History Museum, Moscow Church of Spilled Blood - St. Petersburg, Russia Catherine's Palace - St. Petersburg, Russia

Ultimate Russia

Sail down the beautiful rivers
Sail down the beautiful rivers

Highlights:

  • Amber Room Workshops at the Catherine Palace
  • Early Entry into the Hermitage (in Summer)
  • The New Fabergé Museum

For custom luxury travel and tours to Russia, please contact one of our travel experts.

Download PDF Itinerary Here

ITINERARY

PRICING FROM

$4,025 per person, based on double occupancy.  Please contact Exeter International for specific pricing and availability.

Day 1
Arrival | Moscow

Upon arrival into Moscow, your Exeter International English-speaking assistant will be waiting for you outside of customs and baggage claim. Please note that no airfare is included in your trip cost. You will be transferred to the perfectly located and extremely luxurious Ararat Park Hyatt 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.

Exeter Services: Airport Transfer

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 artwork. 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! Note: An appointment is required for visits to the Diamond Vault. Once confirmed, these are not able to be changed.

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.

In Red Square, be sure not to miss the newly rebuilt church and Imperial Gates at the south end of the square; they were both destroyed under Stalin and only recently have been rebuilt in their original splendor. Your guide will also show you the stunning St. Basil’s Cathedral. 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! The cathedral is at its most awesome when viewed from the outside and your guide will be happy to explain its history and the significance of each of the domes, each of which contains a separate chapel.

Later, you may want to experience the fascinating interiors of the Moscow Metro stations, ornately decorated with beautiful paintings, carvings and chandeliers! The Moscow Metro was created as complex 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

Morning visit to the Tretyakov Gallery, located in one of Moscow’s most interesting neighborhoods. This area, called Zamoskvoreche (“beyond the Moscow River”) was originally settled in the 13th century. The small winding streets give this area an almost old-fashioned atmosphere, with historic churches and the mansions of 19th century wealthy merchants.

The Tretyakov Gallery is situated in the former home of the industrialist and great art collector, Pavel Tretyakov. Your guide will take you through the museum, which houses only Russian artists - 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.

After your tour of the gallery, you will see the adjoining private chapel of the Tretyakov family, the Church of St. Nicholas. This small, intimate chapel is where the entire family of the wealthy Russian merchant and art collector would attend private services. Here, you will have the chance to see Russia’s most venerated icon, The Theotokos of Vladimir. This icon was a gift of the patriarch of Constantinople to the Grand Prince of Russia in 1132.

After departing the Tretyakov, take a brief overview city tour around central Moscow. You will stop at one of the most spectacular of the ring of monasteries in the southern part of the city - Novodevichy Convent, constructed in the 16th century. This serene sanctuary houses the lovely Cathedral of the Virgin of Smolensk. Located adjacent to the convent, you may like to visit Novodevichy Convent’s fascinating cemetery. This cemetery houses the graves of many famous Russians, from cultural figures to political and military dignitaries. Each tombstone is wrought with symbolism and makes for a very interesting and worthwhile visit.

This afternoon you can choose to explore other sites of interest in Moscow. If you love Russian history, you won’t want to miss the Contemporary History Museum, which provides a fascinating glimpse into the complex history of Russia over the last two hundred years.

If you love contemporary art, there are several venues where you can see the best contemporary collections, including the New Tretyakov, MARS Gallery, exhibitions at Gorky Park and more. If you would like to explore Russia’s Jewish heritage, a visit to the new Jewish Museum of Tolerance or the Holocaust Museum and Memorial Synagogue is essential.

Exeter Services: Half-Day Vehicle & Driver (4 Hours); Full-Day 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 new 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 $250 per person. Your 4-hour journey will take you through the picturesque Russian countryside.

Upon arrival in St. Petersburg you will be transferred to the historic Rocco Forte Astoria located a short stroll from Palace Square, the Winter Palace and St. Isaac’s Cathedral. Evening at leisure in St. Petersburg.

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

Hotel: Rocco Forte Astoria

Day 5
St. Petersburg | St. Petersburg

Exeter International Extraordinary Experience

This morning your guide will meet you in the hotel lobby to take the short stroll to Palace Square and the Hermitage with you. Early entrance to the Hermitage has been arranged for you, so that you can enter the museum before the general public. The Hermitage collection spans just about every artistic period from Greek and Roman collections to Matisse.  The museum boasts that it holds the largest collection of art in the world.  Your guide will escort you through the entire museum, from its collection of Rubens to its da Vinci’s and beyond!  Note:  early admission is only available in the summer months (June – early September).  

This afternoon, 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.

Next, you will see the ornate Church on Spilled Blood on Canal Griboyedova.  The Church on Spilled Blood is so named because it stands on the spot where the Emperor Alexander II was assassinated on March 1, 1881.  Its unique design was actually inspired by St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow.  This is the only church in the world covered completely inside and out by mosaics of tiles and precious and semi-precious stones. Across the street you will find a small souvenir market selling inexpensive Russian handicrafts.

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. Your guide will be happy to provide information on any of the buildings you are interested in along the way. 

Exeter Services: Full-Day Guide (8 Hours); Half-Day Vehicle & Driver (4 Hours)

Hotel: Rocco Forte Astoria

Special Note:  Some touring today is on foot.  Please wear comfortable footwear.  

Day 6
St. Petersburg | St. Petersburg

This morning your driver and guide will take you out into the Russian countryside to see two of the city’s most elegant and beautiful palaces- Catherine Palace (formerly Pushkin) and Pavlovsk, in the nearby village of the same name. 

Your first stop will be Pavlovsk Palace, built by Paul I and his wife Maria.  This is the understated summer palace of the tsars.  Started by Catherine the Great’s favorite architect, Cameron (a Scot), the palace was later finished by Paul’s and his wife Maria’s preferred architect, Andrei Voronykhin- a Russian serf who later became one of the greatest architects ever to work in Russia.

Afterwards, you will visit the lavish Catherine Palace and its fabled Amber Room.  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 centuries 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 on some sections 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: Full-Day Vehicle, Driver & Guide (8 Hours)

Hotel: Rocco Forte Astoria

Day 7
St. Petersburg | St. Petersburg

Morning visit to Peter the Great’s summer palace, 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. The view from the palace through the grand colonnade of fountains to the Baltic Sea is one of the true masterpieces of Russian artistry. If you arrive by hydrofoil (as Imperial guests usually arrived!), you will first enter the lower gardens and will be able to see Peter the Great’s favorite buildings. It is also in this area that you will see Peterhof’s most enchanting treat- the trick fountains of the gardens. Be careful where you step in this area- you could be hit by a surprise stream of water as you stroll! When you walk to the upper gardens, you can enter the Grand Palace of Peterhof. This stately palace overlooks the gardens and smaller palaces, as well as the Baltic Sea. The ornate baroque interiors or the Grand Palace will no doubt amaze you and no one soon forgets the unique Chinese Room filled with lacquer and ancient silk.

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.

 Exeter International Extraordinary Experience

St. Petersburg’s first Fabergé Museum, a must see, has opened at the Shuvalov Palace on the Fontanka Canal, right in the city center. 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 Armoury 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.

Exeter Services: Full-Day Vehicle, Driver & Guide (12 Hours)

Exeter Services: Rocco Forte Astoria

Day 8
Departure | St. Petersburg

Today you will be transferred to the airport for your onward flight. 

Exeter Services: Transfer Only

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