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Splendours of Russia

Splendours of Russia

From $ 7,585 AUD

Description

Peer into Russia’s past and present on this comprehensive tour through some of Russia’s less explored cities, towns of the famous Golden Ring as well as the jewels in Russia’s crown – Moscow and St Petersburg. Explore the marvels of this transcontinental nation, travelling east from Moscow to Yekaterinburg, and on to Siberia. Traverse a section of the Trans-Siberian Railway and explore the legends the past with visits to palaces, museums and Moscow’s iconic Red Square. Surround yourself with culture, history and breathtaking architecture and get beneath the surface of Russia on this ultimate 19-day small group adventure through such an endlessly intriguing country.

Trip Name
Splendours of Russia
Last Updated
2020-05-23
Days
19
Capacity
12
Highlights
  • Discover the Novodevichy Convent and Cemetery and learn about history through the lives of the famous Russians who now rest here.
  • Journey to Leo Tolstoy's estate at Yasnaya Polyana where he wrote his masterpieces War and Peace and Anna Karenina, plus enjoy a traditional lunch of his household recipes.
  • Be wowed by the delicate carvings and craft of a Siberian shaman and folk artist in Tobolsk.
  • Join in local life and customs as you share a meal in a Russian home in the fairytale-like Golden Ring town of Suzdal.
  • Discover treasure-upon-treasure at the incredible art collection housed in St Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum – the former Winter Palace of Catherine the Great.

Itinerary

ITINERARY CHANGES: Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and may be on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

Day 1 - Moscow
Zdrastvutye! Welcome to Russia. The great city of Moscow has survived centuries of revolution and tumult, from the days of the tsars through the communist era to today's contemporary society. Moscow is a fascinating, historic city with a wealth of sights to see. You will be collected from the airport on arrival and transferred to your hotel if you have booked an airport transfer with us prior to travel. There will be an important welcome meeting at 6 pm where you will meet your group leader. After the meeting, perhaps head with everyone for an optional dinner so you can get acquainted with your fellow travellers and enjoy your first taste of delicious Russian cuisine.
Day 2 - Moscow
This morning, hop on the metro and join your leader on an tour to the Novodevichy Convent and Cemetery. The fortress like Convent is a true architectural masterpiece of the 16-17th century, representing the Baroque style popular in Moscow at the time. It has also played a crucial part in Russia's political and religious history. Next to it is the peaceful cemetery, where many of the greatest Russian minds rest forever, including Nikita Khrushchev, Boris Yeltsin, Mikhail Bulgakov, Nikolai Gogol, Konstantin Stanislavskiy and many others. Learn about their life and stories which also contain some of the most important parts of Russian history. In the afternoon, enjoy some free time in this magnificent city. Moscow’s metro system is renowned for its beautifully crafted stations, adorned with high ceilings, curved archways, and in some instances, chandeliers. Stalin’s vision was to create a metro system that would resemble 'palaces for the people' and, even moving roughly nine million people each day around Moscow, they are palatial, meticulously clean and an easy way to get around. So why not spend some time hopping on and off the metro to see some of the most beautiful stations? Your leader will be able to help you with more directions. Otherwise, maybe take the time to visit Red Square and Kremlin if you haven't already, or take a cruise on the Moscow river. Tonight, you might want to watch one of the renowned ballet performances on offer at a grand theatre such as the Bolshoi – be sure to book in advance so you secure a seat.
Day 3 - Yasnaya Polyana – Tula
This morning, travel from Moscow to Yasnaya Polyana – the birthplace of writer Leo Tolstoy (approximately 3 hours). Yasnaya Polyana is his former estate and is now a lovingly preserved museum. Here is where he wrote his aclaimed novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina. His grave is also within the grounds. Lunch will be included here, where you'll taste traditional specialties from Tostoy's day. Afterwards, continue on to Kozlova Zaseka Station Museum, commonly known as the 'last station'. This is where Tolstoy set off for his final journey, and the station has kept its unique 19th century appearance. Today is all about exploring a time gone by and understanding the life of this famous writer and icon of Russian literature. In the late afternoon, take the short journey to Tula, where you will stay overnight. If there is time, your leader will take you for a walk around the Kremlin and central parts of town. Enjoy an optional dinner out with the group before relaxing for the evening.
Day 4 - Moscow – Overnight Train
In the morning, travel back to Moscow, taking approximately 4 hours. You’ll have a small amount of time in Moscow to purchase snacks or drinks for tonight’s train journey, and then late in the afternoon, board your train to Yekaterinburg (approximately 27 hours).
Day 5 - Yekaterinburg
Enjoy breakfast included in the dining car this morning and spend the rest of the day watching the countryside pass by as you traverse this section of the Trans-Siberian railway. Arrive into Yekaterinburg in the late evening and transfer to your hotel for a restful night.
Day 6 - Yekaterinburg
Today is time to stretch your legs and explore the fourth largest city in Russia. Named after Peter the Great’s wife, Yekaterina, and known as Sverdlovsk during the Soviet era, Yekaterinburg is located near the crossroads between Europe and Asia. In the morning, take a guided city tour of Yekaterinburg, strolling along the main streets and learning about its history and development as a major intersection in the Ural Mountains. Walk along the man-made dam 'Plotinka', catching a glimpse of the Cathedral on Blood and learning how it got such a name. Head to the former KGB headquarters and see the Black Tulip memorial – commemorating victims of the Afghan Wars. Finish in downtown, where you’ll have an optional lunch. In the afternoon, drive to the monastery complex of Ganina Yama outside of the city – the location where bodies Romanov royal family were discovered down a mine shaft after their horrific execution. 
Day 7 - Pervouralsk – Yekaterinburg
Yekaterinburg is close to the Europe-Asia border and so today, you will visit one of the monuments that symbolise this 'border' between West and East. This monument was the first, opened in 1837, and is located in the town of Pervouralsk. It was built when the country was preparing for its first visit by Emperor Alexander II to the Ural region. The journey takes around 1 hour. Enjoy a picnic lunch, including champagne and caviar. Transfer back to Yekaterinburg in the afternoon, with an evening at your leisure.
Day 8 - Tyumen
Take a morning transfer to the Siberian city of Tyumen (approximately 5 hours). Founded in 1586, Tyumen was the first major city in Siberia. Walk down the Tura Embankment and over Lover’s Bridge and visit the Aleksandrovsky Garden. This evening, enjoy an included dinner of northern Siberian cuisine with your group at Chum Restaurant-Museum. It’s a unique institution that feels like you’re in a lodge deep in the Siberian wilderness.
Day 9 - Pokrovskoe – Tobolsk
In the morning, transfer to Pokrovskoye (approximately 1.5 hours). Here, you will visit the House-Museum of Grigory Rasputin – a mysterious man who had great influence over the Romanovs, and who died at the hands of conspirators in St Petersburg. His original house was demolished in 1980, however in 1991, Marina and Vladimir Smirnov reconstructed the house opposite its original position and opened a private museum. After visiting the museum, continue on to Tobolsk (approximately 2.5 hours). Lunch is included today.
Day 10 - Tobolsk
Today, take a guided city tour of Tobolsk, visiting the Kremlin and the old Castle Prison, where prisoners including Fyodor Dostoevsky and Tsar Nicholas II served sentences. Tobolsk is rich with history, and your knowledgeable guide will provide great insight into the past. In the afternoon, take a fascinating visit to Minsalim’s workshop – a welcoming artist and sometimes shaman who creates traditional carvings from bone, wood and rock. Check out his refined work over a cup of tea and learn about some of the cultures who have long called Siberia home. If you have time, you could explore the old town beneath the Kremlin's gatehouse, or the Governor's House – one of the best in Siberia and also known as the Museum of the Family of Nicholas II, opened in 2018.
Day 11 - Tyumen – Moscow
Today is quite a long travel day where you will transfer back to Moscow. Take private transport back to Tyumen (approximately 4 hours), then head on an afternoon flight to Moscow (approximately 2 hours). Depending on flight schedules and traffic from the airport, you should be back in Russia’s capital early evening, in time for a optional dinner with your group. Look back over your Russian journey together as you celebrate the memories you've made.
Day 12 - Moscow
Spend the day at your leisure in the grand city of Moscow. You might like to head on the metro to discover the Red Square and palatial shopping mall GUM, or better yet, you may like to book yourself in to an Urban Adventures tour, like Made In Moscow Shopping Tour, where you’ll spend the afternoon checking out the bohemian district, full of modern art and hipster culture. For more information see urbanadventures.com/destination/Moscow-tours. Keep in mind that there will be another group meeting at 6 pm, where your group composition may change. After the meeting, your group leader will organise an optional meal so you can enjoy some delicious Russian cuisine with new friends, if you wish.
Day 13 - Moscow – Suzdal
Transfer to the train station and take the Strizh high-speed train to Vladimir. These trains reach up to 250km/h, with the journey taking just under two hours. You will need to be able to carry your own bags through the train station and onto the train. From there you will transfer by private minivan to Suzdal (approximately 30 minutes). The town is a main stop on Russia’s legendary Golden Ring, the circle of ancient and former capitals that played an important part in the formation of the Russian Orthodox Church and hold the memories of significant events in Russian history. The fairytale-feel historic small town of Suzdal is filled with contrasting examples of early Russian architecture, where onion-domed monasteries stand next to decorated little wooden cottages. Here there are opportunities to drink mead by the riverside with a symphony of cathedral bells in the air, and peek inside the crumbling churches that line the narrow streets and alleys. Tonight you’ll share a meal of hearty regional flavours with local friends.
Day 14 - Suzdal – Moscow
Get to know Suzdal a little better today with a walking tour of this ‘open-air museum’. Take in the sights – the grandeur of the Kremlin, the opulent frescoes of the Cathedral of the Nativity, the trading square, market and monastery (approximately 3 hours). This tour is made even more memorable by the sight and sound that will greet you when you enter one of the main cathedrals – the angelic, clear and ethereal voices of a local choir. The beautiful sound will fill and transform the space like the sunlight that streams through the windows. You will leave Suzdal in the afternoon and return to Moscow by train, arriving at approximately 8pm (expect approximately 3 hours total travel time back to Moscow).
Day 15 - Moscow
Today, with a local guide by your side, enter cobbled Red Square, surrounded by the brightly coloured domes of St Basil’s Cathedral, the opulent GUM Department store, the fairy-tale building of the State Historical Museum, and the imposing walls of the Kremlin. From the days of Ivan the Terrible to the military parades of the Cold War, the square has long been at the heart of Russian history. We have the option of travelling to begin the tour by Metro (1 station, plus approximately 10 minutes walk to and from the station) or on foot (approximately 30 minutes walk total), which takes you through interesting historic streets. Enter the Kremlin grounds, home to the oldest and most important churches in the country, and the tombs of Tsars and Tsarinas. Walk through the soaring towers and cathedrals of the political and spiritual heart of Russia before entering the Armoury Museum, home to an eye-bulging former royal collection of Faberge eggs, coronation robes and glittering jewels. This afternoon is a free for you to explore the city’s wonders. Perhaps take the metro to see elaborately decorated stations unlike any other – the fascinatingly decorated 'Palaces of the People'. Otherwise you might relive the nation's turbulent past at Victory Park, travel back to the beginnings of Russian art at the Tretyakov Gallery, or pick up some souvenirs at the Izmailovo Markets. Maybe 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.
Day 16 - Moscow – St Petersburg
Before leaving Moscow today, visit the Mausoleum of Russia’s most famous revolutionary – Lenin. The initiator of the 1917 Russian revolution that ushered in the era of communism, you will join the sometimes long queue lining up to visit his austere eternal resting place on Red Square. Then you will board a high speed train once again to race through the Russian countryside to one of Russia’s most celebrated cities (approximately 4 hours). Arrive in the beautiful centre of former imperial capital St Petersburg, where your private transfer will take you to your hotel. A living museum, St Petersburg is a blend of baroque European architecture and Russian royal history, built by the Russian Tsar Peter the Great, whose legacy can be felt in its enigmatic streets and showcase cathedrals and museums.
Day 17 - St Petersburg
St Petersburg is truly one of Europe’s, and the world’s, finest cities. Take the day to explore this beautiful city brimming with historic centres. Today you will explore one of Russia’s most spectacular sights – the stunning Hermitage museum. One of the largest and oldest museums in the world, it was founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great and houses one of the world's premier art collections. Your tour will begin around 10am and continue until around 2pm, however you are then of course free to continue any independent exploration. There is a cafe inside for when you need a break to recharge! The Hermitage boasts over 2.7 million exhibits and displays a diverse range of art and artefacts from all over the world and throughout history (from Ancient Egypt to the early 20th century Europe). The collection includes works by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael and Titian, a unique collection of Rembrandts and Rubens, many French Impressionist works and several sculptures by Rodin. Expert have calculated that, if you watch each item for no longer than a minute and spend 8 hours in the Hermitage daily, it will still take you almost 15 years to view all the museum’s exhibits. Perhaps take a boat to see landmarks from a Neva river cruise or climb the belfry of St Isaacs Cathedral for a rare high view of the city. Then of course there are the world class performances at the Mariinsky Theatre to occupy your evening.
Day 18 - St Petersburg (Peterhof)
This morning you travel a short distance out of the city (40 minutes by hydrofoil) to uncover the opulence of the stunning Summer Palace and Park of Peter the Great, known as Peterhof or Petrodvorets. Your memorable arrival will be a special moment, much like that of the esteemed guests and European royalty of history. Disembarking at the pier and walking up the Fountain Alley, the magnificence of the water features and the splendour of the Big Palace will all be spread out before you – a breath-taking sight. The Tsar was heavily influenced by European styles and customs and so the place is roughly modelled on Versailles. Built to impress on guests the ruler’s wealth and taste, the grounds of the park are filled with fountains, cascades and landscaped gardens, and the location right on the Gulf of Finland makes for beautiful views. The palaces (of which there are three – Great Peterhof Palace, Marly Palace and Monplaisir Palace) are fascinating not only for the elaborate halls and galleries, but also for the fact that they have been so accurately restored after being almost completely destroyed during Nazi occupation in World War II. Return to St Petersburg at 2pm, and use any free time to visit the last minute sites you might have missed. Tonight is your final night with your new travel companions, and so your leader will organise an optional farewell dinner at one of the city's great restaurants.
Day 19 - St Petersburg
Your Russian adventure will come to an end today after breakfast. There are no activities planned 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. St Petersburg has much to offer, so we recommend that those that wish to see more extend their stay a day or two.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
14-06-202102-07-2021AUD $ 7,585-
12-07-202130-07-2021AUD $ 7,585-
26-07-202113-08-2021AUD $ 7,585-
02-08-202120-08-2021AUD $ 7,585-
09-08-202127-08-2021AUD $ 7,585-
06-09-202124-09-2021AUD $ 7,585-
20-09-202108-10-2021AUD $ 7,585-

Accommodation

Feature Stay Moscow Hotel (5 nights),Hotel (12 nights),Overnight Sleeper Train (1 night)

Transport

Private Vehicle,Overnight Sleeper Train,High Speed Train,Public Bus,Metro,Taxi,Plane

Map