TWO OF RUSSIA'S MOST BEAUTIFUL CITIES
Discover the two incredible and powerful cities that have both driven and shaped Russia on this magniﬁcent journey. Starting in Moscow, we visit iconic attractions including the Kremlin and Red Square, before travelling to St Petersburg - a city so rich in history its entire centre is an UNESCO World Heritage site.
We fly from London to Moscow, transferring on arrival to the our hotel, housed in the city's historic central thoroughfare. We enjoy a traditional Russian Welcome Ceremony on arrival at our hotel, before dinner is served this evening.
Having played a pivotal role both in Russia's political history and on the world stage for centuries, Moscow's enormous array of cultural heritage is virtually unmatched.
Today we discover some of these attractions on a guided tour of the city. Moscow is in a constant state of flux; all of the resounding changes that sent seismic shock waves through the country originated here, yet there are reminders from every chapter of the city's long and fascinating past at every turn. From medieval cathedrals to towering Stalinist skyscrapers, with hints of the regal Tsarist influence, this incredible city has to be seen to be believed.
Among the highlights today we see the Sparrow Hills, which marks one of the highest points in Moscow and offers a wonderful panorama over the bustling frenzy of the sprawling city below. Situated on the bank of the Moskva River from which the city takes its name, here you will also find the Temple of the Holy Trinity, a whitewashed Russian Orthodox temple with aquamarine domes. We'll also spend time in Red Square, surrounded by many of the most iconic sights of the city, including the multi-coloured domes of Saint Basil's Cathedral. Also on the square is Lenin's Mausoleum, where it is possible to view the body of the Communist leader. Our final stop is Moscow State University, with its enchanting botanical gardens.
Today we visit the Kremlin, a UNESCO World Heritage site and arguably the most famous landmark in all of Russia. The imposing citadel is surrounded by twenty 18th century towers, and is home to cathedrals, palaces and museums. It is also the seat of government. On arrival we take a tour of the extensive grounds, seeing some of the edifices that have shaped the country.
We also visit one of the stunning cathedrals, which are famed for their intricate and detailed interiors. In the afternoon we visit the lively Arbat Street, a pedestrianised shopping thoroughfare that claims to be one of Russia's oldest streets. Much-loved by locals, this prestigious road is lined with grand townhouses built for the nobility. Here we have time to admire the charming setting, where street vendors proudly display their souvenirs and passing shoppers are entertained by energetic street artists. Later we enjoy a tour of Moscow's amazing Metro system.
Dating back to the 1930s, the Metro is more than a simple transport system; it is a true highlight of the city. Marble, bronze, chandeliers and stained glass adorn the entrance halls, and the vaulted ceilings are supported by elegant columns. The magnificent stations feature art and sculpture spanning from Soviet philosophy to the Modernist, avant-garde movement. We return to the hotel at the end of an unforgettable day
Today we leave Moscow and travel by rail to St Petersburg, enjoying a journey on the modern Sapsan service. Named after the Russian for Peregrine Falcon, the sleek high-speed train reaches speeds of up to 150 miles per hour along the route.
Our journey takes us from the heart of Moscow and through the industrial towns in its outer suburbs, then across farmland and pastoral scenes as we continue to gather speed. Before long we arrive in St Petersburg, one of Russia's largest cities and a former Imperial capital. On arrival we transfer to our hotel.
Located at the head of the Gulf of Finland, St Petersburg is a vibrant, outwardfacing city. It was developed just 300 years ago to reduce the threat of a Swedish attack, but was clearly influenced by the architectural movements taking place in the rest of Europe at that time.
Today the former swamp has blossomed into a magnificent city; with its grand boulevards, open squares and network of canals, it is a delight to explore, boasting a wealth of historic monuments and celebrated cultural attractions. We enjoy a guided tour of the city's main sights, including the Peter and Paul Fortress. Occupying a commanding position on an island in the Neva River, this mighty structure was the city's first stone building - and played an important role in the shaping of St Petersburg. Originally designed as a defensive fort, the complex was also used as a prison, holding distinguished activists including Dostoevsky and Gorky. Today the site is preserved as an enthralling museum, and here you are free to admire its exhibitions at your own pace. Following the tour, your afternoon is at leisure.
Perhaps take a boat trip through the cities numerous canals? Due to its location on a, now long gone, quagmire, it boasts a myriad of pretty waterways, the perfect way to get around the city.
Today's excursion takes us to a real highlight of St Petersburg, the spellbinding Peterhof Palace & Park Ensemble. Sometimes referred to as a 'Russian Versailles', the opulent complex is a UNESCO World Heritage site, renowned for its beautiful grounds filled with spectacular fountains and waterways. The string of glittering palaces were constructed by Peter the Great with no expense spared, and as such they display some of the finest and most lavish artworks and ornaments that the world has to offer, whilst the impressive gardens stretch out almost all the way to the sea shore. We explore the incredible grounds and the many attractions on show.
We continue to the Hermitage, founded by Catherine the Great in 1764 and set in the magnificent Royal Winter Palace. This mesmerising museum is one of the most famous in the world, offering an incredible collection of over 3 million artefacts from numerous countries and eras. Of course, the setting of these artefacts are equally as enthralling, with gilded marble columns, patterned mosaic floors, and huge crystal chandeliers providing an exquisite backdrop for the collection. While here, be sure to look out for the clock stopped by Tsar Nicholas at the moment the Palace was stormed in 1917, situated at the head of a corridor in the palace. Tonight, we commemorate the end of our holiday with a farewell dinner in a local restaurant.
Leaving St Petersburg behind, today we transfer to the airport for our flight back to London.
Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.
Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.
An escorted experience and all travel arrangements
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
Enhancing your tour
Please note: This tour may be suitable for reduced mobility passengers, please call for further information.
TWO OF RUSSIA'S MOST BEAUTIFUL CITIES