Russia: Two Capitals And Golden Ring - 10 Days

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HIGHLIGHTS

  • Enter into the Kremlin, home to tsars and emperors, commissars and patriarchs
  • Marvel at one of the world’s greatest collections of art at the Hermitage Museum
  • Walk the streets of Suzdal and feel the ancient rhythms of life in this timeless landscape
  • Follow the footsteps of the tsars in Tsarskoye Selo

Russia has sometimes been described as a nation of two souls. While Moscow represents the traditional tsarist Muscovy, with its Orthodox faith and a nearly 900-year-old history, Saint Petersburg represents the other Russia, the nation of artists and intellectuals who always turned west for inspiration.

Join us on this 10-day, guided tour of Russia and cover both these cities as well as the Golden Ring, a cluster of ancient towns and cities. Start with a city tour of Moscow and see some of the city’s most important highlights before heading for Vladimir and Suzdal, two of the cities that are part of the Golden Ring.

Reach Saint Petersburg on the sixth day of the tour and enjoy a river cruise in the city built on 42 islands. Discover some of the greatest works of art in the Hermitage and admire the opulence of the Catherine Palace. Learn more about the man behind the Kirov Ballet during a visit to the Kirov’s Flat Museum.

We will drive you to the airport in Saint Petersburg after the tour is over. For more details, please go through the itinerary below.

Day 1

Welcome to Russia! Upon arrival, you’ll be picked up at the airport and taken to your hotel for check-in. You are free for the rest of the day.

Day 2

As a newly minted Muscovite, it’s only proper that you get to know your city! We start our day with a general tour of Moscow, taking in some of its best-known streets and sites along the way. You’ll have a chance to see the so-called Stalin Sisters, which were built to compete with New York’s skyscrapers.

See the Triumphal Arch and the Church of Christ the Savior before heading to New Maidens Monastery (Novodevichy Convent), Sparrow Hills, Moscow State University, and Luzhniki Stadium. You’ll have time to explore some of these sites before travelling to Red Square.

This morning features one of the highlights of the trip, a tour of the Kremlin: the icon of power, beauty and majesty. Enjoy an unforgettable visit to one of the world’s very few medieval fortresses still fulfilling its intended purpose as a centre of government, a seat of religious authority, a military base and, not to mention, an expression of raw power.

Day 3

You’ve seen the big sites so far. Sites like the Kremlin, Saint Basil’s Cathedral and Novodevichy Convent are must-sees, but the spirit of medieval Moscow can still be found in out-of-the-way places that fewer tourists go to.

Start with a visit to the last remaining section of the Kitai Gorod Wall. Learn more about how the largest city in Europe (even three centuries ago foreigners were incredulous at the size of the city) was defended. Then we’ll head through the streets of Kitai Gorod, the heart of the oldest part of Moscow, although most of what you see today was built between the 18th and the 20th century.

Next, we’ll stop by Romanov Boyar House and the Old English Embassy before heading out to Krutitskoye Podvorye, a secluded part of Moscow which seems to have changed little since the 17th century.

Enjoy a tour of the magnificent Moscow metro in the afternoon. The metro is the heart of Moscow life. Its construction began under Stalin in the 1930’s and was intended to be a showpiece, acting as an underground palace for the people. Today, nearly 9 million people use it on peak days. You’ll explore some of these magnificent stations and get the chance to learn more about the everyday life of the Muscovites.

Day 4

After an early breakfast, you will be taken to Moscow Kursky Railway Station to catch an express train to Vladimir (1 hr 40 min).

Both Vladimir and Suzdal embody the old-world Russia that history buffs dream of. Onion-domed churches rising behind medieval walls surrounded by traditional wooden peasant cottages, all in the middle of the sprawling Russian countryside. These two towns are not to be missed! You’ll explore monasteries which have remained the same for centuries, see the remains of kremlins, and stand in the same place where the terrifying Mongolian army tore down the town gates, bringing the rule of these once independent principalities to a fiery end.

On arrival in Vladimir, you’ll visit the Golden Gate and explore some of Russia’s greatest surviving medieval churches, where you’ll learn about the meaning behind the nearly thousand-year-old sculptures and icons.

On your way from Vladimir to Suzdal (30 minutes), you’ll also visit the Church of the Intercession on the Nerl, widely considered to be the most sublime and elegant examples of medieval Russian architecture. You’ll then take a short drive through the bucolic Russian countryside to Suzdal, where you’ll check into your accommodation for the night.

Day 5

Explore Suzdal, one of central Russia’s fairy-tale towns. After visiting its kremlin, you’ll explore the town’s most important sights. This includes the wooden architecture museum, where you’ll be able to venture inside peasant huts, wooden churches and get the taste of what life was like over a century ago.

Perhaps the highlight of your visit is simply the feeling of being in a seemingly timeless rural environment where you’ll feel the pressures of everyday life subside as you immerse yourself in the atmosphere of a bygone world.

In the afternoon, you’ll transfer to the railway station in Vladimir to catch the train back to Moscow.

Day 6

Take an express train to Saint Petersburg (3.5 hours) in the morning. Upon arrival and checking into the hotel, you’ll go on a general tour of Saint Petersburg.

Saint Petersburg is Russia’s magnificent and stunningly beautiful northern capital. You’ll find the mood here much different from Moscow. Saint Petersburg is also known as Russia’s window to the West, while many regard it as ‘the Venice of the North’.

The city represents Russia’s European side, with its art and architecture inspired by Classical motifs far more than by traditional Russian ones. Yet Saint Petersburg is, in its very otherness, a very Russian city. Home of emperors, the cradle of the 1917 Revolution, the City of the Siege, and the hometown of Putin, Saint Petersburg is as proud as it is embarrassed by the richness of the stories it has to tell. Your general tour of Saint Petersburg includes the highlights: Senate Square, Saint Isaac Square and Palace Square, Nevski Prospekt, and the Smolny Institute.

Enjoy a river cruise in the evening. A city built on 42 islands, Saint Petersburg is surrounded by water and interlaced with a complex web of rivers, canals and channels. The city’s classical architecture is low-rise, which means that you’ll get great views from the water. A river cruise is an essential Saint Petersburg experience.

Day 7

Tsarskoye Selo (Tsar’s Village) got its name because many of the tsar’s palaces were located here, outside the former capital city of Saint Petersburg, including the stunning 18th century Catherine Palace with its famous Amber Room, which you will see during the tour.

Transfer to Peterhof next (1 hour). One of Saint Petersburg’s most famous attractions, Peterhof Palace (also known as Petrodvorets) and its gardens are often referred to as “the Russian Versailles”, although many visitors conclude that the comparison does a disservice to the grandeur and scope of this majestic estate. This ensemble of palaces is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Day 8

Visit the Hermitage, one of the world’s greatest art museums that is partly housed in St Petersburg’s Winter Palace, in the morning. This is a museum where the building is as much a star exhibit as the art on display is.

Visit Kirov’s Flat Museum in the afternoon. A real, off-the-beaten-track destination that sees few visitors, this flat museum is dedicated to the Leningrad party boss Sergei Kirov, the man behind the famous Kirov Ballet.

Learn more about the man who inspired the name. Kirov was a friend of Stalin’s and his murder in 1934 provided the ostensible pretext for the Great Terror of 1937-38. This flat museum is a fascinating stop, a look into how the Soviet elite lived in the time when “all animals were equal, but some were more equal than others”.

Day 9

You have a free day in Saint Petersburg today. Feel free to explore the city on your own.

Day 10

After breakfast in your hotel, you will be taken to Pulkovo Airport to catch your flight home.

  • Accommodation as per the itinerary
  • Pickup and drop-off transfers. Local train tickets (Moscow – Vladimir – Moscow & Moscow – St Petersburg). Other transport provided by modern, air-conditioned car
  • Local guides during the tours mentioned on the itinerary available in English, French, German & Italian languages
  • Breakfasts only. One bottle of water per person per day
  • Entrance fees to all museums and sites mentioned in the itinerary
  • International flights
  • Travel and medical insurance
  • All meals excluding breakfast
  • Expenses incurred due to flight delays/cancellations
  • Expenses that are personal in nature
  • Gratuities to guides, drivers, restaurant and hotel staff
  • Anything mentioned optional on the itinerary

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Russia: Two Capitals And Golden Ring
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