AUD 4574 / pp

DATES & RATES

Grand Russia UNESCO Tour Moscow, the Golden Ring, Kazan, St. Petersburg & Veliky Novgorod

Russia

Russian World Heritage Site tour

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!

Itinerary

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.

Day 13: Farewell

Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer to the airport and departure.

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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).

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What's included

Accommodation

Centrally located hand-picked hotels

1 night on board

Meals

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

Welcome dinner

Guided tours

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

Transportation

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

Support

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

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

Not Included

International flights

Meals not mentioned

Optional tours and activities

Personal expenditures

Highlights

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

Book

Our reviews

J. Stone

New Zealand

Xmas in Georgia and Armenia. We wanted a personalized custom vacation to a rarely visited area of the world and found World of Discoveries tour of Armenia and Georgia fit just perfectly. Very well organized and planned, and guides were awesome. Our tour guides in both countries were packed with knowledge of architecture and cultural history, but above all they were friendly and helpful. Rafik in Armenia even took us to his parent’s home in the centre of Yerevan and we enjoyed home-made meals and talks with the locals. It was a very special evening. Be prepared for some long journeys to reach the most exciting destinations in both countries.

Oliver William

Australia

Central Asia, beyond ordinary I was very precise regarding locations to visit and things to do and Julie was very attentive putting our private itinerary together. We skipped Tashkent and went straight to ancient cities of Samarkand and Bukhara, each worth a week stay to explore in detail! We then traveled to Pamir Highway which is a restricted access area, lots of papers need to be prearranged. It was well worth. Striking natural beauty absolutely recommend. From Osh, we travel through the most stunning landscapes to Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Each parts of the trip, cultural and adventitious, was very well prepared – as much as it was possible for Pamir, of course, with it’s changing weather, severe driving conditions etc. However our local guides served us very well and we really had no stress as all.

Howard Rogers

USA

Nomadic Escape Mongolia Tour ...Gobi dunes, yurt experience, camels, Karakorum , wild horse park – Mongolia turned out to be a great place. We did not expect much and only decided to go there as we had a trip to China and it was close. For Americans, Mongolia is visa free and we made really spontaneous decision just a week before arrival to China. Despite that, World of Discoveries team was able to arrange extensive 7 days itinerary around the country and we are so happy we did the tour! Huge thanks to Alex, great customer service.

Coco Bermudez

Australia

I was extremely satisfied with my trip. Everyone at the agency have been courteous and helpful from the very beginning, trying to organize our 17 day World Cup experience. The guides and drivers are very professional and friendly, and the accommodations were simply superb. I highly recommend World of Discoveries as I know they will turn your trip into an unforgettable experience.

Jacinta Ami

Australia

Highly recommend!! Well organised, friendly and knowledgeable staff who go out of their way to make sure you have the best experience! If you ever intend on visiting Russia, definately try this company!

Stacy

Australia

Trans- Scandinavian train tour on a private, September 2019 I’s looking for a train trip around Scandinavia and found it was not widely available option with many operators. Mostly, they do coach tours or cruises. World of Discoveries was the first company which offered a solution, a privately arranged non-escorted train trip tour for our small party of just 6 people. We are experienced travelers in our early 40th and always want to be immersed in the culture of a new country, eat local food, meet the people. We wanted an authentic experience and it was a great trip all round. We did not have to worry about our accommodation, or train tickets, or activities in various locations. We had our transfers to and from hotels pre-arranged. Guides provided great insight into Scandinavian culture and were undeniably helpful as we all had different ideas about spare time and extra activities. We went out at every visited city and they gave us lots of great recommendations. Could have stayed for more! Would love the same experience when we visit other, less traveled and remote parts of the world with World of Discoveries! Would love the same experience when we visit other, less traveled and remote parts of the world with World of Discoveries!

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