Day 1: St Petersburg
Saturday. Welcome to Russia and the start of your holiday! Meet and greet arrival transfer from St Petersburg Pulkovo Airport to your hotel and check in. Tonight, our welcome meeting takes place. The remainder of the evening is free for you to do as you please. Your tour leader can recommend some local bars and restaurants for you to try out. Overnight - St Petersburg
Day 2: The Hermitage
This morning a city tour will give us a run-down on some of the city's key areas. Travelling by mini bus we will drive along the famed Nevsky Prospekt, past the museum and university districts and a few stops will be made at the Church on Spilled Blood (exterior only), The Bronze Horseman and Peter and Paul Fortress. The famous Peter and Paul Fortress was built on the orders of Peter the Great, and was at one time a political prison. Within the compound is St Peter and Paul Cathedral - housing the tombs of the Romanov monarchs.
Later, we will enjoy a guided visit of the Hermitage - which houses one of the biggest and best art collections on earth. The rest of the day is free for you to further explore. Most of the city sights are dotted along and just off the main thoroughfare - Nevsky Prospekt. It’s an easy city to find your bearings and get around. St Petersburg has a spirited restaurant, bar and jazz club scene, plus some of Russia’s best beers.
During our time in St Petersburg there may be the chance to join one of our optional evening excursions, such as a canal cruise (May to September), a traditional Cossacks performance or a night at the Russian Ballet. There may even be the chance to try your hand at preparing Russian cuisine with an interactive cooking class. Overnight - St Petersburg (B)
Day 3: Optional Pukka Pass
Today you can either enjoy a free day of exploration on your own, or there is the option to purchase our Pukka Pass. The pass offers guided sightseeing, entrance fees, lunch and transport to some of St Pete’s most famous sites. Touring includes either the beautifully landscaped gardens of Peterhof in summer or the lavish interiors of Catherine Palace at Tsarskoe Selo in winter (or Pavlosk Palace if Catherine Palace is closed).
Later we will enjoy a tasty lunch at a local restaurant, and after we will continue with a guided tour of the interior of The Church on Spilled Blood with time to shop in the souvenir market located alongside the church. Overnight - St Petersburg (B)
Day 4: Time to Explore
St Petersburg – Novgorod. As our last day in St Petersburg, today gives you the opportunity to shop for some last minute souvenirs, perhaps some traditional Russian nesting dolls or some Russian memorabilia found at the canal side market near the striking Church on Spilled Blood. Alternatively take a walk along Nevsky Prospekt. Later this afternoon we travel to Novgorod, arriving in time for dinner and a steamy Russian banya (sauna). Overnight - Novgorod (B, D)
Day 5: Novgorod
Novgorod – Moscow. Novgorod is one of Russia’s oldest cities, located within reach of the Volkhov River and Lake Ilmen, that was formed as a town in the middle of the 10th century. A guided tour of Novgorod takes in the riverside fortified Kremlin, cathedral and other sights of interest. The Kremlin fortress was mentioned in chronicles as early as in 1044, whilst today’s walls and towers, despite being re-built in 15th century, are impressive all the same. Tonight we have dinner before travelling by overnight sleeper train from Novgorod to Moscow. Overnight - Sleeper Train (B, D)
Day 6: Moscow
Early this morning, we arrive into Moscow - the capital that spawned dozens of spy novels! Today we will ride on the capital’s efficient Metro to Red Square. From here, we’ll take in the jewels of Russia’s capital on a guided walking tour, taking in sights such as the epitome of Russian power – the Kremlin, Lenin’s Mausoleum and the ritzy GUM department store.
At the south end of the square, feast your eyes on the wildly coloured, turban domed St Basil’s Cathedral, an enduring Russian symbol commissioned by Ivan IV (also known as Ivan the terrible) in 1555. Spend the remainder of the day at your own leisure.
During our stay in Moscow there will be the chance to join one of our optional evening excursions, such as a night at the the famous Moscow Circus (Oct - May), a traditional Cossack Show or a Moscow by Night coach tour. Overnight - Moscow (B)
Day 7: The Kremlin
This morning we head back to Red Square to pay our respects to Lenin - the grandfather of Communism, at his eerie mausoleum. It is here that his embalmed body has lain in state since his death in 1924. Later we will continue to the Kremlin - Russia’s bastion of political might, where we enjoy a guided walk through the grounds, seeing numerous government buildings, gold-domed cathedrals and the tsar bell. Overnight - Moscow (B)
Day 8: Red Square
Today is free for you to explore Moscow at your own pace, and there are plenty of galleries, museums and shops to keep you entertained. The efficient Metro system - and your included Metro pass, means that exploring the city couldn't be easier. This evening consider sampling Moscow’s nightlife, which can rival any of the world’s capital cities!
Alternatively we offer an optional guided tour of a formerly top secret Cold War bunker today. Up until recently this Stalinist-era Soviet Bunker was a secret symbol of Soviet Power. Hidden beneath an ordinary two storey apartment building in Moscow, 18 floors below ground level, this 75,000 square foot facility was constructed covertly, in the 1950s, to protect against the threat of a US nuclear attack. In the 1990s with the Cold War thawing and the death of communism, this bunker came off the top secret list and is now open to the public! Enjoy an interactive tour of the bunker turned museum. Overnight - Moscow (B)
Day 9: Moscow
Sunday. Our tour ends after breakfast and hotel check out. (B)
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