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8 days - Independent tour of Russian fabulous cities, Moscow and St Petersburg, in style.
Taste the mystery, beauty and intrigue of Russia, the land that lay hidden behind the Iron Curtain for decades. This tour explores the grandeur of Moscow and the grace of St Petersburg. Four star hotels and plenty of inclusions set this tour apart from the rest. Discover the great cities of Russia and enjoy special touches such as visiting attractions before the crowds, private transfers and boat trips.
New to discover: the vast new General Staff Building with some of the best 19th & 20th century European art on the planet.
- Day 1
- Arrive St. Petersburg
- Day 2
- City tour - Peter & Paul's Fortress and St. Isaac's Cathedral & Hermitage Museum
- Day 3
- Tour Peterhof before the crowds
- Day 4
- Walking tour - Church of the Saviour of Spilled Blood & Neva River & Canals
- Day 5
- Highspeed German built Sapsan train to Moscow
- Day 6
- Red Square, GUM and St. Basil Cathedral
- Day 7
- Metro and walking tour of the Kremlin
- Day 8
- Depart Moscow
- Start Place
- St Petersburg, Russia
- End Place
- Moscow, Russia
- Country Visited
- 8 Days
- Easy independent holiday suitable for singles & couples
Private transfers, private river cruises, Highspeed German built Sapsan train between St. Petersburg and Moscow in business class.
- Arrival and departure private transfers from/to airport/train station. Please note that this transfer is with a driver only. We can upgrade this and provide an English speaking guide if you wish.
- Accommodation centrally located 4 star hotels within walking distance of main attractions - Director's choice.
- Daily breakfast
- 5 uniquely selected lunch restaurants included (several courses).
- Private English speaking guide for all sightseeing tours as described
- Private vehicle transfers for excursions
- Private river cruise on the Neva River
- Russian visa invitation letter
- 24-hour emergency service
- Taxes and service fees
- Beverages & extras
- Visa to Russia
- All services not mentioned in the program
- Tips and Gratuities
Day 1 - Arrive St. Petersburg
Arrive to St. Petersburg - you will be picked up at the airport by private transfer to the hotel. Check in and relax.
Optional Add Ons
Day 2 - City tour - Peter & Paul's Fortress and St. Isaac's Cathedral & Hermitage Museum
St. Petersburg was the capital of Russian Empire for almost 200 years. Few cities can offer so many stunning attractions and intriguing moods as St. Petersburg. After breakfast start a city tour and visit Peter and Paul Fortress. It is the historical nucleus of the city as well as one of the most interesting and beautiful architectural landmarks. St. Peter & Paul Cathedral with its long gilded spire is the burial place of all Russian emperors from Peter the Great to the last of the Romanovs – Nicholas II. Designed to protect newly acquired lands in the mouth of the Neva River, the fortress lost its military significance before it was completed. It was turned into the most dismal political prison of Russia for almost 200 years.
Next is a visit to St. Isaac’s Cathedral. Fourth highest cupola cathedral in the world St. Isaac’s has a breathtaking interior design. The cathedral can accommodate 13000 worshippers in a time. The monolithic columns of the portico cut from red granite are seventeen meters high and weigh 114 tons each. The mosaic inside has twelve thousand shades and colors, the walls are five meters thick and the main cupola is coated with one hundred kilos of gold.
Along the way, your guide will assist with lunch and snack stops when needed.
Next is a visit to the world re-knowned Hermitage museum. This was the residence of the Russian Emperors in the past, nowadays it comprises 5 palaces and is one of the largest museums in the world.
Optional Add Ons
Day 3 - Tour Peterhof before the crowds
Depart for the tour of Peterhof (also called Petrodvorets). We arrive earlier than official opening hour to enter the Grand Summer Palace in private. It is the most famous summer residence of Russian Emperors, located 25 km west on the Gulf of Finland. We return to the city by hydrofoil for a free evening to wander along the main street Nevsky Prospect.
Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.
Day 4 - Walking tour - Church of the Saviour of Spilled Blood & Neva River & Canals
After breakfast you join a walking tour of Holy Saviour on the Spilt Blood. One of St. Petersburg highest buildings, it was built on the spot where Alexander II was fatally wounded by a terrorist, a member of People's Will revolutionary group in 1881.
Lunch at Demidov restaurant.
In the evening enjoy a boat trip along the waterways of St Petersburg, enjoy cozy canals spanned by ornate bridges and the powerful Neva river with its majestic embankments and numerous palaces facing the river.
Day 5 - Highspeed German built Sapsan train to Moscow
After a leisurely morning, we depart for the railway station to board the Highspeed German built Sapsan train to Moscow. The distance is 700 km and the journey takes just over 4 hours. On arrival in Moscow transfer to hotel for check in. Dinner is on your own.
Your handpicked boutique hotel is located, just a few minutes away from the Kremlin and conveniently close to a central restaurant street.
Optional Add Ons
Day 6 - Red Square, GUM and St. Basil Cathedral
In the morning your guide will meet you at the hotel for a city tour including Red Square, GUM and St. Basil Cathedral.
After lunch we visit the State Tretyakov Gallery - the national treasury of Russian fine art and one of the greatest museums in the world. The Gallery's collection consists entirely of Russian art and artists who have made a contribution to the history of Russian art. The collection contains more than 130 000 works of painting, sculpture and graphics, created throughout the centuries by successive generations of Russian artists.
Day 7 - Metro and walking tour of the Kremlin
After breakfast your guide will take you inside the Kremlin, the historical nucleus of the city, the former residence of the Czars, now the seat of the Russian President. We begin the day with a complete walking tour of the Kremlin and its grounds. The Moscow Kremlin is an outstanding monument of Russian history, enclosing an area of 70 acres next to Red Square. The walls are about half a mile long and up to 62 feet high and 21 feet thick, with 20 towers and gates.
Inside the Kremlin we’ll tour the grounds, visit one of the cathedrals and the Armory Museum – the Treasury of the Czars. The Armory’s huge collection consists of many precious gifts once presented to Russian Czars by foreign monarchs and ambassadors as well as their thrones, clothes, crowns and armor. You will also see the huge Belfry of Ivan the Terrible, Big Kremlin Palace, Faceted chamber, the Czar Bell and Czar Cannon.
Have a short walk through the historical Alexander’s Garden, passing by the tomb of the Unknown Soldier with eternal flame – an important monument for all Russians who lost 20 million lives during the World War II. The tour this morning is for 5 hours.
Enjoy lunch at Grand Cafe "Dr. Zhivago". After lunch you have the afternoon to explore the Red Square. Dinner is on your own.
Day 8 - Depart Moscow
Enjoy a private transfer to the airport or train station.
All prices listed are per person and based on Director's Choice hotel categories. Ask us for upgrade options to Design or Historic hotels. Please note these are from prices and subject to change based on availability.
15 Oct 2018
15 Oct 2018
15 Oct 2019
15 Oct 2019
To avoid disappointment, we recommend that you book any theatre performances that you wish to attend in St Petersburg or Moscow in advance. Please let us know if you wish us to organise this.
Please note that on occasion, Lenin's Mausoleum and Red Square may be closed to the public during regular opening house without prior warning. Likewise, during summer, many cities can have their hot water turned off for maintenance.
The Kremlin is closed on Thursdays. The Tretyakov Gallery is closed on Monday.
There is a free cloak room at the Hermitage if needed.
St. Petersburg can be very busy during summer when cruise ships arrive. Our guides do their utmost to avoid these crowds - using some pretty fancy tricks but be prepared...
Interactive Tour Map
Travel insurance is compulsory for all tours with 50 Degrees North. Please ensure that you have this organised as we will need to see proof of this upon issuing your tour documentation. Please contact us for a quote or visit http://www.suresave.net.au/
Please note for China, Mongolia and Russia, you will need to arrange your visa before you go. We have supplied links to these visa applications within our Visa section. It is your responsibility to do this before your trip but please don't hesitate to speak to us if you need any assistance. It isn't unusual for our guests to have questions particularly about the Russian visa so please call us if you are in any doubt.
Visiting the Hermitage
The Hermitage can be very busy to visit with large crowds during summer and little control of the movement of people. We suggest that you try to visit either before the opening hours which can be arranged with us or on a Wednesday evening. The museum stays open until 9pm. Any extra time available will help you enjoy the tour. Our guides will help you navigate the entrances and the best way to see everything you can to see.
The security staff will not allow water bottles into the building but if you have a small bottle in a big pocket, you will usually be fine. There is a free cloakroom to use if needed.
The top 20 things to see in the Hermitage and where to find them:
An unusual, intense and relatively early work (1867/8) which depicts the artist’s sister and mother. The emphasis on pattern and rhythm seems to anticipate Matisse. (Room 318).
The Hermitage’s Spanish Collection includes El Greco, Velázquez and Goya, but this vibrant portrait of a 17-year-old courtier in burnished black and gold armour by a much less-well known artist is a remarkably successful study of power and character. (Room 240).
There are two early paintings by Leonardo, both madonnas, but this portrait by one of his followers which hangs in the same room is more immediately appealing - something of a page-three Mona Lisa. (Room 214).
A fascinating painting, saturated in the deep red of the wallpaper and tablecloth, which saturate the room, while through the window the landscape is clear blue, green and white. (Room 344).
Rough and unfinished, the tightly contracted muscles strain with repressed energy. Originally intended for the Medici mausoleum in Florence. (Room 230).
Just three exquisitely drawn faces and some flowing drapery have survived in this fragment of a line drawing dating to the 4th-century BC. It is the only surviving example of graphic art of the period. (Room 115).
Look carefully at this gorgeous study of an artist at work (possibly a self portrait) and you can see a vertical join running down the centre of the canvas. The right half was bought by Tsar Nicholas I in 1850, the left by Alexander III in 1884. Only later was it realised that they were the two halves of the same painting. (Room 262).
A very early work (1903) from the “blue” period, which is strongly represented in the Hermitage. Soler was a Barcelona tailor and a friend of Picasso's. This powerfully melancholic portrait is distinctly Spanish in tone, echoing El Greco and Velásquez. (Room 348).
An enormous canvas of chaos and confusion and no obvious subject until you focus on Saul laid low in the composition. (Room 237).
No one has captured the impact of old age on the human face more profoundly or effecitvely, both in his own self-portraits and in rheumy-eyed portraits such as this - just one in a gallery full of major Rembrandts. (Room 254).
This bizarre contraption dates from 1780 and is loaded with gadgetry, including a milometer and a mechanical organ. (Room 167).
This is a wonderful and unique collection of ornamental goldwork, much of it produced for the semi-nomadic Scythians by Greek goldsmiths from the 7th century BC onwards. Among the most striking pieces are a stag, a panther and a wonderful comb capped by a battle scene. (Room 44).
The highlight from a room full of some of his best work. The mostly muted colouring, the ordered, stylised composition and the stillness it evokes is unusual for such a flamboyant colourist. (Room 247).
The tilt of the head and serene gaze emanates power and wisdom. The polished marble has been preserved in immaculate condition ( Room 110).
Only a handful of paintings by the great Venetian artist survive and the serene, dream-like quality of this usually grim and bloody scene (she has just beheaded Holoferenes) is typical of his work. (Room 217).
It’s not the finest room in the Palace, but it has a fascinating history. The clock on the mantelpiece is stopped at 2.10am on the night of October 25,1917, when Kerensky’s provisional government, which had held power since the February revolution, was arrested by the Bolsheviks - it is the moment when Russia succumbed to communism. (Room 188).
One the many rooms in the Hermitage palaces that stand out for their sheer extravagance or historical importance. Mosaic floors , 23 glittering chandeliers, two tiers of fluted columns, gold leaf - this is a stunning room and is flooded by light from windows on both sides. The centre piece is an extraordinary English clock (c1760) in the form of gilded peacocks which spread their tails while a cockerel still crows the hour and a mushroom rotates. It still works, though normally only once a week - check with the excursion bureau for performance times. (Room 204).
This haul of paintings looted from post-war Germany includes 10 Renoirs, six Cézannes and works by Manet, Monet and others. They were shut away until 1993, and are in a remarkably fresh state of preservation. (Rooms 200-202).
This is the highlight of Catherine the Great’s collection of antique cameos - tiny medallions delicately carved from coloured stone. Look out too for a two-inch diameter head of Zeus. Both are circa 3rd century BC (Room 121).
The Hermitage has the best collection of English art in continental Europe (much of it acquired by Catherine the Great in 1779 when she bought many of Robert Walpole’s paintings, which used to hang in Houghton Hall, Norfolk, from his cash-strapped grandson. The swirling, uplifting quality of this portrait of an unknown woman marks it out as one of the artist's best. (Room 298)