Visit Russia's iconic capital, see 16th-century onion-domed wooden churches, and discover European art and architecture in St. Petersburg. Start in Moscow and explore history in the Kremlin, see the Red Square, and ride the 90-year-old-metro. Take a train to Vladimir and Suzdal to see small-town life, then continue to St. Petersburg to see the world-famous Hermitage art museum, winding city canals, and the sprawling Peterhof estate.

Highlights

  • Explore iconic Moscow landmarks like the Red Square and the Metro
  • See one of the world's largest art collections at the Hermitage Museum 
  • Visit Vladimir and Suzdal to see medieval monasteries 
  • Explore ornate 18th-century Catherine Palace and Peterhof estate

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to Moscow Moscow
Day 2 Get to know Moscow, metro tour Moscow
Day 3 Red Square, St. Basil's Cathedral, the Kremlin Moscow
Day 4 Medieval Moscow Moscow
Day 5 Kolomenskoye park and the Wooden palace of Tsar Alexei Moscow
Day 6 Vladimir, Suzdal Suzdal
Day 7 Suzdal Moscow
Day 8 Free day in Moscow Moscow
Day 9 St. Petersburg city tour, Peter and Paul Fortress St. Petersburg
Day 10 Tsarskoye Selo (Pushkin), river cruise St. Petersburg
Day 11 Peterhof park and the Grand Palace St. Petersburg
Day 12 Free day in St Petersburg St. Petersburg
Day 13 Departure from St.Petersburg  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Moscow

Moskva River at night
Moskva River at night

Welcome to Moscow. Transfer from the airport to your hotel to relax after your flight. After settling in, head out to get a first look at Russia's capital. 

Day 2: Get to know Moscow, metro tour

Ornate stations in the Moscow Metro
Ornate stations in the Moscow Metro

Start your day with a general tour of Moscow to see some of the city's highlights and most notable landmarks. Start your tour with a visit to several of the seven Stalin Sisters, built to compete with New York's skyscrapers. Continue to see the Triumphal Arch and the Church of Christ the Savior, as well as the panoramic views from Sparrow Hills and the Moscow State University

In the afternoon take a tour of nearly 90-year-old Moscow Metro, constructed as a showpiece and underground palace for the capital's residents. These days nearly 9 million tourists and locals use the metro for their commutes. Make sure to get out to walk around and enjoy the different styles, as each station is built in a unique artistic style. 

Day 3: Red Square, St. Basil's Cathedral, the Kremlin

View of the Kremlin across the river
View of the Kremlin across the river

In the morning, head to the city center for a visit to the Red Square, the onion-domed St. Basil's Cathedral, and a chance to see the Kremlin—the home of the Russian government—up close. This medieval fortress is one of the few in the world still functioning in its original intended purpose as a government and military center.  In the afternoon, join a tour to see inside the Kremlin walls or explore on your own. Stop inside the GUM—the government department store—located opposite the Kremlin to see a Soviet-era shopping center. 

Day 4: Medieval Moscow

The house of Boyar Romanov in winter
The house of Boyar Romanov in winter

Spend the morning exploring the older parts of Moscow. Start with a visit to the remaining sections of the Kitai Gorod wall and learn about how the largest city in Europe defended itself against invasions. From here you can walk the medieval sections of Moscow, although many of the buildings you see were built in the 18th-20th centuries. Stop by the Romanov Boyar house to see a museum devoted to the Russian nobility's lifestyle during the 16th-17th centuries. From here head out to the 17th-century Krutitskoye Podvorye, a restored Orthodox estate and personal metochion of the church leadership.

Day 5: Kolomenskoye park and the Wooden palace of Tsar Alexei

Wooden palace in Kolomenskoye
Wooden palace in Kolomenskoye
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Head to the open-air museum of Kolomenskoye, which was built as a hunting preserve for the Tsars and has been rebuilt to depict traditional buildings from the 16th-18th centuries. The star is the unique 17th-century wooden palace of Tsar Alexei, as well as the early 16th-century Ascension Church of Ivan the Terrible's legendary rule. 

Day 6: Vladimir, Suzdal

 Church of the Intercession on the Nerl
Church of the Intercession on the Nerl

Get an early start with a 2-hour train trip to nearby Vladimir, one of the cities on the Golden Ring—a circle of historic cities surrounding Moscow. Vladimir has preserved much of its medieval architecture and old-world charm. You'll see onion-domed churches, medieval monastery walls, traditional wooden homes, and ancient city barricades. Visit the Golden Gates and see the nearly thousand-year-old sculptures and icons housed in the church, then grab lunch at a cafe in town. 

Continue the half-hour trip to Suzdal, stopping on the way to see the Church of the Intercession on the Nerl, considered the most elegant example of medieval Russian architecture. 

Day 7: Suzdal

Typical 18th-century wooden church
Typical 18th-century wooden church

Today you will explore the town of Suzdal, one of the cities on the Golden Ring. Visit the centuries-old Kremlin, then explore the wooden architecture museum and see restored peasant huts and wooden churches to get a sense of life in the 19th century. Enjoy the slower pace of life in a timeless rural atmosphere where the pressures of big-city life subside.

In the afternoon transfer back to the Vladimir train station to catch the local train back to Moscow. 

Day 8: Free day in Moscow

Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Mary
Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Mary

Today is a free day to explore the city on your own. Visit one of the city's many parks, explore the bustling downtown, or see where Soviet Russia meets modern-day luxury inside the Detsky Mir—The Children's Department and Toy Store. For a bird's-eye view of the Moscow skyline, head to the top floor, stopping by the exhibit of old Soviet toys on the way. 

Day 9: St. Petersburg city tour, Peter and Paul Fortress

Peter and Paul Fortress across a frozen river
Peter and Paul Fortress across a frozen river

Get an early morning start with a 6:00 AM express train to St. Petersburg. After an easy 3.5-hour journey, check in to your hotel and head out for a day of sightseeing. 

St. Petersburg has been described as the Venice of the North and is as strikingly beautiful as it is historically significant. Visitors will find the mood here to be more extravagant and relaxed than in Moscow. Much of downtown St. Petersburg was influenced heavily by European architecture, with art and buildings inspired by Classical motifs. Paradoxically, this very European city—complete with winding canals, ornate mansions, and gilded monuments—was also home to some of Russia's most critical historical moments. From the 1917 Revolution to the World War II siege, St. Petersburg's history has shaped Russia's future. 

Your tour of the city today will include iconic highlights—from the Kazan Cathedral to the Academy of Sciences—as well as numerous cathedrals, notable buildings, and the expansive Nevsky Prospekt

After a break for lunch, head across the river to the imposing 1706 Peter and Paul Fortress—the city's original citadel. Tour the grounds and learn about its history a political prison and as a burial ground for Russian Tsars. 

Day 10: Tsarskoye Selo (Pushkin), River Cruise

Catherine Palace in Tsarskoye Selo
Catherine Palace in Tsarskoye Selo

Spend the morning touring the countryside estates and palaces favored by the Tsars during the 18th-20th centuries. Start at Tsarskoye Selo—The Tsar Village— so called because of the many palaces that are located there. Visit the stunning 18th-century Rococo style Catherine Palace and the ornate Amber Room

After lunch, go for a relaxed river tour of the city's many winding canals. St. Petersburg is built on 42 islands and is surrounded by a complex web of rivers, canals, channels, and a bay. You'll get great views of the 18th through 20th-century architecture from your seat in the riverboat, as well as local landmarks and famous statues. 

Day 11: Peterhof park and the Grand palace

Peterhof Palace and the Grand Fountain
Peterhof Palace and the Grand Fountain

In the afternoon drive to the sprawling estate of Peterhof, which served as a summer home for the Tsar's family. Also known as Petrodvorets, this majestic and ornate palace was built to emulate the famous Versailles gardens of France. The palace, along with the adjacent gardens, gazebos, fountains, and landscaped flower beds is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Day 12: Free day in St Petersburg

Griboedov canal, St. Petersburg
Griboedov canal, St. Petersburg

Today is a free day to explore the city on your own. Spend the day touring one of the many museums and art galleries, or simply stroll around down one of the numerous canals and waterways. 

Day 13: Departure from St. Petersburg

One of the several bridges which separate each night to allow ship traffic to pass
One of the several bridges which separate each night to allow ship traffic to pass  

Depending on your flight time head out for a relaxed morning of sightseeing, then head to the airport for your flight home. 

Map

Map of Moscow, St. Petersburg & The Golden Ring - 13 Days
Map of Moscow, St. Petersburg & The Golden Ring - 13 Days