This 10-day tour through three of Russia's major cities starts in Moscow, with tours of its Red Square monuments, as well as museums, markets, and medieval neighborhoods. Take the train to St Petersburg where you'll visit one of the world's greatest art collections at the Hermitage Museum, as well as enjoy a river cruise and tour the Peter and Paul Fortress, Tsar's Village, and the UNESCO site of Peterhof. Visit the western city of Velikiy Novgorod to explore its folk-wooden architecture and a restored medieval Orthodox monastery.

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
  • Visit the grandiose gardens of the UNESCO site of Peterhof
  • Explore the birthplace of St Petersburg at the Peter and Paul Fortress
  • Experience Russia's folklore and wooden architecture in Veliky Novgorod

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Moscow - Explore Moscow
Day 2 Enjoy a tour of the Red Square, the Kremlin, and the metro Moscow
Day 3 Discover the medieval neighborhoods and sites of Moscow Moscow
Day 4 Enjoy a free day to peruse Moscow's museums and markets Moscow
Day 5 Take the train to St. Petersburg - Tour the Peter and Paul Fortress Saint Petersburg
Day 6 Tour the Hermitage and enjoy a river cruise Saint Petersburg
Day 7 Discover Tsar's Village and the UNESCO site of Peterhof Saint Petersburg
Day 8 Visit a wooden architecture museum in Velikiy Novgorod Saint Petersburg
Day 9 Enjoy a free day to explore St Petersburg on your own Saint Petersburg
Day 10 Depart St Petersburg Saint Petersburg

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 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: Enjoy a tour of the Red Square, the Kremlin, and the metro

Views of the Kremlin
Views of the Kremlin

Now that you've had a night to rest, it's time to properly explore the Russian capital. You'll start your day with a general tour of Moscow, visiting some of its best-known streets and sites along the way. You’ll see the so-called Stalin Sisters, which were built to compete with New York’s skyscrapers, as well as the Triumphal Arch and the Church of Christ the Savior. You'll then visit the New Maidens Convent, Sparrow Hills, Moscow State University, and Luzhniki Stadium

After lunch, your local guide will help you explore all the sites that are congested in Red Square, starting with views of St. Basil’s Cathedral and the Kremlin from across the river. You'll enjoy a guided tour of the Kremlin, 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.

Afterward, you'll visit 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.

In the late afternoon, you'll have free time to continue exploring the city on your own or to return to the hotel to rest before dinner.

Day 3: Discover the medieval neighborhoods and sites of Moscow

Krutitskoye Podvorye, Moscow
Krutitskoye Podvorye, 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 4: Enjoy a free day to peruse Moscow's museums and markets

Moscow's Riverfront at Night
Moscow's Riverfront at Night

Today is yours to explore Moscow at your own pace. The city is brimming with museums and markets, so take your time to peruse some of the most interesting in the city, including the following:

  • Arbat Street and Pushkin Museum. Pushkin is Russia’s national poet, one of the country's most beloved citizens. No visit to Russia is complete without meeting him. You can walk down the famous Arbat Street to see where Pushkin lived after his marriage, and later see the church where he got married.
  • The Second World War Museum at Poklonnaya Gora. You don't often hear about the Soviet side of WWII, and this museum exposes the country's role through interesting exhibits. To comprehend modern Russia, it's important to understand the country's history of fighting and defeating Hitler.
  • Tretyakov Gallery. Tretyakov is one of Russia's great art museums. Housing a world-renowned collection of medieval icons (including those by the legendary Rublev), as well as classics of Russian landscape painting and portraiture. See the Three Bogatyrs, a work known to every Russian, as well as paintings by Kandinski and Malevich.
  • Izmailovsky Kremlin and 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.
  • Eliseevsky Supermarket. The building itself is what draws tourists to the market. With a rich history of over 100 years, the neo-baroque style has incredible interiors only seen in Russia. Here you can buy anything from basic groceries to handcrafted souvenirs and presents to traditional chocolates, sweets, and caviar.
Plan your trip to Russia
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Day 5: 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 6: Tour the Hermitage and enjoy a river cruise

Enjoy a River Cruise through the City
Enjoy a River Cruise through the City

In the morning, you'll visit the State Hermitage Museum, which is one of the world’s greatest art museums. Housed partly in the old Winter Palace, this is a museum where the property is just as interesting as the art on display. Founded by Catherine the Great, you'll enjoy viewing vast collections of art and relics from the city's past.

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 7: Discover Tsar's Village and the UNESCO site of Peterhof

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.

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 8: Visit a wooden architecture museum in Velikiy Novgorod

Veliky Novgorod, Russia
Veliky Novgorod, Russia

An excellent day trip from St Petersburg is the western city of Veliky Novgorod. Although Novgorod means “New City,” Veliky is actually one of Russia’s oldest settlements. Today, the city's original outpost hosts an archaeology site near the Yuriev Monastery.

Upon arrival, your guide will lead you through the city's main sites, many of which reside in the Kremlin's Kremlovskiy Park. These include St. Sophia Cathedral, an 11th-century church known for its five onion domes, as well as the fortress walls and towers. Across the river, you'll find the Yaroslav Marketplace, Saint Nicholas Cathedral, and the Hanseatic Fountain.

On your way back to St Petersburg, you'll travel a bit outside the city center to visit the Yuriev Monastery, a restored medieval site featuring five different churches and cathedrals. Nearby is the Vitoslavlitsy Museum, an open-air museum featuring folk-wooden architecture. Here you'll learn about Russian history and life throughout the centuries.

In the evening, you'll return to St Petersburg in time for dinner.

Day 9: Enjoy a free day to explore St Petersburg on your own

St Issac's Cathderal
St Issac's Cathedral

After a leisurely morning, today is yours to explore St Petersburg on your own. Some suggested sites to visit include:

  • The privately-owned Faberge Museum was established by Viktor Vekselberg to repatriate lost cultural valuables in 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 Fabergé for the last two Russian Tsars.
  • The Yusupov Palace is the St Petersburg residence of the Yusupov family, one of Russia's great aristocratic houses. A tour of the palace will help you imagine what life was like among the Russian Empire's rich and powerful. In 1916, Rasputin, the famous "mad monk" who tricked his way into the family of the last Tsar, was murdered in this building.
  • The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is a favorite among visitors due to its otherworldly opulence. The church was built on the site of Tsar Alexander II's murder. He was a great reformer and you'll explore his story here.
  • The Kazan Cathedral is loosely based on St Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. It's the home church of the Russian armed forces and once displayed objects captured from Napoleon. 
  • St Isaac's Cathedral is St Petersburg's massive landmark church, looming over the city since the 1850s. It's the second-largest Orthodox cathedral, its neo-classical exterior just as impressive as its incredible interior.

Day 10: Depart St Petersburg

St. Nicholas Cathedral
St. Nicholas Cathedral

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.