Suzdal, Golden Ring, Russia Grand Kremlin Palace Moscow Faberge Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia

Hidden Russia

Sail down the beautiful rivers
Sail down the beautiful rivers

Embark on an exclusive journey to Moscow, St. Petersburg and the Golden Ring, as we open doors to several of our Exeter International Extraordinary Experiences. Our Hidden Russia program will take you a step beyond the velvet rope to do things that most people will never have the opportunity to experience.

While in Moscow, visit the personal residence of the President of Russia – the Grand Kremlin Palace and The Terem (strictly off-limits to the general public). Take a behind-the-scenes peek backstage at the legendary Bolshoi Theater.

Immerse yourself in authentic Russian culture in the villages of the Golden Ring as you travel through the countryside. Step into ancient monasteries and private homes and be with people who live beyond the urban landscapes of Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Tour the Hermitage with a curator in St. Petersburg and take a peek into the museum's undiscovered storage rooms. Explore the opulent palaces of the Tsars and enjoy an exclusive tour of the world’s most exquisite collection of Faberge objets d’art.

Our Hidden Russia journey will reveal an insider’s view into what the country is really all about and may well change your perspective on Russia completely.

Highlights of Exeter’s Hidden Russia
• Step inside the Grand Faceted Palace and Terem in the Kremlin – the official residence of the President of Russia
• Backstage Tour of the Bolshoi Theater
• Experience the “real” Russia in the historic countryside outside Moscow
• Hermitage Museum with a Curator
• See untold treasures of the Hermitage in their Storage Chambers
• The New Fabergé Museum 

Easy to Combine with:
• Copenhagen or Stockholm • Berlin or Munich • Vienna, Prague or Budapest

Trip Departure Dates:

2017 dates coming soon!




June 2, 2016:  $8,300 per person / Single Supplement $2,775                  July 7, 2016:  $7,850 per person / Single Supplement $2,350                  September 8, 2016:  $7,775 per person / Single Supplement $2,300 Please contact Exeter International for specific pricing and availability on your preferred departure date. 

Day 1
Arrival | Arrival

Upon arrival into Moscow, your driver will meet you outside of baggage claim and customs to transfer you to your hotel in the center of the city.

After you have had a chance to check in, rest and freshen up, your guide will meet you in the lobby of your hotel to begin your tour of Moscow. Discover the neighborhood, which surrounds your hotel, which lies just minutes from Red Square. As you walk across Red Square, don’t miss the church and Imperial Gates. Destroyed during the Stalin era, they have been completely rebuilt and restored to their original splendor.

As you walk along with the formidable walls of the Kremlin to your right and the glittering designer store windows of GUM to your left, St. Basil’s Cathedral’s majesty dominates your view. Commissioned by Ivan the Terrible in the 1500s, legend claims that Ivan had the architect blinded so that he would not be able to replicate it. While the beauty of the Cathedral lies in its imposing façade, each of the eclectically colored domes houses a small chapel within it.

Note: All services today are on foot. Please wear comfortable shoes for walking.

This evening, enjoy a warm welcome to Moscow with a casual dinner at one of the city’s finest restaurants. Dinner consists of three courses, mineral water, tea and coffee.

Exeter Services: Transfer, Half Day Guide
Hotel: Four Seasons Moscow
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2
Bolshoi Theater | Bolshoi Theater

This morning, your guide and driver will meet you to explore more of Moscow’s historic highlights. Begin with a visit to the Novodevichy Convent, which dates back to the 16th century. Weather permitting, we highly recommend a stroll through the Novodevichy cemetery. From cultural icons to artists to military heroes, every tombstone is wrought with symbolism.

Continue to Zamoskvoreche, one of the most interesting neighborhoods in the city, dating back to the 13th century. Quaint by-lanes twist around church steeples and mansions of the elite dating back to the 19th century. The Tretyakov Gallery is situated in one of these beautiful period homes that belonged to Pavel Tretyakov, a powerful industrialist and art collector of high repute. From Andrei Rublev’s icons to famous 20th century Russian painters (Repin and Aivazovsky), this is one of the world’s greatest collections of Russian art.

Visit the Church of St. Nicholas, the Tretyakov’s private chapel, where you will find the Theotokos of Vladimir, Russia’s most celebrated icon, which the Patriarch of Constantinople gifted to the Grand Prince of Russia in 1132.

After lunch at a local restaurant, your guide will take you to visit the recently restored Christ the Holy Redeemer Cathedral. Completely destroyed during Stalin’s reign, it was brought back to life by Moscow’s legendary Mayor Luzhkov, as recently as 2001, at a stupendous cost, restoring it to its turn-of-the-century beauty.

Exeter International Extraordinary Experience
This afternoon, you will be invited to a private backstage tour of the Historic Stage at the Bolshoi Theater. Opened after extensive renovations in October 2011, this tour gives you a very rare behind-the-scenes peek into the life of this legendary theater! (This tour is by appointment only, schedule permitting, and cannot be moved to another time or day).

Note: This afternoon’s touring is on foot. Please wear comfortable footwear.

Exeter Services: Guide, Vehicle & Driver
 Four Seasons Moscow
Meals Included: Breakfast & Lunch

Day 3
Grand Kremlin Palace | Grand Kremlin Palace

This morning your guide will meet you in the lobby of your hotel to walk you across Red Square to the Kremlin Complex.

Visit the Armory Museum with its antique collection of Faberge Easter Eggs, the prized Cap of Monomachus, as well as several other vestiges of Moscow’s imperial history. Continue to the magnificent Diamond Vaults whose treasures include the scepter of Catherine the Great and the legendary Orlov Diamond.

As you continue to explore the Kremlin’s vast complex, your guide will show you the world’s largest bell and the world’s largest canon – neither one has ever been used, but they stand as proud testimony to the might of Russia’s empire. If you are interested, your guide can also take you to visit the Kremlin churches – our favorite one is the Assumption Cathedral.

Exit the Kremlin grounds to enjoy a light lunch at a neighborhood restaurant.

Exeter International Extraordinary Experience
This afternoon, you will be among a handful of people who have ever been allowed to visit the Grand Kremlin Palace – strictly off-limits to most members of the public. Explore the stunning interiors of the Grand Kremlin Palace, the Faceted Chamber and the Terem – home to the earliest Tsars and the official residence of the Romanovs. Originally built by Ivan the Terrible in the 15th century, they have been completely restored in the 1990s and are used by the Russian President for entertaining guests and dignitaries.

Note: Please note that special permission and security clearance is required for this visit. Your passport details will need to be sent to Kremlin authorities at least one month prior to your visit.

All your touring today is on foot and there will be scarce opportunities to sit and rest. Please wear appropriate comfortable footwear.

Exeter Services: Full Day Guide
 Four Seasons Moscow
Meals Included: Breakfast & Lunch

Day 4
Pushkin Museum | Pushkin Museum

This morning, your guide will meet you to walk to the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts. Its French Impressionist paintings are its most visited exhibit. The Pushkin is home to several prized collections of art and ancient artifacts and you can enjoy a leisurely morning taking in these beautiful pieces.

The rest of the day and evening is at your leisure.

Exeter Services: Full Day Guide

Hotel:Four Seasons Moscow
Meals Included: Breakfast at your hotel

Day 5
The Golden Ring | The Golden Ring

Depart Moscow after breakfast to head into the historic cities, which lie in the “Golden Ring” - the charming countryside which surrounds the city.

Your first stop today is Vladimir, tucked into a gorgeous green valley, beyond the city limits of Moscow. Dating back to the 12th century, Vladmir was once an important strong hold of culture and heritage and even today you can witness this in its architecture, churches and art. Continue on towards Suzdal and upon arrival check in to your hotel.

The rest of the day is at your leisure. If you like, you may want to experience a Russian Banya treatment. A traditional Russian therapy, the Banya is a cleansing ritual which involves steam, extremes of hot and cold temperatures, and an energizing “beating” with Birch branches. (The cost of the Banya is not included. Your guide will be happy to assist you with booking it).

Exeter Services: Guide, Vehicle & Driver
Hotel: Pushkarskaya Sloboda
Meals Included: Breakfast & Lunch

Day 6
Russia's Countryside | Russia's Countryside

This morning, immerse yourself in Russia’s countryside as you explore Suzdal. The Golden Ring is known for its quaint wooden architecture with its intricate carved embellishments. Within the walls of the Suzdal Kremlin, visit the exquisite wooden Church of St. Nicholas and the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin, which date back to the 13th century.

You may also opt to visit the open-air Museum of Wooden and Peasant Architecture – an ethnographic museum that depicts a typical Russian lifestyle in the country. Later this afternoon, you can visit one of the five remaining monasteries in Suzdal. Our favorite is the Spaso-Yevfimieyev Monastery and museum, or the Convent of the Intercession. Enjoy Suzdal on your own for the rest of the day.

This evening, we have arranged a special dinner for you in a private home – simple home cooking, nutritiously prepared and fresh from the dacha gardens, you will delight in some of Russia’s favorite mouth-watering dishes. Dinner consists of three courses, mineral water, tea and coffee.

Exeter Services: Guide, Vehicle & Driver
Hotel: Pushkarskaya Sloboda
Meals Included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 7
To St Petersburg | To St Petersburg

Morning at your leisure until you transfer back to Moscow to catch the high-speed Sapsan train to St. Petersburg. (The duration of your train journey is approximately 4 hours. Cost of train tickets are not included in your program).

Arrival in St. Petersburg. Your driver will meet you at the station to transfer you to your hotel in the center of the city. The rest of the evening is at your leisure.

Exeter Services: Transfers
Hotel: Four Seasons Lion Palace
Meals Included: Breakfast at your hotel

Day 8
Faberge Museum | Faberge Museum

This morning, your guide will escort you to the Hermitage Museum, the world’s finest collection of art, housed in the original Winter Palace of the Tsars.

Exeter International Extraordinary Experience
One could explore the Hermitage for a lifetime, but today you will be privy to some of its finest pieces in the company of a museum curator. We suggest allowing a well-known art lecturer to introduce the highlights of the collection to you before you proceed on a personal tour. If you have a significant interest in a specific period or school of art, please share this with the curator, or if you prefer, allow him to show you his personal favorites! This is an awe-inspiring tour for art enthusiasts and the experience of a lifetime.

After leaving the Hermitage, your guide will show you some of St. Petersburg’s city landmarks including the statue of Peter the Great as the Bronze Horseman, the Strelka, overlooking some of the most historic buildings in the city, and Nevsky Prospect, St. Petersburg’s main artery, interspersed periodically by meandering canals, which buzzes with life at all hours of the day.

Today, you may also visit the Peter and Paul Fortress: the birthplace of St. Petersburg. Cross the gates, bridges and moats dating back to the 18th century, discover how it served as a bastion against the Swedes, and listen to your guide tell the fantastic stories of each of the Romanovs who are buried within its walls.

Exeter International Extraordinary Experience
This afternoon visit the Shuvalov Palace, which houses Viktor Vekselberg’s private collection of Faberge objets d’art. By far the finest collection of these prized pieces in the world today, this tour is limited to very few people and is by special appointment only.

Optional Evening Event
Enjoy a night at the theater and experience one of St. Petersburg’s finest performances, according to the schedule. Theater schedules will only be available approximately 60 days prior to departure. This evening event includes premier tickets to a performance at the Mariinsky Theater (opera, ballet or concert) as well as round-trip theater transportation. (Cost of this evening performance and transportation is not included. Please inquire with us if you would like to include it in your program).

Exeter Services: Full Day Guide, Half Day Vehicle & Driver
Hotel:Four Seasons Lion Palace
Meals Included: Breakfast & Lunch

Day 9
Amber Room | Amber Room

This morning, take a trip into the Russian countryside to the village of Pushkin, to visit the extravagant Rococo style Catherine Palace, by Rastrelli, the architect who designed much of St. Petersburg’s royal precinct.

Named for Catherine I by her daughter Tsarina Elizabeth, it was later embellished by Catherine II (The Great). Razed by the Nazis during the second siege of Leningrad, the palace and its fabled Amber Room have been painstakingly restored, aged to exquisite perfection.

Exeter International Exclusive Experience
Learn how the Amber Room has been restored by Russian craftsmen after World War II on a private tour of the Amber Room workshops (by private appointment only).

This afternoon, enjoy lunch in the village of Pavlovsk at a local restaurant. Dine on Russian delicacies and traditional dishes. Lunch consists of two courses, mineral water, coffee and tea.

Exeter International Extraordinary Experience
As you return towards St. Petersburg, you will be in for a rare treat as you stop to visit the Hermitage Museum storage rooms, which are off-limits to the general public. Located about forty minutes outside the city center, these chambers house an eclectic collection ranging from Tsar-era kitchen relics to fanciful royal carriages, beautiful paintings and works of art, and ancient imperial wardrobes!

Exeter Services: Guide, Vehicle & Driver
 Four Seasons Lion Palace
Meals Included: Breakfast & Lunch

Day 10
Peterhof Palace | Peterhof Palace

This morning, drive to the outskirts of the city to visit Peterhof (or Petrodvorets) Palace. Exeter International has a special early admission time confirmed for touring today so that you can enjoy the palace ahead of the crowds.

Cascading fountains on manicured lawns that roll down to the Baltic Sea make Peterhof reminiscent of a Russian Versailles. Enter the Lower Gardens and watch out for sprays of water from the trick and treat fountains on the grounds. Walk to the Upper Gardens and ascend the steps to the Grand Palace. Its grandiose Baroque façade gives way to an eclectic interior. Visit the grottos beneath the palace and learn more about the incredible vision and engineering behind the fountains that spout water across the gardens.

Note: Touring at Peterhof involves a lot of walking. Please wear comfortable footwear.

Enjoy a casual buffet style lunch at the Orangerie at Peterhof before returning to the center of St. Petersburg on the express hydrofoil. Your guide will go with you on the hydrofoil and your driver will meet you as you disembark.

This afternoon, visit the exquisite Church on Spilled Blood with its beautiful façade festooned in intricate mosaics and semi-precious stones. Originally inspired by St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, it stands on the exact spot where Alexander II was assassinated on March 1, 1881. It has recently been completely restored in the post Soviet-era to bring it back to its former glory.

This evening, enjoy a farewell dinner at one of St. Petersburg’s best known restaurants, located just a short walk from your hotel. Dinner consists of three courses, mineral water and tea and coffee.

Exeter Services: Guide, Vehicle & Driver
Hotel: Four Seasons Lion Palace
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 11
Departure | Departure

Today is at your leisure until it is time for you to check out and be transferred to the airport for your onward flight.

Exeter Services: Transfer
Meals Included: Breakfast at your hotel

Meet a ballerina in St Petersburg
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