known “second” kremlin. In truth, Izmailovo Kremlin is not a fortress as the word implies, but was built as a cultural education centre in 2007. Nevertheless, Izmailovo is an enchanting mix of tradition and kitsch - a fairy tale depiction of Old Russia complete with multi-coloured spires and the Romanov coat of arms. Other buildings in the complex are interactive museums dedicated to subjects such as folk art, vodka and bread. A wooden bridge connects the Kremlin to Izmailovo’s historic open-air market. Dating back to the 17th century, today the market is a maze of covered stalls, divided into a crafts and souvenir bazaar and an everyday flea market.
In the afternoon* (or evening time if opt-in for Izmailovo tour), we’ll transfer to Moscow’s central train station to board the Sapsan (high speed train), which will whisk us to our next destination, St Petersburg, completing the 700km journey in just four hours.
Meet your guide in the lobby and begin your discovery of Russia’s ‘Cultural Capital’ with a walking tour of St Petersburg’s most popular attractions. At this time of year, the city is at its most beautiful. The streets are relaxed and uncrowded, the iconic Neva River becomes a wilderness of ice, and the city’s gilded monuments glow against a backdrop of winter sky and bare trees covered in crystalline frost.
Your tour will include Nevsky Prospect, St. Petersburg’s fanciful high street, the Anichokov Bridge and Palace, viewpoints over the frozen 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 Russian emperors from Peter the Great to Nicholas II.
Today we’ll take a glimpse into the royal excess of the 18th century Tsars with a guided visit to Tsarskoe Selo, a lavish estate that rivals Versailles for sheer extravagance. A former residence of the imperial family, Tsarskoe Selo is located just outside the city in the charming suburb of Pushkin town. Originally built in 1717 for Peter the Great’s wife, Catherine I and later revamped by their daughter Elizabeth to suit her rather more flamboyant tastes, Catherine Palace is undoubtedly the highlight of Tsarskoe Selo’s dozens of monuments. The blue and white facade features delicate gold ornamentation. Inside, more than 20 rooms overflow with ostentatious décor, including the Amber Room and the Hall of Light.
If there’s one must-do in St Petersburg in winter, it’s a traditional troika ride! Perhaps the quintessential image of the Russian winter, a troika is a sled-like carriage drawn by three horses harnessed side-by-side. The best place to experience a troika ride is Pavlovsk Park, a vast slice of Russian countryside in the city. Be swept up in the magical winter scenery, passing beautiful wooded areas and meandering streams.
Start the morning with a leisurely 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. Today you’ll be treated to a very special private tour of the Hermitage, 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, the Hermitage 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.
We wholeheartedly recommend taking up tonight’s optional evening activity* – attending a ballet or opera performance at the world famous Mariinsky Theatre.
Another option* to consider - a tour of Konstantinovsky Palace the revived residence of Grand Dukes of the House of Romanovs, is an architectural dominant of the State Complex “The National Congress Palace”, located on the picturesque coast of the Gulf of Finland, less than 20 km away from Saint Petersburg's city centre. It is surrounded by parks which are decorated with the inimitable ensemble of fountains, canals, draw bridges and splendid rosaries. Today within the palace expositions Russian painting, decorative and applied arts of XVIII-XX centuries including the world-famous collection of M. Rostropovich and G. Vishnevskaya are widely presented. At the grottos of Konstantin Palace wine cellars with one of the greatest collection of elite wines in the world are placed. The palace is surrounded by the park, extending to the coast of the Gulf of Finland. The complex is justly considered to be one of the most prestigious places for events of any level – all rooms are equipped at a state-of-the-art level. The G20 and G8 summits, meetings of the Russia-EU format, negotiations between heads of states and governments, official visits are all held in the state residence.
Today is the end of our time in the Russian capitals, but we hope, the start of a great new year! After check-out, you’ll be transferred to the airport, for one last look at the spectacular, snow- blanketed city of St Petersburg from the air.
Centrally located 3* hotels (twin/double occupancy), can be upgraded to 4* or 5*
Breakfasts in the hotels
Local English-speaking tour leaders, licensed professional guides for sightseeing, professional driver
*Download the detailed itinerary for more information.
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
|Dec 29, 2018 - Jan 5, 2019
|Available||US $1,889||US $439||Reserve|
|Your own dates
||Available||US $1,889||US $439||Reserve|
We invite you to feel the atmosphere of the holiday and magic of winter St. Petersburg, Petrozavodsk, Vologda and to celebrate the New Year beyond the Arctic Circle on the shores ...
If you have any urgent questions or enquiries, please give us a call +61 2 9388 9816