The Soul of Russia

Get a touch of multi-sided Russia from its ancient Golden Ring towns to the Imperial wonders of St. Petersburg, and, of course, the bustling capital, Moscow on this quintessential journey in the glorious path of the Russian Tsars. 

HIGHLIGHTS

Witness the incredible UNESCO sites of quintessential Russia

Experience the comfortable SAPSAN high speed train

Experience the less-trodden towns of the Golden Ring

ITINERARY

DAY 1: ARRIVE MOSCOW

Arrive Moscow Sheremetyevo Alexander S. Pushkin International Airport where you will be met and thereafter, continue into the heart of the circular city of Moscow which radiates out from the Kremlim Fortress. Our tour begins with a drive through the famous areas of Moscow within the boundaries of the Garden Ring and the Boulevard Ring. They afford excellent views of the Kremlin, the Red Square and Kitay Gorod area, Tverskaya, Arbat, and the Zamoskvorechje area with the fascinating Church of Christ the Savior. You will enjoy the best panoramic views of the city from the Sparrow Hills, topped by the Moscow University skyscraper built in 1953. 

We then visit the Novodevichiy Convent founded in 1524. The convent was proclaimed UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004. The convent is closely linked to the political, cultural and religious history of Russia. It was used as a shelter by women of the Tsar’s family and the aristocracy. Members of the Tsar’s family and entourage were also buried in its cemetery. The convent provides an example of the highest accomplishments of Russian architecture with rich interiors and an important collection of paintings and artifacts. After some for lunch (on own expenses), we visit the Tretyakov Gallery, one of the most celebrated and extensive collections of Russian art and artifacts in the world. It is located in Zamoskvorechye - one of the oldest districts of Moscow. The collection contains more than 130,000 masterpieces of Russian art created throughout the centuries by many generations of Russian artists.  Finally, we retreat to The Ritz Carlton Moscow for check in where you will rest and rejuvenate. 

Overnight: The Ritz Carlton, Moscow

Meals: NIL

DAY 2: MOSCOW

After breakfast, we will walk to the historic Red Square to visit the Kremlin and the Armory. You will discover the golden domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral, the elegant arcades of the GUM department store, the State Historical Museum, and other landmarks around the Red Square area. Inside the Kremlin you see the three famous Cathedrals of the Assumption, Annunciation, and Archangel, dating back to the 15th and 16th centuries. Among other landmarks are Ivan the Great Bell Tower, Tsar Bell, Tsar Cannon, Hall of Facets, and Terem Place. The Armory is known for its stunning collection of royal treasures such as regalia, Faberge Easter eggs of precious metals and jewels, the jewel-studded and sable-trimmed gold Cap of Monomakh, the throne of Tsar Alexey decorated with 800 diamonds, the coronation dresses of the 18th century empresses, and Elizabeth's sleigh which she rode from St. Petersburg to Moscow for her coronation. The sleigh was pulled by 23 horses at a time. The Great Kremlin Palace, (the official residence of the Russian president) is between the Armory and the Annunciation Cathedral. 

In the afternoon you will ride the famous Moscow Metro and visit its finest stations decorated with granite, marble, bronze, statues and other pieces of art making it look more like a museum than a subway. Moscow Metro is one of the most efficient and beautiful transportation systems in the world carrying over 10 million passengers daily, more than the New York and London systems combined. It was designed by prominent Russian architects and artists whose goal was to create not just a transportation system but a showcase to glorify socialism and its achievements. This goal was undoubtedly achieved and today residents and guests of the capital enjoy the world's best underground metro. 

Overnight: The Ritz Carlton, Moscow

Meals: Breakfast

DAY 3: MOSCOW / SERGIEV POSAD / SUZDAL

We leave Moscow this morning for a comfortable drive to the ancient city of Sergiev Posad, built around the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius, and is one of Russia's most important religious and historical landmarks, a place of pilgrimage of the Russian Orthodox Church and one of the most important museums housing the icons of Andrei Rublev and other famous masters of the 15th to 18th centuries. 

After lunch we continue our drive to Suzdal - another Golden Ring town with numerous monasteries and a remarkable ratio of churches to citizens (at one point, forty churches for four hundred families). Visit the  Kremlin with Krestovaya Chamber and the Wooden Architecture Museum before we check in at the Hotel Kremlevskiy. This evening, we will visit a local farmer's house and treated to a delicious Russian cuisine dinner

Overnight: Hotel Kremlevskiy, Suzdal

Meals: Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 4: SUZDAL / BOGOLYUBOVO / VLADIMIR / BARVIKHA LUXURY VILLAGE

Leave Suzdal this morning where make a comfortable drive to Bogolyubovo located on the high bank of river Nerl, several kilometers away from its confluence with the Klyazma river. Bogolyubovo was founded by prince Andrey Bogolyubsky in 1158. According to a legend, he spent the night here, and in his dream saw Our Lady who told him to build the monastery at this location. Prince Andrey followed the orders, and in a short time (1158–1165), the palace, fortifications, and the nearby church of the Intercession on the Nerl were constructed and grew up to a town known as Bogolyubov. After Andrey Bogolyubsky was murdered in 1174, the town ravaged and 1238 destroyed by Batu Khan. The remains of the palace were used by the monastery. Since the 13th Century, Bogolyubovo is only a small village near the monastery.

 

Our next stop is Vladimir - the medieval capital on the Klyazma river. You will see Vladimir’s three main monuments that are on the UNESCO World Heritage List: the magnificent five-domed Assumption Cathedral, the Cathedral of St. Demetrius, and the Golden Gate.  Thereafter, we make a 3.5hrs drive to the urban Bavikha Luxury Village on the outskirts of Moscow, created on the principle of" ecological aesthetics "and harmonically inscribed in a suburban environment. Spend the rest of the day at leisure to shop for luxury products or enjoy a mid-journey rejuvenation at the Bavikha Hotel & Spa where we spend the night. 

Overnight: Bavikha Hotel & Spa, Bavikha Luxury Village

Meals: Breakfast

DAY 5: BAVIKHA LUXURY VILLAGE / SAPSAN HIGH SPEED TRAIN / ST PETERSBURG

Spend the morning at leisure unwinding before transferring this afternoon to the Leningraskiy Railway Station where we hop onboard the modern and luxurious SAPSAN high speed train at a maximum speed of 250km per hour that traverse between Moscow and St Petersburg in just under 4 hours. Enjoy a comfortable journey in the First Class coach complete with a personal tv set, complimentary WiFi, hot meals and individual charging outlets as we travel the scenic Russian landscape in style. Arriving into St Petersburg, we will proceed to the Hotel Astoria for check in. 

THE SAPSAN EXPERIENCE on FIRST CLASS:

1/4

Overnight: Hotel Astoria, St Petersburg

Meals: Breakfast 

DAY 6: ST PETERSBURG

Today, we begin our exploration of St Petersburg admiring the elegant buildings of this incredible city and other remarkable landmarks. The tour includes a visit to the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, erected on the spot where Emperor Alexander II was assassinated in March 1881. The construction of the church was almost entirely funded by the Imperial family and thousands of private donors. Both the interior and exterior of the church are decorated with incredibly detailed mosaics, designed and created by the most prominent Russian artists of the day, Visit also the Faberge Museum at the Shuvalov Palace with the biggest collection of Faberge works including famous Easter eggs, the splendid St. Isaac Cathedral. Beautifully decorated inside with marble of 13 colors, malachite, lapis-lazuli, paintings, mosaics, and stained glass made by the most famous Russian artists, it can accommodate about 10,000 people at a time. The Cathedral was designed by then unknown architect Auguste de Montferrand and opened in 1858.

 

Finally, we visit the Peter-and-Paul Fortress, built in 1704 to defend the city from naval attacks, however it never served its primary purpose. Instead, its historical mission turned out to be rather gruesome: thousands of workers died while building the fortress, many political prisoners, including Peter's own son Alexi were kept and tortured in its cells. The tombs of the Romanov family are also in its Cathedral.

Overnight: Hotel Astoria, St Petersburg

Meals: Breakfast 

DAY 7: ST PETERSBURG

We begin our day with the visit of the Hermitage Art Museum, one of Russia’s main treasures. Occupying six stunning buildings along the River Neva, the Hermitage is the second largest art museum in the world (Louve in Paris is the first) founded in 1764 . The museum has a wide range of art on display (over three million pieces!) - from prehistoric collections to modern art.

In the afternoon, we visit the Peterhof, on the southern shores of the Finnish Gulf, often referred to as "the Russian Versailles", where Peter the Great wanted to build an imperial palace with gardens in the suburbs of St. Petersburg. As a result, the Grand Palace and smaller Monplaisir Palace were erected. The Park outside the Grand Palace is a splendid kingdom of 144 unique fountains, all operating by a combination of naturally generated water pressure and magic. 

Overnight: Hotel Astoria, St Petersburg

Meals: Breakfast 

DAY 8: ST PETERSBURG

After breakfast, a comfortable drive takes us to Pushkin, originally known as Tsarskoye Selo (Tsar's Village). It was renamed in 1937 after Russia 's famous poet Alexander Pushkin who used to study here. Its palaces and parks were created under Empresses Elizabeth and Catherine the Great between 1744 and 1796. The main landmark is the Catherine Palace designed by Rastrelli and the famous Amber Room inside the Palace. 

On our way back to St. Petersburg we will stop by an impressive memorial dedicated to the struggle and hardship of the residents living in the city during WWII. The Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad and St. Petersburg Siege Memorial was built to be the main focal point of Ploshchad Pobedy (Victory Square) in the early 1970s. A special bank account was opened to take donations and many people took part in the construction including volunteers and famous artists of the Soviet Union such as Mikhail Anikushin, Sergey Speransky, and Valentin Kamensky, all of whom participated in the defense of Leningrad.

Overnight: Hotel Astoria, St Petersburg

Meals: Breakfast 

DAY 9: DEPART ST PETERSBURG

Today, you will be transferred to St Petersburg Pulkovo Airport for your flight return home or continue your adventures in Russia and beyond. 

Meals: Breakfast 

HOTELS

In the heart of a city steeped in history and art stands The Ritz-Carlton, Moscow, a luxury hotel that honors its breathtaking location in every detail. Arrive to a traditional Russian welcome of fresh bread and salt while surrounded by neoclassical design. Then, indulge in five-star amenities, including spacious and elegant guest rooms and suites, a luxury spa, a rooftop terrace and a host of lavishly interpreted Russian experiences.

The Ritz Carlton, Moscow

The Hotel Kremlevskiy will allow you to forget about the routine in an old Russian town Suzdal at any time of the year. The historic centre just a few minutes walk loocated very close to the Suzdal Kremlin, Nativity Church, cross Chamber and the Museum of Wooden Architecture.

Hotel Kremlevskiy, Suzdal

Barvikha Hotel & Spa opened its doors in 2008 and immediately became a member of the prestigious Leading Hotels of the World. The hotel offers spacious guestrooms, a comfortable lobby with fireplaces and a bar, a gastronomic restaurant, an excellent spa center, a banquet hall and conference rooms with terrace access and a courtyard with outdoor seating space.

Barvikha Hotel & Spa, Barvikha Luxury Village

Hotel Astoria, St Petersburg

An illustrious St. Petersburg landmark, the grand Hotel Astoria sits directly across from St Isaac’s Cathedral, a short walk from leading attractions such as Nevsky Prospect, Palace Square and the Mariinsky Theatre. Enjoy the finest Afternoon Tea in St Petersburg in the Rotonda Lounge, unwind in the tranquil spa, and sink into the comfort of your room or suite.

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