Three Capitals: Moscow, St.Petersburg and Kazan9 Days | St. Petersburg, Peterhof, Kronstadt, Kazan, Sviyazhsk, Bolgar, Moscow

Three Capitals: Moscow, St.Petersburg and Kazan

With visits to churches, fortresses, mosques, imperial palaces, and fascinating museums, this 9-day tour of three Russian capitals is packed with history and culture. Starting at the palaces and canals of Peter the Great’s masterpiece, the elegant northern capital of St. Petersburg, you’ll move to Russia’s “third capital”, Kazan, in the heart of the Tatar Republic. After discovering Tatarstan’s unique traditions and three UNESCO World Heritage sites around Kazan, you’ll end the tour at the famous Red Square in the unparalleled national capital, Moscow. The itinerary also allows time for optional activities such as folk music or ballet performances, craft masterclasses, and boat cruises.

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). Finally, 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 St. Petersburg, 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;
Tickets to performances at the Mariinsky Theatre.

Day 3: 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 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 – Bolgar – Kazan
 
After breakfast, drive to Bolgar (190 km), one of the former capitals of the historic state of Volga-Kama Bulgaria. The city of Bolgar was founded by the Volga Bulgars in the 10th century and later became one of the largest cities of the Golden Horde Khanate. Explore the Bolgar Historical and Archaeological Complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that encompasses various mosques, minarets, mausoleums, churches, bathhouses, and museums. See the Memorial Sign that was erected in honour of the official adoption of Islam by the Volga Bulgars in 922. Inside the building is a museum hosting the largest printed Quran in the world. Explore the Museum of the Bulgarian Civilization, which showcases many archaeological and historical artifacts of the Bulgar people, considered to be the forefathers of modern Kazan Tatars. Visit the White Mosque (Ak Mosque), which is dubbed Tatarstan’s “Taj Mahal”. Other highlights of the tour include the Bulgarian Settlement (Khan’s Palace), the Assumption Church, St. Abraham’s Well, and the Healer’s House, a museum of medieval medicine. Return to Kazan. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 4-5 hours
Day 6: 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 History Museum of Sviyazhsk, 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 7: Kazan – Moscow
 
After breakfast, check out of the hotel and transfer to the airport for your flight to Moscow (820 km, 1.5 hours). Upon arrival in Moscow, meet your driver and transfer to the hotel for check-in. 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. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 5-6 hours
Day 8: Mosow – 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

During your free time in Moscow, we offer the following optional activities (at additional cost):
Visit to the UNESCO-listed Kremlin and its cathedrals (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 – 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 tickets for flights St. Petersburg – Kazan and Kazan – 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 - 3 nights
Ibis Kazan, Nogai, Apart-Hotel Yamskoy PosadRamada Kazan City Centre, DoubleTree by Hilton Kazan City Centre, Apart-Hotel on Pushkina 26
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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