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

From $4,100 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.

Exeter Services: Arrival 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! 

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 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

 

This morning meet your driver and guide for a 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 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. 

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 repetedly. 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.

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.

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 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. 

 

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

 

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

Hotel: Grand Hotel Europe

Day 5
St. Petersburg | St. Petersburg

This morning your guide will meet you in the hotel lobby to take the short stroll to Palace Square and the Hermitage. 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.  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.

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

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

Hotel: Grand Hotel Europe

Day 6
St. Petersburg | St. Petersburg

This morning 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.

You may wish to have lunch today in the village of Pavlovsk at the restaurant, Podvorye.  This charming restaurant is made of wood and features lively folk entertainment at lunch.  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: Full-Day Vehicle, Driver & Guide (8 Hours)

Hotel: Grand Hotel Europe

Day 7
St. Petersburg | St. Petersburg

Meet your guide and driver for a 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. Walk through the gardens to see Peterhof’s most enchanting treat- the trick fountains of the gardens. Today you will visit 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, is 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.  Today you have a privately guided tour of the collection.

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

Hotel: Grand Hotel Europe

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

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