History and Palaces of St. Petersburg and Veliky Novgorod Tour11 Days | St. Petersburg, Vyborg, Lomonosov, Peterhof, Gatchina, Pushkin, Veliky Novgorod, Valday

History and Palaces of St. Petersburg and Veliky Novgorod Tour

An opportunity to discover the ancient, Imperial, and modern history of Russia’s elegant “northern capital” of St. Petersburg and the nearby cities of Veliky Novgorod, Valay, and Vyborg. Highlights of this 11-day History and Palaces of St. Petersburg and Veliky Novgorod Tour include Peterhof, the Catherine Palace, and four other major palaces; the State Hermitage Museum, one of the most impressive art museums in the world; and various fortresses, museums, and monasteries.

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 – Veliky Novgorod
 
After breakfast, check out of the hotel and transfer to the train station to take the train to Veliky Novgorod (200 km, 3 hours). Upon arrival in Veliky Novgorod, transfer to the hotel to leave your luggage. Meet your guide for a tour of this UNESCO World Heritage city. The first half of the day will be devoted to the city’s more than 1,000-year history and architecture. The tour will encompass the Novgorod Kremlin; Vladychny Dvor; the Episcopal Chamber (Chamber of Facets), an impressive example of Gothic architecture with beautiful 15th century frescoes; the Golden Storeroom, a collection of unique and beautiful golden, religious, and decorative items; and St. Sophia Cathedral, one of the oldest surviving stone buildings in Russia. Continue to the Vitoslavlitsy Museum of Wooden Architecture, a fascinating open-air museum with various houses, churches, and other structures built between the 12th and 18th centuries. End the sightseeing at St. Yuryev Monastery, where you’ll visit St. George’s Cathedral, preserved from the pre-Mongol period, and see the tombs of many Russian princes. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 5-6 hours
Day 9: Veliky Novgorod – Valday – Veliky Novgorod
 
After breakfast, take a day trip to Valday (140 km), an old Russian city founded in the 15th century on the shores of Lake Valday. The area is renowned for its beautiful landscapes, with attractions including crystal-clear lakes, tranquil forests, and golden domes. The tour of Valday begins at the Iversky Monastery, located on an island in the middle of the lake. Visit the museum and the monastery’s oldest building, the Assumption Cathedral, and admire the other beautiful buildings. Valday is also famous for its tradition of bell-casting and has a fascinating Bell Museum. Here, you’ll learn about the history and casting of Valday bells, see examples of bells from different eras and countries, and hear bells being rung. Return to Veliky Novgorod. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 4-5 hours
Day 10: Veliky Novgorod – St. Petersburg
 
Check out of the hotel early in the morning and collect your packed breakfast. Transfer to the train station to take the 06:10 train to St. Petersburg (200 km, 3 h 30 min). Upon arrival, meet your driver and transfer to the hotel for an early check-in. Free day in St. Petersburg. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 11: 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
  • Sightseeing tour programme in each city with local, English-speaking guides
  • Entrance tickets to sights as per itinerary
  • Tickets for trains from St. Petersburg – Veliky Novgorod – 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
  • Tips/gratuities for guides and drivers (although these would be appreciated)
  • International flight tickets before and after the tour
  • Personal travel insurance.

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
Veliky Novgorod - 2 nights
Intourist, Sadko, mini hotel RachmaninoffVolkhov, Park Inn, Yuryevskoye Podvorye boutique hotel

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