Take a tour through Russia's two capitals, where you will experience the impact of its Soviet history firsthand. Start with a tour of Moscow, before continuing on to St. Petersburg, where you'll find a mix of Eastern and Western influences. Walk through the medieval halls of the Kremlin, explore Moscow's palatial metro stations built under Stalin's rule, stand on the decks of the Aurora Cruiser that played an important role in the 1917 Russian Revolution, and more.

Highlights

  • Visit an original underground Bolshevik printing press from 1905
  • Tour the medieval fortress of the Kremlin, the seat of government power
  • Discover the lives of Soviet workers in the apartment museums of St. Petersburg

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Moscow - Tour the Magnificent Metro Moscow
Day 2 A Day of Traveling through Moscow's History Moscow
Day 3 Embark on a 20th Century Soviet History Tour Moscow
Day 4 Train to St. Petersburg - Russian Revolution and Soviet Leningrad Tour Saint Petersburg
Day 5 Discover the Daily Lives of Soviet Leaders and Workers Saint Petersburg
Day 6 Solo Exploration of St. Petersburg Saint Petersburg
Day 7 Depart from St. Petersburg  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Moscow - Tour the magnificent metro

One of Moscow's unforgettable Metro stations - Photo by Ivana Mednansky
One of Moscow's unforgettable Metro stations - Photo by Ivana Mednansky

Welcome to Moscow! Once you land, you'll be picked up at the airport and taken to your hotel. You'll have some time to rest and decompress before we head out on a unique evening Moscow Metro tour.

After rush hour dies down, you will be able to explore the magnificent Moscow metro. The metro is a project that began under Stalin in the 1930s and quickly became the heart of life in Moscow. The vision was to create a magnificent underground palace for the people, which you can see today in the various ornate metro stations around Moscow.

Day 2: A day of traveling through Moscow's history

Evening views of the Kremlin
Evening views of the Kremlin

Enjoy a cup of black tea before setting out on today's tour of Moscow. The first stop is the Stalin Sisters, a group of high-rises, which were built from 1947 - 1953 and meant to compete with the imposing height of New York City' skyscrapers.

Visit the main building of Moscow State University, which was the tallest building in Europe until 1997. Continue on to the Triumphal Arch and the Church of Christ the Savior before heading to New Maidens Convent, Sparrow Hills, the Bolshoi Theater and Luzhniki Stadium

Sit down to a lunch of traditional Russian cuisine before you explore some of Moscow's most recognizable landmarks: the Red Square, St. Basil's Cathedral, and the Kremlin. Your afternoon will be spent in the Kremlin, where you'll get a tour of this unique seat of power.

The Kremlin is one of the world's few medieval fortresses that still functions with its original purpose of being a center of government, seat of religious authority, and military base. Return to your hotel after the tour to relax and spend a night on your own out in Moscow.

Day 3: Embark on a 20th-century Soviet history tour

WWII Monument in Victory Park - Photo by Dmitri Zoubov
WWII Monument in Victory Park - Photo by Dmitri Zoubov

Today will be focused on Soviet history, starting with a visit to a secret underground Bolshevik printing press that operated in 1905, the year of the first Russian Revolution. This gem of a museum is often overlooked by foreigners, perhaps as it's still in its original location behind the wall of a basement shop selling vegetables. 

The next stop will be the World War II Museum at Poklonnaya Gora or "Bow Down Hill," as understanding the Soviet Union's involvement in WWII is essential to grasping modern Russian life. Take a break from history as you sit down to lunch. Then, you will have the option of visiting either the House on the Embankment or the Gulag History Museum.

The infamous House on the Embankment is a constructivist block-wide apartment building on the banks of the Moskva River, which became one of the most dangerous addresses in Moscow. This structure was built in the late 1920s as a residence for the new Soviet elite, many of whom were later arrested or killed during Stalin's Great Purge of 1937 - 1938. 

The Gulag History Museum tells the history of the 20 million people sent to the Gulag or forced-labor camps, which were begun under Lenin and reached their peak under Stalin, from the 1930s - 1950s. This museum illustrates the history behind these camps that served as an instrument of the Soviet Union's repressive policy and it honors the millions who died, as well those who survived, in the Gulag system. You will be taken back to your hotel to relax and reflect before enjoying a night out in Moscow.

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Day 4: Train to St. Petersburg - Russian Revolution and Soviet Leningrad tour

Kazan Cathedral shines in St. Petersburg
Kazan Cathedral shines in St. Petersburg

Head out early today on a four-hour express train to St. Petersburg, where you'll be transferred to your hotel to drop off your bags and set out for the day.

St. Petersburg is Russia's history-filled northern capital, known as the "Window to the West." Take note of the European influences in the city's classical art and architecture as you learn about the history of this city, which is home of the Emperors, Putin, and the 1917 Revolution.

Today's Russian Revolution and Soviet Leningrad tour will show you several significant sites around St. Petersburg: Smolny, Tauride, the Putilov Factory, Kresty Prison, and the NKVD / FSB (aka the Soviet Secret Police) building.

After these short stops, you'll visit the recently-restored museum ship of the Aurora Cruiser, which played an important role in the Russian Revolution of 1917.

End the day at the Peter and Paul Fortress, which is St. Petersburg's original citadel that has stood guard over the city since 1706. Wander through the historical walls of the fortress as you take in the beautiful architecture, burial vaults of the Emperors, and dark cells of the prison.

After the tour, you'll be returned to your hotel to enjoy a night on your own in this melting pot of east and west.

Day 5: Discover the daily lives of Soviet leaders and workers

Communal Flats in Moscow (By Lesless from Wikipedia)

 

After breakfast, discover the multi-faceted aspects of Soviet life as you take this tour to learn about the reality of a Soviet leader versus that of a worker.

The first stop is Kirov's Flat Museum, which was the apartment of Sergei Kirov, head of the Communist Party in Leningrad. Kirov was a close friend of Stalin and his assassination in 1934 provided the pretext for Stalin's Great Terror of 1937 - 1938. This museum offers a fascinating insight into the lives of the Soviet elite and Communist leaders.

Next, you'll get the chance to see how others lived under Stalin's rule as you visit the Anna Akhmatova Flat. Anna Akhmatova is one of the most significant Soviet poets of the 20th century, who lost her son and husband during Stalin's Great Terror.

Walk through this kommunalka (communal flat), whose cramped quarters were an integral part of Soviet life. The contrast between this apartment and Kirov's will be an eye-opening and stark representation of the very different realities between the Soviet people and their leaders.

Day 6: Solo exploration of St. Petersburg

Take a ferry tour through the golden light of St. Petersburg
Take a ferry tour through the golden light of St. Petersburg

Take the day off to explore St. Petersburg on your own and discover some of the treasures that this magnificent city has to offer.

Suggested activities include:

  • Visit the Hermitage, the second-largest art museum in the world, which is partly housed in the old Winter Palace. Spend hours traveling through both art and Russian history as you walk through the halls once occupied by the tsar-emperors.
  • Take a cruise on the Neva River. The archipelago of St. Petersburg is made up of 42 islands, so explore the city by traveling through its rivers, canals, and channels, where you can see the city's classical, low-rise architecture from a great vantage point.
  • Explore St. Petersburg's iconic churches: the Kazan Cathedral, home church of the Russian military; the Church of the Savior on Spilt Blood, built on the spot where Tsar Alexander II was murdered in 1881; and St. Isaak's Church, the largest Orthodox Cathedral in the world.
  • Take a tour of the Yusupov Palace, home of the Yusupov family, which was once one of Russia's great aristocratic families. Discover what life was like for the rich and powerful of the Russian Empire and see the spot where Rasputin, the famous "mad monk," was murdered in 1916.

Day 7: Depart from St. Petersburg

The unforgettable Palace Embarkment in St. Petersburg - Photo by Mario & Debbie
The unforgettable Palace Embarkment in St. Petersburg 

Take in any last sights and purchase any last gifts before you're transferred to the airport to go to your next destination. We hope you enjoyed your trip through Russia and its fascinating Soviet history!

Map

Map of Soviet History Tour: Moscow & St. Petersburg - 7 Days
Map of Soviet History Tour: Moscow & St. Petersburg - 7 Days