As the world’s largest country in terms of land mass, Russia is not a place that can easily be fully explored in any short space of time. Beyond the major cities of Moscow and St Petersburg, which tend to hog most of the country’s travel limelight, there are many sights across Russia that are worth seeing and the best way to take in as many as possible is on a guided tour.
Given the logistics of navigating around Russia, most of the tours from Moscow and St Petersburg tend to feature an itinerary of places within easy reach of one or the other. Another popular tour route involves beginning at one city, then ending in the other, while taking in some of the major sights between the two. Here are seven of the best tours available from Moscow and St Petersburg.
From: $1,185/per person
Three major Russian cities offer three very different pictures of the nation. While St Petersburg is the capital of Russian culture and has a closer alliance with Europe, demonstrating as much with its baroque architecture, Moscow’s Red Square and Kremlin are indicators of the former might of the Russia tsarist and Communist empires. Kazan on the other hand is the capital of Tatarstan, where the minarets and cupolas of mosques dominate the skyline. The tour takes the best of all three cities over the course of ten days.
From $1,310/ per person
This seven-day tour starts and ends in Moscow, first exploring the Russian capital city, before heading northeast on the train to the Vladimir Oblast to visit two towns, Suzdal and Vladimir, that are revered for being windows into Russia’s past. It’s a past of onion domed Orthodox churches, rural life, with many living in wooden houses, and a much different face of Russia to that of the major cities. St Petersburg is the final stop on the trip, whereby Catherine Palace and the Hermitage Museum are windows into the artefacts of Romanov Russia.
From $1,145/ per person
A similarly balanced tour comes from Baltic Tours, although this one employs a much different itinerary and three extra days. Those ten days allow for more time in St Petersburg, where additional sights like the Church of the Bleeding Saviour, the Grand Palace, Peterhof, and Peter Paul Fortress all make their way onto the must-see list. The tour then moves on to Moscow, before also taking in Suzdal and Vladimir, with the addition of the village of Bugolyubovo, and its island-bound Church of the Intercession on the Nerl.
From $396/ per person
If you want to make the trip from Moscow to St Petersburg but aren’t in any rush to complete the journey, then this tour completes the route by road. Using an old Soviet military van as the mode of transport, you will head off-road and pass through the Russian countryside, reaching villages that don’t customarily find their way onto the main tourist routes on account of their isolation. The route follows the Volga River for some distance, taking in towns like Staritsa with its old mansions and abandoned churches. The trip also pays a visit to a farm where you can see the day to day country life. All rooms and meals are included in the price.
From $1,109/ per person
Yet another Moscow to St Petersburg tour offers an alternative intermediary point between the two great cities: Veliky Novgorod. Here you can visit the Novgorod Kremlin, a huge riverside fortress built between the 15th and 19th centuries. There is plenty more time to visit other sights in the city such as St Sofia’s Cathedral or riverside paths from Yaroslav’s Court. In the two major cities, you can visit the Red Square, Lenin’s Tomb, take a guided tour of the Kremlin and Armoury Museum. Likewise, in St Petersburg, visit Catherine Palace and the revered Amber Room. In each of the three cities you will also have a free afternoon on this tour to explore on your own.
From $2,050/ per person
Although this tour costs a little more than the others of a similar itinerary, no expense is spared on the mode of transport. Faster trains mean less time is spent in transit, which is particularly useful given that this seven-day trip starts and ends in Moscow, but manages to take in Suzdal, Veliky Novgorod and St Petersburg. All meals and accommodation and transport, as well as entry fees to the museums en-route, are included in the price. The choices of sites to visit on this itinerary certainly skews more to the unusual, with choices like the Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines in Moscow setting the tone. Expect more unique sides to Russia, and therefore less tourist crowds. Ideal for somebody who may have visited in the past.
From $1,799/ per person
You might have already completely discounted a tour in Russia during its notoriously cold winters, and that would be a sound choice, at least on most occasions. There is another side to the country: It’s winter side. While the itinerary only includes Moscow (where the tour begins and ends) and St Petersburg, you’ll get to experience the best of both cities at a time when there are fewest tourists. And the best part, most of those sights are indoors and include the Alexandrinsky Theatre, the Hermitage Museum, St Basil’s Cathedral and many more. Food, accommodation, transport and entry fees are all included.