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 subway station to our hotel is Arbatskaya on the blue line (the only station where all four lines meet).
Today we explore central Moscow on foot and on the marvellously efficient and ornate metro system. We enjoy a guided walk across Red Square, past Lenin's Mausoleum visiting visit the infamous leader'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 recently reopened Bolshoy Theatre are very popular and are available to book online (subject to availability). The Circus is also a popular choice - however live animals are used in some acts so may not be to everyone's taste. 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 medieval monuments. Also known as an 'open air museum', thanks to the vast amount of historical buildings and sculptures that line the streets of this important city, many of which are among the oldest in Russia. We arrive early from Moscow, but the hotel will allow us to leave our belongings. After breakfast at the hotel our walking tour will take us to the Kremlin Grounds, St Sofia's Cathedral, Yaroslav's Court and the Millennium Monument, created to celebrate 1000 years of Russia. Our afternoon is free to visit St George Monastery, shop for souvenirs - which are much cheaper than in Moscow and St Petersburg, or simply relax at the public banya (Russian sauna) This is perfect opportunity to enjoy one of the smaller less visited cities of Russia.
We transfer to Pushkin and visit 'Tsarskoe Selo' to see Ekaterininsky Palace and the stunning Amber Room. The room was dismantled by the 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 and its gardens, there are a variety of options on offer including a unique chance to create your own souvenir by participating in a Matryoshka painting workshop run by local artist, enjoy a Russian banya or simply enjoy a cycle 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 just off Nevsky Prospekt, St Petersburg's most famous street, full of fine mansions, cathedrals and shops, 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, St Isaac's Cathedral or the Church of the Split Blood.
We make the most of our final full day in Russia, with a guided tour of the Hermitage Museum and Winter Palace. One of the largest and oldest museums in the world founded in 1764. Here every room is a piece of art in its own right, you will marvel at the Pavilion Hall, Peacock Room, and Hanging Gardens and that's before you've even seen any art! Our afternoon is free. Why not take in the sites of the city by boat on a relaxing canal trip, or visit the beautiful Peterhof Palace by hydrofoil.
Please note that this day may operate in reverse due to entrance slots at the Hermitage.
After breakfast, there is some free time before the group flight back to London.