St. Petersburg in-depth: Palaces, Parks, and Pushkin12 Days | St. Petersburg, Vyborg, Lomonosov, Peterhof, Gatchina, Pushkin, Pskov, Izborsk, Mikhailovskoye village

St. Petersburg in-depth: Palaces, Parks, and Pushkin

Magnificent palaces, beautiful parks, and the poet Alexander Pushkin’s family estate await you on this tour that showcases ancient and Imperial Russian history in St. Petersburg and beyond. Stroll through the stunning landscaped gardens of the Peterhof Palace; visit the Catherine Palace, one of the most splendid country residences of the Romanov dynasty; admire the vast art collection at the world-renowned State Hermitage Museum; visit one of the oldest continually operating monasteries in Russia; and discover many more fascinating historical, religious, and cultural sights on this St. Petersburg in-depth tour.

Tour itinerary:

Day 1: St. Petersburg – Arrival
 
Arrive in St. Petersburg, meet your driver, and transfer to the hotel (check in is possible from 14:00). Free time. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 2: St. Petersburg
 
After breakfast, take a tour of Peter the Great’s masterpiece, the elegant city of St. Petersburg. 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). Explore the Holy Trinity Alexander Nevsky Lavra Monastery, the city’s first and largest monastery, before walking past the legendary revolutionary naval cruiser, Aurora, which played a key role in the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. End the day with a tour of the Peter and Paul Fortress, a fascinating monument of military history and architecture. In addition to the St. Peter and Paul Cathedral, where all Russian emperors are buried, see the Triumphal Gate of the fortress, the Petrovsky Gate, the fortress bastions that became Russia’s political prison in the 19th century, the Mint, and the Commandant’s pier. Return to the city. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 6-7 hours

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

Day 3: St. Petersburg – Vyborg – St. Petersburg
 
After breakfast, transfer to Vyborg (140 km, 2 hours). This city on the shores of the Vyborg Bay, near the Russian-Finnish border, was founded by Swedes in 1293 and after changing hands several times was returned permanently to the Soviet Union after World War II. Your sightseeing tour of Vyborg will begin with a trip to Castle Island, the home of the Vyborg Castle from which the city developed. This is the only surviving monument of Western European medieval military architecture in Russia. Then take a guided walking tour of the Old City. Starting at the Market Square with its famous Round Tower, walk past the House of the Merchant Guild of the Holy Spirit and along Vodyanoy Zastava Street to see the Clock Tower. Then see the monument to Peter the Great on Petrovskaya Gora, Petrovskaya Square, Town Hall Square, the Lutheran Church of Sts. Peter and Paul, the ruins of the Old and Dominican cathedrals, and the famous retro tram. Continue to the Monrepos Park Museum-Reserve, a unique 161-hectare rocky landscape park on Tverdysh Island, on the shores of the Zashchitnaya Bay in the northern part of the city. See the Temple of Neptune, Obelisk to the Broglio Brothers, Column of Two Emperors, Tea Gazebo, Chinese Arched Bridges, Ludwigstein Chapel, Narcissus Pavilion, and various other attractions and monuments. Return to St. Petersburg. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 4-5 hours
Day 4: St. Petersburg
 
Breakfast followed by an excursion to the Yusupov Palace (closed on Thursdays and replaced with an alternative sight), which holds an important place in Russian history as the location of Rasputin’s assassination. Highlights include grand halls, the family’s living quarters, an exhibition on the assassination, and the tranquil palace gardens. Continue to the State Hermitage Museum*, one of the world’s largest art museums, which is set within the stunning Winter Palace. Take a guided tour of the museum’s most impressive exhibits, including Western European paintings and sculptures, primitive art from the Caucasus, and Egyptian and Classical antiquities. Free time to continue exploring the Museum or rest of the city on your own or to do an optional activity (see below). Overnight at the hotel.
*Closed on Mondays. If Day 4 is a Monday, we will move this visit to another day if possible (or otherwise replace it with an alternative sight).
Duration of sightseeing tour: 5-6 hours

During your free time, we offer the following optional excursions and activities (at additional cost):
State Russian Museum (Mikhailovsky Palace);
Mikhailovsky Castle;
Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera);
Peter the Great’s Cabin;
Grand Model of Russia (a vast indoor scale model depicting Russia’s scenery, buildings, and everyday life).

Day 5: St. Petersburg – Lomonosov – Peterhof – St. Petersburg
 
After breakfast, transfer to Lomonosov (61 km), previously known as Oranienbaum. In the 18th century a unique palace and park complex was built here, on the southern shore of the Gulf of Finland. The Grand Menshikov Palace, the oldest building in the complex, divides the park area into two zones: the Lower Park and the beautifully landscaped Upper Park. The Upper Park, popularly nicknamed “Northern Switzerland”, is also split into two parts: Petrovsky Park, where the Poteshnaya Fortress (Peterstadt) was located, and Catherine II’s private dacha, with the Katalnaya Gorka Pavilion and the Chinese Palace. Take a walk around the park and visit the Grand Menshikov Palace and the Chinese Palace. Relatively simple on the outside, the Chinese Palace impresses visitors with the variety and richness of its interiors, such as those found in the unique Glass Beaded Salon. In the afternoon, drive 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. Take a walk through the palace’s Lower Park, which stretches for more than 2 km along the Gulf of Finland, before returning to St. Petersburg (46 km). Free time. Overnight at the hotel.
*Closed on Mondays and the last Tuesday of each month (although the Peterhof gardens are open every day). If the Palace is closed on Day 5 of your tour, we will move this visit to another day if possible (or otherwise replace it with an alternative sight).
Duration of sightseeing tour: 5-6 hours
Day 6: St. Petersburg – Gatchina – St. Petersburg
 
After breakfast, drive to the Gatchina State Museum-Reserve (50 km) in one of the most beautiful suburbs of St. Petersburg. Take a walk through Gatchina Park, where you can admire the gardens and buildings and immerse yourself in Russian history. Discover the vast Museum-Reserve’s main tourist attractions, including the unique Gatchina Palace, built in the English style; Priorat Castle, which resembles a monastery; the picturesque Palace Park; Silvia Park; the English Garden, with its White and Silver Lakes; and the Water and Forest Labyrinths. Return to the city. Free time. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 5-6 hours
Day 7: St. Petersburg – Pushkin – 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 100m2 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. On the way back to the city, visit the Menshikov Palace. This was the first stone building in St. Petersburg, part of the once luxurious estate of the first Governor-General of St. Petersburg, Alexander Danilovich Menshikov. Free time. Overnight at the hotel.
*Closed on Tuesdays. If Day 7 is a Tuesday, we will swap the itineraries for Day 6 and Day 7.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 5-6 hours
Day 8: St. Petersburg – Pskov
 
Breakfast followed by free time until hotel check-out (at 12:00). Transfer to Baltiysky train station to take the train from St. Petersburg to Pskov (280 km, 3 h 30 min). Upon arrival in Pskov, meet your driver and transfer to the hotel. Free time. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 9: Pskov – Izborsk – Pskov
 
After breakfast, drive to Izborsk on the shore of Lake Gorodishchenskoye (31 km). Commonly called Old Izborsk, this is one of Russia’s oldest cities and was first mentioned in the annals in 862. Visit the Izborsk Fortress and the holy Slovenian Springs. Walk along the fortress walls and enjoy the views of the Izborsko-Malskaya Valley from the Lukovka Tower’s observation deck. Then visit the Pskovo-Pechersky Dormition Monastery (23 km), one of the oldest continually operating monasteries in Russia. Return to Pskov. Free time. 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 “Medovy Khutorok” Museum (a private beekeeping museum);
Visit to Mason’s House;
Visit to the Pskov Blacksmith’s Forge.

Day 10: Pskov – Mikhaylovskoye – Pskov
 
Breakfast followed by an excursion to the museum-reserve of the great Russian poet, Alexander Pushkin, in the village of Mikhailovskoye (112 km). This is the family estate of the poet’s mother, Nadezhda Osipovna, which became Pushkin’s poetic homeland and shaped his character and work. Today it is one of the largest museums in the world dedicated to the poet and displays unique artifacts of his life and work. Take a walk along the famous Kern and Spruce alleys, where Pushkin’s grandfather planted trees. End the excursion with a visit to the Svyatogorsk Monastery, which hosts the poet’s grave. Return to Pskov. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 4-5 hours
Day 11: Pskov – St. Petersburg
 
After breakfast, check out of the hotel and take a sightseeing tour of Pskov. This city originally grew up around a fortress built in the year 903 on a high hill near the confluence of the Pskov and Velikaya rivers. The tour starts at this fortress, the Pskov Kremlin, which used to be one of the most powerful medieval fortresses in Europe and is now Pskov’s historical centre and heart. Explore the Kremlin, which is surrounded by stone walls and has many battle towers and secret tunnels, and visit Trinity Cathedral. Just outside the southern walls, see the remains of Dovmont’s town. Continue to the Olginskaya Chapel, which has an observation deck with views of the Kremlin, the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Paromenia, and the Chapel of Anastasia the Roman (you may enter these churches if time permits). Walk past the Pogankin Chambers (this is the city museum but is currently closed for restoration) to the Pokrovsky Complex. Within the complex, see the Pokrovskaya Tower, the remains of the walls of the Okolny (outer) City, and see the Church of the Intercession of Proloma. This and several other Pskov churches are part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site called the “Churches of the Pskov School of Architecture”. If there are specific churches you wish to visit, please ask your guide in the morning whether this will be possible as part of the tour. After the Pokrovsky Complex, transfer to the train station to take the train from Pskov to St. Petersburg (280 km, 3 h 30 min). Upon arrival, meet your driver and transfer to the hotel. Free time. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 2 hours
Day 12: St. Petersburg – Departure
 
Breakfast followed by hotel check-out (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;
  • Sightseeing tour programme in each city with local, English-speaking guides;
  • Entrance tickets to sights as per itinerary;
  • Tickets for trains St. Petersburg – Pskov – 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 and dinners);
  • 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
St. Petersburg - 8 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
Pskov - 3 nights
Golden Embankment, Dvor Podznoeva, Barcelona, OlginskayaPokrovsky, Old Estate Hotel & SPA, Dvor Podznoeva Main Building

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