Saint Basil's Cathedral - Moscow, Russia Yusupov Palace - St. Petersburg, Russia

Exeter’s Perfect Week in Russia

Sail down the beautiful rivers
Sail down the beautiful rivers

Masterfully designed by Ala Osmond, one of Exeter's Russia experts - this is her perfect week in Russia.  Russia boasts a wealth of culture and opulence that is unmatched anywhere in the world, a tradition that continues from the great tsars through to the modern-day oligarchs. To truly understand this fascinating nation, and uncover its secrets, we recommend a Custom tour of its two great cities, Moscow and St Petersburg. We hope this itinerary gives you some inspiration.

Please contact Exeter International to customize and tailor your own program.

Day 1
Arrival | Moscow Saint Basil's Cathedral - Moscow, Russia

Arrival in Moscow. Your guide and driver will be waiting to welcome you after baggage claim in the main arrival terminal.

You will be transferred to your hotel, a short walk from Red Square and the Kremlin.

If you feel like stretching your legs this afternoon you may want to walk over to the nearby Zaryadye park for sweeping views of the Red Square and St. Basil Cathedral. 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) however the area then remained vacant for many years since the hotel was demolished over a decade ago. There is a great upscale restaurant style food court here which we recommend for lunch.

Dinner at Grand Café Dr Zhivago. Owned by one of the most successful restaurateurs in Moscow, Alexander Rapoport, this fashionable Russian restaurant is very popular with both Muscovites and visitors. Classic Russian dishes very well executed – the Russian ravioli (pelmeni) are some of the best in town- our three favorites: duck, crab and classic beef, or indulge in black caviar. The white-washed interior with bright red accents is show- stopping. This is the perfect introduction to Russian food and to Moscow. Reservations will be made on your behalf. The cost of your meal is payable locally.

Exeter Services: Arrival transfer with Guide

Hotel: Metropol

Day 2
Moscow | Moscow Kremlin - Moscow, Russia

This morning you will meet your guide for the short walk to Red Square and the Kremlin. The backdrop to any news reports about Russia, Red Square is almost mythic. Ancient and historic the square dates from the 15th century. Framed by Lenin’s tomb and the Kremlin walls on one side, GUM department store on the other, and two of Moscow’s most iconic buildings at each end: fairy-tale St Basil’s cathedral and The Russian History Museum, Red Square is iconic, and doesn’t disappoint.

Today you will visit the Kremlin, it’s expansive grounds and Armory Museum, including its vast collection of Imperial Russian artwork. You will have the opportunity to see the Kremlin’s unique and intimate collection of ImperialFabergeEasterEggs. AlsointheArmoryaremanyofthemostimportantImperialthronesandcrowns, including the most historic, 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 gemstones in the world!

Enjoy lunch on Red Square at Café Bosco located in the GUM department store. Reservations will be made on your behalf. The cost of your meal is payable locally.

Later, your guide will take you on a tour of the Moscow Metro. The stations, most built between 1930 and 1960 are underground palaces, featuring exquisite frescoes, statues, mosaics and stained glass. 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 before escorting you back to your hotel where you then have the remainder of your evening at leisure.

Notethatallofyourtouringtodayisonfootandtherewillbesignificantperiodsofwalkingandstanding. Please dress for comfort today!

For dinner tonight, we recommend dinner at Twins Garden. The Berezutsky brothers (Twins) boast that two thirds of the food in their restaurant comes from their own farm and consider their restaurant a true farm-to- table restaurant like no other. This is modern Russian cooking at its best, all with Russian produce, and a complete contrast from Dr Zhivago. Reservations will be made on your behalf. The cost of your meal is payable locally. Your hotel can arrange a car for you at additional cost.

Exeter Services: Guide (8 Hours)

Hotel: Metropol

Day 3
Moscow | Moscow Cosmonaut Museum - Moscow, Russia

Today is dedicated to the history of the Soviet and Cold War era. Meet your guide this morning in your hotel lobby. Your first visit will be to the Museum of Cosmonautics which tells the story of the space race – one of the defining moments of the Cold War. Russia was victorious in being the very first to send a human into space. Russians are, quite rightly, very proud of the achievement.

You can’t miss the Monument to the Conquerors of Space, a titanium triangle supporting a rocket near the main entrance to the All-Russian Exhibition Centre. (you may wish to visit the park and the pavilions that have recently been restored – weather and time allows after your visit to the museum). Erected in 1964, it celebrates Soviet achievements in space. Underneath the monument, is the Museum of Cosmonautics that includes famous exhibits as the stuffed space dogs, Belka and Strelka, together with the nose-section of the rocket they travelled in.

Later, visit one of Moscow’s VDNKh, one of Moscow’s main parks that has a pavilion for every different Soviet Republic. The park has seen investment of $46M and is a unique insight to Russia’s Soviet era empire.

Today, we would recommend lunch at Depo – an old beautiful tram depot built between 1874 and 1932 – which has become the city’s newest foodie hangout (it has been open less than a year) There are 200 stalls, shops and restaurants, and it will be busy and buzzy on a Sunday lunchtime – another great way to see locals enjoying their city. The cost of your meal is payable locally.

Later, you will have a private tour of the Cold War Bunker. The Nuclear Bunker reveals the Cold War chapter in the history of Russia, when the country was full on alert and the tension between superpowers had the world fearing a nuclear war.

Walking down a leafy street, with a street market and a bijou onion domed church this visit will take you back to the era when many civilian buildings in Moscow were there just to disguise military instillations.

The bunker was built 200 feet below Moscow and during its construction the residents of the area were told that the metro tunnels were being extended. Its main function was to sustain communication for the government of the state in case of a nuclear attack. More than 2000 people worked here (and of course could not discuss even with their closest family where they worked) some of whom have been back to visit since it was bought

at auction several years ago by an ex-military civilian and turned into a museum. A fascinating and haunting experience.

Tonight, we recommend dinner at Strana Kotoroy Net (The Country that No Longer Exists). The name refers to the former Soviet Union and the cuisine is inspired from every republic of this country that no longer exists. Wonderful cheesy bread from Georgia, sardines from Riga, plov (rice dish) from Uzbekistan are all highlights of the menu. This is a great choice to experience excellent ethnic food that you cannot taste at home, but in a very hip and happening atmosphere. Located in the same building as the Four Seasons. on your behalf. The cost of your meal is payable locally.

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

Hotel: Metropol

Day 4
Moscow - St. Petersburg | Moscow - St. Petersburg St. Petersburg, Russia

This morning you will depart on the luxury, high-speed Sapsan train from Moscow to St. Petersburg in first class. Depart Moscow at 9:40AM – arriving St Petersburg 1:30PM.

On arrival in St. Petersburg you will be welcomed by your private driver and guide and transferred to your hotel. Porterage will be arranged both in Moscow and St Petersburg at the train station. After you have checked in, you will have time to relax or perhaps to take a walk along the Neva River, just a short stroll from your hotel.

At 4:30PM you will meet your guide and driver who will take you to the Russian Museum, housing one of the finest collections of purely Russian art in the world. From Andrey Rublev’s famous icons and Repin’s impressionist Imperial portraits, to 20th Century modern masters such as Kandinsky and Malevich.

Finally, today at approximately 6:30PM you will visit the magnificent Church on Spilled Blood on Canal Griboyedova. This is the only church in the world covered completely inside and out by mosaics of tiles and precious and semi-precious stones. This is the best time of day to visit the church, which is the only church of its kind in St. Petersburg.

This evening we recommend Birch for dinner – probably the best restaurant in Russia right now! Owned by four local chefs, it’s a food-driven, sleek and modern restaurant that offers creative cuisine that may or may not be Russian but is always delicious. Your driver will transfer you back to your hotel after dinner. Reservations will be made on your behalf. The cost of your meal is payable locally.

Exeter Services: Station Transfers; Guide (3 Hours); Evening Vehicle (5 hours)

Hotel: Rocco Forte Astoria

Day 5
St. Petersburg | St. Petersburg English Embankment, St. Petersburg

This morning your guide and driver will meet you to transfer to one of the canals of the city for an overview city tour by private boat of the rivers and canals in the city. Your first stop will be a visit to the Peter Paul Fortress: the birthplace of St Petersburg. 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.

You will continue your tour and also pass by the famous Bronze Horseman statue of Peter the Great, the Strelka (the spit in the center of the Neva River, overlooking the Winter Palace, the first stock exchange, and dozens of stately palaces).

Disembark your cruise and step inside the famous Yusupov Palace on the banks for the Moika Canal. You will have a private tour of the palace including its famous theatre and Arabian Room. You will hear how Rasputin was poisoned here by Prince Yusupov.

Enjoy lunch at the Bellevue restaurant in Palace Square with sweeping views of the rooftops of the Hermitage and surrounding buildings. Located in the Kempinski Moika 22 hotel. Reservations will be made on your behalf. The cost of your meal is payable locally.

The State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg needs little introduction, but who has heard of the General Staff Building? Several years after its completion, there is little awareness that all the impressionist and post- impressionist works of art from the Hermitage have been moved across Palace Square to this stunning neo- classical building which has, after a 6-year refit, a jaw-droppingly modern interior. A space that in any other country would be hailed as a major new museum, in Russia, it is merely an extension! Monet, Cezanne, Renoir, Degas, Gaugin, Matisse, Picasso and Van Gogh to name some of the very most famous. Your guide will take you through the 24 galleries of incredible art.

Tonight, you will enjoy a performance at one of the most famed theatres in the world, the Mariinsky. Perhaps best known as the Kirov, the theatre is celebrating its 237th season. Built in 1860 and named after Maria Alexandrovna, wife of Alexander II the theater is the birthplace of Swan Lake and home to Pavlova, Nijinsky and Nureyev to name just a few. We recommend Mansarda for post theater dinner with stunning views of St. Isaac’s Cathedral and close to your hotel. Reservations will be made on your behalf. The cost of your meal is payable

locally. Performance schedule is based on availability. The Mariinsky generally runs from September through mid-July.

Note that a significant amount of your touring today is on foot and there will be periods of walking and standing. Please dress for comfort today!

Exeter Services: Morning Transfer; Boat (3 hours), Vehicle & Driver (3 hours), Guide (8 Hours); Theater Transfers

Hotel: Rocco Forte Astoria

Day 6
St. Petersburg | St. Petersburg Hermitage - St. Petersburg, Russia

This morning you will meet your guide for the short walk to take the hydrofoil to Peterhof, Peter the Great’s summer palace. Often referred to as the Russian Versailles due to the countless fountains and gardens. The one- hour high -speed trip on the hydrofoil takes you out of the city traffic and into the Baltic Sea. We recommend that you do this mainly to enjoy the gardens and only if the weather is fine. Your guide can discuss alternatives with you if the weather is not appropriate.

Return to the city center for an afternoon at leisure.

Meet your guide later this evening for a privately guided tour of the Hermitage. We recommend that you visit the main Hermitage complex today from 6PM to benefit from late opening and the absence of crowds. The focal point 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. The Hermitage museum is the largest collection of art in the world.

Note that a significant amount of your touring today is on foot and there will be periods of walking and standing. Please dress for comfort today!

After your tour we recommend dinner at Art Caviar, the premier restaurant in St Petersburg for a caviar tasting. This is something that can be pre-arranged for you, or you can select from the A la Carte menu. Reservations will be made on your behalf. The cost of your meal is payable locally.

Exeter Services: Morning Guide (5 Hours); Evening Guide (3 Hours)

Hotel: Rocco Forte Astoria

Day 7
St. Petersburg | St. Petersburg Amber Room workshops, St. Petersburg

This morning meet your driver and guide to take the drive out to the town of Pushkin for an exploration of Catherine Palace and its fabled Amber Room. This palace was originally designed in the 1750s in the Rococo style by the famous architect Rastrelli for the Tsarina 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.

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With VIP entrance, you will enter through the main Golden Gates of the palace. You’ll be met by a palace representative and taken through the main gates to a private reception area before beginning your tour.

You will also visit the Palace Chapel. Designed by Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli Chapel was consecrated in 1746. It was looted during World War II and its frescoes and icons were almost completely lost. Restoration has been ongoing since 2015 and the chapel is now open to a limited number of visitors daily.

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While visiting Catherine Palace, you will also be invited into the Amber Room Workshops where craftsmen rebuilt the famous amber panels lost in World War II.

Today we recommend lunch at BIP (Emperor Paul’s Castle). This is an exclusive boutique hotel that was previously a castle – it has the best restaurant in the Pavlovsk/Pushkin area and is 15 minutes’ drive from the palace. The rooms that make up the restaurant are straight from a Chekhovian country estate. Herbs and salads for the restaurant are grown in the grounds and there is an altogether serene feel to the entire place. You will find Russian cuisine with some continental favorites. Reservations will be made on your behalf. The cost of your meal is payable locally.

Before you leave the town of Pushkin, be sure to visit the viewing platform at the top of the water tower close to the palace – the perfect place to take some great pictures of the palace and surrounding grounds.

Return to the city center after lunch for your visit to St. Petersburg’s first Fabergé Museum located in Shuvalov Palace on the Fontanka Canal. The palace houses the celebrated Fabergé collection of the Link of Times

Foundation owned by Russian Entrepreneur Viktor Vekselberg, which, with its over 1500 choice pieces, now easily outranks the comparatively small collection of the Kremlin Armory Museum. Mr. Vekselberg has assembled 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 will be taken through the extraordinary exhibition by your guide.

Tonight, for your final meal in Russia, we recommend a Georgian feast dinner at Dolma, just a few minutes’ walk from your hotel. This charming, family-owned Georgian (and Caucasus) cuisine restaurant is a short stroll from our favorite hotels, the Four Seasons, Astoria and Angleterre. It is across the street from the Renaissance Hotel and just off of St. Isaac’s Square. With just a few tables, you know that everything they serve is homemade and the khatchapuri (cheesy bread) is among the best in the city! Be sure to order a plate of “greens” for fresh tomatoes, cucumbers and herbs (basil, cilantro, parsley, etc), the khatchapuri, lobia (warm beans with herbs) and tsatsivi (cold turkey breast in a walnut sauce!). Dolma is a casual and inexpensive restaurant and so convenient, we think everyone staying nearby should enjoy one of their evenings there. Reservations will be made on your behalf. The cost of your meal is payable locally.

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

Hotel: Rocco Forte Astoria

Day 8
Departure | St. Petersburg General Staff Building - St. Petersburg, Russia

Transfer to the airport for your onward flight.

Exeter Services: Departure Transfer with Assistance

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