Russia Historical Tour: Moscow, St. Petersburg, Golden Ring and Kazan14 Days | Moscow, Vladimir, Suzdal, Nizhny Novgorod, Gorodets, Kazan, Sviyazhsk, St. Petersburg, Peterhof, Kronstadt, Pushkin, Pavlovsk

Russia Historical Tour: Moscow, St. Petersburg, Golden Ring and Kazan

A full two weeks to explore various historical and cultural sights of western Russia. From the national capital, Moscow, discover the famous “Golden Ring” of medieval Russian cities and the capital of the vibrant Tatar Republic, Kazan, before reaching Peter the Great’s elegant northern capital, St. Petersburg. This 2-week Russia historical tour includes five UNESCO World Heritage sites, with highlights including Moscow’s Red Square, Vladimir’s 12th century white stone architecture, the Suzdal and Kazan Kremlins, the Orthodox monasteries of Sviyazhsk Island, and the imperial palaces of St. Petersburg. Also enjoy the views of the Volga River from Nizhny Novgorod and immerse yourself in the folk art centre of Gorodets. With optional activities like craft master classes and music and dance shows, and visits to unique places like the Gorodets Samovar Museum, there are also plenty of opportunities to experience traditional Russian culture.

Tour itinerary:

Day 1: Moscow – Arrival
 
Arrive in Moscow, meet your driver, and transfer to the hotel (check in is possible from 14:00). Free time. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 2: Moscow
 
After breakfast, take a guided tour of Russia’s capital city, Moscow. Like Rome, this is a city on seven hills. Your tour of the metropolis starts at Vorobyovy Gory (Sparrow Hills) in the south-west of the city. Elevated 78 metres above the river, these hills are Moscow’s main panoramic viewpoint. They offer excellent views of most of the city’s attractions: the Kremlin, Stalin’s famous “Seven Sisters” skyscrapers (such as the main building of Moscow State University), the modern Moscow City skyscrapers, the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences, Russia’s “White House”, Shukhov Tower, Luzhniki Stadium, and the Ostankino TV Tower. After visiting Vorobyovy Gory, descend to the Memorial Complex on Poklonnaya Gora (Victory Park) to see the Church of St. George the Victorious, the Triumphal Arch, and the major street of Kutuzovsky Prospekt. Then, visit the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, one of the tallest Orthodox churches in the world. The original cathedral was destroyed in the 1930s by order of Stalin and only rebuilt in the 1990s. The cathedral has a 69-metre-high dome, on the inside of which are beautiful images from the New Testament. Continue the tour at the famed Red Square, walking past St. Basil’s Cathedral, Lenin’s Mausoleum, the famous GUM department store, the monument to Minin and Pozharsky, and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Alexander Garden. The day ends at the impressive Kremlin and its cathedrals (closed on Thursdays). Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 8-9 hours

During your free time in Moscow, we offer the following optional activities (at additional cost):
Visit to the Armoury in the Kremlin (except Thursdays);
Night city tour: ‘Evening lights of Moscow’;
River cruise on the motor ship ‘Flotilla Radisson Royal’;
Tickets to the Bolshoi Theatre, concerts, the circus, or other performances.

Day 3: Moscow – Tsaritsyno – Moscow
 
After breakfast, visit the largest museum complex in Moscow, the Tsaritsyno State Historical, Architectural, Art, and Landscape Museum-Reserve (closed on Mondays and replaced with an alternative sight). Explore the late 18th century Palace Complex, which was the residence of Empress Catherine II near Moscow. The tour includes visits to the permanent exhibition of the Grand Palace and Bread House, as well as exhibitions at the Middle Palace (Opera House) and Small Palace. End the excursion with walks through the historical Tsaritsyno Landscape Park to see the ponds and pavilions and the modern park with its fountain and flower beds. Free time. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 4-5 hours
Day 4: Moscow – Vladimir
 
Breakfast, followed by hotel check-out. Transfer to the train station to take the train from Moscow to Vladimir (190 km, 2 hours). Upon arrival, meet your driver and transfer to the hotel. Take a sightseeing tour of Vladimir, part of the famous “Golden Ring” of ancient towns in northern Russia. The tour encompasses Cathedral Square, the heart of the city; the Golden Gate, the famous triumphal arch that became the historical symbol of the city and the entire Golden Ring; the Assumption and Dmitrievsky Cathedrals, beautiful examples of 12th century Russian white stone carved architecture; and the “Old Vladimir” Museum, with its displays on the city’s history and impressive views from its observation deck. Free time. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 3-4 hours
Day 5: Vladimir – Suzdal – Vladimir
 
Breakfast, then transfer to the Golden Ring city of Suzdal (40 km). This UNESCO World Heritage site boasts unique examples of ancient stone architecture: Suzdal Kremlin, with the Nativity Cathedral (1222), the famous Bishops’ Chambers, and the wooden St. Nicholas Church. You’ll also see several other Orthodox architectural monuments including the Spaso-Yevfimiev Monastery (where you may get to hear the famous bells ring), the Spaso-Preobrazhensky Cathedral, the Assumption Church, the St. Nicholas Hospital Church, the Church of the Entry into Jerusalem, and the two-colour belfry. End the day with visits to the Pokrovsky Monastery and the Museum of Wooden Architecture. Return to Vladimir. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 6-7 hours

During your free time in Vladimir, we offer the following optional activities (at additional cost):
Master classes on making patchwork or amulet dolls;
Mead tasting.

Day 6: Vladimir – Nizhny Novgorod
 
After breakfast, check-out of your hotel and transfer to the train station. Take the morning train from Vladimir to Nizhny Novgorod (243 km). Upon arrival at 12:00, meet your driver and transfer to the hotel. Then take a sightseeing tour starting at the city’s main and oldest street, Bolshaya Pokrovskaya, which goes from the ancient Kremlin walls to Minin and Pozharsky Squares. This street, which, before 1979, was considered a street for noblemen, has retained many magnificent buildings, including the Palace of Labour, the Gorky Theatre, the State Bank, Kostromin’s Mansion, and the Assembly of Nobility building. Also see the Nizhny Novgorod Fair building, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Annunciation Monastery, Lyadov Square, Gorky Square, Elijah the Prophet Church, Nizhne-Volzhskaya and Verkhne-Volzhskaya Embankments, and legendary Chkalov Stairs, one of the longest staircases in Russia. Continue to the Rukovishnikov Estate Museum, which was built in the style of an Italian palace. The museum hosts more than 15,000 exhibits, including many historical folk craft items. Afterwards, visit National Unity Square and the viewing platform on the Fedorovsky Embankment with its monument to Jules Verne. The tour ends with a visit to the Strogonov (Rozhdestvenskaya) Church, a beautiful example of the Russian Baroque style of the late 17th to early 18th centuries. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 5-6 hours

During your free time in Nizhny Novgorod, we offer the following optional activities (at additional cost):
Ride on the Nizhny Novgorod funicular;
Walking tour along Rozhdestvenskaya Street;
Visit to the Yurkovka Art Gallery.

Day 7: Nizhny Novgorod – Gorodets – Kazan
 
After breakfast, check-out of the hotel. Transfer to Gorodets (60 km), an ancient city famous for its unique 19th century fortifications. Discover the city’s impressive architecture and historical sights, including the monument to Alexander Nevsky, Feodorovsky Monastery, houses with unique carvings, and the small streets of the old merchant city. Visit the House of Countess Panina, an example of the Russian Empire style of architecture and now a museum displaying old musical instruments, jewellery boxes, watches, handwritten books, and traditional Russian costumes with gold embroidery and pearls. Afterwards, visit the Samovar Museum to see its vast collection of samovars and other objects related to Russia’s tea culture, and the “City of Masters”, a museum of wooden buildings from the 16th to 19th centuries. Free time. Transfer to the train station in Nizhny Novgorod to take the evening train to Kazan (526 km, 8.5 hours). Overnight on the train.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 6-7 hours

During your free time, we offer the following optional activities (at additional cost):
Interactive show, “Visiting the Oblayevs” – discover the mansion of the Oblayev merchant family and watch a theatrical performance demonstrating the lifestyle of the merchant class in Gorodets;
Performance of traditional Russian folk songs, ‘Take a walk in Gorodets’;
Master class in Gorodets’ famous style of painting – paint an egg, spoon, or plate);
Master class in gingerbread painting;
Tasting of local Willowherb tea and gingerbread.

Day 8: Kazan – Arrival & Sightseeing Tour
 
Arrive at Kazan train station in the morning, meet your driver and transfer to the hotel for early check-in. After a short rest, take a sightseeing tour of Kazan, the capital of the republic of Tatarstan, with its more than 1,000 years of fascinating history. The tour starts at the Old Tatar Settlement, a unique open-air museum in Kazan’s Vakhitovsky District. The settlement’s founders were residents who didn’t want to obey the Moscow authorities after Ivan the Terrible’s troops captured Kazan. Al-Marzhdani, the first stone mosque built after the invasion, is considered the pearl of the settlement. Continue to other significant places in the city: Tugan Avylym (an example of a restored old Tatar village), the Kaban Lakes, the Tatar Drama Theatre named after Galiaskar Kamal, the Church of St. Barbara, and the Kazan Federal University, which occupies many of the city’s most beautiful historical buildings. On Freedom Square, see the Kazan City Hall, the Opera and Ballet Theatre, the Conservatory, and the government building of the Republic of Tatarstan. Then visit the Holy Cross Church, which hosts the Vatican copy of the famous Kazan Icon of the Mother of God. The second part of the day will be devoted to the ancient history of the city, focusing on the Kazan Kremlin. This famous museum-reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a unique complex of historical and archaeological monuments. These include the Kul-Sharif Mosque, which is the largest mosque in Kazan and one of the largest in Europe, Blagoveshchensky Cathedral, the Cannon Yard, the leaning Suyumbike Tower, the Presidential Palace, and the tomb of the Kazan khans. After visiting these monuments, take a walk along the pedestrian Bauman Street, the oldest street in the historical centre of the city. Its many attractions, which illustrate the city’s more recent history, include a famous “clock” sculpture, a monument to the opera singer Feodor Chaliapin, a 74-metre-high bell tower, a bronze copy of Catherine II’s carriage, and a monument to the Kazan Cat. Free time. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 5-6 hours

During your free time in Kazan, we offer the following optional activities (at additional cost):
Visit to the Chak-chak Museum to learn about and taste traditional Tatar food and drink tea;
“Kazan hospitality” interactive programme – demonstration of traditional Tatar dances, songs, clothes, and food, with the chance for visitors to participate in dancing, singing, and a photo session in costume;
Master class on playing the Tatar harmonica;
Handicraft master classes: pottery, leather embossing, coin minting, casting (pendants, rings), basket weaving, fabric printing, painting on water (ebru), weaving, and making soap, candles, or folk toys;
Master class on Tatar costumes – learn about traditional Tatar clothing, see a demonstration of 16th-19th century costumes and headdresses, and dress up to have your photograph taken.

Day 9: Kazan – Sviyazhsk Island – Kazan
 
After breakfast, drive to Sviyazhsk Island (60 km). A fortress was built here in 1551 and the island was the base for Russian troops during the siege of Kazan. Despite its military history, Sviyazhsk became the centre of Orthodoxy in the Volga Region. This historic place, located on the “Round Mountain” and surrounded by three rivers, is accessed via a causeway. On the way, stop at the colourful Temple of All Religions, which aims to bring together buildings of 16 world religions in one architectural structure. Walk through the complex and enjoy the architecture and decorations. After arriving at Sviyazhsk Island, take a walking tour. Visit the Assumption Monastery with its 17th century frescoes (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), the Cathedral of Our Lady “Joy of All Who Sorrow”, a majestic five-domed church in the neo-Byzantine style, and the John the Baptist Monastery. Continue to the monastery stables and the Lazy Torzhok Complex of Historical Reconstruction, where you’ll be able to experience the atmosphere of Sviyazhsk in medieval times and buy souvenirs made by local craftsmen. From the observation deck at Rozhdestvenskaya Square, enjoy picturesque panoramic views of Sviyazhsk Bay. The tour ends at the Sviyazhsk Museum of History, where you’ll see exhibitions on the history and cultural heritage of the Sviyazhsk territory. Free time. Return to Kazan. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 4-5 hours

During your free time, we offer the following optional activities (at additional cost):
Visit to the Tree Archaeology Museum;
‘Streltsy Fun’ interactive performance – a staged battle between Russian and Tatar knights at the time of Ivan the Terrible.

Day 10: Kazan – St. Petersburg
 
After breakfast, take a brief but interesting excursion to the Raifa Mother of God Monastery (30 km). This is the largest functioning monastery of the Kazan eparchy of the Russian Orthodox Church and is in a scenic location in a pine forest next to the beautiful Lake Raif. Explore the monastery’s main churches and cathedrals, including the Holy Trinity Cathedral, the cathedral honouring the Georgian Icon of the Virgin Mary, a cathedral honouring the reverend fathers tortured in Raifa and Sinai, the Church Over-the-Gates with a bell tower, built in honour of the Archangel of Mikhail, and St. Sophia Church (currently closed). Return to Kazan and transfer to the train station to take the 13:10 train to St. Petersburg (1,500 km, 22.5 hours). Overnight on the train.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 1-2 hours
Day 11: St. Petersburg – Arrival
 
Arrive in St. Petersburg at 11:30, meet your guide and transfer to the hotel. After dropping off your luggage, take a guided tour of the city. The tour starts at Nevsky Prospekt, the city’s central artery and the main place for Petersburgers to meet each other and take walks. As you follow this famous thoroughfare, you’ll come across numerous historical attractions including the Anichkov Bridge over the Fontanka River (one of the symbols of the city), Catherine’s Garden, Gostiny Dvor, Griboedov Canal, the Admiralty, the Field of Mars, Palace Square (the location of the stunning Winter Palace), and Senate Square (the site of the “Bronze Horseman”, the impressive statue of the city’s founder). Continue to the famous religious monuments of St. Isaac’s Cathedral (the world’s fourth largest Christian church), the colourful Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood (which is decorated with beautiful Byzantine mosaics), and Kazan Cathedral (the city’s main church, where the main icon of the Kazan Mother of God is kept). Finally, explore the Holy Trinity Alexander Nevsky Lavra, the city’s first and largest monastery. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 3 hours

During your free time, we offer the following optional excursions and activities (at additional cost):
Boat tour along the rivers and canals;
Night city tour, which includes watching bridges open;
Excursion to the Peter and Paul Fortress;
Tickets to performances at the Mariinsky Theatre.

Day 12: St. Petersburg – Peterhof – Kronstadt – St. Petersburg
 
After breakfast, drive out of the city to Peterhof (40 km), learning about the history of the old Peterhof road on the way. Visit the Great Peterhof Palace, the former summer imperial residence and the centre of social life in the 18th century. Admire the stunning gardens and fountains and see many of the more than 1,500 rare exhibits of furniture, paintings, fabric, and porcelain. Continue to the old port city of Kronstadt (33 km) on the island of Kotlin, via the tunnel under the Sea Canal that connects the mainland to the island. Explore this former centre of maritime trade and defence, including the defensive and hydraulic structures, the monument to Admiral Makarov, the Petrovsky Marina, the Italian Palace, and the Arsenal building. End the tour of Kotlin Island with a visit to the Naval Cathedral, the main church of the Russian Navy and a monument to the country’s dead sailors. Return to St. Petersburg. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 6-7 hours
Day 13: St. Petersburg – Pushkin – Pavlovsk – St. Petersburg
 
After breakfast, drive to Pushkin* (Tsarskoye Selo) (30 km) to visit the Catherine Palace, one of the Romanov dynasty’s most splendid country residences. Start with a stroll through the Catherine Garden, which consists of two zones: the Old Garden and the English Landscape Park. The highlight of the visit is the restored Amber Room, a 100 square metre hall decorated with amber panels. This room, which some people have called the “eighth wonder of the world”, was gifted by the Prussian King Frederick to Peter the Great’s summer residence in 1716. The Amber Room’s original décor was unfortunately lost during World War II. However, it was recreated in 2003 to celebrate the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg. After a short stop for lunch, visit the Pavlovsk Museum-Reserve**, a monument of cultural heritage recognised by UNESCO. The heart of the museum-reserve is the Pavlovsk Palace, a former summer residence that Catherine II had built for her son, Pavel. The palace is famous for its collection of more than 60,000 valuable exhibits and for its park that, with an area of more than 600 hectares, is one of the largest in Europe. Return to St. Petersburg. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 8-9 hours
* Closed on Tuesdays and rearranged for another day within the tour program;
** Closed on Fridays and rearranged for another day within the tour program.
Day 14: St. Petersburg – Departure
 
Breakfast. Check-out of the hotel (by 12:00). Free time until your transfer to St. Petersburg International Airport. Departure. End of the tour.
  • All transfers (1-2 pax by sedan type car, 3-7 pax by minivan, 8-13 pax by 30 seat bus, 14+ pax by 40-50 seat bus);
  • Accommodation based on double/twin room sharing, breakfasts included (11 breakfasts);
  • Sightseeing tour programme in each city with local, English-speaking guides;
  • Entrance tickets to sights as per itinerary;
  • Tickets for trains from Moscow – Vladimir, Vladimir – Nizhny Novgorod, Nizhny Novgorod – Kazan, and Kazan – St. Petersburg;
  • Visa support for Russian tourist visa;
  • In groups of 11 or more travellers, 1 person travels free of charge and is accommodated in a single room.
  • Tour leader to accompany the travellers for the whole period of the tour;
  • Full board (lunches, dinners and 2 breakfasts on trains);
  • Hotel charges for additional services;
  • Consular fees for Russia tourist visa;
  • International flight tickets before and after the tour;
  • Personal travel insurance;
  • Tips/gratuities for guides and drivers (although these would be appreciated).

 

Accommodation:

Economy Option
Comfort Option
Moscow - 3 nights
Veliy Hotel Mokhovaya Moscow, Sverchkov 8 Hotel, Starosadskiy Hotel, Holiday Inn Express Hotel Moscow - BaumanskayaGodunov Hotel, Arbat House Hotel, Pushkin Hotel, Brick Design Hotel
Vladimir - 2 nights
Orion, Vladimir, Russian VillagePark-hotel Voznesenskaya Sloboda, mini-hotel Vladimirsky Dvorik
Nizhny Novgorod - 1 night
Ibis Nizhny Novgorod, Domino, Jouk-JacqueCourtyard by Marriott, AZIMUT Nizhny Novgorod, Marins Park Nizhny Novgorod, Sheraton Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin
Kazan - 2 nights
Ibis Kazan, Nogai, Apart-Hotel Yamskoy PosadRamada Kazan City Centre, DoubleTree by Hilton Kazan City Centre, Apart-Hotel on Pushkina 26
St. Petersburg - 3 nights
Ibis St. Petersburg Centre, Station Hotel L1, Hotel Bristol, Mini-hotel CentreSolo Sokos Hotel Vasilievsky, Original Sokos Olympia Garden, Vedensky Hotel, Park Inn by Radisson Nevsky

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