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Baltic Travel Blog

Classical Russia Tour

Posted on December 20th, 2019.

Russia is an epic travel destination that has something to offer for each and everyone. I had the pleasure to explore the Russian capital Moscow as well as St. Petersburg which is said to be Russia’s window to Europe. I joined an escorted group to get most of the experience and the Classical Russia Tour allowed me to explore both of the cities with incredibly knowledgeable guides.

Day 1: Saturday

I arrived at Moscow Airport in the late afternoon and was greeted by a Russian lady who later took me and rest of the group to our transfer car. I stayed at Novotel Moscow Centre which was approximately half an hour’s drive from the airport. The hotel is located by a busy street right next to Mendeleevskaya metro station which made exploring the city very easy and effortless.

Day 2: Sunday

Today we met our guide at 09.30 and she gave us all Radio Guide headsets to use on our out-of-city excursion later. I was travelling with a small group with 11 people. We boarded a minibus and started driving towards Gorki Leninskie while our tour guide was telling us about the history of Moscow and Russia as well as how the life is in the modern day Moscow.

As Moscow has many famous and interesting spots connected with Vladimir Lenin, it was interesting to visit a place which yet isn’t visited by large numbers of tourists. Gorki Leninskie is known for hosting Lenin and his family in his later years. The estate is located approximately 30 miles from Moscow and is surrounded by beautiful forest landscape. Gorki Leninskie is the place where Lenin worked and eventually died in 1924. Here his body was first embalmed and transferred to Moscow to Red Square where he lies today.

Gorki Leninskie in Moscow

Gorki Leninskie in Moscow

Inside Gorki Leninskie

Inside Gorki Leninskie

After the visit to Gorki Leninskie we drove to Restaurant Zavidnoye to have lunch. The restaurant is located by a lake that is very popular among local families and fishing men as it offers a great spot for a fun day in the outdoors. For our lunch we got to taste traditional Russian food such as beetroot soup called borscht and fish starters, without forgetting vodka aperitif.

Lady in a traditional Russian dress serving starters

Lady in a traditional Russian dress serving starters

We continued our day back to Moscow where we had an extensive city sightseeing tour by bus. We saw all the most popular landmarks such as Kremlin and Saint Basil’s Cathedral.

Saint Basil's Cathedral and State Historical Museum in Moscow

Saint Basil’s Cathedral and State Historical Museum in Moscow

Day 3: Monday

Our guide met us at the hotel lobby at 09.00 after which we headed towards the famous Kremlin. As we approached the Kremlin grounds, we saw the very recognizable red brick wall and onion shaped golden roofs of the cathedrals. In Kremlin we learnt about the history of Royals in Russia and their religion and different ceremonies held in the cathedrals. We also visited two of the cathedrals inside the Kremlin and one of them was the Assumption Cathedral where all the Tsars were coronated. On our Kremlin tour we also saw the Tsar Bell and Tsar Cannon as well as a Space Tree, which is a tree planted by Yuri Gagarin only two days after his legendary flight to space!

We also visited the Armory Chamber which name can be deceiving as it holds a lot more than just armory! Also called a treasure house, the Armory Chamber is a home to many precious collections such as ambassadorial gifts, coronation dresses and royal carriages. This museum is full of wonders and interesting things to see and I could’ve spent hours here even after our tour!

Kremlin in Moscow

Kremlin in Moscow

Dormition Cathderal and Annunciation Cathedral in Kremlin

Dormition Cathderal and Annunciation Cathedral in Kremlin

After our mesmerizing tour in the Armory, we dived under the city as we were introduced to the Moscow Metro System. At first it may have felt intimidating to use the metro that over 6 million people use every day. However, as soon as we entered the first station it was relieving to notice that all the station names, signs and even announcements were also in English. On top of that, the stations are extremely beautiful and are known for their art works and architecture. Each station is different and incredibly detailed and impressive art works from different occasions and time periods can be found here – the place where you would least except it.

We took the metro from Red Square to Old Arbat which is one of the oldest streets in Moscow. Today the street hosts many charming cafes and restaurants as well as souvenir shops filled with Matryoshkas and Russian chocolates and sweets.

Inside the Moscow Metro system

Inside the Moscow Metro system

Day 4: Tuesday

Today we visited Tretiakov Gallery full of interesting pieces of art from different periods. Our guide had studied history of art, so she knew a lot about the artists, the paintings and also the techniques. This enhanced my experience and the gallery ended up being one of my favourite pales to visit in Moscow. After a comprehensive tour at the art gallery, we continued sightseeing the city by bus before our train departed to St. Petersburg. As we had plenty of time, our guide took us to the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Visiting this Cathedral is free but please bear in mind that you are expected to cover your shoulders and wear full-length trousers. Outside behind the cathedral, there’s a bridge that offers a beautiful spot for photographing the Kremlin. It’s worth a visit!

Painting in Tretiakov Gallery

Painting in Tretiakov Gallery

Kremlin

Kremlin

Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

Soon it was time to move to the Moscow Leningradsky railway station. Our guide took us to the correct platform, gave us our tickets and made sure that everyone got to the right carriage and seat. We boarded the high-speed train Sapsan that took us from Moscow to St. Petersburg in less than 4 hours. The train was extremely quiet and had comfortable and spacious seats. Announcements were also made in English and it was easy to communicate with the train staff during the journey. The train also had catering facilities with a café and a seat trolley.

High-speed train from Moscow to St. Petersburg

High-speed train from Moscow to St. Petersburg

When we arrived at St. Petersburg, we had a representative guide waiting for us at the platform. She took us through the busy St. Petersburg railway station to our bus taking us to our hotel Radisson Sonya. Before going to bed after the long day, I decided to have dinner at the hotel restaurant and have a short walk to the riverside which was located only a 5-minute walk away. Here I was able to see some of the draw bridges as well as the city lights in the dark evening.

Day 5: Wednesday

In the morning we met our St. Petersburg guide at 10.00 at the hotel reception. We started our day by having a sightseeing tour around the town by bus. Immediately it was easy to notice that St. Petersburg is very different compared to Moscow. St. Petersburg has more classical architecture, palaces and colours and Moscow was representing more Soviet times. On our sightseeing tour we saw many impressive statues, beautiful buildings as well as many cathedrals. We also had much more free time in St. Petersburg which allowed us to explore the city independently. After our bus tour, I walked to the Summer Garden which is located only short walk from the hotel. The Summer Garden was founded by Peter the Great and follows strict geometrical principles. Here I saw many marble statues, straight rows of trees and impressive fountains. Many people were just walking around admiring the surroundings, but I decided to have a seat by the fountains and enjoy the Russians’ favourite treat; ice cream.

Classical architecture in St. Petersburg

Classical architecture in St. Petersburg

Summer Gardens

Summer Gardens

Ballet is an important part of St. Petersburg’s culture and the city is still considered to be the home of the Russian ballet tradition. Before my tour I had checked the playbills at two of the most famous St. Petersburg theaters: Mikhalovksy Theater and Mariinsky Theater. I was delighted to learn that the iconic Swan Lake was on at Mikhailovksy Theater while I was visiting St. Petersburg. The theater itself was gorgeous with its old fashioned decorations and atmosphere. The classical Russian ballet Swan Lake was spectacular, and I would recommend seeing a ballet or opera performance to anyone visiting St. Petersburg!

Mikhailovsky Theater

Mikhailovsky Theater

Swan Lake at Mikhailovsky Theater

Swan Lake at Mikhailovsky Theater

Day 6: Thursday

Today we finally visited the famous Hermitage Museum dedicated for Catherine the Great’s impressive art collection. The museum is the second largest art museum and no wonder – we spent 4 hours here and only saw the highlights of the highlights! Our tour in the museum included for example golden rooms, grand staircases, impressive statues as well as massive jade bowls! We also had the opportunity to stay at the museum for longer after our guided tour to explore more. Hermitage is usually the top place the visitors like to experience and to experience it in full you will need at least one full day here.

Hermitage in St. Petersburg

Hermitage in St. Petersburg

Inside Hermitage Museum

Inside Hermitage Museum

I decided to have lunch on Nevsky Prospekt which is the main street in St. Petersburg. Along this street there are many opportunities for shopping, sightseeing and dining. I had lunch at Biblioteka which offered Russian, European and Asian food on different floors. As I was in Russia, of course I wanted to try Russian dumplings with mushrooms and mashed potatoes. For a sweet pudding I had to try the famous Pavlova with fresh berries and oh boy it was good!

Traditional dumplings and pavlova

Traditional dumplings and pavlova

After lunch, I took the hydrofoil to Peterhof Palace. Peterhof is definitely a place to visit if it isn’t included in your tour itinerary. It is very easy to get there by a Hydrofoil. The journey takes approximately 40 minutes and one-way ticket costs ~ £ 10. When you arrive to Peterhof, you will also have to pay a 900 RUB entrance fee to the park. This Russian Versailles has multiple palaces, bronze fountains and gardens that once were owned by the Tsars. It was stunning weather when I visited Peterhof, so it was easy to stroll around the gardens and just admire the beauty of it all. I also visited the Grand Palace which amazed me with its multiple golden rooms and beautiful pieces of art.

Hydrofoil to Peterhof

Hydrofoil to Peterhof

Peterhof Grand Cascade

Peterhof Grand Cascade

Gardens at Peterhof

Gardens at Peterhof

Day 7: Friday

St. Petersburg is very easy city to walk around. I barely used taxis or other public transportation and walked to many places like the Nevsky Prospekt and the Church of the Saviour in Blood. The distances aren’t long and it’s easy to navigate your way around.

Church of the Saviour on Blood

Church of the Saviour on Blood

Today we visited Peter and Paul Fortress where we got to see the last resting places for all the Russian Tsars. In the early afternoon we had an opportunity to explore the city on our own or join a guided tour to Saint Isaac’s Cathedral. I paid extra 1000 RUB and visited the Cathedral with our guide who gave us a good insight to the cathedral’s history. After this we took the bus to Catherine’s Palace. Catherine’s Palace is located approximately 30 kilometers south of St. Petersburg. The palace is very impressive again with golden rooms, but we also learnt about the history of the Tsars and got to see the unique amber room that once was stolen by the Nazis during the Second World War. The whole palace got destroyed in the war but has now been restored extremely well to represent its original condition.

Inside the St. Isaac's Cathedral

Inside the St. Isaac’s Cathedral

Catherine's Palace in Pushkin

Catherine’s Palace in Pushkin

One of the many beautifully decorated rooms in Catherine's Palace

One of the many beautifully decorated rooms in Catherine’s Palace

Day 8: Saturday

In the morning our driver met us at the hotel lobby and drove us to the St. Petersburg Airport. We had plenty of time to go through bag drop and the passport and visa check. Smooth finish to the amazing experience!

As a person who had never been to Russia before or didn’t really know what to except, I was positively surprised what a wonderful country Russia is. Both cities, Moscow and St. Petersburg were full of history and culture and represented something I had never seen or experienced on any of my other travels. Both cities also felt very safe and I was not worried to wander around on my own. I was also glad to learn that Russians are extremely polite and ready to help even if you don’t know the language.

If you would like to hear more about the Classical Russia Tour or city breaks in Moscow and St. Petersburg, please contact us for more details.

By Laura Halmela

Baltic Travel Company (all rights reserved)


Join our newsletter

Be the first to hear of Special Offers and travel news. To receive our monthly newsletters with more information, on the Northern Lights, the Midnight Sun and all the countries Baltic Travel can take you to, and special offers, please enter your email address and press the sign up button.

We never allow third parties to use your data and we do not keep financial information. We protect your data as if it was our own, because we're people too!


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