St Petersburg, Long Weekend Express Tour
Duration: 4 days / 3 nights - Friday arrival, Monday return
Day 1 - Friday Arrival and transfer
St. Petersburg welcomes you. This tour is perfect for travellers with only a few days in St. Petersburg. We'll provide the best guides, arrange express, no queues entrance to museums, and do our best to make your St. Petersburg long week-end most enjoyable.
At the airport arrival hall, your guide and your private driver will meet you and transfer to your hotel in the center of St. Petersburg. The drive from the airport to the heart of the city is interesting architecturally and will be narrated by your guide en route. In the evening you can rest, take a walk or go out for dinner in one of the nearby restaurants (we will be happy to provide recommendations).
Day 2 - Saturday Peter and Paul's Fortress, St. Isaac's Cathedral, Hermitage Museum
Full day sightseeing / guide 8 hours, car 4 hours
09:30The city-tour (4 hours) will give you an overview of the history and geography of St. Petersburg St. Petersburg, the UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the world's most amazing travel destinations. You'll observe: the Mariinsky Theater, the Hermitage, the Winter Palace, the Palace Square, the Spit of Vasilievsky Island, the Bronze Horseman Statue, Peter's Log Cabin, Cruiser Aurora, Smolny Convent, the Nevsky Prospect, the Square of Arts and more. The tour also takes you inside Peter-and-Paul Fortress and St. Isaac's Cathedral.
The Peter-and-Paul Fortress marks the founding of the city by Peter the Great in 1703. Inside stands the Cathedral of Peter-and-Paul (1714) where the Romanovs from Peter the Great onwards are buried. In July 1998 the last Tsar, Nickolas II, with most of his family, were finally laid to rest here. Started as a citadel to defend the city from sea invasions, the Fortress has served many other roles as well. It was later converted into a prison for political dissidents before being harnessed by the Bolsheviks as a museum.
The majestic St. Isaac's is one of the world's largest and most opulent domed cathedrals. It took 40 years to construct, under French-born architect Auguste de Montferrand's direction, from 1818 to 1858. The neoclassical exterior of St. Isaac's barely hints at the riotously rich interior, decorated with various sorts of marble, semiprecious stones and mosaics. The iconostasis is framed by ten malachite and two lapis lazuli columns. The Cathedral's doors are covered in reliefs, patterned after the celebrated doors of the Battistero di San Giovanni in Florence.
Visitors willing to climb 300 steps will get a spectacular view of St. Petersburg.
Optional: lunch in a local restaurant near the Hermitage - $30 per person
14:00This afternoon you'll visit the Hermitage Museum which contains the largest art collection in the world. It takes years to see the whole of it, but under the direction of your experienced private guide you will see the best of the collection in 2 - 2.5 hours before exploring the museum on your own.
You'll enter the Winter Palace (1762) – a gem of Russian baroque and the main residence of the Romanovs. The tour takes you to see the State rooms and art galleries of the palace, as well as other buildings of the Museum: Small Hermitage, Old Hermitage, New Hermitage and the Hermitage Theatre. Our tour will include works from some of the great masters, such as Leonardo da Vinci, Titian, Rafael, Rembrandt, Van Dyck and others. After the tour, free time in the Hermitage, or for visiting the newly renovated General Staff building across from Winter Palace to see fabulous French Impressionist collections.
Please note that there will be no transport provided from the Hermitage.
19.30Ballet performance in the Hermitage Theatre.
The Hermitage Theatre (inside the Hermitage Museum) was built in 1787 as an exclusive private theatre of Catherine the Great and came to be viewed as a rare monument to Catherine's personal tastes and affections. The semicircular auditorium decorated with color marble has only 250 seats, originally meant for aristocratic guests of the Empress.
Mathilde Kschessinska, Anna Pavlova, and Fyodor Chaliapin were among the great artists who performed at the Hermitage Theatre for the last Russian Tsar. It was not until 1991 that performances were resumed on this stage, with the likes of Svyatoslav Richter, Mstislav Rostropovich and Yelena Obraztsova appearing as guest stars.
Day 3 - Sunday Pushkin & Peterhof / Pavlovsk
Full day sightseeing / 8 hours with guide & car
9:00The drive to Pushkin town is only 45 min, it lays through the modern districts of St. Petersburg and a picturesque country-side to the hilly area originally known as Tsarskoye Selo (Village of the Tsars). The drive will be narrated by your private guide.
After a short walk through the gardens you'll enter the Catherine palace - the summer residence of the Tsars. The grandiose Catherine palace is the last great Baroque Palace in Europe (1756) with a famous undulating façade, dazzling Ballroom, Rococo interiors, and the legendary Amber Room.
At the end of the 18th century it was Catherine the Great who invited the British architect Charles Cameron to work on the palace and converted the garden into an elaborate English park, where Cameron created his masterpiece – the Cameron gallery.
Optional: Lunch in "Podvorye" restaurant, a traditional Russian restaurant that features excellent Russian food, drinks and folk singers - $36 per person.
In the afternoon, you'll drive (40 min) to Peterhof* - 'Russian Versailles', the most impressive and ornate country residence of the Romanovs built by Peter the Great in 1706-1723 on the coast of the Gulf of Finland. Peterhof is world famous for its palaces, gardens and the largest functioning 18th century fountain complex with 150 gilded fountains run by gravity. You'll walk through the delightful formal gardens, past cascades and fountains, and visit the original home for Peter I, the Monplaisir Palace - a charming baroque mansion on the shore of the Gulf of Finland that demonstrates the Tsar's exquisite and restrained taste.
* In the off-season (October - May), when fountains don't work in Peterhof, this tour is re-placed with the trip to Pavlovsk - an architectural jewel dating from 1786, built by the Scottish architect Charles Cameron for Grand Duke Paul (who would later become Paul I). Every room of this palace is filled with superlative furniture, chandeliers, tapestries, paintings, and objects d'art exemplifying the best of 18th century Russian and European taste and craftsmanship. The park is one of the largest landscape parks not only in Russia, but in Europe.
17:00return to hotel
Day 4 - Monday Yusupov Palace & departure
4 hours sightseeing with guide & car. Transfer to the airport
10:00 This morning prior the departure there will be time for exploring the most beautiful private home in St. Petersburg which used to belong to the Yusupov family. You'll see the restored State Rooms, 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.
Optional: lunch in the restaurant in town - $30 per person
Finally, 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 St. Petersburg and hope that you return to this romantic city again!