Arrive in the early evening and transfer to our centrally located hotel in Moscow. The journey takes approximately 1 hour from Domodedovo Airport yet during peak season this can be longer due to traffic. The closest station to our hotel is Arbatskaya on the blue line.
Today we explore central Moscow on foot and by the marvellously efficient and ornate metro system. We enjoy a guided walk across Red Square, past Lenin's Mausoleum and visit Lenin's Tomb. After we have our bearings, there is free time to visit the magnificent St Basil's Cathedral, which was built by Ivan the Terrible and remains an outstanding piece of Russian architecture, more reminiscent of a fairy tale castle than a religious building. There is also plenty of time to see Moscow's premiere art collection at the Tretyakov Gallery, where the priceless Russian Icon collection is held along with other highlights.
Evening visits to the Moscow State Circus or the recently opened (after renovation) legendary Bolshoy Theatre are very popular and are available to book online (subject to availability). Please note that Exodus are unable to pre-book these tickets as we are not official ticket agents and that tickets may only become available to book 3 months before departure.
This morning we head straight the highlight for many who visit Moscow, the Kremlin - a city within a city. It is still the seat of much political power and contains many of Russia's greatest treasures. We visit the magnificent Cathedrals of St. Michael the Archangel, the Annunciation and the Assumption, as well as the Tsar Bell and the golden domes of Ivan the Great Bell Tower. Also included is a visit to the famous Armoury, a museum of opulent treasures including the famous Faberge eggs which are a real highlight. There is some free time in the early evening before we meet at the hotel for the short transfer to the train station. There is time to visit the shops to buy some snacks and drinks for the journey, before boarding our late night sleeper train to Novgorod.
No other Russian city can compete with Novgorod in the variety and age of its mediaeval monuments. Also known as an 'open air museum' thanks to the vast amount of historical monuments that line the streets of this important city, with many that are some of the oldest in Russia. Our walking tour takes us to the Kremlin Grounds, St Sofia's Cathedral,Yaroslav's Court and the Millenium Monument, created to celebrate 1000 years of Russia. Our afternoon is free to visit St George Monastery or simply relax at the public banya (Russian sauna) - all optional.
We transfer to Pushkin and visit 'Tsarskoe Selo' to see Ekaterininsky Palace and The Amber Room. The Amber Room was dismantled by Nazis during the war, and sent to the East Prussian capital of Konigsberg where it was lost. The room has been recreated from photos, complete with carved reliefs and mosaic panels. After walking around the beautiful palace gardens, there are a variety of options on offer including another chance to try the traditional Russian sauna. There is a unique chance to create your own souvenir by participating in a Matryoshka painting workshop run by local artist or simply enjoy a cycle tour around Pavlovsk Park (all optional).
After a short transfer, we arrive in one of the finest and most extravagant cities in Europe. St Petersburg is a relatively young city, which only celebrated its 300th anniversary in 2003. It was the vision of Peter the Great, and was part of his desire to bring 'old Russia' into the modern European age. Much of its design and work was contributed to by foreign designers and craftsmen - the result being some of the finest 18th and 19th century buildings to be found in Europe, but with a strangely Russian influence. Our hotel is located on Nevsky Prospekt, St Petersburg's most famous street, full of fine mansions, cathedrals and historic houses, all with a story to tell. We enjoy an orientation tour before free time for an optional visit inside the Peter and Paul Fortress and the famous cathedral that contains the tombs of the Romanovs.
We make the most of our final day with a guided tour around St Petersburg's backstreets for a different view of Russia. Then, we visit the Hermitage Museum and Winter Palace with its incredible art collection. Our evening is free to enjoy a very different viewpoint of the city with an evening boat tour along the beautiful Neva River (optional).
After breakfast, there is some free time before the group flight back to London.