Two Capitals Tour, Moscow and St Petersburg
Two Capitals Tour: Moscow & St. Petersburg
Duration: 7 days / 6 nights - Friday Arrival
Open Russia invites you to visit the two great cities of Russia, its ancient (and current) capital - Moscow and the northern Imperial capital - St. Petersburg. These two cities, so different in their history and flavour, together provide a broad perspective of the Russian experience.
The golden cupolas of Russia's medieval churches, Red Square and the mighty walls of the Kremlin, the lavish palaces of the Romanovs and the greatest art collections of the Hermitage await you on this journey through Russia. Led by the most knowledgeable and experienced guides, this tour will introduce you to the cultural essence of these two fascinating cities as well as to modern Russian life.
Day 1 - Friday Arrive in Moscow
Welcome to Moscow, the largest city in Russia and the center of its political and economic life. Upon arrival your guide and driver will meet you at the exit gate of the airport to transfer you to the hotel. We recommend that you rest this evening. The guide will advise on the best restaurants nearby for dinner.
Day 2 - Saturday Moscow city-tour, Moscow metro, Red Square and Kremlin
Full day sightseeing / 8 hours with car & guide
09:30The city-tour will take you to Moscow's most famous historic sites, from ancient churches to giant Stalin skyscrapers to the sheik contemporary office buildings. It's an excellent way to see the exteriors of renowned buildings and places such as the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, Bolshoy Theatre, New Maiden Convent, Kitai Gorod merchant area, Vorobievy Hills with a fantastic panoramic view of the city and more.
You'll take a short ride on Moscow's Metro System, which has some stations ornate as palaces, with marble arches, crystal chandeliers, sculptures and mosaics - glorious remnants of the Soviet era.
Finally, you'll get to the heart of Moscow - Red Square, whose name in old Russian means 'Beautiful Square'. Red Square must be seen to be truly appreciated. As you walk across this place, steeped in history, you will behold the colorful, onion-domed St. Basil Cathedral - the iconic visiting card of Moscow.
Optional: St. Basil Cathedral inside visit, entrance tickets $7 per person
Another optional tour this morning is to Leo Tolstoy House Museum which offers quite a window onto the genius of the great Russian writer.
Optional: buffet lunch - $28 per person
14:00Tour of the Kremlin - the Russian citadel and birthplace of Moscow, the seat of Russian power and home to the President of the Russian Federation. This fortified complex of ancient churches, palaces, and government buildings dates back to 1156. Open Russia will take you inside the Annunciation, Assumption and Archangel's Cathedrals. You'll also visit the Armoury Chamber with its amazing collection of tsarist paraphernalia.
Please note that the Kremlin is closed on Thursdays. In addition, a supplement for the Kremlin visit might be required.
Optional: Diamond Fund, entrance tickets $16 per person
17:30Return to hotel
Day 3 - SundayTretyakov State Gallery and departure to St. Petersburg by train
Half-day sightseeing with car & guide; transfer to Sapsan train
09:30After breakfast, check out of the hotel and we will ake you to the Tretyakov State Gallery - which houses the greatest collection of Russian art, including thousands of works from the 11th to 20th centuries. The gallery was founded by Tretyakov, a wealthy 19th century merchant as a private collection and later donated to the city.
Optional: Lunch - $26 per person
14:30Transfer to the train station for your departure to St. Petersburg.
16:45Sapsan fast train to St. Petersburg (economy class train ticket)
Optional: upgrade to business class train ticket - $80 per person
20:45Arrive to St. Petersburg, meet the local guide and transfer to the hotel.
Day 4 - MondaySt. Petersburg city-tour and the Yusupov palace
Full day sightseeing / 8 hours with car & guide
Welcome to St. Petersburg, one of the world's most magnificent travel destinations!
09:00Depart for the city-tour, which gives you an overview of the history and geography of St. Petersburg, a UNESCO World Heritage site. From outside you'll observe St. Isaac's Square and the Mariinsky Theater, the Hermitage, the Winter Palace, the Palace Square, the Spit of Vasilievsky Island, the Bronze Horseman Statue, Peter's Log Cabin, the cruiser Aurora, Smolny Convent, the Nevsky Prospect, the Church of the Saviour on the Spilt Blood, the Square of Arts and more.
Late morning you'll visit the Peter-and-Paul Fortress, which marks the founding of the city by Peter the Great in 1703. The massive stone walls enclose a number of very early 18th century buildings including the Cathedral of St. Peter & St. Paul built by D. Trezzini in 1714. Here all the Romanovs from Peter the Great onwards are buried, and on July 1998 the last Tsar, Nickolas II, with most of his family, were finally laid here to rest.
The majestic St. Isaac's Cathedral stands among Europe's largest and most imposing churches. Its decadent golden dome, sweeping observation deck, opulent interior decorations, and ornate artifacts make it one of the most popular sites in St. Petersburg. Inside there are magnificent mosaic icons that enjoy the world renown.
Optional: lunch in a local restaurant - $26 per person
14:30The afternoon tour is to the Yusupov palace - once owned by the richest family in Russia, where the restored State Rooms can be seen, some still with their original furniture, the exquisite Rococo private theatre, and the cellars where the murder of Rasputin took place in December 1916 - the scene eerily recreated in wax.
17:00Return to the hotel
Day 5 - TuesdayPeterhof and the Hermitage Museum
Full day sightseeing / 8 hours with guide (including 4 to 6 hours with car)
09:00Drive (one hour approx.) to Peterhof - the vast ensemble of gilded fountains and gardens on the Gulf of Finland. Designed for Peter the Great in 1706-1723 as the Tsar's 'Versailles' and embellished by successive Tsars, Peterhof is one of the most impressive and ornate residences, with the largest functioning 18th century fountain complex in the world.
10:15–12:30Walk through the delightful formal gardens, past cascades and fountains and visit the palaces in the grounds:
- Monplaisir Palace (May – October), or
- Grand Palace of Peterhof (October – May)
The Grand Palace, like others in and around St. Petersburg, was destroyed during World War II. However, the extraordinary restoration to its original state is widely regarded as a model of restoration worldwide. Monplaisir Palace, Peter's private home on the Gulf of Finland, still preserves the atmosphere of the early 18th century with the Tsar's personal belongings, paintings and furniture.
Optional: lunch in the restaurant in the park - $26 per person
- Hydrofoil trip (35 min) from Peterhof to the Hermitage pier (May - October), or
- Drive back to the city (October - May)
14:30-16:30Guided tour of the State Hermitage Museum - Russia's premier museum and one of the largest art collections that has ever been gathered in the world.
The Hermitage is housed in a magnificent architectural complex, the former 18th century Winter palace of the Romanovs and four adjacent buildings, stretching for a quarter of a mile along the banks of the river Neva in central St. Petersburg. You'll tour the sumptuously furnished State Rooms, seeing the unrivalled European masterpieces, the majority amassed during the reign of Catherine the Great. After the direction of your experienced guide you'll see the best of the collections in two hours before exploring the museum on your own.
From 16:30free time to spend in the Hermitage, or to visit the General Staff building across from Winter palace with the French Impressionists exhibition. Walk back to the hotel. Please note that no transportation will be provided after the Hermitage Tour.
Day 6 - WednesdayPushkin town with Catherine Palace and gardens
6 hours sightseeing with guide ∓ car
09:00You'll drive approximately 1 hour to the town of 'Pushkin' (formerly Tsarskoye Selo) located in 24 miles south of St. Petersburg. The drive will be narrated by your private guide. In Pushkin you'll enjoy a lovely walk through the gardens and visit the grandiose Catherine Palace - the summer residence of the Tsars.
The Catherine Palace was originally built in the early 18th century for Peter the Great's wife Catherine I. It was completely rebuilt in by the architect F. B. Rastrelli in 1752, and later it became the beloved residence of Catherine the Great who invited the British architect Charles Cameron to work on the palace. It was Cameron who added the neo-classical Cameron Gallery and converted the gardens into an elaborate English park. You'll see the dazzling Ballroom and the enfilade of rococo halls including the legendary 'Amber Room', now recreated since its 'loss' during World War II.
Optional: lunch in the restaurant in Pushkin - $30 per person
15:00Return to the hotel
Recommended activity for the afternoon/early evening: take a boat ride through St. Petersburg's canals.
Optional evening program: St. Petersburg boasts some of the best theaters in the world! We can arrange tickets for a concert, folk-show, or ballet / opera performance.
Day 7 - ThursdayTransfer to the airport with guide
On the last day of your journey your Open Russia guide and driver will take you to the airport and assist with your baggage and departure. We're confident that you will feel enriched from your time with us in Russia and hope that you will carry your wonderful memories home to cherish and share forever.