Rural Russia tour from Open Russia Tours

Rural Russia Tour: Kremlins, Cupolas and Countryside

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St Petersburg, Schlisselburg Fortress, Staraya Ladoga, Tikhvin, Vologda, Moscow (7 days, 6 nights)

DAY 1, Sat

Arrive St Petersburg, meet your guide and driver at the airport and transfer to 4* Hotel ANGLETERRE

Orientation walk to the River Neva and Peter the Great’s statue, the Bronze Horseman

Dinner in Hotel. Overnight St Petersburg at Angleterre hotel in room with ensuite bathroom with bath

DAY 2, Sun

09:00am Meet your guide. Drive to Peterhof (Peter the Great’s Palace on the Gulf of Finland, built to rival Versailles/ fountains and cascades) and visit the Monplaisir and Catherine Wings.

Lunch lunch at the Orangery Restaurant on the grounds, followed by a walk to the hydrofoil pier

Take Hydrofoil to St Petersburg (30 min), arrive at the Hermitage pier

Tour of the Hermitage main complex, walk to Hotel

Optional: Ballet performance

DAY 3, Mon

Schlisselburg and Staraya Ladoga. Transport provided throught the day

9:00am Drive to Schlisselburg Fortress (1 hour)

10:30am Visit fortress and town

The historic fortress of Shlisselburg is one of the most important medieval fortresses in the northwest Russia. It is located on an island in Lake Ladoga at the head of the River Neva. The island was first fortified in 1323 by Prince Yuri of Moscow, and changed hands several times over the next four centuries, before being definitively captured by Peter the Great at the beginning of the Northern Wars of 1700-1721.

No longer of strategic significance, the fortress was turned into a prison for those who threatened Tsarist rule. Among the most famous inmates were Peter the Great's half-sister Maria, the boy-Tsar Ivan VI, members of the Decembrist Uprising and the "People's Will" terrorist organization including Vladimir Lenin’s brother Alexander.

During World War II the fortress heroically held out against continual Nazi artillery shelling for nearly 500 days and played an important role in protecting Leningrad (St. Petersburg) and reopening access to the besieged city.

Today the fortress and the city center are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

11:30pm Drive to Staraya Ladoga (1 hour drive in coach)

1245-1:30pm Picnic Lunch on the banks of the Volkhov River

The history of Staraya Ladoga settlement goes back to ancient times: archeological sites, pre-Christian burial mounds can be still seen along the Volkhov River in the proximity of the Staraya Ladoga Fortress.

The legendary Varangian leader Rurik, founder of the first Russian royal dynasty, arrived at Ladoga in 862 and made it his capital. The northernmost churches of pre-mongolian Rus - the Assumption Cathedral and St. George's Church with the c12th frescoes still stand in all their original glory. The tour also takes you to the ensemble of St. Nicholas Monastery (cXV).

In middle ages Staraya Ladoga was one of the most important trading ports of Eastern Europe. Merchant vessels sailed from the Baltic Sea through Ladoga to Novgorod and then to Constantinople or the Caspian Sea. A fascinating and a well curated archaeological museum features essential data concerning the emergence and the development of the town and its role in the international trade. Displayed are jewelry, casual items, craft tools, dress adornments, weapons, clothing, cooking utensils and money.

Optional: visit to the Armoury Chamber

2:30-4:00pm Fortress and town of Staraya Ladoga, Archeological Museum and St Nicholas Cathedral

Drive to Tikhvin (1 hour)

6:00pm Check into 3* Hotel in Tikhvin

Dinner at hotel

DAY 4, Tue

Transport provided all day

The highlight of this small, quiet town on the banks of the Tikhvinka River is a beautiful monastery established in 1560 by decree of Ivan the Terrible. The Assumption Cathedral is home to Russia’s most venerated icon – the Tikhvin Mother of God.

Tikhvin is also the birthplace of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, whose music was inspired by the local nature, folk tunes and religious ringing of bells.

9:30am Tour of Tikhvin and the Assumption Monastery. Monks singing (10 mins)

12:30pm Lunch

2:30pm Visit Rimsky Korsakov House Museum, followed by a private Concert in Chapel close by, overlooking the river


11:30pm Check out of hotel. Transfer to train station for 0035 overnight first class sleeper to Vologda

DAY 5, Wed

Founded in 1147, Vologda remains one of the best preserved Russian northern cities with 224 wooden buildings that have been officially recognized as cultural heritage monuments. The city tour familiarizes with most of these incredible buildings.

During the reign of Tsar Ivan the Terrible (cXVI) much attention was payed to the embellishment of the city as Tsar Ivan planned to move the capital from Moscow to Vologda. In 1580 he ordered to build a new Kremlin and a magnificent Saint Sophia Cathedral. The Kremlin premises house many notable museums, Lacework and Icons museums are included into the tour.

9:00am Arrive Vologda. Transfer to Istoria 4* Hotel, breakfast and check in (all rooms have ensuite bathrooms with baths)

11:00pm Walking tour of Kremlin and Kremlin territory, followed by a visit to the St Sophia Cathedral


2:00pm Icon Museum and Lace Museum

Dinner (at own expense)

Optional Choral evensong at a close-by Russian Orthodox Church

Return to hotel and stay overnight in Vologda

DAY 6, Thu

Transport provided all day

On leaving of Vologda we will drive to visit two UNESCO world heritage sites; Kirillovo-Belozersky Monastry and Ferapontov Monastery with the Cathedral of Nativity of the Virgin (1490). All the interior walls are covered with invaluable frescoes by the great medieval painter Dionisius. This is the last surviving Russian medieval church with fully painted walls.

All Day excursion (2 hour drive approx) to Kirillovo-Belozersky and Ferapontov Monasteries UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES. Lunch with local farmer in dacha/ his wife is a famous potter and we will visit her workshop.

6:30pm return to Vologda. Dinner (at own expense). Return to hotel

DAY 7, Fri

Transport provided all day

Bus tour: 'Wooden architecture of Vologda'

In late XVII-early XVIII c Peter the Great visited the city many times as military and technical equipment for fortresses and military ships under construction was stored there. He always stayed in a small house of the Dutch merchant Goutman, which became museum in 1885.

Visit the House of Peter the Great


Spasso-Prilutsky Monastery

The still practicing Spaso-Prilutsky Monastery, the most famous within the city limits, was founded in 1371 by the monk Dmitry Prilutsky. The tour is conducted by a local monk.

Local Market and shopping

7:00pm Dinner

9:00pm Transfer to first class sleeper to Moscow departing 9:53pm (21:53). Overnight train

DAY 8, Sat

Transport provided all day

6:30am Arrive Moscow, transfer to hotel to freshen up and have breakfast.

Moscow local guide all day

10:15am Drive to the Kremlin

11:00am Visit the Armoury and Cathedral Square

2:00pm Lunch at Godunov restaurant

Walk to Red Square

Transfer to Airport