- Go beyond typical tourist activities by learning about Russia in-depth
- Steam (and beat) away the blues at a banya
- Learn to speak and read some Russian, to enrich your stay
- Eat, and learn to cook, traditional Russian cuisine
|Day 1||Welcome to Moscow!||Moscow|
|Day 2||Moscow City Tour: Red Square and the Kremlin||Moscow|
|Day 3||Russian Language Class - Medieval Moscow Tour||Moscow|
|Day 4||Russian Cooking Class - Bolshoi Theater||Moscow|
|Day 5||Great Patriotic War Museum - Sanduny Bathhouse||Moscow|
|Day 6||Christianity, Islam, and Judaism in Moscow - Pushkin Museum||Moscow|
|Day 7||Moscow Metro - Lunch with a Russian Family||Moscow|
|Day 8||Depart Moscow||Moscow|
Day 1: Welcome to Moscow!
After arrival, transfer to your hotel and relax after your flight, or venture out into your neighborhood for some preliminary exploration.
Day 2: Moscow City Tour: Red Square and the Kremlin
As a newly minted Muscovite, you need to get to know your city! Start with a general tour of Moscow, taking in some of its best-known streets and sites along the way. See the so-called Stalin Sisters, built to compete with New York’s skyscrapers, as well as the Triumphal Arch, the Church of Christ the Savior, New Maidens Convent, Sparrow Hills, Moscow State University, and Luzhniki Stadium.
After lunch, get ready to be impressed at Red Square, St. Basil’s Cathedral, and the Kremlin. Your afternoon tour of the Kremlin is sure to be one of the highlights of your trip, as it's a place with such an iconic status, as well as being beautiful and majestic. It's also one of the world’s very few medieval fortresses still functioning in its original intended purpose: as a center of government, a seat of religious authority, a military base, and an expression of raw power.
Day 3: Russian Language Class - Medieval Moscow Tour
This morning, take a Russian language class, which will help you connect with locals and make your stay all the more interesting. You’ll learn the Cyrillic alphabet and some basic phrases. It’s a great thrill to read your first words written in a different alphabet, and will be so helpful to recognize basic words like “entrance“ and “exit.” Best of all, you can practice with your local guide after your class is finished!
After lunch, head out on a 'medieval Moscow' tour. It covers some of what’s left of medieval Moscow, and takes you to a couple of places even die-hard Muscovites haven’t been to. Start the tour by visiting the last remaining sections of the Kitai Gorod Wall, learning about Moscow’s military defenses and how the largest city in Europe at the time was defended. Then, head through the streets of Kitai Gorod, the heart of the oldest part of Moscow. The highlight of the area are the churches along Varvarka Street, one of Moscow’s oldest roads, as well as and one of its best preserved. Go inside one church, and see the others from the outside.
Later, visit the Old English Embassy. This building dates back to the time of Ivan the Terrible, and it was used as the first Western European embassy in Russia, the English. The building was used for many other purposes over the centuries, including a noble home.
Next, head to Krutitskoye Podvorye, a secluded part of Moscow where time seems to have stopped at the 17th century. The area frequently appears on local TV whenever a historical location is needed. You’ll see a church, a bishop's palace, and some 19th-century wooden homes.
Tonight you can enjoy dinner at a typical, traditional Russian restaurant and try many different dishes.
Day 4: Russian Cooking Class - Bolshoi Theater
Today you’ll learn to cook some classic Russian dishes. Start by visiting a market, and then going back to the kitchen to produce mouthwatering delicacies from the items you picked up. Perhaps you’ll attempt some 18th or 19th-century imperial favorites? Or those great peasant standbys, hearty borscht soup, pirogi, or pelmeni? Whatever you cook with your teacher, a professional chef, it’ll be good! Along the way, you’ll learn about Russian holiday dining traditions and what sort of dishes were popular in Soviet times. This experience is a real gastronomic and cultural feast.
After lunch, you are free to explore the city on your own.
In the evening, visit the legendary Bolshoi Theater to watch a ballet or an opera. Depending on the season, the Bolshoi may not be open, but if that's the case, you’ll see a production at another Moscow theater. There is always something going on, and classical entertainment is extremely popular in Russia. You’ll see people of all ages attending.
Day 5: Great Patriotic War Museum - Sanduny Bathhouse
After breakfast, visit the Great Patriotic War Museum at Poklonnaya Gora. It's impossible to understand modern Russia without understanding the country's horrific experience fighting and defeating Hitler. Victory was won at a cost of around 25 million lives, and the memory of the war remains central in the hearts and minds of Russians to this day.
After lunch, visit the legendary Sanduny Banya (bathhouse). Hopefully you will join in and experience this quintessential Russian experience in its classic form. The Russian banya is a national institution, loved by nearly everybody. It dates back to a time long before people had running water piped into their homes; visiting communal baths was the only way to get clean. In fact, mention of banyas in the East Slavic lands goes back to the 11th century. The banya can also be a social event, where people sit, eat, drink, and chat. It's one of the best ways to improve your mood and feel refreshed.
Perhaps the most characteristic feature of the banya is the veniki, birch or oak branches with leaves still attached, which bathers use to beat each other. It increases blood circulation and removes dead skin particles. It’s much more pleasurable than it sounds! When you are done with the banya, remember to congratulate each other and say ‘S lyohkim parom!’ (This means ‘a light steam’).
After banya, it's time for dinner at a Georgian restaurant. Georgian cuisine is delicious and is omnipresent in Russia. Georgian food is to Russia what Mexican food is to the U.S.A. You simply can’t visit Russia without trying it at least once.
Day 6: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism in Moscow - Pushkin Museum
Religion plays, and has always played, a central role in the Russian sense of self. Today we’ll explore the wonderful world of Russian Orthodoxy by visiting a few churches and exploring their significance and meaning.
After this, visit Moscow’s main mosque, to learn about other faiths that are represented in Moscow. Russia has Europe’s largest indigenous Muslim population, and the new mosque is a masterpiece. Next, visit one of Moscow’s old synagogues, and have the chance to learn more about Judaism’s long, and sometimes troubled, history at the splendid new Museum of Tolerance.
After lunch, visit the Pushkin Museum. Pushkin in Russia’s national poet and is beloved as few others in Russian history are. Walk down the famous Arbat Street to see where Pushkin lived for a brief time after his marriage, and later see the church where he got married.
Day 7: Moscow Metro - Lunch with a Russian Family
The Moscow Metro is at the heart of Moscow life. Construction began under Stalin in the 1930s, and the underground rail system was intended to be a showpiece, acting as an underground palace for the people. Today, nearly nine 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.
This afternoon, have lunch with a Russian family in their home. This will give you a chance to see what a local flat looks like, but more importantly to meet some locals and ask them questions about their lives, their jobs, and views of the world. It’s amazing how much more cozy the city feels when you’ve been inside a real home and enjoyed a glass of tea in the kitchen.
After lunch you'll have free time to relax and explore the city on your own.
Day 8: Depart Moscow
You'll be transferred to the airport in good time for your flight. It's time to say farewell to Russia, dasvidaniya!