Winter in Russia
Encounter a snow-filled wonderland as you discover Moscow, St. Petersburg and Siberia in winter
Personalised journeys from start to finish
Save an acre of rainforest each time you travel
Every detail taken care of
- Luxury accommodation throughout
- Private transfers
- Private tours and experiences focused around Russia's history, culture and natural beauty
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- Expert guides in each destination
At a glance
The extreme but beautiful Russian winter is a unique season to experience, blanketing much of the country’s natural landscapes in snow and ice, while presenting a fairy tale atmosphere across its most beautiful cities. This ten-day trip allows you to encounter the best of both sides of Russia’s winter, from the dramatic and wild surrounds of Siberia to the charming and romantic character of its two most splendid cities.
Your journey will start in historic Irkutsk which sits on the banks of the Angara, a scenic Siberian river which flows into the mesmerising Lake Baikal, the oldest and deepest lake in the world. During your three-night stay here, you will discover plenty of history about this lake, as well as numerous impressive landmarks, such as the Church of our Savior, while adventure will be had in the shape of snow mobile and dog sled experiences.
Your next stop will see you fly into Russia’s enigmatic capital, Moscow. Introducing you to the city’s cultural, historical and political identity, your time in Moscow will see you soaking up iconic sights such as Red Square, the Kremlin, St. Basil’s Cathedral and the GUM department store. You’ll also learn about iconic Russians such as Tolstoy, the great Russian author, as well as having the rare opportunity to delve into the likes of Cold War Russia and the country’s famed space programme.
Your final stop, St. Petersburg, will be reached via high-speed train, where you will be transported into a remarkable scene of snaking frozen canals, grand landmarks and immense cultural moments. This is truly one of the world’s most stunning cities, and here you will tick off everything from the diverse art collection housed at The Hermitage to a master class in Russian opera.
Example Trip Itinerary
Private transfer to your hotel in Siberia
Accommodation in Siberia
- 25 rooms
- Strizhi restaurant
- Japanese restaurant, Kyoto
- Balconies in selected rooms
- Smart-Home system
Located in the heart of downtown Irkutsk, you’ll find the modern Sayen International Hotel. Sayen translates in English to ‘a beautiful blossoming garden’ and here you will find a similar serenity to exactly that. Its 25 spacious rooms all perfectly combine modernity with tranquillity, notably in its high-tech offerings such as the Smart-Home system which manages the lighting, temperature, curtains, and room service all in one, simplifying your stay for the upmost relaxation. Some rooms offer balconies, for enjoying the crisp outdoor air to revitalize in the mornings. Fine dining can be enjoyed at the hotel’s Strizhi restaurant, which boasts a panoramic view of Irkutsk’s historical downtown, while you can indulge in classical Japanese cuisine over at Kyoto. For after meal drinks you can relax at the elegant lobby-bar. After a long day of exploring the magical city of Irkutsk, you’ll delight in a visit to the Sayen Spa where you can enjoy the Japanese sauna and a combination of modern body care treatments.
A wild and vast region of Russia, home to spectacular natural landscapes, diverse wildlife and plenty of unique cultural and historical attractions, your time in Siberia will be filled with variety, adventure and discovery. Spend your time here absorbing your beautiful surroundings and embracing adventure, perhaps through a rewarding hike or even a dog sled ride? Much can be found around the world's oldest and deepest lake, Lake Baikal, particularly in the city of Irkutsk where you'll discover a range of intriguing museums and monuments which help to balance your time in Siberia perfectly.
With its cool breezes and ice-filled water views, the river embankment is a popular place to stroll or meet friends during winter. Ubiquitous padlocks of love fill the railings along the river, placed by romantic couples symbolically locking their hearts together and tossing the key into the river. Nearby, a statue of Czar Alexander III — the catalyst for building the Trans-Siberian Railway — looks out decisively towards the future. From 1900 to 1905 during the completion of the Circumbaikal Railway, the ice-breaker Angara was used to ferry passengers and cargo across Lake Baikal. The Angara was built in England, disassembled and shipped to Listvyanka, where a shipyard was built especially to put it back together. In 1918 it was refitted for passengers, and continued in use until 1962 when it was retired. It is anchored in Irkutsk and today is a museum.
Work on Irkutsk's Church of Our Savior began in 1706, making it the oldest stone structure in the city. This fact saved it from demolition during the Soviet era when many of Irkutsk's other churches were razed. In the early 19th century the walls inside and out were covered with frescoes, many of which survive. Since the church was a beloved feature of the town, the citizens of Irkutsk filled the cracks caused by the earthquake of 1861, and poured water on the structure for two days during the terrible fire of 1879, when most of Irkutsk burned down. Today the church is a historical museum.
Bogoyavlensky, or Epiphany, Cathedral was originally built in 1693 shortly after Irkutsk was founded. Destroyed by fire in 1716 and rebuilt two years later on the same spot, this cathedral stands out from nearby churches for its brilliant pink, green, and white colors and its beautiful baroque architecture, a style sometimes called “Siberian baroque.” Bogoyavlensky was shut down during Soviet times and turned into a bread factory, but after the fall of the Soviet Union was restored as a place of worship.
Climb to the bell tower of the Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross and enjoy a concert of chimes by a master bell ringer. The master personally collected all the bells and reconstructed the tower. During communist times, worship was discouraged and bells were collected, many of them being melted down for their metal.
Bell ringing came to Russia in the 10th century when the Kievan Rus converted to Christianity. Although the Orthodox Christians of Byzantium hammered on narrow wooden boards called semantrons during certain points in the liturgy, the Orthodox Rus joyfully took up bell ringing like the European Latinate Christians. Russian bell makers were quick to give the bells a distinctive Russian character, however. The Russian Orthodox hierarchy developed sets of special instructions, called zvon, which were rung for different occasions. Unlike British “change-ringing,” in which intricate patterns are rung by ringers who each have control of one bell, the peals, or zvon of Russian Orthodox bells send messages, and can often be rung by one person.
The Decembrists were a group of young officers who had served abroad during the War of 1812 and become advocates of political reform. In December 1825, they, along with some 3,000 followers, refused to swear allegiance to the new czar, Nicholas I. Their uprising was quickly put down, and five of the leaders hanged. The rest were sentenced to forced labor in Siberia. Many of them, with their wives, settled in Irkutsk after their terms were over, and brought with them education and culture. The House Museum of the Decembrists is in the former home of Sergei Volkonsky and his wife, Maria.
This outdoor museum is a 166-acre collection of authentic Russian and native Buryat, Evenki and Tafalar houses and community buildings from the 17th to the early 20th century. The wooden structures were moved here from various Siberian locations, furnished with period appointments and assembled into little hamlets and nomadic camps that demonstrate how people actually lived.
Visit the Baikal Museum with its focus on limnology, the study of the life and other phenomena in fresh water, particularly lakes and ponds. Learn about the origin of Lake Baikal; its characteristics as the oldest and deepest lake in the world and its species, including some that are found nowhere else. Examples of this are the "golomyanka," a transparent fish; "omul," a tasty salmon-like fish; and "nerpa," a freshwater seal. Several aquariums at the museum are home to a variety of Baikal fish and crustaceans, as well as a pair of these unique "nerpa" seals. Afterwards, enjoy a visit to the little fish market in Listvyanka, where all manner of Baikal fish are presented for sale, including fresh and smoked omul, the endemic fish that is a favourite around here.
This is the place where the famous and cuddly Siberian huskies originated from, and today, you will experience the traditional mode of transportation used in these frozen northern climates for centuries. Climb on board and skim over the snow on a wooden sled drawn by a team of working dogs who are trained to
haul loads over the wintry trails of Siberia.
Take to the snow and ice on another mode of traditional transport in these parts, as you bundle up and mount a snowmobile for an exhilarating ride of Lake Baikal. Snowmobiles are a preferred method of travel in Siberia during the winter, and as you glide along with the wind in your face, you'll understand why. Riding a snowmobile is a bit like riding a motorcycle, though easier to balance, and a fun way to zoom from one place to another across the frozen landscape.
You can have a go as a driver or a passenger, as you prefer.
Continue heading along the ice towards the Seredina Ice Station, located far out on the lake's expanses of ice. This railway stands on the historical ice way which was built by Russian Railways over the lake, before today's railway around the lake's perimeter. You have the option of staying overnight here, giving you the chance to view the beautiful sunset and enjoy dinner at the ice station.
Private transfer to Siberia airport
Flight to Moscow
Private transfer to your hotel in Moscow
Accommodation in Moscow
- 227 rooms and suites
- Fitness centre
Set on the banks of the Moskva River just across from the Kremlin and St. Basil’s Cathedral, Hotel Baltschug Kempinski offers stunning views of some of the city’s most iconic attractions. Dating back to 1898, and formerly known as the Hotel Bucharest, this became post-Soviet Russia’s first five-star hotel and has maintained its status as one of Moscow’s most rewarding and prosperous hotels. Contemporary décor and fantastic amenities sit beside a sense of luxury, underpinned by exceptional service. Its 227 rooms, including 36 suites are all spacious and airy and some come with views of Red Square and the Kremlin. The hotel presents three unique places in which to wine and dine, beginning with a filling breakfast served at the Baltschug Grill. The Lobby Lounge, defined by its fireplace and cosy ambience, is the ideal place for an evening drink or a portion of dessert, while Café Kranzler is a trendy bar which serves cocktails on an open terrace. For an extra sense of indulgence, the hotel’s inviting spa offers a range of tailor-made treatments and an extensive beauty programme. In addition to this, the hotel presents numerous fitness activities and a swimming pool for refreshing dips.
- Four dining options
- Moscow's largest spa
- 180 guest rooms
- Moskovsky Bar
- Private terraces in selected suites
Found mere steps from the Kremlin and Red Square in the historic heart of Russia’s Capital, Four Seasons Hotel Moscow puts an unrivalled contemporary spin on old-world glamour. This is a wonderful modern replica of the early 20th-century Hotel Moskva which focuses on destination dining and decadent spa treatments to help guests get the most out of this city. Here you’ll find 180 luxurious guest rooms which boast living rooms with fireplaces, while upgraded suites feature dining rooms, sofa beds and saunas. Some rooms even offer inspiring views of the Red Square and the Kremlin from your private terrace. Four dining options are found here, from the signature restaurant Quadrum where you’ll find contemporary Italian cuisine and fine wines alongside views of the Kremlin and Manezhnaya Square, to the casual-chic restaurant Bystro offering contemporary Russian dishes and local specialities. A place to wind down in the evening is no other than the hotel’s Moskovsky Bar which offers inventive cocktails and an extensive Champagne list. The hotel is home to Moscow’s largest spa, the Amnis Spa where you can be pampered with a decadent caviar facial or a 24-karat gold scrub to truly feel like royalty.
During your time in Moscow, you will discover a city with a fascinating history that stretches back over 800 years, dotted with grand landmarks and intriguing museums as well as a striking character that can be attributed to its Soviet past. After ticking off some of its most impressive sights, such as The Kremlin, Red Square and Novodevichy Convent, you can discover a city with famed art and history collections, theatres and film studios, as well as an endless stream of luxury shops, superb restaurants and glitzy bars.
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'.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Tretyakov was founded by 19th century Russian merchant, Pavel Tretyakov, who spent 40 years and much of his fortune collecting and preserving works of Russian art. The history and trajectory of Russian art are displayed here, encompassing pieces from the 11th century to the present, and including mosaics, icons, paintings and sculptures by such artists as Rublev, Repin, and Levitan. The collection is rarely seen outside of Russia.
Enjoy a private concert of choral music in the 17th century five-domed Museum Church of St.
Nicholas, the home church of the Tretyakov Gallery. Pavel Tretyakov, the founder of the museum, was a member of the congregation here. Among other treasures, the church shelters the priceless 12th century icon, the Virgin of Vladimir.
Founded in 1911 in a beautiful early 19th-century building, the museum's collection includes Tolstoy's manuscripts, photographs, portraits, memorabilia and an invaluable book depository, including the author's works translated into many of the world's languages. The museum arranges excursions and lectures and conducts extensive research.
Private transfer to Moscow train station
High speed train from Moscow to St. Petersburg
Private transfer to your hotel in St. Petersburg
Accommodation in St. Petersburg
- 150 rooms
- Indoor pool
- Three dining options
- Rooftop terrace
Found in the very heart of downtown St. Petersburg, a short walk from the key attractions of this beautiful city, such as the Mariinsky Palace, the Hermitage Museum and Mariinsky Theatre, you’ll find the glamourous Lotte Hotel St. Petersburg. The hotel offers the best of both aesthetic worlds, as it is decorated in both a classic and contemporary design, and here all 150 rooms offer the perfect sanctuary for relaxing after a busy day of sightseeing, with some boasting marble bathrooms and spectacular views of St. Isaac’s Square. For dining options, head to The Lounge, an impressive fine dining restaurant with a beautiful stained-glass dome to add extra glamour to your evening. If you crave a change, you can enjoy modern Japanese cuisine at the first premium class Japanese restaurant in St. Petersburg, MEGUmi. However, if it is unbeatable atmosphere you are after, nothing quite prepares you for the incredible views found at L Terrasa, a terrace bar overlooking St. Isaac’s square and where the enchanting St. Isaac’s Cathedral dominates the skyline. After exploring the city, the Lotte Hotel offers various ways for you to unwind, such as the world-famous Mandara Spa where multiple treatment options are available along with a team of expert therapists from Bali. Here you will also find a fitness club with a sauna as well as a brilliantly blue indoor pool.
- 83 rooms
- 86 suites
- Two restaurants
- 24-hour fitness centre
- Swimming pool at adjacent hotel
A true St. Petersburg landmark whose grandeur and presence can be found set directly opposite the imposing St. Isaac’s Cathedral. Since Hotel Astoria’s opening in 1912, this art nouveau gem has hosted some of the city’s most eminent guests. The hotel’s superb location ensures that it sits alongside the likes of The Hermitage Museum and the Winter Palace as landmarks of this area of the city. A sense of splendour is found throughout the hotel, from its white marble bathrooms and teak flooring to its glitzy ballroom and exquisite Rotonda Lounge, the latter famed for its impressive afternoon teas This vibe continues across the 83 individually designed rooms, which reflect the beauty and heritage of the city, and the 86 spacious suites which combine both tradition and modernity to create an enchanting atmosphere. The Astoria Restaurant offers a range of European cuisine and classic Russian dishes in an evocative setting. The Lichfield Bar provides 24-hour service and is the perfect location for an ice-cold vodka. The afternoon teas at the Rotunda Lounge are iconic in St. Petersburg, while Borsalino has a growing reputation for its sumptuous Italian cuisine. The hotel features a spa with a sauna, steam room and treatments rooms, as well as a 24-hour fitness centre. Guests wishing to swim can use the pool at the adjacent Hotel Angleterre.
- 183 rooms and suites
- Two restaurants
- Tea lounge
- Fitness centre
Enjoying a prestigious setting within a former palace and boasting a prime location on St. Isaac’s Square, Four Seasons Lion Palace places guests on the doorstep of some of St. Petersburg’s most famous attractions. A classic hotel of immense grandeur, the front entrance is guarded by two marble lions, leading into a striking lobby with white columns and imperial-yellow walls, barrel vault ceilings and a granite staircase, effortlessly reflecting the 1820s beauty of this 19th-century palace. Offering a choice of 183 rooms and suites, all of these spaces have been fitted out to also reflect the original 19th-century stylings of this historic building. Features include the likes of custom-built wardrobes, hazel doors and marble-walled bathrooms, while some of the more splendid rooms boast heated floors, private terraces and even floral frescoes. The dining experiences at the Four Seasons are extensive and rewarding, starting with Sintoho, a lively Asian eatery serving the likes of crab from Singapore, sushi from Tokyo and dim sum from Hong Kong. Percorso presents a wonderful journey through Italian cuisine within an ultra-stylish setting, while the Tea Lounge is a bright and airy space with a glass-roofed ceiling where guests can enjoy Russian cuisine with a glass of champagne. For a pre-dinner drink or evening cocktails, the library-style bar, Xander Bar, named after Tsar Alexander I and is a relaxing place to see out the day. Rest and relaxation at the hotel are enhanced further by the offerings of its award-winning Luceo Spa. A haven of rejuvenation set over four levels and presenting a wide range of wellness treatments, the spa is the ideal antidote to busy days exploring this stunning city.
Gazing west across the blue of the Baltic Sea, Russia’s second city was created by Peter the Great in 1703 to function as a window into Europe. The 'Venice of the North', as it has been historically known, has become one of the largest economic, cultural and scientific centres of Russia and the world. It's a cultural hub too, home to more than 250 museums, while its mesmerising historic centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During your stay here, experience its museums, galleries, ballet shows and opera performances, as well as its incredible beauty, defined by its majestic architecture, winding canals, baroque bridges, striking plazas and verdant parks and gardens.
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.
St. Isaac’s Cathedral took 40 years to complete. The 48 red granite columns around the lower part of the building each weigh 110 tons, and the upper columns around the rotunda weigh 67 tons a piece. The dome is covered with 220 pounds of gold, and the interior columns faced with lapis lazuli and malachite. The cathedral is bursting with sculptures, frescoes, stained glass works and woodcarvings.
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.
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 inlaid floors and gilded woodwork and the grand double entry staircase are works of art in themselves.
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 from the likes of Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh and Picasso to name a few.
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.
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.
Today you will discover Pavlovsk Palace and its beautiful park. Given to Czar Paul I and his wife by Catherine the Great, Pavlovsk was designed by Scottish architect Charles Cameron. Set in a lovely park, the palace holds a special place in the hearts of city residents.
Despite being destroyed by the Nazis during the WWII, most of its treasures were hidden in advance of the attack. Reconstruction began immediately after the German withdrawal and the park was reopened in 1950 and the first renovated rooms in 1957. You will also have the opportunity to enjoy a traditional troika ride around the grounds of the palace.
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.
Private transfer to St. Petersburg airport
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Winter in Russia
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