Day 1: Arrival- Moscow
Upon arrival at Moscow Airport, you will be received by your personal guide and will be taken to your hotel where you will have some time for leisure until the late afternoon after your long flight and to also adapt to Moscow temperatures. In the evening, depart to see one of the world’s most famous ballet and opera companies– the Bolshoi or alternatively take the opportunity to see Moscow State Circus which is similarly fantastic. Overnight at the hotel in Moscow.
Day 2: Moscow
After breakfast, you will embark on a panoramic Moscow city tour where you will be shown the main Moscow sights. The city tour of Moscow will take you to Sparrow Hills to enjoy the impressive panorama of the city; you will pass by Victory Park with its World War II Memorial, the New Maiden (Novodevichy) Convent, the stunning Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, the White House and along Kutuzovsky Prospekt with its spectacular Stalinist architecture. There will be a stop on St. Sofia Embankment on the Moscow River to take pictures of the breathtaking panorama of the Moscow Kremlin. Then visit Red Square where you will see the iconic St.Basil’s Cathedral, the GUM Department Store and Lenin’s Mausoleum as you walk over the historic cobblestones. This will be a morning you will never forget. After lunch in a restaurant, you will depart on a once in a lifetime trip inside the Kremlin which is Russia’s political powerhouse, where many infamous tyrants and dictators have conducted their business including Ivan the Terrible and Stalin. Below the glistening gold domes are a series of breathtaking cathedrals and churches within the Kremlin complex. Admire the wonderful architecture and get very close to the heart of Russia. You will even have the chance to go inside one of the cathedrals within the Kremlin and also see the Tsar Cannon and Bell. If you are lucky you might even see the President! After the Kremlin experience, you are taken by Metro which is truly magnificent (more like underground palaces) to the artisan Arbat Street with its street artists, performers and great souvenir shopping opportunities. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Moscow.
Day 3: Moscow- Sergiev Posad
Today, after breakfast drive outside the city, 71 km to Sergiev Posad - home of Russian Orthodoxy - a fantastic atmospheric place which is the home of Russia’s Patriarch. Visit the Trinity St.Sergius Lavra (monastery) which is of enormous importance to the spiritual life of Russia. In the 15th Century, the lavra was the richest land owner in all of Russia. You will probably get to see a Russian wedding taking place as they are almost daily events in this holy place for Russian Orthodoxy. The trip to Sergiev Posad normally lasts most of the day. Lunch is included in Sergiev Posad in a local restaurant. Then drive back to the capital. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Moscow.
Day 4: Moscow-St.Petersburg
After breakfast you are met at your hotel at around 1130 and taken to Moscow’s ornate Leningradsky Station to join the super new high speed express train to St.Petersburg. The train came in to operation in December 2009 and now takes just less than four hours to complete the 600 km journey through the delightful Russian countryside. Sapsan is the name of the mythical Russian firebird and it departs at around 1300 arriving in St.Petersburg 4 hours later. Upon arrival at St.Petersburg you are met in the station and transferred to your hotel. Dinner and overnight at your hotel in St.Petersburg
Day 5: St.Petersburg
After breakfast, depart on a panoramic St.Petersburg city tour. In just 300 years, St.Petersburg has become Russia’s cultural capital with a wonderfully preserved heritage and international arts programme. Built to be Peter the Great’s “Window on the West”, the palace lined canals and grand boulevards are stunning and pretty much unchanged since they were built. The tour takes you down Nevsky Prospekt, the city’s main thoroughfare to Palace Square with Hermitage / Winter Palace and across the beautiful river to the Strelka viewpoint. Have several photo stops and time to wander at various points of interest including the Smolny Cathedral, the Field of Mars and Anichkov Bridge. Palace Square in itself, from where the storming of the Winter Palace took place oozes history– one trip to St.Petersburg is never enough! You will also visit inside St.Isaac’s Cathedral, an architectural masterpiece with unimaginable riches inside and Peter and Paul Fortress, the first building of St.Petersburg and burial place of all the Romanov Czars, built in 1703. On top of all this, go on a scenic cruise on the River Neva and several of the canals. After the cruise, head back to the hotel. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in St.Petersburg.
Day 6: St.Petersburg
After breakfast, leave for the Hermitage Museum / Winter Palace tour - probably the greatest museum and art gallery in the world. It boasts of an unbelievable collection of art in one of the world’s most beautiful palaces. Visit the Winter Palace State Rooms, home of the Romanovs up until the Russian Revolution in 1917 – the rooms are beautiful – you will see the famous Throne Room, the Malachite Room, the Alexander Hall, the 1812 Gallery and much more. Then move on to the art collection (the Hermitage) where the collection of art is commonly acknowledged as the best in the world. The collection is truly massive and exhibits have to be regularly rotated. There is an unbelievable collection of Leonardo Da Vinci, Monet, Gaugin, Matisse, Picasso, Van Dyk, Rembrandt, Van Gogh etc etc. There are also major collections of prehistoric art, Russian art and lots of exhibits from the lives of the Romanovs – wedding dresses, coaches and carriages and much more. Back to the hotel in the evening. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in St.Petersburg
Day 7: St.Petersburg-Pushkin
After breakfast, you will leave on a tour of the Catherine Palace at Pushkin (Tsarskoye Selo) with the Amber Room. No trip to St.Petersburg would be complete without a trip to this lavish palace, 25km from the centre of St.Petersburg. The stunning state rooms are richly decorated with elaborate gold, silks and other precious materials. The great hall is a sight to behold with light streaming through the windows illuminating the ornate mirrors, gilded carvings, ornate parquet floor and vast ceiling painting. Also you are taken in to the amazing Amber Room and will see the Cameron Gallery, located in the park – Catherine the Great commissioned Scotsman Charles Cameron to design the building. The formal gardens are magnificent. Take a walk round the gardens as well. Drive back to St.Petersburg. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in St.Petersburg
Day 8: St.Petersburg
In the morning, after breakfast at the hotel, you are given some leisure time for shopping and doing things of your choice. In the early afternoon (after lunch), transfer to the St.Petersburg airport for your flight back home via Moscow.