- Tour the unparalleled Hermitage Museum, in the old Winter Palace
- Admire the imperial architecture and history of tsar-era St. Petersburg
- Be amazed at the architecture at the most important churches and cathedrals
- Combine informative guided tours with free time in the city
|Day 1||Welcome to St. Petersburg!||Saint Petersburg|
|Day 2||Hermitage Museum - River Cruise - Mariinsky Theater||Saint Petersburg|
|Day 3||Tsarskoye Selo - Peterhof Palace||Saint Petersburg|
|Day 4||Peter and Paul Fortress - Cathedrals and Churches||Saint Petersburg|
|Day 5||The Russian Museum - Faberge Museum||Saint Petersburg|
|Day 6||Free day||Saint Petersburg|
|Day 7||Departure from St. Petersburg||Saint Petersburg|
Day 1: Welcome to St. Petersburg!
Arrive in St. Petersburg and transfer to your hotel. Depending on your time of arrival you can rest up in your hotel, or do some preliminary exploring of this wonderful city.
Day 2: Hermitage Museum - River Cruise - Mariinsky Theater
Today you will visit the Hermitage, which is one of the world’s greatest art museums. Housed partly in the old Winter Palace, this is a museum where the building is as much the star exhibit as the art on display.
Later, take a Neva River and canals cruise. St. Petersburg is built on 42 islands, surrounded by water and interlaced with a complex web of rivers, canals, and channels. The city's classical architecture is low-rise, which means that you'll get great views from the water. A river cruise is an essential St. Petersburg experience.
Enjoy the evening in Mariinsky Theater (although this is usually closed in August and September). Here, you can enjoy a classical opera or ballet in a beautiful setting. This is another unmissable, quintessentially St. Petersburg experience.
Day 3: Tsarskoye Selo - Peterhof Palace
Tsarskoye Selo (Tsar’s Village) was so called because many of the tsar’s palaces were located here, outside the former capital of St. Petersburg. You’ll visit the stunning 18th century Catherine Palace and Park, with its famous Amber Room.
Later, you'll visit the more intimate Alexander Palace, home to Nicholas II and his family. Nicholas was the last tsar, and his tragic story still seems to haunt the air at this lesser-visited palace.
After lunch, drive to one of St. Petersburg's most famous attractions, the palace and park at Peterhof (also known as Petrodvorets). This is often referred to as the Russian Versailles, although many visitors conclude that the grandeur and scope of this opulent estate outshines its French inspiration. Peterhof (which means Peter's Court in German) became the site for the Tsar's Monplaisir Palace, and then of the original Grand Palace. The palace was equally loved by Peter's daughter, Empress Elizabeth, who ordered expansion projects to the Grand Palace, greatly extending the park and the famous system of fountains. The palace-ensemble is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Day 4: Peter and Paul Fortress - Cathedrals and Churches
This morning, visit St. Petersburg's original citadel, the Peter and Paul Fortress, still standing guard over the city as it has done since 1706. The city was essentially born here, and from the beautiful architecture to the burial vaults of the tsars, from feared prison to bastion of revolution, the fortress has seen it all. You'll discover these highlights and others as you explore this amazing monument.
After lunch, visit the main cathedrals and churches of St. Petersburg: the St. Isaac's Cathedral and Kazan Cathedral, both of which resemble St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican to some degree, and the colorful, onion-domed Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, built on the spot where Tsar Alexander II was murdered in 1881.
Day 5: The Russian Museum - Faberge Museum
Today you'll visit two of St. Petersburg's finest museums: the Russian Museum and the Faberge Museum. The Russian Museum is one of the country's great museums, showcasing some of the greatest Russian art and sculpture. The Faberge Museum is a privately-owned museum established in order to repatriate lost cultural valuables to Russia. The museum's collection contains more than 4,000 works of decorative applied and fine arts, including gold and silver items, paintings, porcelain and bronze. A highlight of the museum's collection is the group of nine Imperial Easter eggs created by Faberge for the last two Russian tsars.
Day 6: Free day
Today you'll have free time to explore the city on your own, perhaps returning to somewhere that piqued your interest earlier in your tour, or going somewhere completely different. Some suggested activities are:
- The Yusupov Palace: Completed in 1770, the Yusupov Palace was the St. Petersburg residence of the great Yusupov family, once one of Russia's great aristocratic families. A tour of the palace helps you imagine what life was like among the Russian Empire's rich and powerful. In 1916, Rasputin, the famous "mad monk", was murdered in this building.
- Summer Palace of Peter the Great: The oldest palace in St. Petersburg, Peter the Great's Summer Palace in the beautiful Summer Garden is an elegant baroque mansion that, under the auspices of the State Russian Museum, has charming interiors evoking Peter's domestic life. Since its construction, the Summer Palace has hardly been altered, and today it gives its visitors a rare opportunity to see life as it was 300 years ago.
- The Anna Akhmatova Flat: Anna Akhmatova was one of 20th-century Russia's most beloved poets, whose works captured the dark heart of Stalin's Soviet Union so well. Akhmatova lived in a "communal flat," a building subdivided among many families with common areas (kitchen, bathrooms) shared by all. These cramped quarters were an integral part of Soviet life, and indeed many people still live in them today.
- Feel Yourself Russian Folk Show: In the evening, immerse yourself in Russian folk culture at this popular two-hour show in the magnificent Nikolaevsky Palace. A costumed troupe and a small classical quartet will provide great traditional ambiance.
Day 7: Departure from St. Petersburg
It's time to say goodbye to St. Petersburg. Transfer to the airport to catch your flight back home.