Explore the capitals of Russia on this 10-day tour, starting in Moscow where you'll enjoy a guided tour through the famous Red Square, the Kremlin, and the sprawling Izmailovsky Market. Discover the ancient settlements of the Golden Ring with trips to Vladimir and Suzdal, touring its museums, churches, and monasteries. Finish the trip in St Petersburg, exploring the city's monuments and palaces, including Tsar's Village, Peterhof, and the Hermitage with the world's largest collection of paintings.

Highlights

  • Enjoy one of the world’s greatest art collections at the Hermitage Museum
  • Discover the sites, cathedrals, and monuments of Moscow's Red Square
  • Walk the ancient streets of Suzdal and explore churches in Vladimir
  • Explore the birthplace of St Petersburg at the Peter and Paul Fortress
  • Visit the grandiose gardens of the UNESCO site of Peterhof

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Moscow - Explore Moscow
Day 2 Explore the sites of Moscow, including Red Square and the Kremlin Moscow
Day 3 Explore Moscow's museums and the city's historic metro Moscow
Day 4 Take the train to Vladimir and Suzdal in the ancient Golden Ring Suzdal
Day 5 Explore Suzdal - Take the train back to Moscow Moscow
Day 6 Explore the Izmailovsky Kremlin and its market Moscow
Day 7 Take the train to St. Petersburg - Tour the Peter and Paul Fortress St Petersburg
Day 8 Discover Tsar's Village, Peterhof, and the Hermitage Museum St Petersburg
Day 9 Enjoy a free day in St Petersburg - Return to Moscow by train Moscow
Day 10 Depart Moscow Moscow

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Moscow - Explore

Manezhnaya Square in Moscow
Manezhnaya Square in Moscow

Welcome to Russia! Upon arriving at the airport in Moscow, you'll transfer to your hotel in the city. After settling into your accommodation and taking some time to rest, head out to explore. 

Although you'll enjoy guided tours of Moscow in the upcoming days, you can spend your first few hours perusing the city's streets and walking by some of the main sites. Start in Red Square, where many of Moscow's landmarks reside. You'll see the famously colorful St. Basil's Cathedral, which many consider the symbol of Russia. 

You can also view the two pillars of Red Square, the Tsar's Tower and the 15th-century Nikolskaya Tower. Nearby are the golden onion domes of Ivan the Great Bell-Tower and two cathedrals, the 14th-century Dormition Cathedral and the Annunciation Cathedral.

After your stroll through Red Square, walk down the street into the historic center and find a restaurant or bistro for dinner.

Day 2: Explore the sites of Moscow, including Red Square and the Kremlin

Views of the Kremlin
Views of the Kremlin

You'll start your day with a general tour of Moscow, visiting some of its best-known streets and sites along the way. Begin at the so-called Stalin Sisters, which were built to compete with New York’s skyscrapers. Then make your way to the Triumphal Arch, which was built in the early 19th century to replace a wooden structure constructed by those who fought in the Napoleonic Wars in 1814.

Next, visit one of Moscow's most iconic structures, the Church of Christ the Savior. This is the second tallest Orthodox church in the world, standing at 338 feet (103 m) tall.  Originally, it was built in the late 19th century over the course of 40 years. In 1931, Stalin demolished the church to make room for a new governmental building. In 1995, after the fall of the Soviet Union, it was rebuilt as it stands today.

Continue your tour of Moscow, stopping by the colorful 16th-century monastery, Novodevichy Convent (New Maidens Convent). Enjoy panoramic views of the city atop Sparrow Hills, then continue to Moscow State University and Luzhniki Stadium, which was used during the 1980 Olympic Games

After lunch, you'll make your way to Red Square, where you'll first enjoy the views of St. Basil’s Cathedral and the Kremlin from across the river. Cross the Bol'shoy Moskvoretskiy bridge and admire the multicolored patterned domes of St. Basil's, a 16th-century Orthodox church that now houses a museum. Your guide will detail the church's importance and history, along with several other sites around the square, including The Tsar's Tower, Lenin's Mausoleum, and the neo-Russian building housing the State Historical Museum.

Afterward, you'll make your way to Senate Square and learn more about the Kremlin on a guided tour. This building is exceptionally unique, as one of the world’s very few medieval fortresses that still function in its original intended purpose as a center of government, a seat of religious authority, a military base, and an expression of raw power.

After a long day, grab dinner at Vatrushka Restaurant, which offers a traditional Russian menu. You can't miss the caster sugar doughnuts served on weekends.

Day 3: Explore Moscow's museums and the city's historic metro

Moscow by Night
Moscow Skyline by Night

In the morning, you'll meet your guide and start your tour of the Cold War Museum at Bunker 42. This is the only declassified military object in Russia, which is located at a depth of over 200 feet (65 m) underground in the center of Moscow. As an anti-nuclear bunker, the facility includes an interactive Cold War museum, conference rooms, banquet halls, and a restaurant.

Afterward, you'll make your way to Kosmopark, which is located in the northeastern part of the city. Here you'll find several sites dedicated to Russia's history in space exploration, including the Monument to the Conquerors of Space. At the base of this monument is the Museum of Cosmonautics, which contains a wide variety of Soviet and Russian space-related exhibits and models which explore the history of flight, astronomy, space exploration, space technology, and space in the arts. 

The last stop on the tour will be the Moscow metro. Construction began under Stalin in the 1930s and was intended to be a showpiece, acting as an underground palace for the people. Today, nearly 9 million people use it on peak days. You'll explore some of these magnificent stations while getting an important taste of everyday life for commuters and city workers.

The rest of the day is yours to continue exploring Moscow on your own or to rest at your hotel.

Day 4: Take the train to Vladimir and Suzdal in the ancient Golden Ring

Skyline of Vladimir, Russia
Skyline of Vladimir, Russia

After an early breakfast, you'll transfer to the train station and catch the express train to Vladimir. This city is situated on Russia's Golden Ring, which is a cluster of ancient towns, including the town of Suzdal. Both Vladimir and Suzdal embody old-world Russia, with onion-domed churches rising behind medieval walls, surrounded by traditional wooden peasant cottages and the legendary Russian countryside. Both include monasteries which have remained the same for centuries, as well as ruins of Kremlins that still stand in the same place where the Mongolian Army tore down the town gates, bringing the rule of these once independent principalities to an end.

Upon arriving in Vladimir, you’ll visit the city's Golden Gates and explore some of Russia’s greatest surviving medieval churches, where you’ll learn about the meaning behind the nearly thousand-year-old sculptures and icons. Next, you'll make your way to the small town of Suzdal. Along the way, you’ll also visit the Church of the Intercession on the Nerl, widely considered to be the most sublime and elegant examples of medieval Russian architecture. You’ll then take a short drive through the rustic Russian countryside and settle into your accommodation for the night.

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Day 5: Explore Suzdal - Take the train back to Moscow

Alexander Monastery in Suzdal
Alexander Monastery in Suzdal

Today you’ll explore Suzdal, one of central Russia’s fairy-tale towns. After visiting its kremlin, you’ll explore the town’s most important sights, including the wooden architecture museum. Here you can venture inside peasant huts and wooden churches, learning about the rural way of life that lasted for centuries. Take time to enjoy the feeling of being in a pastoral environment, where you’ll feel the pressures of everyday life subside and immerse yourself in the atmosphere of a bygone world.

Before returning to Moscow, you'll visit the Saviour Monastery of Saint Euthymius, which was founded in the 14th century. Today the monastery operates as a museum and a cathedral. The frescoes inside the cathedral are some of the most intricate in the country. 

In the late afternoon, you'll transfer to the railway station in Vladimir to catch the train back to Moscow.

Day 6: Explore the Izmailovsky Kremlin and its market

View of Izmailovsky Kremlin
View of Izmailovsky Kremlin

Generally, “Kremlin” is a Russian word meaning fortification. But it’s not the case with the Izmailovsky Kremlin. Today you will explore this venue, which was built as a cultural and entertainment complex in 2007, modeled after Russian architecture of the 18th century. Here you can see the Church of St. Nicholas, the highest wooden church in Russia at 151 ft (46 m) tall, as well as cafes, souvenir shops, and different museums (like the Vodka Museum, the Museum of Folk Arts, and the unique Museum of Bread).

The Izmailovsky Market is the largest market for souvenirs and handicrafts from Russian regions. Along with the nearby antique market, this is a great place to buy traditional handicrafts, such as Khokloma (style of painting on wood), Gzhel (blue and white ceramics), and Palekh (miniature paintings). You can also pick up an Ushanka, the famous Soviet-era hat. And, of course, you'll find plenty of traditional, hand-painted Matryoshka dolls to take home.

After the market, you have the evening to enjoy the historic streets of the city's central core. Grab dinner in one of the traditional restaurants and bask in the glow of the city's lights.

Day 7: Take the train to St. Petersburg - Tour the Peter and Paul Fortress

Peter and Paul Fortress, St Petersburg
Peter and Paul Fortress, St Petersburg

After an early breakfast, you'll catch a high-speed train from Moscow to St Petersburg, arriving in about four hours. Settle into your accommodation and set out to explore Russia's "Northern Capital" with a guided tour of the city.

St Petersburg represents Russia’s European side, with art and architecture inspired by classical motifs rather than traditional Russian ones. Yet, at the same time, its history includes a wide range of stories. The city was the home of the Emperors, the cradle of the 1917 Revolution, the City of the Siege, and the hometown of Putin. As your guide leads you through the main squares and sites, you'll hear stories and slowly start to understand the city's complex character. You'll start in Senate Square, then make your way to St Isaac's Square and Palace Square. As you look for a place for lunch, you can meander down the main throughway of St Petersburg, Nevsky Prospect.

In the late afternoon, you'll visit St Petersburg's original citadel, Peter and Paul Cathedral in the Peter and Paul Fortress. According to historians, the city was essentially born here and the cathedral represents its highs and lows, still standing guard over the St Petersburg just as it has done since 1706. From its beautiful architecture and burial vaults of the Emperors to a feared prison and a bastion of revolution, the fortress has seen it all. You'll discover these highlights and others as you explore the monument with your guide.

In the late afternoon, you'll return to your hotel for a break before heading back into the city for dinner. Stroll down Nevsky Prospect for numerous choices in restaurants, bistros, and bars, or venture to the up-and-coming neighborhood of New Holland for trendy eateries.

Day 8: Discover Tsar's Village, Peterhof, and the Hermitage Museum

Part of Catherine Palace
Part of Catherine Palace

Set outside of the city in the historic Pushkin District, you'll find Tsarskoye Selo (Tsar’s Village). It's named for the many imperial palaces that were once home to different Russian emperors. You’ll start with a visit to the 18th-century Catherine Palace and Park with its famous Amber Room, followed by a visit to the more intimate Alexander Palace, home to Nicholas II and his family. Nicholas was Russia's last tsar and some say his tragic story still seems to linger in the palace.

Next, you'll transfer to one of St Petersburg's most popular attractions, the palace park of Peterhof, also known as Petrodvorets. Some refer to the park as the "Russian Versailles", although many visitors conclude that the comparison does a disservice to Peterhof's grandeur. Versailles was, however, the inspiration for Peter the Great when he first imagined building an imperial palace in the suburbs. Peter's daughter, Empress Elizabeth, encouraged the idea and expanded it to include the Monplaisir Palace and the Grand Palace. Enjoy walking around the grounds of this UNESCO World Heritage Site and admiring the famous system of fountains.

After lunch, you'll return to the city for a guided tour of the city's famous State Hermitage Museum. Founded by Catherine the Great in 1764, you'll enjoy viewing vast collections of art and relics from the city's past, with over three million items to be seen. This includes the largest collection of paintings in the world. The museum spans five different buildings and includes art from all over the world, including antiquities, jewelry, home furnishings, architecture, and modern art, to name a few.

After your tour, you can stroll through the Winter Palace Garden, then walk along the riverfront until you reach the 19th-century Marble Palace. You'll find more art here if you're interested in continuing your pursuit of Russian art and sculpture. Enjoy the Summer Garden and then visit Saint Michael's Castle before finding dinner in the city center.

Day 9: Enjoy a free day in St Petersburg - Return to Moscow by train

Enjoy a River Cruise in St Petersburg
Enjoy a River Cruise in St Petersburg

In the morning, you'll have free time to explore St Petersburg on your own. You can return to some of the sights you've seen, or discover new ones. If you haven't already, perhaps you'd enjoy a stroll through Mikhailovsky Garden where you'll find the city's iconic landmark, the colorfully-domed, 19th-century church, Savior on the Spilled Blood. From here, cross the canals and make your way toward Palace Square which is home to grand baroque architecture housing museums and palaces, including the popular Winter Palace and the Hermitage Museum, which you toured yesterday.

For lunch, consider a traditional Georgian meal at Mamalyga, which is directly behind the Kazan Cathedral. Georgian cuisine is delicious and everywhere in Russia, a favorite with the locals and a must-try for visitors. Afterward, you can opt for a river cruise. As a city built on 42 islands, St Petersburg is surrounded by water and interlaced with a complex web of rivers, canals, and channels. The city's classical architecture is low-rise, so you'll enjoy great views from the water.

In the evening, you'll take the high-speed train back to Moscow. After settling into your accommodation, head out into the city for your final night in Russia. 

Day 10: Depart Moscow

Skyline of Moscow at Dawn
Skyline of Moscow at Dawn

It's time to say goodbye to Russia. After your final breakfast of the trip, you'll transfer to the airport in time to catch your flight.