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8 days - Independent tour of Russian fabulous cities, Moscow and St Petersburg, in style.
Taste the mystery, beauty and intrigue of Russia, the land that lay hidden behind the Iron Curtain for decades. This tour explores the grandeur of Moscow and the grace of St Petersburg. Four star hotels and plenty of inclusions set this tour apart from the rest. Discover the great cities of Russia without the summer crowds.
Read more about our St.Petersburg section of this tour here.
- Explore the majestic St Petersburg & Moscow on private city tours
- Admire the rich Russian history, art and architecture
- Travel to Moscow on a highspeed train
- Enjoy the local cuisine in stylish restaurants
- Day 1
- Arrive St. Petersburg and private transfer to your hotel
- Day 2
- City tour - Peter & Pauls Fortress & St. Isaac's Cathedral then the Hermitage Museum
- Day 3
- Pushkin & Pavlovsk: St. Catherine's and Paul's Palaces
- Day 4
- Tour Yusupov Palace and the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood
- Day 5
- Highspeed German built Sapsan train to Moscow
- Day 6
- Red Square, GUM and St. Basil Cathedral
- Day 7
- Metro and walking tour of the Kremlin
- Day 8
- Departure day
- Start Place
- St Petersburg, Russian tours
- End Place
- Moscow, Russian tours
- Country Visited
- Russian tours
- 8 Days
- Easy independent holiday suitable for singles & couples
Private transfers, river cruises, Highspeed German built Sapsan train between St.Petersburg and Moscow.
- Arrival and departure private transfers from/to airport/train station. Please note that this transfer is with a driver only. We can upgrade this and provide an English speaking guide if you wish.
- Accommodation centrally located 4 star hotels within walking distance of main attractions - Director's choice.
- Daily breakfast
- Private English speaking guide for all sightseeing tours as described
- Private vehicle transfers for excursions
- Russian visa invitation letter
- 24-hour emergency service
- Taxes and service fees
- Booking with Confidence- we want you to be confident in booking with 50 Degrees North, and we will always have your best interest and safety in mind. In these times of uncertainty during the COVID-19 crisis, we have put in place further measures to make booking with us easier and more flexible.
- Beverages & extras
- Visa to Russia
- All services not mentioned in the program
- Tips and Gratuities
Day 1 - Arrive St. Petersburg and private transfer to your hotel
Day 2 - City tour - Peter & Pauls Fortress & St. Isaac's Cathedral then the Hermitage Museum
St. Petersburg was the capital of Russian Empire for almost 200 years. Few cities can offer so many stunning attractions and intriguing moods as St. Petersburg. After breakfast start a city tour and visit Peter and Paul Fortress. It is the historical nucleus of the city as well as one of the most interesting and beautiful architectural landmarks. St. Peter & Paul Cathedral with its long gilded spire is the burial place of all Russian emperors from Peter the Great to the last of the Romanovs – Nicholas II. Designed to protect newly acquired lands in the mouth of the Neva River, the fortress lost its military significance before it was completed. It was turned into the most dismal political prison of Russia for almost 200 years.
Next is a visit to St. Isaac’s Cathedral. Fourth highest cupola cathedral in the world St. Isaac’s has a breathtaking interior design. The cathedral can accommodate 13000 worshippers in a time. The monolithic columns of the portico cut from red granite are seventeen meters high and weigh 114 tons each. The mosaic inside has twelve thousand shades and colors, the walls are five meters thick and the main cupola is coated with one hundred kilos of gold.
Optional Lunch in a local restaurant, Olivie (or similar).
Next is a visit to the world re-knowned Hermitage museum. This was the residence of the Russian Emperors in the past, nowadays it comprises 5 palaces and is one of the largest museums in the world.
Optional Add Ons
Day 3 - Pushkin & Pavlovsk: St. Catherine's and Paul's Palaces
After breakfast we drive to the town of Pushkin to see the Catherine’s Palace and park – once the official summer residence of Russian Czars. We enter the beautiful Catherine’s park and visit Catherine’s Palace, considered to be a real pearl of Russian baroque architecture of the 18th century.
Lunch at Provorie restaurant.
We then head to Pavlovsk to see the Paul’s Palaces. Named after Paul 1, Pavlovsk was founded in 1777 when a small palace was built. This palace is often called a pearl of the classical style as many famous architects of the time took part in designing its beautiful interiors which are synthesis of architecture, decorative painting and sculpture. A beautiful landscape park, the largest in Europe, surrounds the palace.
Day 4 - Tour Yusupov Palace and the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood
After breakfast you join a walking tour of Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood. One of St. Petersburg highest buildings, it was built on the spot where Alexander II was fatally wounded by a terrorist, a member of People's Will revolutionary group in 1881.
Optional Lunch at Demidov restaurant or something similar, as determined by you.
In the afternoon, do a walking tour of the richest of non-imperial palaces of St. Petersburg, this palace was the home of the noble and powerful Yusupov family, relatives to the Russian Czars. The Yusupovs were great collectors of art, and their collection was known well beyond Russia. After the revolution most of the collection was moved to the Hermitage, though traces of the incredible wealth that once kept this palace pulsating with life still remain: the various sitting rooms, the intricate chandeliers and candelabras that adorn every room and corridor. The beautiful home theater of the palace looks like a cozy version of the famous Mariinsky theatre. The palace has been registered in the catalogue named “European Private Mansions of Interest”.
It was in this palace where the assassination of Rasputin, one of the most scandalous figures in Russian history, took place. One can feel the drama of the moment seeing wax figures of the conspirators waiting in a small room on the ground floor. In the cellar where it happened there are two more wax figures: Rasputin and young Felix Yusupov talking over the set table minutes before the assassination.
Day 5 - Highspeed German built Sapsan train to Moscow
After a leisurely morning, we depart for the railway station to board the Highspeed German built Sapsan train to Moscow. The distance is 700 km and the journey takes just over 4 hours. On arrival in Moscow transfer to hotel for check in. Dinner is on your own - there is a restaurant street close to your hotel.
Your hotel is a handpicked, small boutique hotel very centrally located, minutes away from the Kremlin.
Day 6 - Red Square, GUM and St. Basil Cathedral
In the morning your guide will meet you at the hotel for a city tour including Red Square, GUM and St. Basil Cathedral.
After lunch we visit the State Tretyakov Gallery - the national treasury of Russian fine art and one of the greatest museums in the world. The Gallery's collection consists entirely of Russian art and artists who have made a contribution to the history of Russian art. The collection contains more than 130 000 works of painting, sculpture and graphics, created throughout the centuries by successive generations of Russian artists.
Day 7 - Metro and walking tour of the Kremlin
After breakfast your guide will take you inside the Kremlin, the historical nucleus of the city, the former residence of the Czars, now the seat of the Russian President. We begin the day with a complete walking tour of the Kremlin and its grounds. The Moscow Kremlin is an outstanding monument of Russian history, enclosing an area of 70 acres next to Red Square. The walls are about half a mile long and up to 62 feet high and 21 feet thick, with 20 towers and gates.
Inside the Kremlin we’ll tour the grounds, visit one of the cathedrals and the Armory Museum – the Treasury of the Czars. The Armory’s huge collection consists of many precious gifts once presented to Russian Czars by foreign monarchs and ambassadors as well as their thrones, clothes, crowns and armor. You will also see the huge Belfry of Ivan the Terrible, Big Kremlin Palace, Faceted chamber, the Czar Bell and Czar Cannon.
Have a short walk through the historical Alexander’s Garden, passing by the tomb of the Unknown Soldier with eternal flame – an important monument for all Russians who lost 20 million lives during the World War II. The tour this morning is for 5 hours.
Enjoy optional lunch at Grand Cafe "Dr. Zhivago" or somewhere similar. After lunch you have the afternoon to explore the Red Square. Dinner is on your own.
Optional Add Ons
Day 8 - Departure day
Enjoy a private transfer to the airport or train station.
All prices listed are per person and based on Director's Choice hotel categories. Ask us for upgrade options to Design or Historic hotels. Please note these are 'from prices' and subject to change based on availability.
30 Apr 2024
30 Apr 2022
To avoid disappointment, we recommend that you book any theatre performances that you wish to attend in St Petersburg or Moscow in advance. Please let us know if you wish us to organise this.
Please note that on occasion, Lenin's Mausoleum and Red Square may be closed to the public during regular opening house without prior warning. Likewise, during summer, many cities can have their hot water turned off for maintenance.
The Kremlin is closed on Thursdays. The Tretyakov Gallery is closed on Monday.
There is a free cloak room at the Hermitage if needed.
Interactive Tour Map
If you want to commit to a booking please use the Book Tour form below.
Travel Insurance and Safety
Travel insurance is compulsory for all tours with 50 Degrees North. The safety of our travellers, staff and operators is a major priority of 50 Degrees North. With an operational office in Norway, 50 Degrees North has access to an up-to-the-minute flow of information regarding the countries we work in. We are also in regular contact with the various operators we use. Their in-depth knowledge and understanding of their various areas is vital.
Please note for China, Mongolia and Russia, you will need to arrange your visa before you go. We have supplied links to these visa applications within our Visa section. It is your responsibility to do this before your trip but please don't hesitate to speak to us if you need any assistance. It isn't unusual for our guests to have questions particularly about the Russian visa so please call us if you are in any doubt.
Visiting the Hermitage
The Hermitage can be very busy to visit with large crowds during summer and little control of the movement of people. We suggest that you try to visit either before the opening hours which can be arranged with us or on a Wednesday evening. The museum stays open until 9pm. Any extra time available will help you enjoy the tour. Our guides will help you navigate the entrances and the best way to see everything you can to see.
The security staff will not allow water bottles into the building but if you have a small bottle in a big pocket, you will usually be fine. There is a free cloakroom to use if needed.
The top 20 things to see in the Hermitage and where to find them:
1. Cézanne's Girl at the Piano
An unusual, intense and relatively early work (1867/8) which depicts the artist’s sister and mother. The emphasis on pattern and rhythm seems to anticipate Matisse. (Room 318).
2. Juan Pantoja de la Cruz's Diego de Villamayor
The Hermitage’s Spanish Collection includes El Greco, Velázquez and Goya, but this vibrant portrait of a 17-year-old courtier in burnished black and gold armour by a much less-well known artist is a remarkably successful study of power and character. (Room 240).
3. Francesco Melzi's Flora
There are two early paintings by Leonardo, both madonnas, but this portrait by one of his followers which hangs in the same room is more immediately appealing - something of a page-three Mona Lisa. (Room 214).
4. Henri Matisse's The Red Room
A fascinating painting, saturated in the deep red of the wallpaper and tablecloth, which saturate the room, while through the window the landscape is clear blue, green and white. (Room 344).
5. Michelangelo's Crouching Boy
Rough and unfinished, the tightly contracted muscles strain with repressed energy. Originally intended for the Medici mausoleum in Florence. (Room 230).
6. Athena, Aphrodite and Eros
Just three exquisitely drawn faces and some flowing drapery have survived in this fragment of a line drawing dating to the 4th-century BC. It is the only surviving example of graphic art of the period. (Room 115).
7. Roger van der Weyden's St Luke drawing the Virgin
Look carefully at this gorgeous study of an artist at work (possibly a self portrait) and you can see a vertical join running down the centre of the canvas. The right half was bought by Tsar Nicholas I in 1850, the left by Alexander III in 1884. Only later was it realised that they were the two halves of the same painting. (Room 262).
8. Picasso's Portrait of Soler
A very early work (1903) from the “blue” period, which is strongly represented in the Hermitage. Soler was a Barcelona tailor and a friend of Picasso's. This powerfully melancholic portrait is distinctly Spanish in tone, echoing El Greco and Velásquez. (Room 348).
9. Veronese's Conversion of Saul
An enormous canvas of chaos and confusion and no obvious subject until you focus on Saul laid low in the composition. (Room 237).
10. Rembrandt's Old man in red
No one has captured the impact of old age on the human face more profoundly or effecitvely, both in his own self-portraits and in rheumy-eyed portraits such as this - just one in a gallery full of major Rembrandts. (Room 254).
11. One-horse carriage
This bizarre contraption dates from 1780 and is loaded with gadgetry, including a milometer and a mechanical organ. (Room 167).
12. Scythian Gold
This is a wonderful and unique collection of ornamental goldwork, much of it produced for the semi-nomadic Scythians by Greek goldsmiths from the 7th century BC onwards. Among the most striking pieces are a stag, a panther and a wonderful comb capped by a battle scene. (Room 44).
13. Rubens' Descent from the cross
The highlight from a room full of some of his best work. The mostly muted colouring, the ordered, stylised composition and the stillness it evokes is unusual for such a flamboyant colourist. (Room 247).
14. Head of Athena
The tilt of the head and serene gaze emanates power and wisdom. The polished marble has been preserved in immaculate condition ( Room 110).
15. Giorgione's Judith
Only a handful of paintings by the great Venetian artist survive and the serene, dream-like quality of this usually grim and bloody scene (she has just beheaded Holoferenes) is typical of his work. (Room 217).
16. White Dining Room
It’s not the finest room in the Palace, but it has a fascinating history. The clock on the mantelpiece is stopped at 2.10am on the night of October 25,1917, when Kerensky’s provisional government, which had held power since the February revolution, was arrested by the Bolsheviks - it is the moment when Russia succumbed to communism. (Room 188).
17. The Pavilion Hall
One the many rooms in the Hermitage palaces that stand out for their sheer extravagance or historical importance. Mosaic floors , 23 glittering chandeliers, two tiers of fluted columns, gold leaf - this is a stunning room and is flooded by light from windows on both sides. The centre piece is an extraordinary English clock (c1760) in the form of gilded peacocks which spread their tails while a cockerel still crows the hour and a mushroom rotates. It still works, though normally only once a week - check with the excursion bureau for performance times. (Room 204).
18. Hidden Treasures
This haul of paintings looted from post-war Germany includes 10 Renoirs, six Cézannes and works by Manet, Monet and others. They were shut away until 1993, and are in a remarkably fresh state of preservation. (Rooms 200-202).
19. Gonzaga cameo
This is the highlight of Catherine the Great’s collection of antique cameos - tiny medallions delicately carved from coloured stone. Look out too for a two-inch diameter head of Zeus. Both are circa 3rd century BC (Room 121).
20. Gainsborough's Lady in a Blue Shawl
The Hermitage has the best collection of English art in continental Europe (much of it acquired by Catherine the Great in 1779 when she bought many of Robert Walpole’s paintings, which used to hang in Houghton Hall, Norfolk, from his cash-strapped grandson. The swirling, uplifting quality of this portrait of an unknown woman marks it out as one of the artist's best. (Room 298)