Russia: Last Journey of the Tsars Trip Notes

Ways to Travel:
Guided Group
Destinations:
Russia
Programmes:
Culture
Trip Code:
ARA
Activity Rating - Leisurely/Moderate
Leisurely / Moderate

You are reasonably fit, enjoy the outdoors and are looking for some exercise. Some previous experience is preferable for activity based trips.

9 Days Flight Inclusive
9 Days Land only
Min age: 16

Trip Overview

On the night of the 17th July 1918, the Tsar of Russia and his family were executed in Yekaterinburg, Russia's fourth largest city just east of the Ural Mountains, the gateway to Siberia and a whole other Russia. On this journey we follow their final footsteps: from Moscow we travel by train across this historically fascinating, yet almost unknown region of Russia. Visiting ancient Suzdal and Vladimir, Kazan; capital of the Republic of Tartarstan - the centre of Russia’s Muslim culture; the once closed city of Gorky – now known as Nizhny Novgorod. Finally, on day 7 we will reach Yekaterinburg a city overflowing with history and culture.

At a Glance

  • 7 nights comfortable hotels, 1 night sleeper train
  • 9 days land only / flight inclusive
  • Normally 6 to 16, plus leader. Min age 16 yrs
  • Travel by private mini bus and sleeper train (shared compartments)

Trip Highlights

  • Explore some of Russia's lesser known cities and World Cup venues
  • Travel on the Trans-Siberian Railway
  • Visit cathedrals, monasteries and mosques
  • Meal with a local family
  • St Petersburg Extension available

Is This Trip for You?

Although this is not the exact final journey the Romanov family took in 1918 (they were taken from St Petersburg, then the capital of the country), it does give us a fascinating insight into Russia's recent history, from the Revolution of 1917, to the rise of the USSR, through to the reign of Vladimir Putin today.

This trip is graded as Leisurely/Moderate (2) and we visit as much as possible in some of Russia's lesser-known cities, certainly off most Western tourist maps. The itinerary is busy and we visit a lot of churches, monasteries and museums. Although we do have minibus transport please be prepared to walk some distance. Entrances to all sites listed in the itinerary are included.

At train stations, you will be expected to carry your luggage up and down steps through tunnels and over bridges. 

On occasion, the government may choose to close Red Square without warning. For the overnight train journey, we use second class compartments that comprise of 4 berths and are of a reasonable standard, with bed linen provided. Please note that cabins can be rather hot. We do not have our own private compartments and people not from the group may be sharing with us if the group is an odd number.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Adult min age:
16
Min group size:
6
Max group size:
16

Itinerary

Land Only Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Start Moscow

    Arrive in the early evening and transfer to our centrally located hotel in Moscow. The journey takes approximately 1 hour from Sheremetyevo 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 four lines meet).
    After dinner we recommend an evening walk onto Red Square.

    Arbat House Hotel or similar

  • Day 2

    Full day sightseeing tour of Moscow. Evening train to Suzdal

    This morning we enjoy a walking tour of Moscow, surely one of the most iconic cities in the world. Our route takes us across Red Square, with time to visit Lenin's Mausoleum and the ornate GUM Shopping Centre. We then hop aboard the marvellous, efficient Metro system, for a short tour of some of the most beautiful stations. Many are lined with marble, stained glass and adorned with chandeliers.

    After lunch, we will explore the Kremlin - a city within a city. It is still the seat of political power in Russia and contains many of its 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.

    In the early evening, we transfer to Kurskaya train station for the train to Vladimir, with an onward transfer to Suzdal. It's an interesting run, firstly through the suburbs of Soviet apartment blocks and then pretty countryside that surrounds the Russian capital.

    Hotel Sokol or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Guided tour of Suzdal and wooden architecture museum

    Suzdal is sometimes called the 'diamond in the Golden Ring' - referring to the ring of ancient towns and cities of historic and religious importance surrounding Moscow. This small town of wooden cottages and fine churches once served as the capital of Russia, when Moscow was not much more than a cluster of cowsheds. It transformed into a major monastic centre in the times of Ivan the Terrible and also became an important commercial hub.

    Our morning walking tour will take in all the main sights, including the Kremlin and the Nativity of the Virgin Cathedral. After a lunch stop, we'll visit the Museum of Wooden Architecture, where buildings from all over the region were bought to protect them from redevelopment. The museum really gives us an idea of how people in the past lived. The 'village' includes houses, workshops and even two whole churches.

    Today we visit a local family and enjoy a traditional meal at their home.

    Hotel Sokol or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Dinner
  • Day 4

    Transfer to Vladimir; sightseeing and free time. Evening train to Nizhny Novgorod

    Today we return to Vladimir, somewhat more industrial than Suzdal, due to its location on the Trans-Siberian line, but no less significant. The town is another former capital of Russia and home to several UNESCO protected architectural masterpieces, including the Golden Gates, St Demetrius’ Cathedral and the Dormition Cathedral.

    In the late afternoon, we board the eastbound Trans-Siberian Express for Nizhny Novgorod arriving in time for a late dinner.
    Gorky Hotel or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 5

    City tour of Nizhny Novgorod; Overnight train to Kazan

    Nizhny Novgorod, known as Gorky until 1991, was once a 'closed city' to foreigners to safeguard the security of Soviet military research and production facilities. It was also home to the exiled nuclear physicist Andrei Sakharov an activist for disarmament, peace and human rights. With these dark days behind it, Russias fifth largest city is now home to a beautiful restored cliff-top Kremlin overlooking the confluence of the Volga and Oka rivers.

    After a morning tour of the main sights, there is free time.

    After an early dinner back in the city, we once again board the Trans-Siberian Express, this time in 4 berth cabins for the overnight journey to Kazan the capital of the Tatarstan Republic.

    Sleeper train

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 6

    Full day in Kazan, Russia's Tartar Capital

    Kazan is sometimes referred to as 'Istanbul on the Volga', a city where East meets West, and the Orthodox domes and spires compete with the minarets to form the most unique skyline of any Russian city. This is the capital of the Tatarstan Republic, autonomous, oil-rich, but still firmly under Moscow's control. Since 2000 vast sums of money have been spent cleaning up the city, adding bilingual street signs and building a stunning new mosque. Kazan really is like no other city in Russia.

    Our morning tour includes the Kremlin, The Qul Sharif Mosque, Khan’s Mausoleum and the Temple of All Religions. The afternoon is free to enjoy the city at your leisure.

    Maksim Gorky Hotel or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 7

    From Europe to Asia, cross the Ural Mountains

    After breakfast, we start our final journey by rail to Yekaterinburg. Boarding the Trans-Siberian Express we head east, leaving Europe behind and moving into the Asian region of the colossal nation that is Russia. Our 14.5hr journey passes through dense forests of pine, small industrial towns, wooden villages and the rolling foothills of the Urals. The journey really gives us a sense of what the rest of the country is like and an idea of just how vast and remote some parts are. Station stops are a real highlight of the day as there is time to leave the train, buy home cooked snacks from locals and meet some of our fellow passengers. This is a day to relax and watch the world go by, before reaching our final destination of Yekaterinburg late in the evening.

    Marins Park Hotel or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 8

    Morning tour of Yekaterinburg; free afternoon

    Yekaterinburg is our final destination on this epic journey, a city that has played a huge part in the recent history of Russia. Here, on the 17th July 1918, the Romanov Family met their fate, having been taken here from St Petersburg (then Petrograd) in April of the same year. In a dark cellar of a modest house, they were shot and stabbed by Bolshevik troops, changing the course of European history forever.

    The house no longer stands, having been pulled down in 1977 on the orders of Boris Yeltsin. Today the new Church on the Blood sits on the same site. As well as a city tour we visit the Museum of The Royal Family. We then have a free afternoon to enjoy the city and you may choose to visit the Museum of Military Glory, or maybe just relax with a coffee in one of the cities many cafes.

    Marins Park Hotel or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 9

    End Yekaterinburg

    Our tour ends after breakfast.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast

Extend Your Trip

St Petersburg Extension

Extend your adventure with our perfectly designed 2 night pre-extension to Russia's cultural capital, St Petersburg.

Prior to the Russian Revolution of 1917, St Petersburg (or Petrograd as it was known then), was the capital of Imperial Russia and seat of power of the Romanov Family. It was here that revolution began, the Winter Palace was stormed by the Bolsheviks and Tsar Nicolas II abdicated. Starting in St Petersburg allows us to follow the full journey of both the revolution itself Romanov family all the way to the sight of their execution, two thousand kilometres away in Yekaterinburg.  The detailed itinerary can be found here

Please ask your sales consultant for more details.

Accommodation

Hotels and sleeper train

Suzdal Inn

You will spend 7 nights in comfortable 3 star hotels and 1 night on a sleeper train. All accommodation is offered on a twin share basis with private facilities. Our properties in all five cities are in central locations, within walking distance of the main sights (no more than 20 minutes). Wi-Fi is available free of charge but may only be accessible in public areas and is often temperamental. Each hotel offers a buffet breakfast.

The sleeper train is based on 4 berth cabins. Linen is provided. If you have trouble getting into an upper bunk, please let Exodus know at the time of booking.

Single supplement excludes sleep train between Nizhny Novgorod and Kazan.

Where a single supplement is available, paying for a single will only guarantee a room for single use. It does not necessarily mean a twin or double room will be provided for sole occupancy.

Please note that a member of the group may be allocated a single room by default if the make-up of the group means there isn’t anyone for them to share with. Paying the supplement in advance is the only way to guarantee a single room.

Single supplements cannot be refunded retrospectively.

Single supplement from £240.00

Food & Transport

Eating & Drinking

There are not many restaurants and cafes in Russia where you can try true Russian cuisine. Nowadays Russian food is a mixture of cuisine from neighbouring countries such as Georgia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine and other Central Asian countries. There are pancakes and pies with different fillings, delicious khachapuri (traditional Georgian pie with homemade cheese suluguni), caucus kebabs, Uzbekistani plov (rice dish with meat and vegetables) and soups (traditional Russian schi with solty cabbage or Ukrainian borsch with beetroot). Your leader will arrange group dinners in different places to get the most out of this gastronomic mix throughout your journey. 

Vegetarians are well catered for in Moscow but less so outside the capital. Meals are generally good value and you can expect to pay £20-30 per person for dinner and between £5 - 10 for a lunch snack.

Transportation

We will use a modern air-conditioned bus; most of the drives are not long. The longest journey is by overnight train, which is comfortable and bed linen is provided. The majority of our sightseeing is done on foot and by public transport.

Weather & Seasonality

Weather Information

This part of Russia is in northern Europe and has a continental climate, with extreme highs in the summer and lows in the winter. Through the summer months, rain can be experienced at any time. Spring starts about a month later than in the UK and autumn finishes about a month earlier. Trips at this time should be warm and sunny; in high summer, it can be hot, with temperatures of about 30°C or more.

Weather Charts

Joining Instructions

Travelling flight inclusive from London: 9 Days

The group flight from London is a daytime flight departing on Day 1 of the itinerary.

Flights from London

We normally use the scheduled services of Aeroflot (depending on availability). As flight timings
and schedules change regularly we recommend you call one of our specialist sales staff or your agent to confirm up‐to‐date timings. Please note timings may change at a later date and cannot be confirmed until approximately two weeks before departure.

The internal flight Yekaterinburg to Moscow is normally with Aeroflot.


Travelling land only: 9 days starting in Moscow and ending in Yekaterinburg

PLEASE NOTE: Our group flight with Aeroflot lands at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport. While British Airways flies to Domodedovo International Airport. If you chose the latter you will need to arrange a private transfer to the hotel.

Regional Flights

The Flight Inclusive price is based on a London departure, but we are happy to tailor this to your local or regional airport. Please ask about flights from local or regional airports.

If booking regional flights other than with Exodus, you must allow a minimum connecting time (in addition to the international check-in time) of 1 hour at Gatwick, and 1.5 hours at Heathrow; this is longer than the official minimum, but baggage handling is known to be subject to delays.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Transfers Details

Airport transfers are included for those on the group flights. Please note that transfers are not included for clients arriving on any other flight, even if Exodus has booked it.

If you require airport transfers, you may (by prior arrangement only) be able to join the group transfer. Transfers are arranged to coincide with the arrival time of the group flight - please check the group flight details 2 weeks before departure. If you do not take this transfer, or miss it, you must make your own way to the joining point at your own expense.

PLEASE NOTE: Our group flight with Aeroflot lands at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport. While British Airways, flies to Domodedovo International Airport. If you chose the latter you will have to arrange a private transfer to the hotel.

Location start:
Moscow
Location end:
Yekaterinburg

What to Take

Essential Equipment

  • Small secure daypack
  • Comfortable shoes for walking
  • Fleece or jacket
  • Waterproofs and umbrella
  • Sunglasses, sunhat
  • Water bottle
  • Travel plug
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Ear plugs for use on the train ‐ if you are a light sleeper.

At the time of writing the standard weight limit for hold baggage on the recommended international carrier for this trip is 25kg. We recommend packing only one piece of checked baggage.

As advice about luggage allowances for both hand and hold luggage is subject to change, we suggest you check the airline's website for the latest information prior to your departure.

Free drinking water coolers are available in most hotels. To avoid using plastic bottles, please make sure you bring a refillable water bottle from home. 

Please note: During this trip, we are travelling mostly by train. You will be expected to carry your luggage through the station and over footbridges. Therefore please travel as light as possible for your own comfort. 

Optional Equipment

Please note that some museums and galleries have baggage checks where you will be required to leave large bags. These are usually manned by the elderly and a small tip (a few roubles) is much appreciated.

Internal Flights Weight Limit

23kg

Reading List

Lonely Planet Russia Simon Richmond (2015) 7th Edition

Ekaterinburg: The Last Days of the Romanovs Helen Rappaport (2009)

The Last of the Tsars: Nicholas II and the Russian Revolution Robert Service (2017)

Maps

Moscow and St Petersburg metro maps produced by Yandex in English and Cyrillic can be downloaded onto smartphones and are very useful.

Practical Information

Passport

Russia

All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid for 6 months beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information below is primarily for UK passport holders, and other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

Visa

Russia

All nationalities require a visa for Russia. These requirements will vary depending on your nationality. For British nationals visa applications must now be made in person at a visa processing centre, located in London, Manchester and Edinburgh. At the time of application, fingerprints will be taken. We will be providing a new type of service to assist with the application process; however we will no longer be able to submit the application on your behalf. It is your responsibility to arrange a visa prior to travel, but we will provide you with more information after booking to help and advice with this. The cost of the visa is currently GBP108.40. For more information please click here

Please note: The visa application takes approximently 20 working days. You can arrange for your passport to be posted back to you or returned to the visa processing centre to collect it in person. There is a £20pp charge to create an invitation letter if any pre or post tour accommodation is not booked with Exodus.

 

Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

There are no specific health risks on this trip.

Vaccination

Russia

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Tetanus, Hepatitis A, Yellow Fever.

Travel health can often be something people forget about before going away, but a little preparation and knowledge can go a long way to help you stay fit and healthy while abroad.

The above information can change at short notice; as we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up-to-date information. Please note: vaccinations that are routinely recommended to residents of the UK, North America or Australasia are not considered to form part of the travel health advice, and you should ensure these are kept up to date where necessary.

For additional information please visit: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries

Insurance - are you adequately covered?

It is a condition of joining any of our holidays that you must be fully insured against medical and personal accident risks (to include repatriation costs and air ambulance or helicopter rescue services where appropriate). On arrival in destination for your trip, you will be asked to present details to your leader or local representative of your policy.

If you are resident in the UK we strongly recommend the Exodus travel insurance policy, this is specifically designed to cover all activities on your trip. If arranging your own policy please ensure that you are covered for all activities that are part of the trip, optional activities that you intend to take part in and/or on high altitude itineraries, that you are covered up to the maximum altitude of the trip.

Local Time

Russia's Timezone:
Europe/Moscow MSK (GMT +03:00)

Electricity

Russia's Electricity:

Russia uses European standard two pin plugs.

Russia uses European standard two pin plugs.

Money

Russia's Currency

The national currency of Russia is the Russian Rouble (RUB), with an exchange rate at the time of publication of approximately 80 to the UK£ and 65 to the US$.

There are no restrictions on the import of currency, (subject to the maximum of US$ 3000 equivalent which may be brought into the country without declaration); though local exchange rates are invariably better than those in the UK. The exchange rate does fluctuate considerably, so it is best to check just before departure.

ATM Availability

We recommend that you do not bring travellers cheques. It is best to bring Russian Roubles, which can be ordered in advance. Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted in shops for larger purchases as well as restaurants. There is a good network of cash machines in all cities

Dollars and Euros are easily changed, however changing Sterling can be very challenging even in larger banks ‐ please do not bring it.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

The Russian Rouble has dropped significantly in value, making the country a far cheaper destination for tourists. However eating out, especially fine dining can still be costly.

Midrange two course meal: 500 ‐ 1000RUB

Café or street‐stall meal: 200 ‐ 500RUB

Local beer: 70RUB

Coffee: 125RUB

Tipping

It is a recognised practice, but not obligatory, to give a tip to the local guides and drivers. If you want to give a tip we would recommend allowing a total of 2000 RUB / GBP20 cash per client, depending on the service and size of the group. Please ask your tour leader for advice on tipping local guides and drivers.

Please note that some museums and galleries have baggage checks where you will be required to leave large bags. These are usually manned by the elderly and a small tip (a few roubles) is much appreciated.

Responsible Tourism

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Exodus Community

Join the Exodus online community

Don't forget to visit the Community area on our website. You can view the range of Exodus videos and podcasts, read trip write-ups which have featured in the national media and take advantage of some special deals on travel gear and equipment.

In the Community Travel Forum you'll find the Departure Lounge where you can discuss your trip with fellow travellers before you depart. When you get back from your holiday remember to upload your images to the relevant trip page on our website. This helps other people see what our holidays are really like and you'll be entered automatically into our monthly photo competition.

To make full use of the Community you'll need to join My Exodus. It's free, registration is simple and easy, so what are you waiting for?

Important Information

On all guided trips

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely partake in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity.

Although rarely enforced, by booking this trip you agree to section 14 of our Booking Conditions which clearly states that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these circumstances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred.

On all trips

In booking this trip you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability you should call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.

In an emergency, please contact our 24 hour out of hours service on +44 (0) 844 326 7041.

Every time that you travel abroad you should take the time to read the warnings in the essential information in the brochure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers, and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately 2 to 3 weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; in order to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, as stated in our brochure, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

As fuel prices, airport taxes and exchange rates fluctuate, and airlines manage their rates to match demand, it is proving harder than ever to guarantee our Flight Inclusive prices. Although we endeavour to keep our website as accurate as possible, daily fluctuations mean that our Flight Inclusive price may be out of date. For accurate prices we recommend that you contact one of our Travel Experts, or your Travel Agent.

TRAVEL AWARE – STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD

 

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the NHS have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad. For more on security, local laws, plus passport and visa information, see https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/

Keep informed of current travel health news by visiting https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/

Advice can change so check regularly for updates.

For all latest travel information about your holiday, please visit our Travel Safety Advice page.

How to Book

1. Check availability

Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.

2. Secure your place

You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.

3. Complete your booking and payment

When you're ready to book, go to our website for online bookings, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque. Book with confidence: Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582 issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA ‐ The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all monies paid to us for your trip are fully protected.

TRIP NOTE VALIDITY

These Trip Notes are valid from the "Current as" date on page one. They will occasionally be updated post booking and pre-departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary bookers will be written to separately. All customers will also receive a link to the most up-to-date version of the Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions pre-travel.