History Museum, Moscow St. Isaac's Cathedral - St. Petersburg, Russia Catherine's Palace - St. Petersburg, Russia

Essential Russia (8 Days)

Sail down the beautiful rivers
Sail down the beautiful rivers

ITINERARY

PRICING FROM

From $4,975 per person, based on two guests traveling together.  Please contact Exeter International for exact pricing and specific availability. 

Day 1
Arrival | Moscow

Today arrive in Moscow. Please note this flight is not included in program cost. On arrival your private driver will be waiting for you outside of customs and baggage claim.

You will be transferred to the perfectly located hotel, just steps from Red Square and the Kremlin and across the street from the Bolshoi Theater. The rest of the day and evening is at leisure.

Time permitting, walk over to brand new Zaryadye park for sweeping views of the Red Square and St. Basil Cathedral. One of Moscow’s newest sights is the futuristic Zaryadye Park. With 32 acres of recreation space right in the very centre of the city, the park is located steps from Red Square. Designed by Diller, Scofido & Renfro, architects who created the New York Highline, the concept is described as ‘wild urban’ – with the park merging historical streets with nature. For many years the area was the site of the largest hotel in the world (the Hotel Rossiya) and the area had been empty since the hotel was demolished over a decade ago.

Exeter Services: Arrival transfer (one included)

Hotel: Ararat Park Hyatt

Day 2
Moscow | Moscow

Early this morning your guide will meet you in your hotel lobby to begin your exploration of Moscow. You will have an appointment to visit the famed Armory Museum, including its vast collection of Imperial Russian art work. Here you’ll see the Kremlin’s world-famous collection of Imperial Faberge Easter Eggs. Also in the Armory are many of the most important Imperial thrones and crowns, including the most historic, the Cap of Monomachus.

Included in your Kremlin visit today is entry into the Diamond Vaults. Admission to these extraordinary rooms is by special appointment with the Kremlin and your guide is not allowed to enter with you. Your entry to the Diamond Vaults is with a pre-set group of other visitors, and you will have approximately twenty minutes to browse these rooms on your own. You will see Catherine the Great’s scepter with its famous Orlov Diamond and one of the largest collections of diamonds and gem stones in the world!

Before leaving the Kremlin, take some time to explore its expansive grounds with your guide. Here you will see the largest bell in the world – as well as the largest canon. Neither was ever used due to their enormous size! Also on the grounds of the Kremlin are three very important churches and your guide will take you through all that are of interest. We suggest you don’t miss the Assumption Cathedral, where all Russian tsars were crowned.

After time to have lunch on your own, explore some of the surrounding neighborhood with your guide. In Red Square, be sure not to miss the rebuilt church and Imperial Gates at the south end of the square; they were both destroyed under Stalin and are now rebuilt in their original splendor. Your guide will also show you the stunning St. Basil’s Cathedral, an iconic symbol of Moscow. This magnificent church- museum was commissioned by Ivan the Terrible and was completed in 1561. Rumor has it that Ivan had the architect blinded so he would never be able to design anything as exquisite again!

Later, you may want to experience the fascinating interiors of the Moscow Metro stations, ornately decoratedwithbeautifulpaintings,carvingsandchandeliers! TheMoscowMetrowascreatedascomplex of monumental structures featuring designs of the very best Soviet architects. The stations, most built between 1930 and 1960 are underground palaces, featuring exquisite frescoes, statues, mosaics and stained glass. Each station has its own special theme- our favorite is Teatralnaya. Today this massive public transportation system is one of the largest in the world, carrying over 9 million passengers per day (twice as many as London or Paris!). Your guide will be delighted to show you as many stations as you like.

Special Note: All of today’s touring today is on foot and involves both walking and standing. Please wear comfortable footwear.

Exeter Services: Full-Day Guide (8 Hours)

Hotel: Ararat Park Hyatt

Day 3
Moscow | Moscow

Today you will visit to the grand Christ the Holy Redeemer Cathedral, which towers over historic Moscow. The cathedral was demolished under Stalin’s reign for a planned Lenin skyscraper, but eventually became an enormous outdoor swimming pool after construction failed repeatedly. After the fall of Communism, it was decided to reconstruct the cathedral and so Christ the Holy Redeemer was completely rebuilt by Mayor Luzhkov of Moscow in 2001- at the budget of over 350 million dollars! It is a beautiful cathedral and it now stands as it did at the turn of the 20th Century. Of particular note are the stunning frescoes that fill the interiors.

Exeter International Extraordinary Experience

After touring the cathedral, a very special guide from the cathedral will join you for a private visit to the dome of the church. After ascending to the top via elevator, you will have the opportunity to view the city of Moscow at 360 degrees, from all four sides of the dome. Standing at 300 feet above the city, the dome provides a fantastic view of the city’s most significant sites including the Kremlin, St. Basil’s, Pushkin Museum, Red October Chocolate Factory and the Moskva River. Turn a corner and you are awarded with views of several of the Seven Sisters buildings. You may even witness the ringing of the bells in the Bell towers located just above your head! It's the ultimate Moscow city tour from the top of the highest peak of central Moscow.

Later stroll with the guide across the bridge to the other side of the river where you will walk through the Graveyard of Fallen Monuments – a collection of some of the sculptures removed from Moscow after the fall of the Soviet era.

Next your guide will take you to the New Tretyakov Gallery, an annex of the Tretyakov Gallery. This huge museum is dedicated to Russian art from the early 1900’s to the present. You will find that most paintings are of the Socialist Realism movement. You may also want to visit the Modernist paintings, which include pictures by many previously outlawed artists.

This afternoon you can choose to explore other sites of interest in Moscow. Please let us know as much as possible about your interests so we can plan the perfect places for you to visit.

Special Note: All of today’s touring today is on foot and involves both walking and standing. Please wear comfortable footwear. Please enquire for additional cost if you would like to add car services.

Exeter Services: Guide (8 Hours)

Hotel: Ararat Park Hyatt

Day 4
Moscow to St. Petersburg | Moscow to St. Petersburg

Enjoy a morning at leisure in Moscow. Later today you will depart on the luxury, high-speed Sapsan train from Moscow to St. Petersburg. The cost of tickets is not included, but can be organized through Exeter International. Business class tickets generally average $150-$250 per person. Your 4-hour journey will take you through the picturesque Russian countryside. First Class tickets are available as well, please inquire for cost.

Upon arrival in St. Petersburg you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Evening is at leisure in St. Petersburg.

Exeter Services: Transfer (Moscow); Transfer (St. Petersburg)

Hotel: Rocco Forte Hotel Astoria

Day 5
St. Petersburg | St. Petersburg

This morning meet your guide in the hotel lobby for a short walk to Palace Square. The focal point of this ensemble is the Winter Palace - an architectural masterpiece of the Russian Baroque and the royal residence of all the Russian Emperors (except Paul) until the 1917 Revolution. The existing Winter Palace is based on three earlier versions, the first two of which were rather modest and were erected under Peter the Great. After his death, the palace was repeatedly expanded and redesigned, most notably by the famous architects Domenico Trezzini and Bartolomeo Rastrelli.

Today you will see Hermitage museum with its largest collection of art in the word.

This afternoon, your guide will take you into the stately St. Isaac’s Cathedral. Its malachite and lapis lazuli columns are not to be missed! St. Isaac’s was built between 1818 and 1858, by the French-born architect Auguste Montferrand, to be one of the most impressive landmarks of the Russian Imperial capital. During World War II, the golden dome was painted gray to avoid its being targeted by Nazi fire.

Later you will stop into the famous Yusupov Palace on the banks for the Moika Canal. You will have a private tour of the palace including its famous theater and Arabian Room. Your guide will recount the story of Rasputin’s murder. This tour is by appointment only and cannot be moved to another time or day.

The rest of the afternoon will be at leisure to explore the city with your guide. You may enjoy a walk along the famous Nevsky Prospect – St. Petersburg’s main thoroughfare. Some of the main sights lining the Nevsky Prospekt include the Stroganoff Palace, the huge neoclassical Kazan Cathedral, the Art Nouveau Book House (Dom Knigi), some 18th-century churches, a monument to Catherine the Great, the Russian National Library, and the Anichkov Bridge with its horse statues.

Special Note: All of today’s touring is on foot. Please wear comfortable footwear.

Exeter Services: Guide (8 Hours)

Hotel: Rocco Forte Hotel Astoria

Day 6
St. Petersburg | St. Petersburg

Today you will visit Shuvalov Palace’s Faberge Museum. This is the most formidable collection in the world of works by this great Russian master craftsman, best known for his celebrated million-dollar Imperial Easter Eggs.

You may wish to have lunch today in the village of Pushkin at one of the local restaurants. Lunch cost is not included in program cost and is payable locally.

Next you will see the Catherine’s palace. This palace was originally designed in the 1750s in the Rococo style by the famous architect Rastrelli (who also designed many of St. Petersburg’s grandest buildings like the Winter Palace, parts of Peterhof, the Stroganoff Palace, and the Smolny Cathedral) for the Tsarina (Princess) Elizabeth, who named it after her mother Catherine I – Peter the Great’s second wife. Later, Catherine II (the Great) commissioned the Scottish architect Charles Cameron to re-design the palace’s interiors in the then-fashionable Neo-Classical style. After Catherine the Great’s death, the palace remained largely unchanged for over a century until the Second World War when the Nazi army, retreating after the unsuccessful siege of Leningrad, destroyed the palace almost completely. After the war, the magnificent palace and its interiors were thoroughly and painstakingly rebuilt, but renovations at some parts still continue.

Exeter International Extraordinary Experience

While visiting Catherine Palace, you will be invited into the Amber Room workshops where craftsmen rebuilt the famous amber panels lost in World War II. This tour is by appointment only and cannot be moved to another time or day.

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide (8 Hours)

Hotel: Rocco Forte Hotel Astoria

Day 7
St. Petersburg | St. Petersburg

Today visit Peter Paul Fortress: the birthplace of St. Petersburg. After walking through the many gates and across the bridges and moats, you can begin to feel the late 18th century era that required such fortification. As Peter’s original outpost against the Swedes, St. Petersburg was born from this fortress and its historical significance is felt to this day by the presence of every Romanov tomb from Peter the Great.

Afterward you will visit Peterhof, to see first-hand the palace’s countless fountains and gardens. When the weather cooperates in the summertime, a special treat is to take the express hydrofoil either to or from Peterhof. The one-hour ride takes you out of the city traffic and into the Baltic Sea! Your guide will go with you on the hydrofoil and your driver will meet you at the palace. Cost of hydrofoil is included in your tour.

Peterhof Palace (or Petrodvorets in Russian) is often called the Russian Versailles due to the prominence of the gardens and fountains. Walk through the gardens to see Peterhof’s most enchanting treat- the trick fountains of the gardens.

Later you may want to visit the Grottos of Peterhof. The tremendous variety of fountains is one of the principal features of Peterhof, where their extravagance and playfulness indicate the atmosphere of early 18th century Russia. You will journey underneath the fountains and learn of their remarkable engineering and history.

While strolling through the lower gardens of Peterhof, you will come to one of Peter the Great’s favorite buildings, including his very personal residence, Mon Plaisir (“my pleasure). This tiny palace has low ceilings (which Peter preferred) and sits directly on the banks of the sea. This was his summer palace and was often used on his way coming and going to Europe through the harbor at Kronstadt.

Exeter Services: Full-Day Vehicle, Driver & Guide (8 Hours)

Hotel: Rocco Forte Hotel Astoria

Day 8
Departure | St. Petersburg

Today you will be met in your hotel lobby. You will then be transferred to the airport to catch your onward flight. Please note this flight is not included in program cost.

Exeter Services: Departure transfer

Meet a ballerina in St Petersburg
Extraordinary Experiences
VIEW VIEW page

Extraordinary Experiences

Discover our insider access Extraordinary Experiences.

VIEW PAGE
Exeter Team
The Experts
VIEW VIEW page

The Experts

Meet the Experts that will make your trip extraordinary.

VIEW PAGE
Rovinj, Istria
View Our Destinations
VIEW VIEW page

View Our Destinations

Our specialty is in the countries that link East & West, both in Europe, and between Europe & Asia.

VIEW PAGE
Family travel
View Our Trip Types
VIEW VIEW page

View Our Trip Types

How do you like to travel? View your choices here.

VIEW PAGE