Russia: Land of the Czars

Russia: Land of the Czars– Russia –9 days / 8 nights, Moscow - Sergiev Posad - Suzdal - St. PetersburgThe Land of Czars tour visits Russia's capital of Moscow, Suzdal, one of the oldest Russian cities, and St. Petersburg, the city of the Czars. From Moscow, the country's historical and political center, with the Kremlin, Red Square, Armory, to the centre of Russian Orthodoxy, St. Trinity Sergius Monastery in Sergiev Posad. Witness historic legacies of glorious St. Petersburg, visit the Winter Palace, the Hermitage, Catherine's Palace and much more.

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Operation May 3, 2013 - March 31, 2014
Departure Regular departures Fridays
Price Regular departures May 3 - 10, July 26 - December 30, 2013
from $4,985 per person in double room
from $5,630 single room

White Nights, May 13 - July 13, 2013
from $5,180 per person in double room
from $5,825 single room

Special rates available for 4- or 6 persons traveling together!
Included 3 nights Marriott Tverskaya Hotel****
5 nights Hotel Sokos Vasilievsky****
Accommodation in double or twin room
Breakfast buffet daily
6 x lunches theme restaurants, as per itinerary
3 x Welcome and Farewell dinners, as per itinerary
All tours and transfers by private car (2 guests) as per itinerary, or minivan (4-6 guests)
Professional English speaking guide
All entrance fees for Museums and Parks
Train ticket Moscow-St. Petersburg
All taxes
Not Included Airfare & airport taxes
Gratuities
Russian Visa
Personal items
$25 service fee
Please Note This is a semi-escorted tour. All excursions are with private guide.
A minimum of 2 travelers is required to operate the tour.
Special rates for 4- or 6 persons traveling together.
Tour Options Optional evening program:
Ballet or Opera
Folklore or Circus

Contact us to book today!

Day 1 ARRIVAL MOSCOW (D) Friday
Individual arrival in Moscow. Fill in the immigration card (usually given on board the plane) and keep it in your passport. Be prepared for some waiting until you get to the passport control booth and then proceed to the luggage belt area. Collect luggage and use a green channel of the customs if you have nothing to declare. Nowadays there is no need to declare cash or audio-video equipment. Your driver will be meeting you in the arrival hall with a sign bearing your name.

Transfer to the Marriott Tverskaya Hotel, a cozy art-deco 4-star deluxe hotel offering all usual comforts of Marriott hotels. The hotel, refurbished in 2011, is located on the main thoroughfare of Moscow - Tverskaya-Yamskaya Street, in 10 min drive to the Kremlin. Have rest before dinner. 20:00 Buffet dinner is served in the hotel at the Grazi Restaurant. Meet your tour guide and your fellow travelers at dinner.

After the evening rush hour it is time to start your first exploration of Moscow with coach and guide. Moscow, the capital of Russia, which history dates back to the 12th century, is one of the largest cities in Europe, a home for 10 million people. Moscow managed to preserve great number of historical monuments as well as its old urban structure. Russians say that the history of Moscow is the history of the whole Russian country. In the night the city is especially beautiful, enjoy breath-taking panoramas of Kremlin and Red Square. Return to hotel around midnight.

Marriott Tverskaya Hotel

Day 2 MOSCOW - CITY SIGHSEEING (B, L) Saturday
Today we explore Moscow highlights on foot. The nearest metro station is just a few steps away. Start a brief tour of the famous Moscow underground. The Moscow metro is not the oldest one in the world. However, the architectural style and fascinating marble decor of many stations deserved the name of the "Underground Palace". The first line built in the 30-ies abounds with naïve revolutionary symbols and sculptures. The decoration of after- war lines built in the 50-ies is much more exuberant because it had to demonstrate the advantages of a new socialist society.

After the metro tour 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 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 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 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.

Lunch at the popular "Godunov" restaurant serving Russian cuisine of the 18th century. Start your acquaintance with Russian cuisine - try traditional borsch and taste vodka. Do not be surprised to see many tourists, it is a bustling place.

After lunch we start exploring the Red Square. We enter the square through the Iverskaya Gate near the small church of our Lady of Kazan, both ruined shortly after the Revolution and reconstructed in 2000. You can also see the beautiful red-brick building of the History Museum, oldest department store GUM with a very long faCade, the place of execution, ending with the famous St. Basil's cathedral, perhaps the most eye-catching structure in Moscow.

You may return to the hotel by metro (2 stops) or by foot along the main avenue of the capital - Tverskaya Street. It is full of fancy hotels, designer shops and boutiques, restaurants and cafes. A good point is to explore smaller streets to the right of the Tverskaya street - Kuznetsky Most, Kamergesky or Stoleshnikov passage. Here you will find even more restaurants and bars. Dinner is on your own.

Marriott Tverskaya Hotel

Day 3 MOSCOW - CATHEDRALS - GALLERIES (B, L) Sunday
Depart hotel to visit the Cathedral of Christ the Savior which has the most dramatic history reflecting the history of the whole country. Built in the course of 40 years and completed in 1883 the Cathedral commemorated the victory over Napoleon in 1812. Closed in 1917 after the Revolution it was blown up by the order of Stalin in 1931. A giant open-air swimming pool was built on its place in the 60-ies. A decision to rebuild the cathedral was taken in 1990. Restored to its full splendor in 2000, the Christ Cathedral has again become a dominating landmark of the Russian capital.

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; the collection contains more than 130 000 works of painting, sculpture and graphics, created throughout the centuries by successive generations of Russian artists.

Historically, the Poklonnaya Hill. had great strategic importance, as it commanded the best view of the Russian capital. In 1812, it was the spot where Napoleon in vain expected the keys to the Kremlin to be brought to him by Russians. Since the 1980s the hill also includes the monumental museum to the Soviet victory in the Great Patriotic War. The main building of the museum was constructed between 1983 and 1995. 'Hall of Glory' holds reliefs of the 12 soviet Hero Cities. The Victory Park and the Square of Victors are important parts of the outdoor museum.

Lunch at restaurant "Sudar". Resembling a mansion of a nobleman, the restaurant specializes on gourmet Russian cuisine of the XIX century. Enjoy traditional Russian specialties, warm Russian hospitality and, of course, vodka!

After lunch visit another unique place - the world's largest panorama painting of the Borodino Battle, the largest battle during the Patriotic War of 1812 against Napoleon, created a by French artists F. Roubaud in 1912 at 100-anniversary of the victory over Napoleon. Enjoy the largest painting in the world. After the tour the bus will stop in the beginning of the Old Arbat street. Free time to enjoy the famous Old Arbat pedestrian area full of restaurants and cafes, souvenir shops and street artists. Dinner is on your own.

Marriott Tverskaya Hotel

Day 4 MOSCOW - ST. PETERSBURG (B, L, D) Monday
Free morning in Moscow for independent exploration. Check-out.
13:30 Lunch at Gratzi Restaurant of the hotel. 15:00 Transfer to railway station.
16:30-20:25 Depart for Moscow by "Sapsan" fast train, the newest addition to Russian trains. The cars have open seating, the distance to Moscow is 700 km, and the travel time is 3 hrs 55 min.

Arrive to St. Petersburg which was the capital of Russian Empire for almost 200 years. Few cities can offer so many stunning attractions and intriguing moods as St. Petersburg - City of the Tsars. Founded in 1703 by Peter the Great, St. Petersburg combines its fascinating Russian heritage with a distinctly European outlook. Considered the cultural heart of modern day Russia, St. Petersburg is rapidly regaining its reputation as one of the Great Cities of Europe.

20:30-21:00 Transfer to the hotel Sokos Vasilievsky
The hotel, opened in November 2008, is a brand-new four-star hotel of the biggest Finnish hotel chain. It is located on the 8th Line of Vasilievsky Island, the largest island of the city. It occupies recently refurbished historical XIX- century buildings. The hotel can become a starting point for walking trips in St. Petersburg. A nice pedestrian area connects the hotel with metro station, the central station Nevsky Prospect is the next stop. Now St. Petersburg metro has all signs in English and navigation is easy.

21:00 Welcome dinner is served at stylish brasserie Repin. The hotel also has a cozy lobby bar, music pub and French wine tasting room.

Ambassador Hotel

Day 5 ST. PETERSBURG - HERMITAGE (B, L) Tuesday
10:00-13:30 Panoramic city tour
After breakfast start a panoramic city tour. Discover St. Petersburg - a city of infinite charm with majestic palaces, churches and cathedrals, river embankments, beautiful parks and innumerous bridges.

11:00 Tour of 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.

13:00 Tour of 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 at a time. 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.

13:30-14:30 Lunch is served in the local restaurant

15:00-18:00 Tour of Hermitage Museum
Comprehensive guided visit to the famous Hermitage. The world-known Hermitage museum 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. Admire the State Rooms of the Winter Palace. Continue to the Small Hermitage, then proceed to the priceless masterpieces exhibited in other Hermitage buildings.The tour ends at the hotel. Dinner is on your own.

Ambassador Hotel

Day 6 ST. PETERSBURG - PUSHKIN (B, L) Wednesday
09:00-12:30 Tour of Pushkin: Catherine's Palace & Amber Room
Drive to the town of Pushkin to see the Catherine's Palace and park - once the official summer residence of Russian Czars. Catherine's Palace, considered to be a real pearl of Russian baroque architecture of the18th century, was built for the Russian Empress Catherine in 1752. The most famous room here is the Amber Room, which was looted by the Nazis during World War II. The restoration of the Amber Room was completed in 2003. Surrounding the palaces is a park covering more than 570 hectares with bridges, terraces, fountains and small galleries.

12:30-14:00 Lunch at Podvorie Restaurant
Lunch is served in the genuine Russian restaurant Podvorie. Enjoy delicious Russian appetizers and famous "borsch" (beet- root soup) accompanied by Cossack's folklore singing and, of course, free flowing Russian vodka! The restaurant is a typical Russian huge wooden log-house reminding of a fortress. You will be offered to try playing on some traditional musical instruments…

14:30-17:00 Tour of Pavlovsk: Paul's Palace & Park nNamed after Paul I, Pavlovsk was founded in 1777 when a small ducal palace was built. A large horseshoe-shaped Paul's Palace was completed in 1786 and renovated again in 1803 during the reign of Paul's son Alexander I. 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. A beautiful landscape park, the largest in Europe, surrounds the palace.

17:00 Return to hotel. Dinner on own.

Ambassador Hotel

Day 7 ST. PETERSBURG (B, L) Thursday
10:00-12:00 Tour of Russian Museum.
The museum is located in the former Mikhailovsky Palace. Built for Paul's youngest son by Carlo Rossi who devoted his life and work to St. Petersburg, the palace was turned into a museum in 1898 by Nicholas II. The palace has preserved an impressive suite of beautifully decorated gala rooms on the main floor. The largest rooms hold some of the collection's most famous works: Ivan Aivazovsky's huge seascapes "The Ninth Wave and The Wave", and Karl Bryullov's acclaimed "The Last Days of Pompei".

12:15-13:00 Tour of the Church on the Spilt Blood, built on the spot where Alexander II was fatally wounded by a member of People's Will revolutionary group in 1881. The construction of the memorial church began in 1883 and lasted 24 years; more than 1½ million of silver rubles were allocated for the construction. Beautiful onion-shaped domes of the cathedral are covered with precious enamel, the facades are adorned with more than 400 square meters of mosaic. The interior design is of semi-precious stones, gold and mosaics covering the area of almost 7,000 square meters. Return to hotel for rest.

13:00-14:00 Lunch is served in the local restaurant

14:30-16:00 Tour of the Yusupov Palace
Depart for private visit of the Yusupov Palace. 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 Tsars. 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.

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 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.

16:00-17:00 Private boat trip
There is no better way to feel the essence of the city - often called Venice of the North - than to take a boat trip along the small rivers and canals ending up with powerful Neva River.

The period from the end of May to mid-July is a truly magical time to visit St. Petersburg as the city is embraced by White Nights, when the sun disappears below the horizon for only a moment and the skies never darken.

Dinner is on your own.

Ambassador Hotel

Day 8 ST. PETERSBURG - PETERHOF (B, D) Friday
10:00-13:00 Tour of Peterhof
Depart for the tour of Peterhof. It is the most famous summer residence of Russian Emperors, located 25 km west on the Gulf of Finland. It history begins in 1704 when Peter I built a wooden house on the Gulf. In 1723 the enlarged palace became official summer residence, later it was expanded by Empress Elizabeth and called Grand Summer Palace. We do not go inside the palace but focus on the main attraction of the place - the Lower Park with Grand Cascade decorated with more than 150 fountains built in 1722 to rival gardens of Versailles. All fountains of the Grand Cascade are launched every day sharp at 11:00.

The intricate system of pipes stretches for nearly 22 km. The water flows downhill by force of gravity while the fountains operate according to the principle of communicating vessels. After the park visit one of the smaller palaces of Peterhof - the Monplaisir, the favorite palace of Peter the Great, or the Tsar's Bath House where you will learn more about everyday life of Russian Tsars.

13:00-13:30 Return to the city by hydrofoil
After a pleasant stroll through beautiful park we return to the city by hydrofoil.

14:00 Return to hotel. Lunch on own. Free time.

20:00 Farewell dinner at Russian Kitch restaurant
This unique restaurant has an interesting combination of Kitch and theme décor of the early 90's – the gangster's epoque of the new Russian society. One can find portrait of Leonid Brezhnev kissing Russian pop-diva or embracing Fidel Castro on the ceiling and much more. The cuisine is Russian and international.

Ambassador Hotel

Day 9 DEPARTURE ST. PETERSBURG (B) Saturday
Depart for the airport in time for your flight home.

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