- 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 streets of Nizhny Novgorod and tour its medieval Kremlin
- Visit the grandiose gardens of the UNESCO site of Peterhof
- Explore the birthplace of St Petersburg at the Peter and Paul Fortress
|Day 1||Arrive in Moscow - Admire the monuments of Red Square||Moscow|
|Day 2||Explore the sites of Moscow, including its historic metro||Moscow|
|Day 3||Enjoy a tour of the Red Square and the Kremlin||Moscow|
|Day 4||Discover the medieval neighborhoods and sites of Moscow||Moscow|
|Day 5||Fly to Nizhny Novgorod - Tour the medieval Kremlin||Nizhny Novgorod|
|Day 6||Fly back to Moscow - Enjoy a free day to explore the city||Moscow|
|Day 7||Take the train to St. Petersburg - Tour the Peter and Paul Fortress||Saint Petersburg|
|Day 8||Visit the Hermitage Museum and enjoy an afternoon river cruise||Saint Petersburg|
|Day 9||Discover Tsar's Village and the UNESCO site of Peterhof||Saint Petersburg|
|Day 10||Depart St Petersburg||Saint Petersburg|
Day 1: Arrive in Moscow - Admire the monuments of Red Square
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 plenty of guided tours throughout your trip, 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 its historic metro
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.
After lunch, 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.
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 3: Enjoy a tour of the Red Square and the Kremlin
Today you'll enjoy a proper tour of Moscow's iconic plaza, Red Square. Although you were able to browse its monuments on your first night, your guide will help you understand the complex history of this area of Moscow.
In the morning, your local guide will lead you through the streets 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.
In the late afternoon, you'll have free time to continue exploring the city on your own.
Day 4: Discover the medieval neighborhoods and sites of Moscow
Since you've seen the big sites of the city, today you'll explore the quieter, medieval side of Moscow. You'll start with a visit to the last remaining sections of the Kitai Gorod Wall while discussing Moscow’s military. Your guide will explain how the largest city in Europe defended itself throughout the centuries.
Then you'll visit the streets of Kitai Gorod, the heart of the oldest part of Moscow. Next, you'll stop by the Romanov Boyar House and the Old English Embassy, followed by a walk through Krutitskoye Podvorye, a secluded part of the city that seems locked in the 17th century.
In the afternoon, explore more on your own and enjoy a visit to Kolomenskoye Park and Museum. Kolomenskoye was once the hunting preserve of the tsars and today hosts a wonderful collection of traditional wooden buildings from around Russia, as well as a handful of medieval churches. The main attraction is the 17th-century wooden palace of Tsar Alexei, which was recreated around 10 years ago. The original palaces in the Kremlin looked very similar to this one. Another highlight is the Ascension Church, which was constructed in 1532 and the birthplace of the legendary Ivan the Terrible.
Day 5: Fly to Nizhny Novgorod - Tour the medieval Kremlin
After breakfast, you'll transfer to the airport to catch your 1-hour flight to Russia's fifth-largest city, Nizhny Novgorod. You'll spend just one night in the city, so after settling into your hotel, you'll meet your guide for a tour of the 16th-century Kremlin.
Historically important in defending Russia, Nizhny Novgorod's Kremlin sits near the confluence of the Volga and Oka Rivers. Its fortress was first built in the Medieval Period with its first original tower made out of wood. During the early 1500s, the rest of the fortress was constructed in red-brick stone. It consists of 13 different towers reinforcing walls that protected its structure for many centuries, playing a particularly important role in air defense during World War II.
You'll enjoy a guided tour of the Kremlin, visiting some of its top sites, including the Sobor Arkhangela Mikhaila cathedral, as well as the courthouse and an art museum. You can't miss the views at Obelisk to Minin and Pozharsky, a memorial for the victims of WWII, or the Governor's Garden. Outside of the walls, you'll find the Church of St. John the Baptist, the Peter the Great Statue, and the Chkalov Stairs that lead down to the riverfront.
After the tour, 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 6: Fly back to Moscow - Enjoy a free day to explore the city
In the morning, you'll return to Moscow on a flight back from Nizhny Novgorod. Settle into your accommodation and enjoy a free day to explore the city on your own.
Some suggested activities include:
- Visit the Izmailovsky Kremlin and its market. Izmailovsky Kremlin 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.
- Spend an afternoon at Zaryadye Park. Zaryadye Park is an urban green space located adjacent to Red Square in what was once one of the city’s oldest areas. In fact, the name of the park means “beyond the trading rows,” referring to the market stalls that once lined the edge of Red Square. The park is divided into four climatic zones: forest, steppe, tundra, and the floodplains, which taken together represent the Russian landscape. From here you can enjoy spectacular views of the Kremlin and the old city center, plus venture out over the traffic and the river via an innovative flying bridge.
- Experience 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.
Day 7: Take the train to St. Petersburg - Tour the Peter and Paul Fortress
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: Visit the Hermitage Museum and enjoy an afternoon river cruise
In the morning, set out to meander the streets of St Petersburg on your own as you leisurely make your way to the city's famous State Hermitage Museum. 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.
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, an 18th-century palace.
Enjoy lunch on your own with recommendations from your guide, then head out onto the canals 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 can experience a typical Georgian dinner at the restaurant Mamalyga, which is directly behind the Kazan Cathedral. Georgian cuisine is delicious and everywhere in Russia, a forever favorite with the locals and a must-try for visitors.
Day 9: Discover Tsar's Village and the UNESCO site of Peterhof
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.
After lunch, 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.
The evening is yours to continue exploring the city.
Day 10: Depart St Petersburg
Enjoy your final breakfast in Russia. Today you'll transfer to the Pulkovo Airport in time to catch your flight home, or onto your next destination.