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Itinerary Highlights

  • Meet the Vice-director of the Peter and Paul Fortress
  • Drink tea with Russia's opera stars after an Opera master class
  • Visit the world famous Hermitage Museum
  • Take to St. Petersburg's canals with a private canal boat cruise
  • Dine with a Russian family in their private home
  • Bask in the awe of St. Basil's Cathedral
  • Meet a Russian Cosmonaut at the Museum of Cosmonautics

What's Included

  • Luxury accommodation throughout
  • Private transfers
  • Private tours and experiences focused around Russia's history and culture
  • Full support from your travel designer and concierge before, during and after your trip
  • Our help with restaurant recommendations and reservations
  • Expert guides in each destination
Use this itinerary to inspire your bespoke journey

At a glance

This tour takes you to all the highlights of these two incredible and quintessentially Russian cities, while also giving you exclusive access to meet some of the inspirational people behind these fabulous attractions.

Starting your trip in St. Petersburg, you’ll begin with a rewarding introductory tour to the city before sitting down to an intimate and traditional welcome dinner with a Russian family in their country home, known as a Dacha.

The following day you’ll head over to the impressive Peter and Paul Fortress where you shall not only enjoy a tour, but also a private meeting with the Vice-director Olga Slepenkova to discuss the history and preservation of the fortress.

You’ll then enjoy a tour of the stunning Fabergé Museum for a further insight into Russia’s past opulence, followed by a visit to an opera master class. The fun doesn’t stop there however, as you’ll be able to meet the performers over a cup of tea afterwards.

After delving back in time at the Hermitage Museum, you’ll jump on-board a private canal cruise to understand why this city is considered the ‘Venice of the North’ and finish your time here with a visit to the opulent Catherine’s Palace.

You’ll then head over to the capital of Moscow, where you’ll begin your adventures deep in the history of the city, at the eerily beautiful cemetery found at the Novodevichy Convent. Here you’ll find the graves of the most iconic Russians from the last 150 years.

No trip to Moscow is complete without a visit to the colourful and iconic St. Basil’s Cathedral or a vodka tasting, and after exactly that, you’ll have one of your most memorable moments yet: meeting a Russian Cosmonaut at the Museum of Cosmonautics, where you can hear first-hand tales of training and their time in space.

Example Trip Itinerary

Days 1 - 5

St Petersburg

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to your hotel

Accommodation in St Petersburg

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Introduction to St. Petersburg Introduction to St. Petersburg

Enjoy a rewarding first impression of the grand city of St. Petersburg with this introductory tour, beginning with a drive near the Neva River which will welcome you to the heart of Peter the Great's beautiful city. Next, visit the spit of Vasilievsky Island with its beautiful view across the river to the Winter Palace and the Peter and Paul Fortress, before driving by imposing Palace Square, framed by the Winter Palace and the General Staff Headquarters. Other highlights include the façade of St. Isaac’s Cathedral and the statue of Peter the Great, named the Bronze Horseman.

Welcome dinner at a dacha Welcome dinner at a dacha

Spend your evening outside of the city and experience the essence of Russian dacha life. A dacha is a city-dweller’s country cottage and can vary from a summer cabin with no running water to a fine home suitable for living year-round. Dacha gardens were responsible for a significant portion of the produce grown during Soviet times, and this experience will allow you to enjoy a traditional meal with a Russian family in their home.

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Peter and Paul Fortress and meet with a Vice-Director Peter and Paul Fortress and meet with a Vice-Director

Set across the Neva River from the Hermitage, the Peter and Paul Fortress was one of the first structures built in St. Petersburg, with Peter the Great laying the cornerstone of the earthen fortress in May 1703. The intention was for it to be used to repel a Swedish invasion, and after the Swedes were defeated, the fortress was transformed into a prison in 1718. As you'll discover during your visit, the most important feature of the fortress is its role as a burial place for the majority of the Tsars, including Peter the Great. You shall then meet privately with Vice-Director Olga Slepenkova,in her office for a talk and tea. She is the chief curator and expert on the preservation of the Peter and Paul Fortress since its construction in 1703.

Yusupov Palace Yusupov Palace

Boasting an absolutely exquisite interior, including a marble staircase, crystal chandeliers, gilded candelabras and magnificently painted ceilings, the Yusupov Palace was previously owned by the very rich and powerful Yusupov family before the revolution. Home to its own miniature theatre, the palace is perhaps most famous as the site for where the plot against Rasputin came to fruition.

Fabergé Museum Fabergé Museum

This tour will allow you to experience the stunning works of the Fabergé Museum, housed in the former Shuvalovsky mansion on the Fontanka and home to more than 4,000 items of jewellery including the largest collection of Fabergé eggs in the world.

Peter Carl Fabergé created a total of 50 eggs during the time he worked in Russia, with ten of them residing in the Kremlin Armory Museum in Moscow and 13 found within the walls of this museum. Other items of jewellery, porcelain and applied art are also displayed at the elegant museum.

Opera master class and tea with the performers Opera master class and tea with the performers

Sit in on a master class in opera, observing and listening to skilled artists working on their technique. After the class, sit down with the performers and chat over tea. The location for this exclusive experience will be announced closer to the program’s start date. It is likely to take place at one of the rehearsal halls in the city and not at the Mariinsky Theater. After the master class you will enjoy a tea and a chat with the performers.

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Hermitage Museum Hermitage Museum

This tour will allow you to experience one of the most famous museums in the world. Built from 1754-62 as the principal home of the Tsars and a portion of the Winter Palace, the structure was rebuilt to it lavish modern-day appearance in 1839 after being destroyed by fire. The museum originally held a private palace gallery, but today the Hermitage houses one of the largest museum collections in the world.

Here you can see works by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian, Rembrandt, and Rubens, as well as stunning decor and architecture, with the inlaid floors and gilded woodwork and the grand double entry staircase are works of art in themselves.

Hermitage Collection at General Staff Headquarters Building Hermitage Collection at General Staff Headquarters Building

Giving you another flavour of the spectacular exterior and interior of the Hermitage and its collection, the neoclassical yellow General Staff Headquarters encircles the southern side of Palace Square across from the Hermitage's main site, and was designed in the early 19th century.

The east wing of the building belongs to the Hermitage, housing several permanent exhibits there including the museum’s renowned collection of French Impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings. Here you can see works by the likes of Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh and Picasso to name a few.

Canal cruise by private boat Canal cruise by private boat

The perfect tour experience for recognising St. Petersburg's former title of the 'Venice of the North', you'll take to the rivers and canals of this beautiful city for a fresh angle on its architecture and layout, enjoying a cruise along the waterways. Like Venice, St. Petersburg was originally built on many islands, and hundreds of bridges span the city. Enjoy the cool breeze as you pass by the likes of pre-revolutionary palaces along the Fontanka embankment.

Peterhof grounds tour Peterhof grounds tour

Peter the Great built his estate, Peterhof, on a ridge by the Gulf of Finland, 19 miles outside St. Petersburg. The former imperial residence is surrounded by extensive parks and gardens intended to rival Versailles, complete with an array of gilded statues, magnificent palaces and gravity-fed fountains. The exterior of the massive Grand Palace with its parquet floors, lavish rooms, and grand galleries was designed by Rastrelli, who also designed the Winter Palace. Peter's first and favourite palace, the more modest Monplaisir, sits directly on the bluff above the Gulf, where Peter could observe passing ships. Peterhof’s main attraction are more than 150 glistening, gilded, sculpted marble, granite and limestone fountains and cascades in the Lower Park. The pools, located in Peterhof’s Upper Garden, discharge their waters nearly 50 feet down to the Lower Park’s cascades and jets, creating enormous force and powering fountains all over the park.

Peterhof Monplaisir tour Peterhof Monplaisir tour

Take a tour of Peter the Great’s favorite residence, Monplaisir Palace, the only fully original building remaining at Peterhof. The first structure built on the estate, the early 18th-century Monplaisir has a sweeping view over the Gulf of Finland so Peter could keep an eye on the passing ships. Peter designed the intimate palace, including a kitchen so he could cook for himself (not an ordinary pastime for a czar). This is where he experimented with his first “joke” fountains, inviting foreign dignitaries to sit on an innocent-looking garden bench that doused them with jets of water. Outfitted with some of Peter’s belongings and furnishings, the charming little palace is known as the “heart of Peterhof,” and has been considered a memorial to Peter since just after his death.

Catherine's Palace Catherine's Palace

Located outside of St. Petersburg in Pushkin, the royal residence of Catherine's Palace was originally built in 1717 by Catherine I. The palace was then enlarged in 1752 under the guidance of famed architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli who extended the facade to its current splendour. Despite experiencing damage during World War II, the estate and palace buildings have been carefully and expertly restored into a brilliant architectural monument, something you will come to appreciate during your visit.

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to St. Petersburg train station

Transfer

High-speed train from St. Petersburg to Moscow

Transfer

Private transfer to your hotel

Days 5 - 8

Moscow

Accommodation in Moscow

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Introductory tour of Moscow Introductory tour of Moscow

Begin your experience of Moscow with a drive beside some of the city's most famous sites and attractions, starting with the Duma building where Russia's governing body meets. You'll also see the Bolshoi Theatre, the imposing Lubyanka prison where the KGB was previously headquartered and Moscow State University beside the Sparrow Hills, for some stunning views of the city. You'll finally experience the World War II Memorial and Victory Park before driving along the Sofiyskaya Embankment, past the 16th century Novodevichy Convent and by the Moscow 'White House'.

Novodevichy Cemetery Novodevichy Cemetery

In many ways, the striking cemetery found at Novodevichy Convent is just as famous as the convent itself, home to beautifully decorated graves that belong to some of the most iconic Russians of the last 150 years. Including not only artists and poets, but also political leaders, at the cemetery you can stumble across graves belonging to Khrushchev and Yeltsin, countless cosmonauts, the anarchist Peter Kropotkin, female sniper Lyudmila Pavlichenko and Stalin's second wife, Nadezhda Alliluyeva.

Cathedral of Christ the Saviour Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

Upon discovering Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, you'll be faced by a landmark with a long, fascinating and tumultuous history. Originally built between 1839-1883 as a commemoration of Russia's victory over Napoleon in 1812, upon Stalin's orders, the cathedral was destroyed by the Soviets in 1931 in order to make way for a new structure known as the Palace of the Soviets. However, the soft ground on the original site could not support the foundations of the colossal building, and today, this area is instead home to the world's largest outdoor swimming pool. Throughout the 1990s, the cathedral was reborn, as the Moscow government meticulously rebuilt the structure across the decade. Today, you'll find the massive golden-domed church on the northern banks of the Moskva River.

Dinner at a private home with a Russian family Dinner at a private home with a Russian family

Enjoy some delicious authentic Russian cuisine during a dinner with a local Russian family, allowing you to experience a sense of every day life for a family living in Moscow.

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Red Square Red Square

Arguably one of the most recognisable symbols of Moscow and the entirety of Russia, the Red Square is home to some of the country's most iconic landmarks, including the Kremlin and St Basil's Cathedral. The square owes its origins to Ivan III, who in the late 15th century had all buildings removed from the eastern wall of the Kremlin, and for the next 400 years the square functioned as a trading centre. In 1920 all traders were banned from the square, and a ban on cars followed in the 1960s, thus making Red Square the pedestrianised area it is today.

St. Basil's Cathedral St. Basil's Cathedral

Built in celebration of Ivan the Terrible's victory at the Tatar stronghold of Kazan in 1552, the mesmerising St. Basil's Cathedral was designed and built between 1555 and 1561. Originally painted white, the domes were not immediately patterned and coloured in the same extravagant way that they appear today, adopting their current design a hundred years after building was complete. During your visit, you'll have the chance to explore the interior of the cathedral, presenting a labyrinth of small vaulted chapels, corridors of ornamental brick and arcades adorned in frescoes, each leading to the next.

GUM Department Store GUM Department Store

On the eastern side of Red Square you'll encounter the elaborate facade of GUM, the former State Department Store comprising a glass-topped 1890s arcade. The galleries are lined with trendy shops that overlook three halls, with many exclusive boutiques populating the department store, offering numerous high-end imports. The space was originally a marketplace that hosted over 1,000 merchants, before being nationalised after the revolution and used for many years as a staging area for enormous Red Square parades.

Kremlin and Armoury Museum tour Kremlin and Armoury Museum tour

Overlooking the Moskva and Neglina rivers, the Kremlin is the seat of Russian political power and the centre of Moscow and Russian politics. With architectural themes arching back to Russia's medieval past, inside the fortress walls, you'll discover palaces, cathedrals, government buildings and the Armoury Museum. The latter was built in the 16th century as a warehouse for the Kremlin's weaponry, before being transformed in an exhibition hall and museum in 1814.

Vodka and Caviar Tasting at Cristall Distillery and Museum Vodka and Caviar Tasting at Cristall Distillery and Museum

Enjoy a private tour and tasting at the Cristall Vodka Distillery and Museum. Learn about the history of Russia’s premium distillery, Cristall, the outfit that gave the world the vodka formerly known as Stolichnaya-Cristall, and now just Cristall. Double-distilled and siphoned from the center of the distillation tank, Cristall is a superior vodka. Discover the different methods of distilling various vodkas and liqueurs. Sample a selection of spirits and enjoy a tasting of
Russian black and red caviar.

Museum of Cosmonautics and a chat with a Russian Cosmonaut Museum of Cosmonautics and a chat with a Russian Cosmonaut

Moscow's Space Exploration Museum, or the Museum of Cosmonautics, is housed in the base of the monument named 'To the Conquerors of Space'. You'll be blown away by the incredible monument, showing a huge upright titanium contrail behind a rocket taking off into the sky. The museum itself celebrates the Soviet Union's exploits in space, among them sending the first man into space, the first woman into space, executing the first space walk and launching Sputnik, the first satellite. Some of the exhibits you'll see include artefacts like Yuri Gagarin's spacesuit and the first rocket engine. You'll then enjoy a rare and exclusive opportunity to chat with a real Russian cosmonaut at the Space Exploration Museum. Hear first-hand tales of training and time in space, and ask any questions you might have.

VDNKh All-Russian Exhibition Center VDNKh All-Russian Exhibition Center

Your next stop will see you discover the All-Russian Exhibition Center, better known as VDNKh, which was opened in 1959 to exhibit and celebrate the modern achievements of Soviet science, industry, culture, transport, and engineering. Ironically, after the fall of the Soviet Union, the site became a large centre of capitalist trade with numerous shops and kiosks lining the pedestrian walkways. On the edge of the complex, you can observe the titanium Sputnik Rocket Monument, which rises 315 feet into the air.

Moscow Metro tour Moscow Metro tour

This interesting tour will give you the chance to discover one of the largest metro systems in the world, consisting of over 200 stations and 210 miles of track. Serving nearly 2.5 billion travellers every year, the metro's first station opened in 1935, and many of the stations in the city centre are true showpieces of Socialist art, decorated with the likes of statues, frescoes and mosaics, as well as marbled and gilded walls and ceilings. Of the more elaborate stations include Kievskaya Station, with its mosaic-clad walls, Ploshchad Revolyutsii with its bronze sculptures and Mayakovsky Station with its graceful arches forming domes filled with mosaics.

Cold War Museum - Bunker 42 Cold War Museum - Bunker 42

Located more than 200 feet below the city of Moscow, you'll discover Bunker 42, an abandoned relic of the Cold War which was built under orders of Stalin in 1951 to withstand a nuclear attack. Stocked with food and provisions, the 75,000-square-foot space was built to sustain 5,000 people for a period of three months. After completion in 1956, the area functioned as a secret communications bunker and allegedly a missile control centre. During your tour of the bunker, you'll enjoy some informative insights into the Cold War.

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to Moscow airport

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