May - September 2021
Explore the cultural landmarks of Moscow, Golden Ring, Kazan, St. Petersburg & Veliky Novgorod on this 13-day adventure into Russia's unique history. Visit the designated cultural sites from the Moscow Kremlin and Red Square to Kazan's Historic and Architectural Complex of the Kazan Kremlin, not to mention St Petersburg. Get an insight of Russia's unique UNESCO Sites like the Trinity Sergius Lavra in Sergiev Posad, the Bolgar Historical and Archaeological Complex, medieval monuments of Veliky Novgorod, iconic cathedrals and landmarks of ancient towns Vladimir, Suzdal and Kostroma. Experience the real Russia!
Moscow → Vladimir → Bogolyubovo → Suzdal → Kostroma → Yaroslavl → Sergiev Posad → Moscow → Kazan → Bolgar → St. Petersburg → Veliky Novgorod → St. Petersburg
Day 1: Welcome to Russia
Arrival at Moscow. Meet & Greet at the airport and transfer to your cosy hotel in downtown. The evening is free at leisure. In the evening, join the group for a welcome dinner. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 2: Vladimir & Bogolyubovo
Pick up at your hotel and transfer to Vladimir (2-3 hours depending on traffic). Take a tour to enjoy all the wonders of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. We shall visit the Dormition Cathedral that preserves the world famous frescoes of Andrei Rublev, the architectural complex of the Cathedral of St. Dimitriy, the Museum of Crystal, Lacquer Miniatures and Embroidery. After lunch, we will continue our trip to Bogolyubovo. It can be translated as 'God-loving'. Appropriately, it is famous for its UNESCO-protected Church of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin on the Nerl River which is considered a masterpiece of Russian church architecture. It is also a place of outstanding natural beauty. Attention: there is no driving road to this place, the final 1,2 km you will have to walk across the fields. Overnight at the hotel in Suzdal.
Day 3: Suzdal & Kostroma
During the tour, you will see the brilliant architectural complex of the Suzdal Kremlin and its gem - the beautiful Chamber of the Christ, explore the ensemble of the Monastery of Saint Euthymius. And of course, we will try "medovukha" - famous Russian soft drink based on honey. Suzdal produces the very best one! We also visit the famous Museum of Wooden Architecture. Here you can see ancient Russia and learn about the traditional rural way of life. Proceed to Kostroma town (190 km). Kostroma is the furthest from Moscow (344 km) and therefore the least visited city of the Golden Ring. It is located on the Volga River, and the high banks offer impressive views of the Volga expanses. One of the most significant places in Kostroma is the Ipatiev Monastery. It is known as the “cradle of the tsarist dynasty”. Subsequently, the royal family often visited the Ipatiev Monastery and present it with rich gifts. Today, they can be seen in the monastery’s museum. We shall also visit the Museum of Flax and Birch Bark. “Kostroma – the land of flax” is the title of the exhibition which shows ancient and modern fabrics and clothes, and illustrates the detailed processing of flax. The second hall of the museum is called “Fairy-tales in Birch Bark”. The central place of the exhibition is the unique collection of Russian fairy-tales in birch bark. In the exhibition hall, you can not only see the works made by craftsmen from Kostroma but also buy the things that you like. Continue on to Yaroslavl. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 4: Yaroslavl & Sergiev Posad
Yaroslavl is one of Russia's oldest cities. During our guided city tour you will explore the Spassky Monastery where you see the icon Transfiguration of the Savior, visit the wonderful Church of Elijah the Prophet with incredible mosaic decoration. Apart from churches and cathedrals, Yaroslavl holds one of the funniest Russian monuments: a Bear monument. Since it is not easy these days to find a bear on the streets this is the chance to make a photo with a Russian bear. The bear growls every hour, be prepared! Then the tour will be continued in the Residence of Maslenitsa for Russian pancakes Maslenitsa Experience. We continue our Golden Ring tour with a visit to Sergiev Posad and a wonderful sightseeing tour around the most cherished treasures of Russian Christians, that includes a visit to the spiritual centre of Russian Orthodoxy - the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius. Travel back to your centrally located Moscow hotel and free time. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 5: Discover Moscow
A tour to Russia is not complete without a tour to Moscow, the heart of Russia and one of the oldest cities in the country. It is a city of bright contrasts where quiet patriarchal courts and small streets adjoin to futuristic business centres, and old neighbourhoods are interspersed with modern high-rises. After breakfast, start with a full-day sightseeing tour in Moscow including the Moscow Kremlin (all the highlights including the Armory), the Red Square, Lenin’s Mausoleum, Saint Basil's Cathedral, GUM, the Bolshoi Theatre, KGB Headquarters & other attractions of the downtown, Novodevichy Convent, Sparrow Hills (Lenin Hills), and Arbat street. During the tour, you also take a ride by the famous Moscow metro. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 6: Tretyakov Gallery & Kolomenskoye Estate
After breakfast, take a full-day sightseeing tour in Moscow. The tour includes several locations. First of all, visit the State Tretyakov Gallery, the foremost depository of Russian fine art in the world. Then enjoy the beauty of Kolomenskoye, a former royal estate situated several kilometres to the southeast of the city centre of Moscow, on the ancient road leading to the town of Kolomna (hence the name). The 390-hectare scenic area overlooks the steep banks of the Moskva River. It became a part of Moscow in the 1960s. During the early Soviet period, under the initiative of architect and restorer Pyotr Baranovsky, old wooden buildings and various artefacts were transported to Kolomenskoye from different parts of the USSR for preservation, so currently Kolomenskoye Park hosts an impressive set of different constructions and historical objects. In the evening, take a transfer to the railway station and board the overnight train to Kazan.
Day 7: Kazan
Upon arrival, your guide and driver meet you at the train station platform and take you on a city tour around the most prominent attractions of Kazan with the historical ensemble of the Kazan Kremlin as a highlight. Kazan Kremlin is a UNESCO world heritage site. The Kul Sharif Mosque is known as the largest worship place for Muslims in Europe along with the wide collection of ancient books. The Annunciation Cathedral in Kazan is an equally important place of Orthodox worship which is also an architectural masterpiece that took 9 years to complete after it was conquered by Ivan the Terrible in 1552. As Kazan is the centre of Tatar culture, we will visit the old Tatar villages to try a local Tatar tea. Later, have a master cooking class of Tatar dishes at a traditional restaurant and at the end of the day a visit to the National Museum. The evening is free at leisure. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 8: Bolgar
Bolgar, this historical and archaeological site is set on the left bank of the Volga River about 140 km from Kazan and is a well-known UNESCO World Heritage Site. The complex includes the remains of the medieval city of Bolgar, which was the first capital of the Golden Horde in the 13th century. Bolgar is an early settlement of the Volga-Bolgars civilization that existed between the 7th and 15th centuries AD. After the excursion to Bolgar, we will be back to Kazan. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 9: St. Petersburg
After breakfast, take a transfer to the airport to take a flight to St. Petersburg. Upon arrival, you will be transferred to your centrally located hotel. Check-in. The evening is free at leisure. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 10: St. Petersburg
After breakfast, take a full-day sightseeing tour in St. Petersburg. Today, you visit one of the most important sites in Russian history and heritage, the world-famous Palace of the Hermitage, the former residence of the Royal Family. The Hermitage today is the second largest art museum in the world; its collection includes over 2.7 mln items. Then, take a tour to see the city’s iconic landmarks: Isaac Cathedral, Kazan Cathedral. Visit the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood — one of the most powerful constructions in Russian Orthodox Christian architecture, an absolutely enthralling must-see. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 11: Peterhof Palace
After breakfast, take a sightseeing tour to the royal Peterhof Palace. Gardens and Parks are spread over more than four hundred hectares and include thirty-one amazing museums and beautiful Versailles-style gardens. Interiors, as always in Russia, are all made of gold. In summer, the Peterhof is especially good thanks to its famous fountains which run naturally. We shall visit the Grand Palace - the golden must-see! - and have a tour around the estate. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 12: Veliky Novgorod
After breakfast, take a day tour outside as we go to Veliky Novgorod, which stands on Volkhov River, the main waterway of the famous medieval trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks. The city was Russia's first capital in the 9th century, as well as a centre for Orthodox spirituality, Russian democracy, literacy and architecture. The city boasts medieval monuments, churches and monasteries. Veliky Novgorod is the place to discover the richness of Russia’s great and glorious history and the touch of the living antiquity. The ancient lands of Novgorod, the birthplace of Russia, is a must-see for a discerning traveller. Orthodox beliefs and practices, literacy, ancient democracy, and statehood - everything that important for Russia was born here, in Veliky Novgorod. You will be taken ten centuries back and enjoy the old famous hospitality of Novgorod. We visit Kremlin, St Sofia's Cathedral, "1000 years of Russia" monument, beautiful white stone ancient architecture and Vitoslavlitsy museum of wooden architecture. In the evening, we will be back to St. Petersburg. Overnight at the hotel.
Citizens of the UK should apply for a visa only personally (63 GBP for a visa, issued in 20 days). Сitizens of New Zealand can apply for a visa by mail (120 $ NZ for a visa, issued in 10 days). Citizens of Australia can apply for a visa through Visa Application Service Centers (120 AUD, issued in 4-10 days). Citizens of the USA and Canada can apply for visa personally or through Visa Application Service Centers (160 USD for the USA citizens and 112 CAD for the citizens of Canada).
Centrally located hand-picked hotels
1 night on board
Full breakfast daily
6 lunches: 3 lunches on the Golden Ring tour, 1 in Kazan, 1 in Bolgar, 1 in Veliky Novgorod
Degustation of Medovukha with Russian pirozhki
Russian pancake Maslenitsa Experience in Yaroslavl
Vladimir half day (4 hours) guided tour: Dormition Cathedral, Cathedral of St. Dimitriy
Bogolyubovo half day (4 hours) guided tour: the ruins of Prince Bogolyubsky’s castle with its Staircase Tower, the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin and the Church of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin on the Nerl River
Suzdal and Kostroma full day (8 hours) guided tour: Kremlin and the ensemble of the Monastery of Saint Euthymius, Museum of Wooden Architecture, Ipatievsky Monastery
Yaroslavl and Sergiev Posad full dau (8 hours) guided tour: Monastery of the Transfiguration of the Saviour, the Church of Elijah the Prophet, the Residence of Maslenitsa, the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius
Moscow full day (8 hours) guided tour: the Moscow Kremlin, the Armory, the Red Square, Moscow metro tour, Novodevichy Convent
Moscow full day (8 hours) guided tour: Tretyakov State Art Gallery, Stalin's skyscrapers, Kolomenskoe
Kazan full day (8 hours) guided tour: Kazan Arena, Millennium Bridge, Tatar Sloboda, Mardzhani Mosque, Kaban Lake, Bogoroditsky Monastery, Peter and Paul Cathedral, Bauman Street, Freedom Square
Bolgar full day guided tour: Bolgar Historical and Archaeological Complex including the Bolgar ancient settlement, Museum of the Bolgar Civilization and enter the White Mosque
St. Petersburg full day (8 hours) guided tour: the Winter Palace and the Hermitage, Isaac Cathedral, Kazan Cathedral, the Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood
St. Petersburg full day (8 hours) guided tour: the Royal Palaces of Peterhof
Veliky Novgorod full day (8 hours) guided tour: the Kremlin, the Cathedral of St. Sophia, Yaroslav's Court, the St. George's Monastery, the Wooden Architecture Museum
Train tickets as per itinerary
Kazan – St Petersburg airfare, economy
Meet & greet at every location
Return airport/train station transfers
Transportation on tours as per program in a comfortable a/c car/minivan/bus
Full metro/public transport passes in Moscow & St. Petersburg
Transportation to/from Veliky Novgorod for group tours in a comfortable a/c car/minivan/bus
Transportation to/from Veliky Novgorod for private tours by train
Dedicated local English-speaking guide in all places as per program
Russian local sim card with data
Discovery Russia 24/7 English-speaking support line
The group tour is fully escorted by a bilingual tour director
Entrance tickets to all listed attractions
Russian visa letter of invitation (required by the Ministry of Tourism to grant you a Russian visa) is provided free of charge
Meals not mentioned
Optional tours and activities
The royal Peterhof Palace, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site
The Moscow Kremlin - all the highlights including the Armory
The world-famous Palace of the Hermitage, the former residence of the Royal Family
The day trip to Veliky Novgorod
The Bolgar Historical and Archaeological Complex
The tour to the Golden Ring, the most ancients Russian cities
I decided to use the Tour Service of the World Cup after some extensive research into the tour alternatives. These guys seemed to differentiate its tour Service by providing a more culturally based service with a healthy dose of Football and Fun. My experience was that it as well run ie they delivered on their promises. They have a health mix of local staff and Australian staff. The Russian staff had a great empathy for the challenges for us Aussies traveling in a country where you had no language skills they bridged that gap with there wonderful help. I know there are many alternative tours but this one certainly lived up to its name. I felt I discovered part of Russia but there’s plenty more to go!’ Overall just a great experience
Everything worked like clockwork, when someone was suppose to be there they were. Yuri and Cathrine were excellent guides in Moscow and St. Petersburg and we learned a lot from both. We chose the 4 star hotels, and were very satisfied. Would highly recommend this trip to anyone interested.
I am a very active person and did have some hesitation about the amount of driving which was required to complete this tour. However, despite bumpy roads, I found it pretty bearable overall. Distances are big, country is vast and underdeveloped but once it’s get more developed, you will not this sense of freedom and tranquility any more. I recommend going to Mongolia if you’re looking for a varied, culturally enriching experience of a life time framed by unbelievably beautiful landscapes. Locals were very welcome and guides were great and were always ready to help to explore more of their home country. Very safe country, very friendly people. Interesting food, but vegans might be starving.
Peter Gay & Andrew Carroll-Keays
Travelled on the TransMongolian Railway in Feb/Mar. Not too cold. Just take usual ski gear. Great scenery. Organisation was absolutely excellent. Every transfer and every guide were on time. The hotels were all very good. The Russian Sim (provided by the company) was great for keeping in contact with each other and the support line.
Rick, Emily and John Stewart
Impeccable service, incredible Trans Siberian! In fact, the great services provided by your team started from my first correspondence with Julie. She has been very professional with providing details of the itinerary and assuring and re-assuring that the trip will be well-planned, It was because of her assurance that gave us the confidence to take the next step and book our Trans Sibetian holiday. And everything ran like clockwork from Moscow to Vladivostok. The Russian people were extremely friendly throughout. The Trans Siberian was a great experience and fulfilled our dreams. The scenery and ever changing vistas were spectacular. The train facilities were adequate but perhaps a shower facility in 1st Class would have been nice. I will recommend your services in the future!
We have finished our trip in Mongolia and I busted to say thank you very much for all your assistance while we were on the ground in Russia. By far the best guide we had was Yuri in Moscow - he was excellent. We had a very good visit to Novgorod where Natalia was an excellent guide too, and we learnt much about Russian history: It was very good to have the car to take us around the Golden Circle and Victor was a good driver. and the guide in Peterhof and Faberge museum was very nice, approachable, taxis were always waiting for us when we got off the boat etc. We both had a very good holiday and learnt a lot about Russian history and culture: thanks again.