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Departure Dates: December 24, 2014 - December 24, 2015
Overview: St Petersburg - UNESCO-listed city area including Nevsky Prospekt, Peter and Paul Fortress, Museum and University districts, Church on Spilled Blood, The Bronze Horseman and Admiralty End, St Petersburg Hermitage at the Winter Palace , Other sites of St Petersburg included on the optional pukka pass , Novgorod - ancient city by the Volkhov River - kremlin, cathedral and other sights, Moscow - UNESCO-listed Red Square, Kremlin and Lenin’s Mausoleum and St Basil’s Cathedral .
Day 1 - Christmas Eve
Welcome to St Petersburg and the start of your winter holiday! Upon arrival you will be met at St Petersburg Pulkovo Airport and transferred to your hotel for check-in. Tonight, our welcome meeting takes place where you'll meet the rest of your group and guide. Enjoy the rest of the evening at your own leisure.
Day 2 - Christmas Day
Merry Christmas! This morning, we will embark on a city tour of St Petersburg. Travelling by mini bus we will drive along Nevsky Prospekt, past the museum and university district and Admiralty End, with stops to view the outside of the Church on Spilled Blood, The Bronze Horseman and to take a tour of Peter and Paul Fortress. Later, we will enjoy a guided visit of the Hermitage - which houses one of the biggest and best art collections on earth. The rest of the day is free for you to further explore. Tonight, head out on the town or enjoy a Christmas drink in local bar, cafe or at our hotel.
During our time in St Petersburg there may be the chance to join one of our optional evening excursions, such as a traditional Cossacks performance or a night at the Russian Ballet.
Day 3 - Optional Pukka Pass
Today offers free time for you to further explore St Petersburg. Alternatively there is the option to purchase our Pukka Pass. The pass offers guided sightseeing, entrance fees, lunch and transport to some of St Pete’s most famous sites. Touring includes Catherine Palalace at Tsarskoe Selo (or Pavlosk Palace if Catherine Palace is closed). Later we will enjoy a tasty lunch at a local restaurant, and after we will continue with a guided tour of the interior of The Church on Spilled Blood with time to shop in the souvenir market located alongside the church.
Day 4 - Time to Explore
St Petersburg "" Novgorod. Today gives you the opportunity to shop for some last minute souvenirs, maybe some traditional nesting dolls or Russian memorabilia found at the canal side market near the striking Church on Spilled Blood. Alternatively a walk along St Petersburg's main street - Nevsky Prospekt. Later we travel on to ancient Novgorod, where we will enjoy a steamy Russian banya (sauna) and hearty dinner.
Day 5 - Novgorod
Novgorod "" Moscow. Novgorod is one of Russia’s oldest cities, located within reach of the Volkhov River and Lake Ilmen, that was formed as a town in the middle of the 10th century. A guided tour of Novgorod takes in the riverside fortified Kremlin, cathedral and other sights of interest. The Kremlin fortress was mentioned in chronicles as early as in 1044, whilst today’s walls and towers, despite being re-built in 15th century, are impressive all the same. Tonight we have dinner before travelling by overnight sleeper train from Novgorod to Moscow.
Day 6 - Moscow City Tour
Early this morning, we arrive into Moscow - the capital that spawned dozens of spy novels! Today we will ride on the capital’s efficient Metro to Red Square. From here, we’ll take in the jewels of Russia’s capital on a guided walking tour, taking in sights such as the epitome of Russian power "" the Kremlin, Lenin’s Mausoleum and the ritzy GUM department store. At the south end of the square, feast your eyes on the wildly coloured, turban domed St Basil’s Cathedral, an enduring Russian symbol commissioned by Ivan IV (also known as Ivan the terrible) in 1555.
Spend the remainder of the day at your own leisure. During our stay in Moscow there will be the chance to join one of our optional evening excursions, such as a traditional Cossack Show or a Moscow by Night coach tour.
Day 7 - Free time
Today is free for you to explore Moscow on your own. As well as boasting some of the country’s most recognizable landmarks, Moscow is also home to internationally acclaimed museums and art galleries, respectable retail havens in the form of malls, markets and boutique-style shops, and hundreds of restaurants and cafes serving a wide variety of cuisine. For souvenirs, Izmailova Market is the place to go. Behind its whimsically decorated walls you’ll find one of the best markets in Moscow, whether you want to pick up some tacky souvenirs, genuine fur hats or some traditional handmade crafts.
The remainder of the afternoon is free for your explore on your own or why not sign up for our Inside a Soviet Bunker bolt-on? Head 65 meters underground to explore a Stalinist-era bunker that up until recently was a top secret symbol of Soviet Power. See the giant tunnels and get a guided tour of the rooms and secret paraphernalia before a tour of some of Russia's most luxurious Stalin era metro stations.
Day 8 - New Year's Eve
This morning we head back to Red Square to pay our respects to Lenin - the grandfather of Communism, at his eerie mausoleum. It is here that his embalmed body has lain in state since his death in 1924. Later we will continue to the Kremlin - Russia’s bastion of political might, where we enjoy a guided walk through the grounds, seeing numerous government buildings, gold-domed cathedrals and the tsar bell.
Tonight is New Year's Eve and time to celebrate, Russian-style! Venturing back to Red Square we will join the crowds - locals and travellers alike, to ring in the New Year. With an electric atmosphere and a spectacular firework show illuminating the distinctive turrets of St Basil’s Cathedral above the frosty square, this will be a party to remember! Alternatively, head out on your own and discover the best of Moscow's bars and nightclubs.
Day 9 - New Year's Day
Happy New Year! Our tour comes to an end after breakfast and hotel check-out.