8 days

Treasures of the Tsars

Treasures of the Tsars

The Hermitage and canals of the 'Venice of the North’ - UNESCO World Heritage-listed St Petersburg

UNESCO World Heritage-listed Red Square and the multi-coloured onion domes of St Basil’s Cathedral

Trip rating
  • This is the perfect tour of Russia's glorious past. Surround yourself with culture, history and breathtaking architecture and get beneath the surface of a country that for so long guarded their treasures from the west.

     

    Warning - this is a new trip for us!
    While we have thoroughly researched this area to put together this trip, it still must be remembered that this is a relatively new trip for us. To be frank, we expect some things to go wrong. When we head to new destinations, we usually find there are more pleasant surprises in store than unpleasant ones, but the warning is sincere. If it concerns you then we recommend that you wait for a year until we get any bugs ironed out.

    Itinerary

    Day 1 - Moscow

    • Zdrastvutye! Welcome to Russia.
    • The great city of Moscow has survived centuries of revolution and seen Russia through some of its most turbulent years, from the days of the tsars through the communist era to the growing pains of democracy. Beneath its modern veneer - a sign of Russia's recent embrace of capitalism - Moscow is a fascinating, historic city with a wealth of sights to see.
    • You will be collected from the airport on arrival. Your adventure will begin with a welcome meeting at 6:00pm. Please make sure your bring your passport and insurance details with you to the meeting.
    • Your tour leader will arrange dinner (included) at a local restaurant after the meeting to delve straight into delicious Russian cuisine.
    • Our hotel in Moscow is the 4 star rated boutique Marco Polo Presnja. It was built in 1904 and still retains its grand sense of history. There is free WiFi available throughout the hotel and safe boxes both in the rooms and at the reception desk. Paid services include a mini-bar, laundry service, taxi ordering and theatre ticket booking. Marco Polo Presnja is located approx 10 min walk from the central Tverskaya/Pushkinskaya Metro Station and around 30 mins on foot from Red Square.
    • If you arrive in Moscow early (which we definitely recommend as there is plenty to see and do!) why not take one of our Urban Adventure day tours? For information and bookings, visit: http://www.moscowurbanadventures.com/
    Marco Polo Presnja Hotel or similar
    Dinner

    Day 2 - Moscow

    • Head to iconic Red Square with a local guide. This beautiful cobbled city square is framed by St Basils Cathedral, the opulent GUM Department store, the imposing walls of the Kremlin and the fairy-tale building of the State Historical Museum. We have the option of travelling by Metro (1 station, plus approx 10 min walk to and from the station) or on foot (approx 30 mins walk) taking us through interesting historic streets.
    • Join the sometimes long queue lining up to visit Lenin, the initiator of the 1917 Russian revolution which ushered in the era of communism, at his austere mausoleum on Red Square. (Please note that on occasion Lenin's Mausoleum and Red Square may be closed to the public during regular opening hours without prior warning.)
    • Enter the Kremlin grounds which house the oldest and most important churches in the country, where many Tsars and Tsarinas are laid to rest. Also head inside the Armoury Museum which houses a glittering imperial collection of regalia and items once belonging to the world's richest monarchy, including Faberge eggs and ambassadorial gifts.
    • As Moscow's premier tourist attractions, tickets for the Kremlin and Armoury are in high demand. In order to control the number of tour groups entering these sights at one time the Moscow Tourism Administration has set strict quotas. The amount of time guides can spend with their groups is also restricted to 90 minutes in each area, with any exceptions possibly resulting in the guide losing their license, so while we appreciate that some travellers would like to spend longer in the Armoury Museum we ask for your understanding that the guide is under pressure to keep to the schedule.
    • The Diamond Fund isn't included in our tour, but after the Kremlin and Armoury there may be time to visit. Entrance tickets can be purchased in the ticket office at the Armoury. The Diamond Fund is open for visitors from 10am to 1pm and from 2pm to 4pm. Thursday it is closed. Please talk to your leader at the Group Meeting if you are interested in this option.
    • We spend a lot of time on our feet today at the various museums and sites. There will be a few opportunities to sit down and rest, but the sights are vast and you will need to be in reasonable fitness in order to enjoy the days activities.
    • If you have free time in Moscow before or during your tour may also like to:
    • Step inside the colourful St Basil's Cathedral on Red Square. Legend has it that tsar, Ivan the Terrible, had the two architects blinded so that they couldn't build anything as beautiful. Relive the nation's turbulent past at Victory Park. The Izmailovo Markets are considered the best place for souvenir shopping. Travel back to the beginnings of Russian art at the Tretyakov Gallery.
    • Metro is the easiest way to get around the city as taxis can be expensive, although do be warned it can be very busy during peak times as most locals use the Metro to get to and from work. There are escalators in combination with stairs and tunnels, so using the Metro does still involve a lot of walking. It's not too difficult to navigate once you get the hang of it and many of the stations are sights in themselves. Resist the urge to take photos however as this is not permitted. Your leader can give you an orientation to help you make the most of using the Metro to get around.
    Marco Polo Presnja Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 3 - Pereslavl Zalessky (Golden Ring)

    • After breakfast this morning we head out of the big city by private mini van to the Golden Ring town of Pereslavl Zalessky (approx 3-4 hours/150 km). While nearby Suzdal and Vladimir might be more famous, Pereslavl Zalessky has the same ancient history of the other medieval towns in the region that once formed Russia’s political, spiritual and cultural heartland.
    • We take a tour of the varied sights using both our mini van and on foot. The Yury Dolgoruky Kremlin is the centrepiece with one of the oldest churches in the country, the Transfiguration of the Saviour Cathedral, flanked by other smaller chapels and domes.
    • Another highlight is the picturesque Trubezh River and Lake Pleshcheyevo, flanked by small cottages known as dachas many of which are Muscovites summer homes.
    • We'll have an included lunch at a local cafe to break up the sightseeing and an optional dinner tonight at a restaurant recommended by your leader.
    • Our accommodation in Pereslavl-Zalessky will depend on availability and may either be at the newly built Petrovskiy Hotel which has private twin share rooms, an attached cafe and shopping centre or at the Art Hotel. Art Hotel is Bed & Breakfast style accommodation, cozily decorated by the resident artist. Depending on the size of the group, some rooms and bathrooms may be shared and Single Supplement may not be available.
    Breakfast | Lunch

    Day 4 - Rostov Veliky

    • After breakfast today we leave for a full day of Golden Ring sightseeing.
    • We visit the unique Narrow Gauge Railway Museum located approx 20 mins from the city centre. Known affectionately as "Kukushka" ("Cuckoo") in Russian, these trains were once prevalent all over the country, and this is the only place now where their history is preserved. Explore the locomotives on display and take a fun ride on the hand cart trolley.
    • There may also be the option to stop in at the Botik Museum to see the place where Peter the Great built his first ships (not included).
    • We will then travel on to Rostov Veliky (approx 90 min/60 km), one of the oldest towns in the country.
    • Enjoy an optional lunch at a local cafe before setting off to explore the sights of this lovely town.
    • The reflections of the Kremlin on the adjacent Lake Nero are definitely worth more than a few photos and there are number of chapels and monasteries as well as the stunningly decorated Metropolitan's House to visit.
    • There may be other options for our time here too that your leader may be able to suggest, such as the House of Crafts for traditional souvenirs or a boat trip on the Zarya ferry.
    • We travel back to Pereslavl-Zalessky tonight and back to our accommodation for the night.
    • Dinner tonight is not included, but your leader can make some recommendations.
    Breakfast

    Day 5 - St Petersburg

    • Wake early today for breakfast and get set for our longest travel day.
    • First we travel back to Moscow by our private mini van (Approx 3-4 hours). Moscow traffic is notorious and we will need to allow plenty of time to make it from the outskirts of the city to the centre. Farewelling our driver at the railway station, we board the super modern "Sapsan" ("Peregrine Falcon") high speed train to take us all the way to St Petersburg. These trains reach between 250-350 km/h and take around 4 hours to cover the approx 700 km distance. You will need to be able to carry your own bags through the train station and onto the train.
    • After the speedy journey we arrive in the centre of beautiful St Petersburg and meet our private transfer to take us to our hotel.
    • Our accommodation here is the impressive Domina Prestige Hotel, located right on the Moika Embankment, one of the city's main canals. Each room is individually decorated with bright, colourful, modern art interiors.
    Domina Prestige Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 6 - St Petersburg

    • Truly one of Europe's finest cities, built of baroque European architecture combined with the opulent palaces of Russian royalty, St Petersburg was built by the Russian tsar Peter the Great and his legacy will clearly be felt as you explore its enigmatic streets and visit its showcase cathedrals and museums.
    • For many the highlight of St Petersburg is the Hermitage Museum, one of the world's premier art collections housed in the former imperial Winter Palace. Please note that the Hermitage is closed on Mondays, and in the high season (May-Sep) there can be very long queues. In order to avoid waiting it's possible to book tickets online in advance: www.hermitagemuseum.org
    • (Please note this trip does not include tickets to the Hermitage, passengers wanting to visit the Hermitage could do so on Day 8 (departure day) or after the tour, if passengers are extending their stay post tour).
    • We join our guide for a walking tour today and get to know the city through the eyes of a St Petersburg resident. It is a tour without a fixed itinerary, where the travellers and the guide discuss a route on the day with the aim to see and do what other tourists don't. Step off Nevsky Prospect and discover bridges, rivers and canals of the city of Saint Peter. See the grandeur of it's palaces and quays, the charm of old back streets and quiet lanes, and the marketplaces of the 300 year old Russian Imperial Capital. Learn personal stories of the city legends, monarchs, artists, nobles and commoners such as Peter the Great and Catherine right through to the times of Lenin and post-Soviet era.
    • You will have free time this afternoon to explore more on your own.
    • This evening we take a night-time boat tour of the canals and waterways to see the architecture from a unique perspective.
    Domina Prestige Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 7 - Peterhof Palace

    • Our final full day of the tour will be spent at one of Russia's most spectacular sights - the stunning Summer Palace and Park of Peter the Great known as Peterhof or Petrodvorets. We will travel there and back by private mini van (Approx 1 hour/50 km).
    • Often compared to Versailles, the grounds of the park are filled with fountains and landscaped gardens and the location right on the Gulf of Finland makes for beautiful views. The palace itself is fascinating not only for the elaborate halls and galleries, but also for the fact that it has been so accurately restored after being almost completely destroyed by bombardment during the Great Patriotic War.
    • We can have an optional late lunch in Peterhof town before heading back to St Petersburg.
    • Please note that our tour includes entrance to the main park and palace. Some optional sights in the park may attract additional entrance fees. To take photos inside the palace you will also need to pay a camera fee.
    • Tonight is our final night together and your leader will organise an optional farewell dinner at one of the city's great restaurants.
    Domina Prestige Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 8 - St Petersburg

    • The tour will come to an end after breakfast. There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. An airport transfer is not included, however your leader or hotel staff can help you book a taxi for your flight.
    • We highly recommend travellers wishing to experience more of what St Petersburg has to offer to extend their stay a day or two!
    Breakfast
  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • An experienced, English-speaking Peregrine leader and specialist local guides at some sites
    • Accommodation: 7 nights comfortable Hotel
    • Meals: 7 Breakfasts, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
    • Arrival transfer
    • Gratuities included for the essential services only that you will receive as part of your tour package. Please see our Tipping section of these trip notes for more information.
    • Red Square, Mausoleum and Kremlin Tour in Moscow, Day trip to Peterhof, Walking tours in St Petersburg, Pereslavl Zalessky and Rostov Veliky. Evening Boat Cruise in St Petersburg, Railway Museum near Perslavl Zalessky
    • Russian visa support

    Not Included

    • International flights
    • Airport departure taxes
    • Departure transfer
    • Visas
    • Meals unless specified in the itinerary
    • Insurance
    • Laundry - may be available at locations where we stay two or more nights
    • Optional tours or activities during free time
    • Tips for non essential services (such as guides on optional activities)

    Safety Information

    RUSSIA:

    Most visits to Russia are trouble-free, but petty crime does happen in cities. Be alert to the possibility of mugging, pick pocketing and theft from vehicles or hotel rooms. Be wary of groups of women and children who beg. In St Petersburg there have been reports of street crime where tourists have been specifically targeted. These crimes are carried out by well-organised gangs. Be aware of pickpockets in the main tourist areas and around the main railway concourses. A common scam is to drop a wallet or bundle of money in front of a tourist. The criminal then “finds” the money and asks if it is the tourist’s or offers to share the money with them. If you are approached in this way, you should walk away without engaging in conversation. Bogus police officers have harassed and robbed tourists. If you are stopped always insist on seeing identification. Avoid openly carrying expensive items, or anything that might easily identify you as a tourist. Avoid walking about late at night alone. If you are travelling by overnight train in a sleeping compartment, store valuables in the container under the bed or seat.  Incidents of violence in major cities are usually linked to criminal/business activities and are not usually directed against foreign visitors. Political rallies may occur in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other places across Russia.

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Trip at a glance

Trip Code PCRH
Group size 1 - 16
Start City: Moscow, Moscow, Russia
End City: St Petersburg, Sankt-Peterburg, Russia
Style: Small Group

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