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The Magic of Christmas in Russia


Discover a Russian winter wonderland on this Christmas escape.

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2020 Tour code: RUX21

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Day 1 - London and St Petersburg

We meet at London Heathrow this morning for our flight to Helsinki. From here, we fly directly to St Petersburg, transferring to the 4-Star Garden Street Hotel on arrival. We experience a time-honoured Russian welcome ceremony on checkin, as representatives in traditional dress offer up warm bread and salt, symbolic of lasting friendships and hospitality.

Church Of The Savior St Petersburg
Day 2 - Exploring St Petersburg

Today is Christmas Eve and we get into the festive spirit with a guided tour of St Petersburg, once the city of Tsars. We take in a wealth of historical monuments and celebrated cultural attractions, including the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood, an intricate structure that harks back to an era of Romantic Nationalism, as well as the Peter and Paul Fortress, the final resting place of Tsar Nicholas II and his family. We continue with a visit to St Petersburg's Russian Vodka Museum, delving into the nation's defining beverage and learning about the long and fascinating history of this esteemed drink. We also have the chance to indulge in a tipple or 2 ourselves.

This afternoon, we visit the Hermitage, founded by Catherine the Great in 1764 and set in the spectacular Royal Winter Palace. One of the most famous museums in the world, the Hermitage boasts a collection of more than 3 million artefacts, all in an exquisite setting made up of marble columns, crystal chandeliers, and stunning mosaic floors. Back at our hotel this evening, we are treated to a traditional festive dinner accompanied by a celebratory glass of Champagne and wine.

Peter And Paul Fort
Day 3 - Christmas Day

Our morning begins with an optional Christmas Day mass, either Catholic or Lutheran, at a nearby church. This is followed by a visit to Catherine Palace, an elaborate late Baroque palace complex set within expansive gardens. Named after Catherine I, the wife of Peter the Great, who ruled Russia for two years after her husband's death. The achievements of the restorers who returned the palace to life after the Second World War is also celebrated throughout the palace. Of the 58 halls destroyed during the war years, 32 have been recreated.

Afterwards, we drive to the Pavlovsk Palace for a troika ride, a traditional Russian carriage pulled by 3 horses, through the crisp, frostbitten grounds. This evening, we dine at a local restaurant before taking in an unforgettable ballet performance at one of St Petersburg's world-renowned theatres - an enchanting end to an extraordinary Christmas Day.

Catherine Palace
Day 4 - Moscow

We bid farewell to the grandeur of St Petersburg today, embarking on a journey aboard the sleek and modern Sapsan rail service to Moscow. We journey through rustic farmland and pastoral landscapes before arriving in the heart of Moscow, a vibrant, sprawling metropolis that has played a pivotal role in shaping Russia's heritage and which has the largest population of any city in Europe. On arrival into Moscow, we check-in to our hotel, which is our home for the next 2 nights. Later on, we enjoy a delicious 3-course meal at Baba Marta, a local restaurant, serving traditional Bulgarian food. The rest of your evening is at leisure back at the hotel.

St Basil's Cathedral
Day 5 - Discovering Moscow

We immerse ourselves in centuries of history today on a sightseeing tour of Moscow, a city of contrasts where old collides with new and stark reminders of the city's Soviet past juxtapose with a thriving modern movement.

Amongst its highlights, we see the world-famous Kremlin, a walled citadel that's the seat of Russian government and where every leader, from the Tsars and Stalin to the current president, has issued orders from. Meaning 'fortress inside a city', this imposing UNESCO-listed citadel is surrounded by 18th-century towers and is home to many different magnificent cathedrals, palaces, and museums, including the Armoury which boasts an incredible range of gold, velvet, and other precious stones. These treasures were all collected by various leaders over the course of Russia's long history; some magnificent examples include a Fabergé egg and Catherine the Great's coronation dress.

We also spend time in Red Square, the site of some of Russia's most noteworthy attractions such as the coral-hued splendour of St Basil's Cathedral and its recognisable onion domes. Formerly a market square adjoining the merchant's area, this square has always been a favourite meeting place for locals, as well as historically being the top spot for high-profile executions during the 17th century. Today, however, the square is usually brimming with tourists and locals, but it soon filters out and is illuminated by flood lights, opposing the dark night sky. We celebrate the end of our holiday this evening with a final meal together at our hotel, the 4-Star Marriott Tverskaya.

Red Square
Day 6 - Moscow and London

After breakfast this morning, we transfer by coach to Moscow airport. Here we catch our flight back to London Heathrow.

Flight home