Russia Explorer

Russia Explorer

From $ 4,665 AUD

Description

It’s the multi-faceted culture Russia has to offer that makes it so appealing. Places like St. Petersburg or the cities of the Golden Ring boast so much in art and culture that it would take near decades to even loosely acquaint yourself with what they have to offer, yet the frosty reaches to the north tell different tales of old castles, derelict towns, prison camps and time-lost labyrinths. This trip takes you across a land shrouded in both magnificence and secrets as you explore the bustling architectural glory of St Petersburg, Yaroslavl and Moscow and right up to the Arctic treasures of Murmansk and the Solovetsky Islands.

Trip Name
Russia Explorer
Last Updated
2019-12-12
Days
14
Capacity
12
Highlights
  • Encounter the legacy of Russian tsar Peter the Great while exploring the enigmatic streets that showcase the many palaces and museums of St Petersburg.
  • Join a local family in St. Petersburg and have some tasty home cooked meal while learning some Russia games!
  • Visit the Solovetsky Islands, location of one of the first GULAGs
  • Travel to Murmansk, the biggest city within the Arctic Circle, and venture through tundra to the deserted town of Teriberka by the Barents Sea.
  • Visit the Golden Ring towns of Yaroslavl, an 'open air museum' displaying Russia's history through its onion-domed Orthodox churches, monasteries and kremlins
  • Red Square has long been at the heart of Russian history – visit the austere mausoleum of Lenin, the initiator of the 1917 Russian revolution, contrasting with the eye-bulging treasure collection in the Kremlin and Armoury Museum.
  • This trip is a perfect balance of the must see highlights of Russia and the off the beaten track adventures in this great country. You'll cover immense grounds and travel deep into the country and its culture with the help and insight of your local tour leader.

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. BOOKING THEATRE TICKETS IN ADVANCE To avoid disappointment we recommend that you book any theatre performances that you wish to attend in Moscow or St Petersburg in advance. Please consider carefully which performances you are going to want attend and make sure that the dates correspond to your trip. If you are unsure about when to book your tickets please get in touch with your booking agent and find out what times and dates are free for you to see a show. As we don't want you to double book yourself! In particular we recommend you see what's playing at the Bolshoi and Mariinsky, as it may be difficult to get tickets when you are there especially during White Nights in St Petersburg. Here are some useful internet sites to check for what will be on (ballet, opera, exhibitions, etc) in Moscow and St Petersburg: www.mariinsky.ru, www.bolshoi.ru and www.mikhailovsky.ru

Day 1 - St Petersburg
Zdrastvutye! Welcome to St. Petersburg, Russia’s second largest city. This adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6:00pm. Please make sure your bring your passport and insurance details with you to the meeting. Please have two copies of your passport, visa and migration cards ready. One will be collected by your leader, the other is for you to keep on you at all times whilst on this trip. St. Petersburg, the ‘City of the Tsars’, is full of architectural monuments – if you’ve arrived early, it’s well worth tracking down some of the impressive structures throughout the city. The Palace Square, Kazan Cathedral, Peter and Paul Fortress, Saint Isaac’s Square and many more of these historic centres capture the city’s imperialist charm, showing touches of European influence in the architecture of these old buildings.
Day 2 - St Petersburg
Spend a day exploring St. Petersburg with a city tour through the former center of the Russian empire, learning about Nevsky Prospekt, the Neva River embankment and more historical parts of the city. Then enjoy some free time in the city. Perhaps take the hydrofoil boat to Peter the Great's summer palace - Peterhof and see the golden fountains glistening under the northern sun or maybe go up to the Colonnade on the top of St. Isaac Cathedral for a panoramic view of this magnificent city. Maybe head to the Mariinsky or Mikhailovsky Theatre to witness some world class performances (advance bookings essential).
Day 3 - St Petersburg
Discover one of Russia’s most spectacular sights – the stunning Hermitage museum. Founded by Catherine the Great in 1764, the Hermitage is one of the largest and oldest museums in existence. The museum itself boasts over 2.7 million exhibits, displaying a diverse range of art and artefacts from across the world and throughout history (from Ancient Egypt to the early 20th-century Europe). Experts have calculated if you watch each item for one minute and spend 8 hours in the Hermitage daily, it will still take you almost 15 years to view everything that the museum has to offer.
Day 4 - St Petersburg/Overnight train
This morning, before we say goodbye to St. Petersburg, discover authentic Russian culture from visiting the oldest market through to a modern residential neighbourhood — where you’ll be welcomed into a local’s home for lunch! Dig into a traditional home cooked meal then play some typical Russian games with your hosts. This surely is the best (and tastiest!) way to uncover the real St. Petersburg. In the evening, board our first train from Ladozhskiy Vokzal and travel overnight (approx. 15 hours) towards the Russia's north and the gateway to the Solovki Islands.
Day 5 - Solovetsky Islands
We disembark in Kem mid morning and transfer to the ferry for our journey on the White Sea to the Solovetsky Islands, also known as "Solovki" (approximately 2 hours). These remote islands have a turbulent and varied past. Historically, the islands housed a famous Russian Orthodox Monastery from the 15th century onwards, serving as the site of many repelled attacks attacks across the ages. The communist era saw it the islands become a place of exile and home to one of the earliest GULAGs (prison camps) from the early 1920s. Despite this dark past, the natural beauty of the islands is breathtaking, especially during the "White Nights" of midsummer when the sun never fully sets and you are treated to long hours of sunset merging into daybreak without true night inbetween. We stay in a comfortable hotel on the main island, Bolshoy Solovetsky, and expore some of the main sights on a walking tour with a local guide today, including the now re-established Transfiguration Monastery - a UNESCO World Heritage site.  In free time here you may choose to hire a bike and explore some of the trails around the island or visit the Botanical Gardens (from where there are some excellent views).
Day 6 - Solovetsky Islands
Take a boat trip to the nearby Bolshoy Zayatsky Island today a place shrouded in myth and mystery. Explore the well preserved mossy stone labyrinths built 2,500 years ago and reflect on the fact that these remain, but yet there is no trace of the fact that the island was used for female solitary confinement during the GULAG era. The origins of these labyrinths are uncertain, let alone their uses but it’s been suggested that they symbolise the border between this world and the underworld, assisting the souls of the dead to travel to the afterlife. Others also speculate there were built as complex fishing traps! The climate here is fairly severe resulting in little vegetation other than moss and low growing shrubs. Dress warm both for the boat here and back and for the windswept terrain. Spend another in our hotel on Solovki tonight.
Day 7 - Solovetsky Islands / Overnight train
Return to Kem again by ferry and transfer back to the train station. Our next overnight train journey takes us to the world's largest Arctic city - Murmansk (approximately 12 hours).
Day 8 - Murmansk
Arrive in Murmansk this morning. This bustling, modern metropolis boasts plenty of Soviet-era architecture set to the backdrop of stunning Arctic scenery. Murmansk is often referred to as a 'hero city’, and today’s guided walking trip will highlight its role in the Great Patriotic War (World War II). Begin with a visit to the Alyosha monument, dedicated to the Soviet soldiers, sailors and airmen who fought so valiantly to defend their country. Continue to the angular Lighthouse monument, housing a memorial hall dedicated to sailors lost at sea. Lastly, ascend to a lookout point with sweeping views over the city. You'll be able to check into the hotel after the city tour and in the afternoon, the city is yours to explore. Maybe check out the Naval Museum of the Northern Fleet, where you'll get an in-depth look into Russian Navy history.
Day 9 - Teriberka / Murmansk
Take a day trip to Teriberka, an Arctic fishing town situated on the northern coast by the Barents Sea. Travel along rough roads on a 2.5 hour drive through tundra before arriving at the town. While the adventure may be bumpy and long, the experience of seeing this half abandoned town offers a real life historical view of the rise and fall of provincial life in this isolated, challenging part of the world. For any movie buffs on the trip - Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Golden Globe winning film Leviathan was shot here in 2014. Stop in at the local ship "graveyard", where old wooden boats can still be seen sitting in clear view of the houses across the river. Take a short scenic hike (approx. 1 hour return) to a local waterfall that flow directly into the Barents Sea and for those who are daring, maybe dip your toes in this most northern waters in Russia! Lunch is included during our visit here. Return to Murmask for the evening.
Day 10 - Yaroslavl
Embark on a lengthy day of travel today to take us back to the "mainland". First a 2.5 hour flight from Murmansk to Moscow and then private transport to Yaroslavl, one of Russia's famed "Golden Ring" of former ancient capitals. Yaroslavl is situated on the banks of the Volga river and is the largest city of the Golden Ring. It boasts some impressive buildings in the country, retaining many beautiful old structures that date back to the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. As a result, much of Yaroslavl has officially made it onto the UNESCO World Heritage list. Settle into our riverside accommodation in preparation for a full day of exploration tomorrow.
Day 11 - Yaroslavl
Yaroslavl is a goldmine of architectural wonders and the best way to experience them is on a guided walking tour. Sitting at the confluence of the Kotorosl and Volga Rivers lies the Spassky Monastery, a 12th-century marvel with brilliant green rooftops. For a small extra cost, the bell tower can be climbed for a marvellous panoramic view of the city below. Afterwards, see the Church of St. Elijah the Prophet, regarded as one of the best-preserved monuments of Yaroslavl. Finish up the walk by wandering along the riverbank, taking in views of the city and the surrounding landscape. The rest of the day is free to explore on your own. There is the intriguing little Museum of Music & Time, options for Volga River boat trips, and all manner of cafes, restaurants and bars to relax in.
Day 12 - Moscow
Depart from Yaroslavl this morning and travel to Moscow today. Arrive midday in Moscow, a great city that has survived centuries of revolution and seen Russia through some of its most turbulent years, from tsardom to communism, to today's contemporary society. Central Moscow may be modern in parts, but its fascinating, historic heart hosts a wealth of sights to see. Check into our centrally located Moscow hotel and rest up for another intense day of sightseeing tomorrow.
Day 13 - Moscow
Explore cobbled Red Square and witness 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. Catch a glimpse of revolutionary leader Lenin at his austere eternal resting place before entering the Kremlin grounds, home to the oldest and most important churches in the country, and where many Tsars and Tsarinas are laid to rest. 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 ambassadorial gifts, Faberge eggs, coronation robes and glittering jewels. Afterwards perhaps take the metro to see elaborately decorated stations unlike any other. From sculptures depicting the glory of the soviet days to ornate chandeliers and stained glass windows, these are the 'Palaces of the People'. Today is our final day as a group and there is so much in Moscow to see that we highly recommend staying a few extra days. Enjoy a final optional group dinner with your fellow travellers tonight.
Day 14 - Moscow
The adventures through Russia come to a close today and everyone is free to leave at any time. Anyone who's staying around in Moscow might want to check out our Urban Adventures if they're looking for things to do.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
28-05-202010-06-2020AUD $ 4,805-
04-06-202017-06-2020AUD $ 4,945-
07-06-202020-06-2020AUD $ 4,665-
11-06-202024-06-2020AUD $ 4,990-
18-06-202001-07-2020AUD $ 4,850-
25-06-202008-07-2020AUD $ 4,945-
28-06-202011-07-2020AUD $ 4,850-
02-07-202015-07-2020AUD $ 5,040-
09-07-202022-07-2020AUD $ 5,040-
16-07-202029-07-2020AUD $ 5,040-
30-07-202012-08-2020AUD $ 5,040-
06-08-202019-08-2020AUD $ 5,040-
13-08-202026-08-2020AUD $ 4,850-
20-08-202002-09-2020AUD $ 4,850-
27-08-202009-09-2020AUD $ 4,850-
30-08-202012-09-2020AUD $ 4,665-
27-05-202109-06-2021AUD $ 4,665-
03-06-202116-06-2021AUD $ 4,665-
06-06-202119-06-2021AUD $ 4,665-
10-06-202123-06-2021AUD $ 4,665-
17-06-202130-06-2021AUD $ 4,665-
24-06-202107-07-2021AUD $ 4,665-
27-06-202110-07-2021AUD $ 4,665-
01-07-202114-07-2021AUD $ 4,665-
08-07-202121-07-2021AUD $ 4,665-
15-07-202128-07-2021AUD $ 4,665-
29-07-202111-08-2021AUD $ 4,665-
05-08-202118-08-2021AUD $ 4,665-
12-08-202125-08-2021AUD $ 4,665-
19-08-202101-09-2021AUD $ 4,665-
26-08-202108-09-2021AUD $ 4,665-
29-08-202111-09-2021AUD $ 4,665-

Accommodation

Hotel (11 nights) Overnight Sleeper Train (2 nights)

Transport

Plane,Overnight Sleeper Train,Private Bus,Public Bus,Taxi,Metro

Map