Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Three Ethnic Republics10 Days | St. Petersburg, Peterhof, Kronstadt, Kazan, Sviyazhsk, Yoshkar-Ola, Cheboksary, Moscow

Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Three Ethnic Republics

Get to the heart of provincial Russia as you discover the unique histories and cultures of the ethnic regions of Tatarstan, Mari El, and Chuvashia. After exploring the canals and imperial palaces of the elegant city of St. Petersburg, you’ll transfer to Kazan, the vibrant capital of the Republic of Tatarstan. Here you’ll discover two UNESCO World Heritage sites and the unique traditions and food of the Tatar people, with the opportunity to participate in optional activities like cultural performances and craft masterclasses. Continue to the republic of Mari El, home to the indigenous Mari people, and then Chuvashia, home to the Chuvash people. Sightseeing tours of their capital cities, Yoshkar-Ola and Cheboksary, will give you unique insights into Russia’s ethnically diverse population. The 10-day Russia tour ends in Moscow, political and cultural hub, where you’ll discover the famed Red Square and Kremlin.

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
 
Breakfast followed by a guided tour 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, 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 the evening, 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 – Peterhof – Kronstadt – St. Petersburg
 
Breakfast, followed by an excursion to Peterhof (40 km). On the journey, you’ll learn about the history of the old Peterhof road. 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 4: St. Petersburg – Kazan
 
After breakfast, check out of the hotel and transfer to the airport to take the morning flight from St. Petersburg to Kazan (1,520 km, 2 hours). Upon arrival in Kazan, meet your driver and transfer to the hotel. Then 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. Free time. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 3-4 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 5: Kazan – Sviyazhsk Island – Kazan
 
Breakfast followed by an excursion 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 6: Kazan – Yoshkar-Ola – Cheboksary
 
After breakfast, check out of the hotel and meet your guide to transfer to Yoshkar-Ola, the capital of the Mari El Republic and the only Russian city beginning with the letter “Y” (142 km). Mari El is the homeland of the indigenous Mari people, a Finno-Ugric ethnic group that has traditionally lived along the Volga and Kama rivers. Tour the main sights of Yoshkar-Ola, starting at the Tsarevokokshaisk Kremlin with its chapel and several cannons along its walls. The Kremlin is on the site of the medieval fortified structure of Tsarevokokshaisk (as Yoshkar-Ola was called before the Revolution). Visit the unique Twelve Apostles architectural complex, the monument to His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and all Russia on Patriarch Square, the Brugges Embankment, the Republican Puppet Theatre, and the Cathedral of the Annunciation of the Most Holy Mother of God. Continue to the locals’ favourite square, Obolensky-Nogotkov, where you’ll see a small copy of the Moscow Kremlin’s Spasskaya Tower and the unique Kremlin Clock with a donkey that emerges every hour. Then visit the National Museum named after T. Evseeva, which provides a good overview of the history and culture of the Mari people. Today’s sightseeing will end with a tour of the Theatre of Opera and Ballet named after E.Sapaeva. This is considered to be one of the best theatres in Russia and is famous for its organ music. During your visit you’ll have the chance to hear a short (15 minute) organ concert. Finally, transfer to Cheboksary (90 km) and check in to the hotel. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 4-5 hours
Day 7: Cheboksary – Moscow
 
Breakfast followed by hotel check-out. Today you’ll explore Cheboksary, the capital of Chuvashia. This republic is home to the Chuvash people, a Turkic ethnic group. Start the sightseeing tour at the city embankment, one of the most beautiful in the Volga region, and see the pearl of the city, Cheboksary Bay (also called the “Chuvash Venice”). Continue to the monument to the Patron Mother (which is taller than the statue of Jesus Christ in Brazil), a monument to love in the form of St. Peter and Fevronia of Murom, and the main staircase of the city that goes down to the Bay. Then move to the city centre to see monuments to the legendary astronaut Yuri Gagarin and Red Army commander Vasily Chapaev. Afterwards, go to the city’s highest viewpoint and take a walk around the majestic Victory Memorial Park. In the afternoon, stroll along the beautiful Boulevard Merchant Efremov on the Cheboksary Embankment, where you can take photos on the bench with bronze figures of the charming swindler Ostap Bender and his assistant. Visit the Church of Michael the Archangel, which hosts a famous icon that attracts pilgrims who come to ask the Holy Spirit for gifts such as wisdom and intelligence. Then tour the Chuvash National Museum with its displays on the Republic of Chuvashia’s rich culture. If you wish, you may also visit the unique Museum of Tractor History (optional, at additional cost). End the Cheboksary sightseeing at the History of Brewing Museum, which outlines the history of brewing from the 4th millennium BC to the present day. Here you’ll get the chance to taste the local beer. Finally, transfer to the train station to take the evening train from Cheboksary to Moscow. Overnight on the train.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 5-6 hours
Day 8: Moscow – Arrival
 
Arrive at Moscow train station in the morning, meet your driver, and transfer to the hotel. After an early check-in, take a guided tour of Russia’s capital city. 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 69m-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 UNESCO-listed Kremlin and its cathedrals (closed on Thursdays and replaced with an alternative sight). 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 9: Moscow
 
Breakfast followed by a walking tour of Zamoskvorechye, the oldest part of Moscow. Discover the 18th century buildings where the richest merchants, the elite of Russia’s commercial and industrial world, lived. Visit the Tretyakov Gallery, which boasts the world’s largest collection of Russian art. Its 60 halls present more than 100,000 priceless paintings, ancient religious icons, sculptures, and other works of Russian masters. End the tour with an excursion to the Kolomenskoye Museum-Reserve (15 km away), the former country residence of the Russian tsars that is now an open-air museum of architecture in a beautiful natural setting. Free time. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 7-8 hours
Day 10: Moscow – Departure
 
Breakfast. Check-out of the hotel (by 12:00). Free time until your transfer to Moscow 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;
  • Economy class ticket for flight St. Petersburg – Kazan;
  • Ticket for train from Cheboksary – Moscow;
  • 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 - 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
Kazan - 2 nights
Ibis Kazan, Nogai, Apart-Hotel Yamskoy PosadRamada Kazan City Centre, DoubleTree by Hilton Kazan City Centre, Apart-Hotel on Pushkina 26
Cheboksary - 1 night
Ibis Cheboksary Centre, People, DubravaChuvashia, Volga Premium, Atal
Moscow - 2 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

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