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.
Moscow and St Petersburg Tour Highlights
- Enjoy a very special evening at White Rabbit, heralded as one of Restaurant Magazine’s top restaurants in the world. White Rabbit combines a whimsical Alice in Wonderland theme with elegant service, creative takes on Russian cuisine and a domed glass roof providing breathtaking views of the city
- Immerse yourself in the atmosphere of one of the world’s biggest metropolises on a guided walking tour of Moscow, including the Red Square, the Kremlin and St Basil’s Cathedral
- Explore Moscow’s famously elaborate Metro stations on the way to the Tretyakov State Gallery, the national treasury of Russian fine art and one of the greatest museums in the world
Embark on an endlessly enthralling exploration of the places that shaped Russia’s history on this 11-day tour of Moscow, St Petersburg and the Golden Ring. From the reign of the Tsars to the iron grip of the USSR to the people and projects ushering in a new era of cultural expression and innovation, you’ll gain a deeper insight into Russia’s ancient heritage and a fascinating glimpse into its future.
- Moscow City Walking Tour: Immerse yourself in the atmosphere of one of the world’s biggest metropolises on a guided tour of Moscow on foot, taking in the Red Square, the Kremlin, the fantastical St Basil’s Cathedral and more
- Moscow Metro Tour: go deep underground on a subway tour of the famous metro system, a Soviet innovation renowned for its palatial, lavishly decorated stations
- Mini Golden Ring Tour: spend two days in the gorgeous Russian countryside visiting three of the most beautiful towns of the historic Golden Ring – the medieval village of Vladimir, Suzdal’s storybook wooden houses and Sergei Posad, the “Russian Vatican”
Get on board for the ultimate North Pole adventure. Nothing compares to experiencing the untamed grandeur of the Arctic quite like seeing its majestic landscapes unfold from the deck of a state-of-the-art nuclear icebreaker. Imagine endless expanses of ice under the polar midnight sun. Pristine waters teeming with marine life. Prowling polar bears in the tundra. This is Mother Nature at her breathtaking best.
From Murmansk, Russia, you’ll embark the icebreaker 50 Years of Victory for a roundtrip voyage to the earth’s geographic North Pole. Our mighty vessel will plough its way through the frozen Arctic Ocean on a cruise that literally circumnavigates the globe in a matter of days. In addition to the exhilaration of cruising to the very apex of the earth, passengers will have the extraordinary privilege to land, via helicopter, on the scarcely visited Russian Arctic archipelago of Franz Josef Land, a remote wilderness home to an incredible abundance of wildlife.
NORTH POLE CRUISE HIGHLIGHTS
- After 7 days of cruising from Murmansk, we’ll arrive at the geographic North Pole, the place where all meridians meet and the only direction is south. To celebrate our successful mission to the top of the world, we’ll ceremoniously drop anchor and disembark on a sturdy stretch of ice for the ‘International Round Dance’ – a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to literally walk around the world!
- Franz Josef Land: Weather permitting, we’ll spend two days exploring this uninhabited archipelago, one most pristine Arctic habitats on earth. Made up of192 islands, glaciers cover 85% of the land, carving out a spectacular terrain of steep valleys, caves and pinnacles
The Golden Ring is the name given a popular tourist route that connects a network of ancient towns north-east of Moscow. This 2-day Golden Ring tour will take you on a quest for unique architectural constructions dating from the 12th to the 17th centuries. During this short detour from Moscow, you will discover the age-old allure of Mother Russia from generations past. Travel from the capital to the countryside, where golden spires and the onion-shaped domes of colourful monasteries dot the horizon. Explore enchanting towns and fairy tale villages, set against the picturesque backdrop of rural Russia as you learn about the war and peacetime history, religion, and culture of a part of Russia that still holds fast to time-honoured traditions and a leisurely, provincial way of life.
- The village of Suzdal appears like a scene from a Russian storybook and has inspired artists and writers for centuries. Wander wide-eyed through quiet laneways and cobblestone plazas, passing horse-drawn buggies and medieval churches
- Vladimir is a former medieval Russian capital whose main historic monuments are UNESCO’s World Heritage sites, including the Cathedral of the Assumption, which features murals by 15th century Russian masters, and the Golden Gate, part of the city’s 12th century defenses against the invading Mongol armies
- Sergiev Posad is one of the most important spiritual centres of the Orthodox Church, sometimes referred to as the ‘Russian Vatican’ for its magnificent white churches with their signature blue and gold cupolas.
Karelia is situated to the north of St.Petersburg: it stretches along the border with Finland up to the Arctic Circle and is abundant with forests, lakes and rivers, including the Ladoga and the Onega – the two largest lakes in Europe. This singular place in the Russian North is truly a land of primordial nature. The Karelia tour will take you on scenic boat rides to some of the region’s many lakes or rivers, trekking with huskies on trails in the beautiful pine forests and picking berries in the woods. Take your time. Wander around. Enjoy the scenery.
Gems of Karelia Trip Highlights
- The Kizhi Open Air Museum of Wooden Architecture is one of the most unmissable greatest cultural attractions in Russia. The island contains some 83 relocated wooden buildings from the 17th to the 19th centuries, with the crown jewel being the elaborate 1714 Church of the Transfiguration
- The Valaam Archipelago is a group of 50 islands in Lake Lagoda, the largest lake in Europe. The heart of Valaam is its magnificent monastery complex, which is somewhere between 1000 and 600 years old and was at the centre of the 16th-century power struggle between the Russians and Swedes
This short detour from either Moscow or St Petersburg gives you the chance to explore some of the most remarkable historical and natural landmarks of Karelia. Known as Russia’s ‘Land of Lakes’, Karelia is a republic with its own unique culture, bordering Finland and the White Sea. Your tour begins in Petrozavodsk, the largest city in Karelia and the gateway to Kizhi Island, the most visually spectacular cultural site in Karelia. We’ll reach Kizhi by rapid hydrofoil boat, giving us plenty of time to explore the World Heritage Listed Kizhi Pogost, a collection of 17th and 18th-century churches, elaborately and fantastically crafted entirely out of wood.
- The Kizhi Open Air Museum is a World Heritage site and one of the most unmissable greatest cultural attractions in Russia. The island contains some 83 relocated buildings from the 17th to the 19th centuries, each one elaborately crafted out of wood
- The crown jewel of Khizi is the Transfiguration Church, an architectural masterpiece featuring a chorus of wooden domes, gables and ingenious decorations designed to keep water off the walls. Built without using a single nail, it has withstood the elements for over 150 years
The Reindeer Herder’s Festival is a one-day holiday, celebrated annually in the Salekhard and Aksarka, the two major towns within the Yamal-Nenets region in the Russian Arctic. In 2019, the festival will take place on 23rd March in Salekhard and 7th April in Aksarka village. For the nomadic Nenets people, festival day is a major event, which offers a chance to meet with friends and compete in contests of physical skill and a variety of other competitions. It has also become an event in which the Nenets are able share with the world a fascinating slice of their unique culture, which has remained relatively unchanged through the centuries. On this tour you not only will witness the Reindeer Herders’ Festival in Yamal but also will stay with a Nenet family far from the city, giving you an amazing opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the nomadic way of life.
- Salekhard (population 43,000) is the only city in the world located right at the Polar Circle. Despite its remoteness, it harbours a great deal of wealth as the city at the centre of one of the world’s richest oil and gas regions
- Reindeer Herder’s Festival Day: On the day of the festival, thousands of Nenets and Khanty descend on Salekhard. The day is a massive celebration, a huge social event for the usually isolated nomads and an incredible spectacle, with reindeer sleigh races, reindeer wrangling, wrestling competitions, a beauty contest for the women in their finest traditional dress
Experience a train journey unlike any other. An adventure on rails to the top of the world, the lands above the Arctic Circle where the mythical Aurora Borealis performs her breathtaking celestial dance in the velvet black Polar night sky. This compelling 12-day Northern Lights Train Tour showcases the unique contrast between two of Russia’s most majestic cities and the isolated yet charming communities deep within the Russian and Norwegian Arctic Circle. Commencing in St. Petersburg, we visit some of the city’s most prominent historical and cultural sites, before embarking on this remarkable Arctic railway adventure in search of the elusive Aurora Borealis.
Arctic Rail Explorer Tour Highlights:
- Admire the architectural splendour of one of Europe’s most beautiful cities on a guided two-day tour of St Petersburg that includes St Isaac’s Cathedral and the Hermitage, as well as a trip to Pushkin to visit the extravagant Catherine Palace
- In the extreme north of Norway, above the Arctic Circle lies Kirkenes, a tiny frontier town near the Russian border. Ride a snowmobile across the frozen fjords outside town and try your hand at fishing for the Arctic’s most prized seafood, the king crab