Volga Dream - Russia Lake Baikal, Golden Eagle, Transsiberian Express

Volga Dream & Golden Eagle Grand Tour of Russia

Sail down the beautiful rivers
Sail down the beautiful rivers

Embark on one of the most epic journeys of a lifetime onboard the Volga Dream and Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express.  The Volga River is the linchpin of a single water system linking Moscow and St. Petersburg to five separate seas. For the traveller, the Volga is a key to grasping Russia’s insistent mystery - a cruise on the river revealing the jewels and the scars of centuries past. In partially visible towns flooded by the Soviets, cathedrals rise from the water eerily intact. Medieval Orthodox monasteries are still in use on the riverbanks. Otters, herons, and bald eagle give life and motion to the passing scene.

After completing the Volga Dream's iconic cruise from St. Petersburg to Moscow, take off on the renowned Trans - Siberian Express! Travel 6,500 miles on the luxurious Golden Eagle, your luxe hotel  on wheels. During your two weeks you will see some of the most unique places in the world, Lake Baikal, Ulaan Baatar, Vladivostok -  almost inaccessible by any other route and certainly not in the same level of comfort or luxury.  

What's Included:

  • 3 Nights in St. Petersburg at the Grand Hotel Europe
  • 6 Nights onboard the MS Volga Dream
  • 3 Nights in Moscow at the Park Hyatt
  • 12 Nights on board the Golden Eagle
  • 1 Night in Vladivostok at the Hotel Hyundai
  • All meals on board the Volga Dream and Golden Eagle, (Dinners in St. Petersburg/ Moscow are not included)
  • Wine, beer and soft drinks provided with Lunch and Dinner.
  • Experienced tour representatives throughout the tour.
  • Comprehensive off-train sightseeing program as detailed in the itinerary. Please note that all touring is with fellow-passengers at all times.
  • A doctor who travels with the train throughout the tour.
  • Complimentary tea, coffee and mineral water throughout the tour from your train car attendant.
Day 1
St. Petersburg | Arrival

Arrive into St. Petersburg, where you will be greeted and transferred to the Grand Hotel Europe. Peter the Great transformed marshland into a vibrant city of islands, canals, bridges and pastel-colored palaces.

Day 2
St. Petersburg | St. Petersburg

Enjoy a city tour of St. Petersburg and after lunch visit Faberge museum which contains world's largest collection of works by Carl Faberge, including nine Easter eggs commissioned by the Russian royal family.

In the evening, board a small river boat for a sail around the numerous rivers and canals of St. Petersburg.

Day 3
St. Petersburg | St. Petersburg

This morning enter the famed Hermitage Museum before hours to avoid heavy crowds.

 

After lunch travel to the meticulously restored Peterhof, St. Petersburg’s most famous and spectacular Imperial estate, often cited as the Versailles of Russia. Visit the authentic Bath Cottage and stroll in the vast Lower Park with 176 fountains of various forms and styles and four cascades, majestic palaces and numerous gilded statues of ancient gods and heroes. Return to St. Petersburg by hydrofoil.

Day 4
St. Petersburg | St. Petersburg

This morning travel to Catherine the Great’s Palace, which houses the extraordinary Amber Room, its six tons of solid amber deftly carved and framed in gold leaf. Once deemed the “eighth wonder of the world,” the room was stripped by the Nazis in 1941, but majestically reconstructed in honour of St. Petersburg’s 300th birthday.

 

After lunch in Podvorie, a restaurant in a traditional Russian log house, on the way back to St. Petersburg visit a ‘Russia in Miniature’ Interactive Museum. Done with a great care and attention to detail, this very realistic model of Russia will give you a great picture of this vast country full of stereotypes, generalizations and main attractions of every region.

 

Then transfer to the awaiting luxurious MS Volga Dream and begin sailing along the Russian waterways. Gather for the Captain's welcome reception and dinner as you begin our cruise.

Day 5
Mandrogi | Mandrogi

While cruising along the 139-mile-long Svir River, appreciate the quiet understated beauty of a region that has long inspired artists and poets. The ship passes quaint riverside hamlets before reaching Lake Ladoga. Step ashore for a brief visit to the vacation village of Mandrogi to experience daily life in a quaint wooden village on your own.

Day 6
Goritsy | Goritsy

In the tiny settlement of Goritsy, visit the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery, founded in 1397, and now home to one of the best collections of Russian icons in the world. After a guided tour, continue cruising toward majestic Lake Onega.

Day 7
Kizhi | Kizhi

The Kareliya region, which spans the area from St. Petersburg to the Arctic Circle, is a vast wilderness of forest and water. Discover Lake Onega, fed by 58 rivers and home to 1,369 islands, including Kizhi. See a collection of ancient Russian wooden houses and windmills, and the famous Transfiguration church, built in 1714 without a single nail.

Day 8
Yaroslavl | Yaroslavl

Founded in 1010, Yaroslavl is one of the oldest cities in central Russia and the Volga’s first port. In the Spassky Monastery see the Transfiguration of the Savior and admire the mosaics at the Church of Elijah the Prophet. Take part in a costumed reception at the governor’s house, and then re-board the MS Volga Dream in time for lunch.

Day 9
Uglich | Uglich

After a full day of cruising through forested countryside, dock in the ancient trading town of

Uglich, one of the spokes of Russia’s renowned Golden Ring. Explore the impressive Church of St. Dmitri-on-the-Blood, erected on the site where Dmitri, son of Ivan the Terrible, was murdered in 1591, and attend an enchanting concert of choral music at St. John’s Church.

Day 10
Moscow | Moscow

This morning, arrive into Moscow and transfer to the Park Hyatt.

 

This afternoon visit the famous Novodevichy Cemetery which holds the tombs of Russian authors, musicians, playwrights, and poets, as well as famous actors, political leaders, and scientists.

 

Continue onto the Museum of Cosmonautics to learn about Yury Gararin’s first flight in the space and proceed to an outdoor Exhibition of Achievements of the People’s Economy – a truly remarkable footprint of Soviet Architecture and design.

Day 11
Moscow | Moscow

This morning enter the Kremlin for a visit to the Armoury Museum to view its collection of opulent coronation finery, hand-forged armour and weapons, royal carriages and sleighs, and dazzling Faberge eggs. View the ornate gems of the Diamond Fund, including Catherine the Great’s diamond-encrusted coronation crown and the 190-carat Orlov Diamond, and continue to the Square of Four Cathedrals. After lunch walk around the famous Red Square and visit GUM - Moscow’s largest department store.

Day 12
Moscow | Moscow

This morning you will visit the Tretyakov Gallery, the first museum dedicated exclusively to Russian fine art.  After lunch, explore Moscow’s Metro, known for its architectural splendor.

Day 13
Moscow | Moscow

Today you will journey to the Moscow Kazansky Station and the awaiting Golden Eagle. You will be greeted in the Imperial waiting room with a glass champagne and canapés as you are welcomed by the train staff.

Day 14
Kazan | Kazan

Situated on the River Volga, the picturesque and historic city of Kazan is the capital of Tatarstan. Here you have the opportunity to see for yourself its rich tapestry of history and culture. One of the highlights of this city tour is your exploration of the Kremlin Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Within the walls of this ancient citadel you will explore its stunning mosque and picture-perfect onion-domed cathedral.

As Kazan is the birthplace of one of Russia’s most famous opera singers, Feodor Chaliapin (1873-1938), we honor his memory with a private concert of his music.

You will also have time to wander through the main pedestrian area of Kazan and immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the city.

Day 15
Yekaterinburg | Yekaterinburg

Founded in 1723 by Peter the Great, Yekaterinburg, is the capital of the Urals. Known as the Great Divide, the Ural Mountains create the natural border between Europe and Asia so that the cultural and architectural influences of European and Asian civilizations come together in this fascinating and cosmopolitan landscape. Your city tour takes you to the poignant site where the Romanov, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, was executed with his family by the Bolsheviks in 1918 following 78 days of imprisonment. Now a church dedicated to their memory, this site provides you with a powerful insight into the turmoil of the Russian Revolution.

 

Your Freedom of Choice program will also offer activities such as a walking tour of the city, or explore the intriguing Soviet military past in a visit to Yekaterinburg Military Museum which displays fragments of the U2 American spy-plane flown by Gary Powers that was shot down in this area in 1960 during the Cold War.

Day 16
Novosibirsk | Novosibirsk

A modern ‘Soviet’ city, experience the life and character of Novosibirsk’s rich culture where the arts and science predominate. The city is located in the heart of Russia and is situated on both banks of the River Ob. Your city tour takes you to Lenin Square where the imposing Opera House is located. An architectural marvel, it houses two permanent ballet and opera companies and is one of the largest opera houses in the world. In front of the Opera House, you visit an impressive statue of Lenin – a marvelous opportunity to have your photograph taken with this iconic political leader.

 

Alternatively, south of the city you could visit Novosibirsk’s excellent Railway Museum on our Freedom of Choice tour. The museum displays locomotives and rolling stock from the late 1800s, including carriages of the Tsars, through to the Soviet era. Or choose to go to the Mineralogical Centre with its fine display of Siberian minerals.

Day 17
Onboard | Onboard

A day to unwind and reflect on the many sights and sounds you have experienced on your journey so far.  Chat to your fellow passengers, perhaps learn a few words of Russian or simply enjoy the ever changing landscape outside your window as it unfolds.

Day 18
Irkutsk | Irkutsk

Your visit to Irkutsk, the ‘Paris of Siberia’, takes in the most significant sites and museums in this fascinating city, including an exploration of the classic wooden architecture with its intricately carved lace- like decorations that has given many of this region’s buildings such a distinctive and unique appearance. You will also visit the Volkonsky House Museum, which is dedicated to the memory of the aristocrats who were exiled to this remote outpost after the failed Decembrists uprising of 1825, and you recreate the atmosphere of that time with a champagne reception and private concert.

 

You could learn to cook some traditional Russian dishes with a local chef and prepare your own lunch with our Freedom of Choice option. Or you might also wish to visit a traditional Russian Dacha (summer house) or an urban apartment to get an insight into the everyday life of an average Russian family.

Day 19
Lake Baikal | Lake Baikal

Few natural sights can surpass the beauty and grandeur of Lake Baikal and is a major highlight on our Trans-Siberian journey. Lake Baikal is the deepest lake in the world and holds 20 percent of the world’s freshwater. Also known as the ‘Pearl of Siberia’ it is home to a unique breed of freshwater seal and over 50 species of fish including omul. For five hours you wind your way through tunnels along cliff hugging tracks above the lake with a vista of snow-capped peaks along the far shore forming a picture-perfect backdrop.

 

To add to the grandeur of the day your Golden Eagle train will be hauled by a Soviet era steam locomotive on this beautiful section of the line. There will be plenty of opportunities for photographs as the train winds its way along the lake. This will be an unforgettable part of your journey.

 

Weather permitting, you’ll stop in an extremely picturesque location by the lake for photographic opportunities and for the brave hearted there is time for a refreshing swim in the crystal clear and ice-cold waters of Baikal. Travelling onwards to the end of the Baikal branch line, you leave the train and travel by boat on the lake to Listvyanka, a small Baikal settlement nestling at the base of the surrounding hills and visit the Lake Baikal Museum and Aquarium where you can learn about the flora and fauna of the lake.

 

You will enjoy a delicious barbecue, including freshly smoked omul fish, prepared by your own chefs on the shore of Lake Baikal to complete a memorable day. As part of your Freedom of Choice excursion program you can choose a hiking opportunity that offers some spectacular and panoramic hillside views of the lake below.

Day 20
Ulan Ude | Ulan Ude

The ethnic and cultural diversity of Ulan Ude, the capital of the Buryat Republic, offers a unique insight into its heritage. As you tour the area you will notice the different faces of these welcoming Buryat people. During your exploration of the Old Believers’ Village you will have the opportunity to learn about the culture and history of these religious people as you are treated to a concert featuring local traditions and folk singing.

Day 21
Ulaan Baatar | Ulaan Baatar

Your Trans-Siberian adventure takes you into Mongolia and a visit to its capital, Ulaan Baatar. Mongolia, once the very center of an enormous empire led by Genghis Khan, is a country of beautiful landscapes, nomadic people and rich in culture and history. Mongolia is famous for its endless green Steppes, grazing livestock and white, nomadic Gers (Yurts) dotted all across the countryside.

 

You will start the tour at Gandan Monastery, one of Mongolia’s most important Buddhist Monasteries housing a community of over 500 monks.  The full name, Gandantegchinlen, translates as ‘the great place of complete joy’. At Sukhbaatar Square you can see the central monument to Genghis Khan, undoubtedly the most feared and revered Mongol. You will then drive out of the city to Gorkhi-Terelj National Park and enjoy the beautiful scenery of wild Mongolia, having the opportunity to visit a traditional Ger and meet a nomadic family or try your hand at horse-riding, an intrinsic part of Mongolian life.

 

Alternatively there is an option to stay in the city as part of our Freedom of Choice touring. After Gandan Monastery and Sukhbaatar Square you will visit the National Museum where you’ll learn about the country’s intriguing history. You’ll also see Bogd Khan Winter Palace Museum, the winter residences of Bogd Khan, the last Mongolian emperor, built between 1893 and 1903.

You will also enjoy a performance of traditional Mongolian throat singing and contortionists.

Day 22
Onboard | Onboard

Enjoy a more leisurely pace today as you travel through the beautiful landscape of the Russian Far East.  You may like to attend one of the interesting lectures or Russian language lessons.

Day 23
Onboard | Onboard

It is the perfect opportunity to practice your Russian or simply relax as our journey today follows the Shilka and Amur rivers, close to the Chinese border.  Enjoy Russia at its most dramatic and remote, as the Golden Eagle eats up the miles on your way to Vladivostok. 

Day 24
Onboard | Onboard

Passing directly north of Seoul, Darwin and Osaka, spend your last full day on board the Golden Eagle today as the most easterly point of your mammoth journey is reached passing through Khabarovsk, where you cross the River Amur.  Tonight, enjoy your final dinner onboard your private train that has been your home for the last twelve days as you approach the final destination on this unforgettable journey.

Day 25
Vladivostok | Vladivostok

After traveling through 8 time zones and covering a staggering 6,600 miles (10,600kms) along this iconic railway, the Golden Eagle pulls into its final destination, Vladivostok. 

 

Vladivostok is a military port, located on the western shores of the Sea of Japan and is home to the Russian Navy’s Pacific Fleet. Due to its military importance, the city was closed to foreigners between 1930 and 1992. Vladivostok (literally translated as ‘Ruler of the East’) offers visitors an interesting opportunity to explore its principal military attractions including a visit to a preserved World War Two submarine. Your city tour will also take you to the iconic suspension bridge over Golden Horn Bay, one of the largest of its kind worldwide, which opened in 2012 for the APEC conference.

 

Your hotel in Vladivostok, where you stay for one night, is the four-star Hotel Hyundai.

The final evening is spent saying your goodbyes to your fellow traveling companions and friends at the Farewell Dinner.

Day 26
Departure | Vladivostok

Following breakfast, you will be transferred to Vladivostok airport to begin your journey home.

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