Essential Russia

Photo credit: Jim Beers

7 Days
From $3,295
Trip Type
Group Size
Your choice
Activity Level
Russia tour sales suspended

Survey of Moscow and St. Petersburg


This trip delivers the highlights of Russia’s two great metropolises: bustling, complex Moscow and elegant, canal-lined St. Petersburg. MIR’s experienced local guides take care of the logistics and lead the way as you tour the sights on and around Moscow’s Red Square, rub elbows with the locals at Izmailovo Market, admire the masterpieces of St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum, and visit the extravagant summer palaces of Russian royalty.

Travels to: Russia


Essential Russia map


  • Days 1-3: Moscow (Russia)

    After meeting your guide at the hotel, get oriented with a driving tour, making a stop for a panoramic view of the city from Sparrow Hills. At the Tretyakov Gallery, tour a collection that encompasses the history of Russian art from the 11th century to the present. Then, for a dose of Moscow daily life, visit bustling Izmailovo Market, the best place in the city to buy crafts and a great spot for people-watching.

    The next day is dedicated to the heart of the city, Red Square, and the sights that surround it. You’ll examine the domes of Russia’s most famous church, St. Basil’s Cathedral; explore the massive Kremlin, the center of Russian politics; tour the Armory Museum, a storehouse of national treasures; and browse through GUM, a historic shopping arcade. End the afternoon by descending into the Moscow Metro to explore several of its most ornate stations, dubbed “underground palaces.”


    • The world-class collection of Russian art at Tretyakov Gallery
    • People-watching at Izmailovo Market
    • The 850-year-old Kremlin and Red Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
    • The colorful domes of iconic St. Basil’s Cathedral
    • The treasures of the Armory Museum, from Faberge eggs to the ivory throne of Ivan the Terrible
    • Shopping at the boutiques of GUM
    • The beautifully decorated stations of the Moscow Metro
  • Days 4-7: St. Petersburg

    Board the high-speed train – itself a quintessential Russian experience – to St. Petersburg, Peter the Great’s imperial capital and Russia’s most beautiful city. Your guide will take you to its classic sights, including historic Peter and Paul Fortress, the intricately designed Church of the Savior on the Blood, and the Hermitage – a splendid palace transformed into one of the largest and finest art museums in the world.

    Outside of the city, get a taste for imperial extravagance at some of Russia’s grandest estates. Tour the elaborate gardens and palace of Peter the Great’s summer home, Peterhof, built on a scale to rival Versailles. Take in the view from Monplaisir, designed by Peter as a retreat where he could look out onto the Gulf of Finland. And admire the remarkable restoration of Catherine’s Palace – built in 1717, expanded to monumental grandeur in 1752, and almost totally destroyed by the Nazis during WWII.


    • Peter and Paul Fortress, one of the earliest structures in St. Petersburg
    • The intricate design and brilliant colors of the Church of the Savior on the Blood
    • The Hermitage Museum, home to the world’s second-largest art collection (after the Louvre), with works by Michelangelo, Raphael, Rembrandt, Titian, Van Gogh, and scores of other masters
    • The more than 150 fountains and cascades that adorn the Lower Park of Peterhof, Peter the Great’s summer estate
    • Peter‘s favorite palace, Monplaisir, from where he watched ships passing by on the Gulf of Finland
    • The beautifully restored Amber Room at Catherine’s Palace

Dates & Prices

Please note:

  • Private trip prices vary by season and are subject to hotel availability for your travel dates.
  • Listed prices below are based on double occupancy and a 2 traveler minimum.
  • Hotel upgrades, additional nights, and solo traveler prices are available on request.

Land tour price, per personstarting from:

  • 2023 Dates
    Available: January - December
    Tour, double occupancy
    Single supplement

What's Included

  • Tour Includes
    • Shared accommodations as noted in the itinerary. Contact MIR for hotel upgrade prices.
    • Meals, as noted in the itinerary.
    • Restaurant tips for included meals.
    • One arrival and one departure transfer. Additional arrival and departure transfers available at additional cost.) MIR will arrange for travelers to be met upon arrival and seen off on departure, whether or not we make your air arrangements.
    • Ground transportation throughout itinerary by private vehicle (type of vehicle depends on number of travelers in your group.)
    • Services of experienced, English-speaking local guides, drivers, and other staff, as noted in the itinerary.
    • Guided sightseeing tours and entrance fees, as outlined in the itinerary.
    • Special events, excursions, and cultural performances, as outlined in the itinerary.
    • Complete pre-departure information, including detailed packing list, reading list, and Touring with MIR handbook with country-specific information, maps, and travel tips.
    • Final document packet, including luggage tags, final updates, and more.
    • Assistance booking your custom flight arrangements, on request.(Please note that international airfare is not included in the land tour cost).
    • Train tickets from Moscow to St. Petersburg.
  • Not Included
    • International airfare and taxes/fuel surcharges.
    • Meals and drinks not specified as included in the itinerary.
    • Single supplement if requested or required.
    • Baggage handling.
    • Gratuities to local guides, drivers, porters, and other service personnel.
    • Expenses incurred as a result of delay, modification, or extension of a tour due to causes beyond MIR’s control.
    • Travel-related insurance, including cancellation, medical, and evacuation insurance.
    • Visa fees, excess-baggage charges, airport departure taxes, vaccination and other medical costs.
    • Optional pre- or post-tour extensions.
    • Items of a personal nature such as phone calls, email, laundry, and alcohol.

Activity Level

Level 2: Moderate, but Customizable

This ‘Essential’ itinerary in modern and cosmopolitan Western Russia, which is designed for private travel, features long days walking and standing, and some possibly long days in the touring vehicle. Only those fit to travel and who accept the local conditions should consider joining this program.

There is a significant amount of touring on foot, and those travelers planning to take the program as written should be able to walk one to two miles a day comfortably. Footing can be an issue and travelers should be able to negotiate cobblestones, uneven surfaces (possibly steep and/or wet), and deal with situations without handrails or ramps. Some attractions are only accessible via steep staircases. Museums rarely have elevators.

Past travelers have also encountered challenges with plumbing, bureaucratic service, variety of locally available foods, and availability and quality of public restrooms.

Accommodations in the basic program are generally four-star hotels. Upgrades may be available, please call for details.


Traveler Reviews

  • "We really enjoyed this tour. I expected to see drab, gray, Soviet-style buildings so I was surprised to see modern-day buildings and businesses and some incredible architecture. The metro was an art exhibit in itself – wonderful. St Basil’s was as lovely as I expected and made even more wonderful by the musicians."

    D. & J. Gould

    Leavenworth, WA

    Close close

    Trips to Russia (including the Trans-Siberian Railway), Belarus and Ukraine have been cancelled and new future trip sales to these destinations are presently suspended. We will continue to pray for peace in Ukraine and to support organizations providing humanitarian aid to Ukraine–we hope you will join us.

    Please explore our adventures in other destinations at the crossroads of Europe and Asia this season including the Silk Route, the South Caucasus, the Balkans or our new trips in the Middle East.