Imperial Splendors of the Czars
This trip is a chance to experience one of the world’s great cities in depth, with MIR’s experienced local guides handling the logistics and leading the way. Built by the czar Peter the Great to be Russia’s “Window to the West,” St. Petersburg is Russia at its most beautiful and extravagant. Settle in for a week’s stay, getting to know the city’s palaces, cathedrals, boulevards, canals, world-class museums, and vibrant nightlife. The itinerary concludes with day trips to the royal palaces outside of the city, including opulent Peterhof and painstakingly restored Catherine’s Palace.
Travels to: Russia
Days 1-4: The heart of St. Petersburg (Russia)
Start by spending a few days exploring the treasures of the city. Your guide will handle the arrangements and tell you the stories behind the iconic sights from Peter the Great’s original log cabin, the opulent Usupoff Palace, and the colorful, intricately designed Church of the Savior on the Blood. The morning of Day 3 is dedicated to a tour of the Russian Museum, home to an unparalleled collection of Russian art. You can opt to spend part or all of Day 4 at the Hermitage, a splendid palace transformed into one of the largest and finest art museums in the world. Evening activities include a night of opera or ballet at one of St. Petersburg’s renowned theaters. There’s also time to discover the city’s vibrant contemporary culture, with your guide pointing the way to fun, sophisticated shops, galleries, and restaurants.
- Peter and Paul Fortress, one of the earliest structures in St. Petersburg
- Peter the Great’s original log cabin
- The iconic Church of the Savior on the Blood, with its brilliantly colored onion domes
- Opulent Usupoff Palace, where the plot against Rasputin came to fruition
- The Russian Museum, the world’s greatest repository of Russian art
- 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
- Nevsky Prospekt, St. Petersburg’s grandest street, lined with elegant buildings and upscale shops and restaurants
- A ballet or opera at one of St. Petersburg’s historic theaters
- A performance of traditional song and dance at Nikolaevsky Palace
Days 5-7: Day trips to Peterhof, Pushkin, and Pavlovsk
On Day 5, travel outside of the city to tour the elaborate gardens and palace of Peter the Great’s summer home, Peterhof, built on a scale to rival Versailles. Return to St. Petersburg for a home-cooked dinner with a local family. The following day, venture out again to visit three estates – Catherine’s Palace, Alexander’s Palace, and Pavlovsk – each with its own beautiful features and its own story to tell. The itinerary ends the next morning with a transfer to the airport – or with further MIR touring (see “Stay a Little Longer …” below).
- The more than 150 fountains and cascades that adorn the Lower Park of Peterhof, Peter the Great’s estate on the Gulf of Finland
- The beautifully restored Amber Room at Catherine’s Palace
- Alexander’s Palace, the homey refuge where Nicholas and Alexandra raised their five royal children, and where they were kept under house arrest following the 1917 revolution
- The gardens of Pavlovsk, surrounding the last of the great Russian summer palaces
- A home-cooked dinner with a Russian family
Dates & Prices
- 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 person, starting from:
- 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).
- 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.
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.