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Russian Heritage: Moscow, the Golden Ring and St. Petersburg

Program Number: 17051RJ
Start and End Dates:
8/21/2014 - 9/6/2014;
Duration: 16 nights
Location: Russia
Price starting at: $4,495.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type:
Meals: 36; 15 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 15 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

Upon being named Russia’s first tsar in 1613, 16-year-old Mikhail Romanov did what any teenager facing such dire responsibility might do: He burst into tears. However, his rough start began the 300-year Romanov Dynasty, which defined much of Russia today. Learn about this heritage and earlier eras in the cities of St. Petersburg, Moscow and the villages and towns of the Golden Ring.


• Embrace Russia’s history and medieval architecture in the golden ring towns of Valdimir, Suzdal, Kostroma and Yaroslavl.
• Experience a comfortable overnight train ride, an old Russian tradition in the era of modern travel.
• Enjoy the excitement of Russian dancing and singing.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to two miles daily, standing in museums; no wheelchair facilities.

Itinerary Summary

Arrival Moscow, 5 nights; coach to Suzdal, 2 nights, coach to Yaroslavl,1 night, overnight train to St. Petersburg,1 night; St. Petersburg 5 nights, departure.

Overnight flight from U.S.
1 night

Arrival Moscow
5 nights
Coach to Suzdal
2 nights

After a private escorted excursion through the Armory chamber and the Kremlin compound, explore the arts of this 800-year- old city. Learn about Russian national character, the portraits in the Tretykov Picture Gallery and the art treasures of the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts. In the onion-domed towns of the Golden Ring, visit the official seat of the Russian Orthodox church and see old monasteries and magnificent cathedrals. Attend 2 performances.

Coach to Yaroslavl
1 night

During a coach excursion of the ancient Kostroma, a stronghold for the resistance movement during ‘the time of troubles’ in the 17th century, learn of the Ipatievsky monastery, the ‘cradle of the Romanov dynasty.” In Yaroslavl visit the 13th-century Spassky Monastery compound, represented by a group of Cathedrals. See the remnants of an ancient trading center, and the Church of Elijah the Prophet.

Overnight train to St. Petersburg
1 night
St. Petersburg
5 nights

Experience a comfortable overnight train ride to St. Petersburg. A local expert on architecture introduces this city’s built landscape with its very first stone at the Peter and Paul Fortress, St. Petersburg’s original citadel designed by Italian architect Domenico Trezzini. A local professor discusses Russia’s diverse ethnic heritage and current social and political issues, and another expert leads excursions to the Hermitage and the summer palaces of the tsars. Enjoy two performances.

Coach to St. Petersburg
5 nights

A local expert on architecture introduces this city’s built landscape with its very first stone at the Peter and Paul Fortress, St. Petersburg’s original citadel designed by Italian architect Domenico Trezzini. A local professor discusses Russia’s diverse ethnic heritage and current social and political issues, and another expert leads excursions to the Hermitage and the summer palaces of the tsars. Enjoy 2 performances.


Russia developed under the influence of intellectuals, peasants, tsars and demagogues. Byzantine origins meld with Christianity in vibrant architecture, while religion, folkways and revolution inspired artists from Stravinsky to Chagall. Oppressive regimes helped to create the Iron Curtain, but the late 20th century ushered in glasnost, perestroika and a democratic nation of billionaires, ongoing reforms and an integral role in modern geopolitics.

Moscow: Four-star central hotel in short walking distance to Tchaikovsky concert Hall. Suzdal: Three-star hotel ". Yaroslavl: Three star hotel on banks of Kotorosl River. Overnight train and Petersburg: First-class train 2 passenger compartments, and superior three-star modern hotel in Nevsky Prospekt.
Meals and Lodgings
   Marriott Tverskaya Hotel
  Moscow, Russia 5 nights
   Sokol Hotel
  Suzdal, Russia 2 nights
   Ring Premiere Hotel
  Yaroslavl, Russia 2 nights
   Overnight Train
  Overnight train, Russia 1 night
   Park Inn Nevsky Hotel
  St. Petersburg, Russia 5 nights
 Marriott Tverskaya Hotel
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: The Moscow Marriott Tverskaya Hotel is housed in a beautiful, modern building in the city center; it is a rather small and comfortable hotel, recently renovated (162 non-smoking rooms and suites). It is located within walking distance to Red Square, the Kremlin, and the Bolshoi Theatre (approximately 2,5 miles). Public transportation is easily available.
  Ship Information: n/a
  Contact info: 34 1st Tverskaya-Yamskaya St.
Moscow,  125047 Russia
phone: +74952583000
  Room amenities: Spacious air conditioned modern rooms, featuring modern private baths with all amenities, flat screen TV, telephone etc. There are no refrigerators in standard rooms.
  Facility amenities: Two nice restaurants, a lobby bar, free internet connection in public areas on the ground floor and available for a fee in guest rooms, foreign exchange office, ATM machine in the lobby, small business center, concierge service, complimentary coffee in the lobby, room service, laundry service, a small fitness center and health club. This is a non-smoking hotel. The hotel employs English-speaking staff and offers 24-hour security.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: approx $380 twin; $350 single. Additional hotel nights can be requested by contacting Road Scholar Travel Services. RSTS will confirm the reservation and rate, and you pay the hotel directly by credit card or by cash for the additional nights. Room rates are subject to change and can only be confirmed at time of reservation. It can also be booked directly via or similar sites.
  Check in time: 4:00 PM

 Sokol Hotel
Type: Three-Star Hotel
  Description: Sokol Hotel is a simple tourist style hotel, located in two recently renovated historic buildings in the heart of Suzdal, next to the local Kremlin-fortress. Conveniently situated in the main square of the town, it is in walking distance to all major tourist attractions including Spasso and Pokrovsky monasteries, shopping arcade with souvenir stands and other sights.
  Contact info: Torgovaya Square 2-A
Suzdal,   Russian Federation
phone: +74959170369
  Room amenities: Hotel features 67 recently renovated guest rooms of various categories with 1 or 2 standard twin beds in standard rooms, Rooms are pleasantly furnished, all have small refrigerators, Telephones, and TV service, private bathrooms with showers only in standard rooms. Bathrooms feature standard toiletries and hairdryers.
  Facility amenities: The Hotel Sokol has a pleasant recently renovated lobby, a lobby bar, a small café and a pleasant restaurant, and 67 guest rooms of various categories. All common areas are air conditioned, WiFi is available in the hotel lobby; the hotel offers laundry service, room service and has 24 hour security. This hotel has no elevators.
  Smoking allowed: No

 Ring Premiere Hotel
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: The Ring Premiere Hotel was opened in 2004. It is conveniently located in a bright modern building in the cultural and business center of the city and near major historical and tourist sights of Yaroslavl. The hotel staff is well trained, English speaking, and extends hospitality and friendly service.
  Contact info: 55 Svoboda Square
Yaroslavl,   Russia
phone: +7 (4852) 58-11-58
  Room amenities: Guest rooms (total of 122) are comfortable, air conditioned, of good size, and offer various modern amenities including satellite flat screen TVs, safes, telephone etc. Bathrooms include standard amenities and hair dryers.
  Facility amenities: The hotel has a nicely furnished lobby, several bars, an excellent restaurant featuring local specialties, a small fitness center with a sauna, and well equipped conference facilities. There is a business center offering Internet access (additional charge), and free WiFi service in the hotel lobby. The hotel offers various on site services, including laundry service. 24-hour security.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes

 Overnight Train
Type: Train
  Description: An intercity train built in Germany and designed for overnight travel, featuring 8-10 cars of various comfort and service levels and a restaurant car. Each car has its own conductor. Sleeping arrangements and meal services are offered on board.
  Contact info: intercity transfer
Yaroslavl,   Russia
phone: +x
web: n/a
  Facility amenities: For this program, 2-passenger sleeping compartments are reserved. There are no single compartments. Also, several 4-berth compartments for 2 passengers, with same amenities, are reserved for this program. They are rather small (approx 70 sq. feet) but are quite comfortable for overnight travel. They have 2 lower berths with bed linen and towels provided, a large window, and a luggage area. Due to the small size of the luggage space, we strongly urge you to limit your baggage to 1 standard-size suitcase and a carry-on. All compartments have a lock for personal safety, and adjustable lighting. All train compartments have heating and air conditioning systems. There are 2 toilets with a sink available on board each car. No shower facilities are available. Travel by train in Russia is quite comfortable and provides a special experience. Note: you must be able to climb steps on/ off the train car, and be able to carry your personal luggage on/off the car. Porters are not available in Yaroslavl.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Bathroom: no baths or showers, toilets and sinks only
  Elevators available: Yes

 Park Inn Nevsky Hotel
Type: Three-Star Hotel
  Description: The Park Inn Nevsky is a newly opened 3-4-star hotel (269 rooms) in the heart of St. Petersburg. It is housed in an impressive modern building occupying an entire city block and facing fashionable Nevsky Prospekt and a side street. The hotel offers all the modern amenities and is conveniently located within walking or short driving distance to many tourist attractions and theaters, and it is also next to a Metro stop and the Moskva train station. 24-hour security and English-speaking staff.
  Contact info: 4 Lit. A, Goncharnaya Street / 89 Nevsky Prospekt
St. Petersburg,  191036 Russia
phone: +7 812-406-7310
  Room amenities: Standard guest rooms are of good size, comfortable, air conditioned, offer all modern amenities, are pleasantly furnished, all have private modern showers (no baths), and all have safes and hairdryers. Wifi is free in all guest rooms.
  Facility amenities: The Park Inn Nevsky Hotel has a pleasant modern lobby, elevators, a nice restaurant, a bar/bierstube, concierge service for theater tickets, a small fitness center,a well-equipped business center with Internet access, and conference facilities. The hotel offers various services including laundry, dry cleaning, room service, etc. Free wifi is available in each guest room.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights after: approx. $270 -350 twin room Additional hotel nights can be requested by contacting Road Scholar Travel Services. RSTS will confirm the reservation and rate and you will pay the hotel directly by credit card or by cash for the additional nights. The room rate will be reconfirmed at the time of the reservation based on currency exchange. Do note the reservation will be separate from the program reservation and it is likely that you will need to check out of the room and check back into a different room with the group.
  Check out time: 10:00 AM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Day 2: 3.00 pm - Room check-in starts. 6.00 pm - Meet in hotel lobby for Road Scholar registration. You will be staying at Marriott Tverskaya Hotel that night.
  End of Program:
Day 17: 10.00 am - Program ends. 12.00 noon - Room checkout. You will be staying at Park Inn Nevsky Hotel the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: Bus or train transportation is not recommended.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Moscow
  Nearest city or town:  Moscow
  Nearest airport:  Domodedovo
  Transportation to site: A group arrival transfer is organized for all participants who purchased an air-inclusive program and arrive on the group date. Independent travelers are welcome to join pre-arranged group arrival transfers. Public transportation (bus or train) is not recommended. If you hire a taxi at Domodedovo (DME) or Sheremetyevo (SVO) airports upon arrival, please go to an official taxi stand in the arrival hall and reconfirm the taxi fare in advance (expected cost: equivalent of $80-90, payable in rubles). A currency exchange office is located in the arrival hall.
  From End of Program
  Location:  St. Petersburg
  Nearest city or town:  St.Petersburg
  Nearest airport:  Pulkovo
  Transportation from site: Public transportation is not recommended. A taxi can be arranged at the hotel desk.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Departure
(Thursday, August 21)
 Depart From: Overnight transatlantic flight.

Day 2: Arrival in Moscow
(Friday, August 22)

Note: On this 'ACTIVE' program participants must be prepared to walk about 2 miles daily including on uneven/unpaved surfaces, up/down stairs, and standing in some museums. This program is not suitable for individuals with wheelchairs, walkers or scooters. Be prepared to carry/roll personal luggage on occasion, as porters are not always available. Group meals are fixed and cannot be changed on demand; a vegetarian (NOT vegan) menu is available if requested in your PIF; other diets cannot be confirmed.

 Afternoon: Arrival transfers to program hotel for all participants holding air tickets from Road Scholar. Upon arrival at the airport, look for the agent with a Road Scholar sign. Be prepared to carry your luggage to/from the bus and upon arrival at the hotel. Independent travelers are welcome to join a pre-arranged group transfer from DME. NOTE: Travel time to the hotel from DME is 2-2.5 hours. All participants meet the Group Leader at the hotel at 6 pm, or upon later arrival at the hotel. NOTE: Upon check-in, passports must be surrendered for hotel registration at each program hotel throughout the program (passports may be held for up to 24 hours as part of a standard and mandatory procedure).
 Dinner: At hotel restaurant
Accommodations: Marriott Tverskaya Hotel
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 3: Theme of the day: Lecture / Moscow Today / City highlights
(Saturday, August 23)

Note: Driving time to all program sites is unpredictable due to heavy city traffic. Expected walking up to 2 miles.

 Breakfast: At hotel
 Morning: Group introductions and orientation meeting. Following the meeting, participate in a political discussion. Begin exploring Moscow with an expert-led city highlights excursion (by motor coach), learning about the history and architecture of Moscow.
 Lunch: Time for lunch on your own
 Afternoon: Continue your exploration of Moscow. Drive to the Moscow University campus, stop at Novodevichi Convent (see the exterior), visit the Cathedral of Christ the Savior (inside visit), and see many other important sights.
 Dinner: Dinner at a city restaurant
 Evening: Attend a special choral concert of church music and classical pieces (dress: casual).
Accommodations: Marriott Tverskaya Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 4: Theme of the day: Moscow as a Cultural Treasure Chest: Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts
(Sunday, August 24)

Note: Be prepared for walking up to 2 hours.

 Breakfast: At hotel
 Morning: Participate in an expert-led visit to the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts: view the rich collection of Old Masters, Impressionists and Post Impressionists, and explore a special collection of 'Schleimann's Gold' (treasures of Troy), also on display here.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own at a museum café.
 Afternoon: Enjoy free time in Arbat Street, famous for its art galleries and arts and crafts stands. ............................................................. Later, after dinner, If desired, return to hotel by the famous Moscow Metro system: see stunning underground stations featuring paintings, mosaic-covered walls, bronze chandeliers, and granite columns (not part of the official program).
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Marriott Tverskaya Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5: Theme of the day: Moscow as the capital of medieval Russia: Kremlin grounds / Armory Chamber / Red Square.
(Monday, August 25)

Note: Extensive walking (up to 2 miles) on cobblestone streets, up/down stairs, 2-3 flights with no elevators.

 Breakfast: At hotel
 Morning: Enjoy a presentation on medieval Russian history during an educational visit to the Kremlin compound, led by an expert: see the grounds and cathedrals inside the Kremlin walls, see the Tsar Cannon and Tsar Bell and other objects. Later in the day participate in a visit to the Armory Chamber, housing a rich collection of royal jewels, including famous Faberge eggs and many other treasures of the Russian tsars.
 Lunch: Time for lunch on your own
 Afternoon: Enjoy time in UNESCO-listed Red Square, from which you can admire the ancient Kremlin walls, the striking Kremlin Clock Tower, Lenin's Mausoleum, and the ornate, multi-colored architectural masterpiece of the 16th century, St. Basil's Cathedral, commemorating Russia's victory over the Tatars at Kazan. ,
 Dinner: Dinner in a city restaurant.
 Evening: Free evening
Accommodations: Marriott Tverskaya Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6: Lecture / Tretyakov Picture Gallery / Performance
(Tuesday, August 26)

Note: Walking about 1.5 miles, also standing in the museum. Be prepared to spend most of the day in the city.

 Breakfast: At hotel
 Morning: Ths morning enjoy an expert-led visit to the Tretyakov Picture Gallery, housing the largest collection of Russian paintings of all periods.
 Lunch: Time for lunch on your own
 Afternoon: Participate in a discussion on Russian national identity.
 Dinner: Dinner at a city restaurant
 Evening: Attend a ballet performance at the Russian National Theater: "Giselle" ( dress: smart casual).
Accommodations: Marriott Tverskaya Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 7: A motor coach trip: Moscow-Sergiyev Posad-Vladimir-Suzdal
(Wednesday, August 27)

Note: Expected driving time: Moscow - Sergiev Posad (2 hours) - Vladimir (3 hours) - Suzdal (40 min). Rest stops to be made every 2-3 hours. Note: city traffic is unpredictable and delays are possible. A lecture on the Russian Orthodox church is offered on the bus en route to Sergiyev Posad and Vladimir.

 Breakfast: At hotel in Moscow
 Morning: Depart on a 4-day trip through the Golden Ring towns: Sergiyev Posad, Vladimir-Suzdal, Kostroma, and Yaroslavl. The “Golden Ring” (Zolotoye Koltso) is a modern name for a loop of very old towns southeast and northeast of Moscow, the area which historically preceded Moscow as the cultural and political heart of the Russian state. The Golden Ring’s towns began as outposts of Kievan Rus and grew when people moved north as Kiev declined. Today these towns, churches, monasteries, and city forts reflect various periods of Russian history and form a well-preserved, unique environment for a study of country life as it existed over all of European Russia. During the transfer from Moscow to the town of Sergiyev Posad, hear a presentation on the Russian Orthodox church. Walk through the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergei, which is the official seat of the Russian Orthodox church and equivalent to the Vatican (a "lavra" is the highest rank of Russian Orthodox monasteries). Architecturally, this stunning medieval setting easily rivals the Moscow Kremlin compound.
 Lunch: At a restaurant in Sergiyev Posad
 Afternoon: Continue your travel to the town of Vladimir, founded by Prince Vladimir in 1108 as a fort against the Tatars. At first the nearby small town of Suzdal (founded in 1024) was made the capital of the area. Then in 1158 the capital was moved to Vladimir, and the area became known as the Vladimir/Suzdal principality. The region not only thrived economically and politically, but it also became the chief inheritor of the Kiev-Byzantine artistic traditions as seen in the spectacular local architecture and in the art of mosaics, frescoes and icon painting. Upon your arrival in Vladimir, have a short city excursion and see the Assumption Cathedral and the famous Golden Gate (1164). .
 Dinner: Dinner at hotel restaurant in Vladimir
 Evening: After dinner, travel to your overnight hotel in Suzdal, arriving by 8.30 pm. Hotel check-in.
Accommodations: Sokol Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Suzdal architecture / Open-air museum
(Thursday, August 28)

Note: Extensive walking (up to 2 miles), including on unpaved terrain, up/down hills.

 Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel
 Morning: Join our local expert for an excursion of medieval Suzdal, famous for its magnificent medieval architecture as seen in numerous churches, monuments, towers, and ornate domes. Walk through the grounds of the Yefimov Monastery and learn about its history.
 Lunch: Lunch at a restaurant in Suzdal
 Afternoon: Continue exploring Suzdal: participate in an expert-led visit to the local museum of wooden architecture. Enjoy the surroundings of this fairytale town. Free time to walk around and enjoy the arts and crafts stands.
 Dinner: Dinner at a restaurant in Suzdal
Accommodations: Sokol Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: In transit: Suzdal-Kostroma-Yaroslavl.
(Friday, August 29)

Note: Expected total travel time is about 6-8 hours, including a stopover.

 Breakfast: At hotel
 Morning: Travel Suzdal-Kostroma. Enjoy the beautiful countryside (expected travel time 3-4 hours).
 Lunch: Lunch at a restaurant in Kostroma
 Afternoon: After lunch in Kostroma, have a city excursion and learn about Kostroma's rich history and Russia's turbulent medieval era known as the "Time of Troubles". Stop by the Ipatyev Monastery (see the exterior only), where the Romanov dynasty of Russian Tsars began, and which ruled Russia for over 300 years. Later in the afternoon, travel to the town of Yaroslavl (expected travel time about 1 hour, arriving at the hotel by dinner time). Hotel check in.
 Dinner: At hotel restaurant
Accommodations: Ring Premiere Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Yaroslavl: local history, cultural heritage, modern revival
(Saturday, August 30)

Note: Walking up to 1 mile, including on unpaved and uneven surfaces.

 Breakfast: At hotel
 Morning: Spend a full day in Yaroslavl. Participate in a city drive led by a local expert. Learn about the city's history, medieval architecture, and the dynamic, modern life of Yaroslavl. Stretching along both banks of the Volga, Yaroslavl is an important river port. As the second largest city in Russia in the 17th century, Yaroslavl was the de facto capital of Russia during the Polish occupation of Moscow in 1612 (the so-called "Time of Troubles"). It was founded in the 11th century by Prince Yaroslavl the Wise and today retains many noteworthy monuments of its rich history. Of special interest here are the 13th-century Spassky Monastery ensemble, a group of 17th-century cathedrals, an elegant rotunda, and remnants of an ancient trading center. Loveliest of all is the Church of the Prophet Elijah in the town's central square. The frescoes on the walls and vaulting inside the church form a valuable collection of old Russian medieval paintings.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Cultural event: Visit a local art gallery housed in a former governor's mansion. Enjoy a cultural interactive experience: participate in a re-enactment of a governor's reception and dance in the traditions of the 19th century.
 Dinner: At hotel restaurant
Accommodations: Ring Premiere Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: A presentaton on Russian holidays and traditions / Free afternoon / Overnight train: Yaroslavl - St. Petersburg
(Sunday, August 31)

Note: Rest time in the afternoon is recommended due to a scheduled overnight train trip to St. Petersburg. Be prepared to carry your personal luggage on/off the train, as no porters are available in Yaroslavl. Luggage space on the train is limited. We strongly recommend that you not exceed 1 piece of standard-size luggage on wheels and 1 carry-on.

 Breakfast: At hotel restaurant.
 Morning: This morning participate in an informal talk on Russian holidays and cultural traditions. Additional program to be announced on site.
 Lunch: Lunch in hotel or city restaurant.
 Afternoon: Afternoon free.
 Dinner: At hotel or city restaurant.
 Evening: After dinner, transfer to the train station for an overnight train (departing at 10.30 pm) from Yaroslavl to St. Petersburg (travel in 2-passenger sleeping compartments, NO single accommodations, facilities on board: 2 toilet/sink units per train car). Travel time: about 13 hours.
Accommodations: Overnight Train
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Arrival in St. Petersburg / Free afternoon
(Monday, September 1)

Note: Be prepared to carry/roll your personal luggage about 100 yards to the hotel door, and to walk to/from the restaurant for lunch and/or dinner (7-10 min).

 Breakfast: Continental breakfast on board the train
 Morning: Enjoy the train ride experience. Arrive in St. Petersburg by lunch time. Hotel check-in.
 Lunch: Lunch in a hotel or local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Afternoon free to rest.
 Dinner: Dinner at a hotel or a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Park Inn Nevsky Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13: History and Architecture of St. Petersburg / Performance
(Tuesday, September 2)

Note: Light walking.

 Breakfast: At hotel
 Morning: This morning participate in a city excursion of St. Petersburg, the capital of the Russian Empire for over two centuries. Built on the order of Tsar Peter the Great to rival Amsterdam, a city which he greatly admired, St. Petersburg became the new capital of Russia in 1712. The stunning city became know as a "Venice of the North" for its numerous canals, graceful bridges, and stunning beauty. Have an inside visit to the Peter & Paul Fortress where the city began, and see the cathedral, burial place of the Romanovs; drive along Nevsky Prospekt (main boulevard), see Palace Square and the Winter Palace of the Russian tsars (now the home of the Hermitage Museum), pass by St. Isaac's Cathedral, the Bronze Horseman statue dedicated to Peter I, and many other important sights. Driving through St. Petersburg and seeing its beauty leave a lasting impression.
 Lunch: Lunch
 Afternoon: Return to hotel for a short rest.
 Dinner: Dinner at a city restaurant.
 Evening: Attend a ballet performance at the Rimsky-Korsakov Theater - "Swan Lake".
Accommodations: Park Inn Nevsky Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 14: Hermitage Museum / Free afternoon
(Wednesday, September 3)

Note: Walking up to 2 miles, up/down stairs, rest areas are available

 Breakfast: At hotel
 Morning: Spend the morning or a full day at the Hermitage Museum. Enjoy a 3-hour excursion of this world-famous museum, featuring rich art collections from all over the world, including Old Masters, Impressionists, and Post-Impressionists (the highlights of the collection to be presented by an expert on the museum).
 Lunch: Time for a simple lunch on your own at the museum café, or in the city.
 Afternoon: Free time at the museum or in the city center.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Park Inn Nevsky Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 15: Theme of the day: The Romanov Dynasty / Summer estates of the Russian tsars in Peterhof and Tsarskoye Selo.
(Thursday, September 4)

Note: Extensive walking (up to 2 miles). Late return is possible.

 Breakfast: at hotel
 Morning: Continue exploring St. Petersburg and its suburbs. Hear an en-route and on-site presentation on the history of the Romanovs -- the long-reigning Russian royal family. This morning we drive to Peterhof -- the stunning summer residence of the Russian tsars -- along the Gulf of Finland. Learn about Tsar Peter I (the Great) and his vision to build a city on the Baltic Sea and to “open a window on the West” for then-medieval Russia in the early 1700s. Walk in the famous Lower Park amid more than 150 fountains and other constructions beautifully restored to their former splendor. All information is presented by a licensed expert (note: inside visits to the Grand Palace and other museums on site are not part of the visit). An expert-led trip to the summer estates of the tsars: en route to Tsarskoye Selo learn about the Romanov dynasty and the reign of Catherine the Great. See the magnificent palace in Tsarskoye Selo housing the famous Amber Room, recently reconstructed by Russian restoration artists. Enjoy a short walk in the park.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own.
 Afternoon: In the afternoon we drive to the town of Pushkin, site of the Tsarskoye Selo estate, or “Tsar’s Village,” to explore the Catherine Palace. Tsarina Elizabeth built this elaborate baroque palace in 1752 to honor the memory of her mother Katarina, first wife of Tsar Peter I. This palace was later leveled to its foundations and rebuilt to become the main summer residence of Tsarina Catherine II, the Great. Inside the palace, experience what some have been inspired to call the “Eighth Wonder of the World" — the extraordinary Amber Room, decorated with six tons of solid amber, carved and framed in gold leaf. Learn about the room’s mysterious disappearance during World War II and theories regarding its yet-unknown whereabouts, and hear the story of its meticulous reconstruction in 2003 by a team of Russian restoration artists. Have a short walk in the park. Return to the city.
 Dinner: Dinner at hotel or city restaurant
Accommodations: Park Inn Nevsky Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 16: Lecture / Free time in the city / Farewell Dinner
(Friday, September 5)
 Breakfast: At hotel
 Morning: Political discussion (held at hotel): "Russia Today", followed by a Q&A session (presented by a university professor. After the lecture, enjoy free time on Nevsky Prospekt.
 Lunch: Time for lunch on your own (we suggest the cafe in the House of Books).
 Afternoon: During free time enjoy an independent visit to the famous "House of Books" on Nevsky Prospekt, or consider a visit to a museum of your choice.
 Dinner: Farewell Dinner.
 Evening: Folkloric show during the farewell dinner.
Accommodations: Park Inn Nevsky Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 17: Program ends. Departures.
(Saturday, September 6)

Note: Departure transfers times are controlled by the transfer company. Be prepared for waiting time at the airport.

 Breakfast: At hotel
 Morning: Program ends. Transfers to the airport for all participants holding air tickets issued by Road Scholar. Group transfers are scheduled for flights departing within 2 hour intervals (per RS rules). Independent travelers are welcome to join the pre-arranged group bus transfer(s) or to arrange a taxi at the hotel desk. Transfer schedule to be announced by the Group Leader 24 hours in advance.
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
  Moscow Bolshoi theater
Out of 4 included performances one performance (opera or ballet) is planned at the Bolshoi theater (in Moscow) OR Mariinsky theater (in St. Petersburg). Additional tickets for these or other theaters may be purchased at the hotel theater desk or via the Internet.(Expected ticket cost $80-$200 per ticket depending on seats. For additional information, visit
  Mariinsky theater
Out of 4 included performances one performance (opera or ballet) is planned at the Bolshoi theater (in Moscow) OR Mariinsky theater (in St. Petersburg). Additional tickets for these or other theaters may be purchased at the hotel theater desk or via the Internet. (Expected ticket cost $80-$200 per ticket depending on seats. For additional information, visit
  St. Petersburg Mariinski-Kirov Ballet
If Mariinsky(Kirov) Opera and Ballet theater company is performing during program dates then tickets and transportation for additional evening performances can be arranged at hotel theater desk. Also our staff will assist all who will desire to attend an additional performance. (Expected ticket cost $800-200 per ticket). Schedule of other theatrical performances and concerts will be available upon arrival in St. Petersburg or it can be checked on the Internet. For additional information, visit
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

Catherine the Great

Author: Robert K. Massie

Description: Eager readers of Massie's Nicholas and Alexandria or the Pulitzer Prize-wining Peter the Great will not be disappointed by this latest, an old-fashioned tale of politics, power and 18th-century Europe, drawing effectively from the ambitious Catherine's own memoirs.

Catherine the Great, A Short History

Author: Isabel De Madariaga

Description: A brief survey of the reign of Catherine the Great that nicely balances biography with descriptions of the economic, political and social life of the period.

Crime and Punishment

Author: Fyodor Dostoevsky, David McDuff (Translator)

Description: Dostoevsky's thriller of murder and redemption is redolent of St. Petersburg’s atmosphere. A cornerstone of Russian literature, and one of the greatest detective stories ever told.

Eyewitness Guide St. Petersburg

Author: Eyewitness Guides

Description: With excellent local maps and site plans, this outstanding visual guide introduces the culture, history and attractions of St. Petersburg.

Fodor's Moscow and St. Petersburg

Author: Salwa Jabado

Description: With solid practical information on sights, excursions, restaurants, hotels and nightlife, and a chapter on the cities of the Golden Ring.

Land of the Firebird, The Beauty of Old Russia

Author: Suzanne Massie

Description: Massie traces both minuscule details and larger movements in pre-revolutionary Russian art, literature and daily life in this affectionate overview of 19th-century palaces, courts and culture.

Lenin's Tomb

Author: David Remnick

Description: A gripping eyewitness tale of the collapse of the Soviet Union. Remnick, the Washington Post reporter on the scene, combines fine historical scholarship with great storytelling.

Literary St. Petersburg, A Guide to the City and Its Writers

Author: Elaine Blaire

Description: Blair shows St. Petersburg through the words, museums and haunts of 15 writers, including Pushkin, Gogol, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and Nabokov.

Moscow Map

Author: ITMB

Description: A handy, folding map of Moscow.

Natasha's Dance, A Cultural History of Russia

Author: Orlando Figes

Description: In this lively cultural history, Figes looks at both the great works by Russian masters and longstanding folk traditions. The title is drawn from a scene of Tolstoy's War and Peace in which a European-educated countess performs a peasant dance.

Odyssey Guide Moscow, St. Petersburg & The Golden Ring

Author: Masha Nordbye, Patricia Lanza (Photographer)

Description: A comprehensive guide to the art, culture and history of two great Russian cities, filled with maps and fine color photographs.

Peter the Great, His Life and World

Author: Robert Massie

Description: In this Pulitzer Prize-winning biography, Massie portrays the giant of history who transformed Russia from backwater tsardom into a major empire.

Romanov Riches, Russian Writers and Artists Under the Tsars

Author: Solomon Volkov

Description: Volkov effortlessly unwinds the twisted relationship between art and the royal family from the rise of the Romanovs in 1613 to their downfall in 1917, including a chapter on Catherine the Great and her era.

Russia of the Tsars

Author: Peter Waldron

Description: Waldron recounts the exploits of Peter the Great and the Tsars and the splendor of their capital city, St. Petersburg, in this lively, well illustrated and compact overview of the largest and most diverse empire of its day.

Russia, A Concise History

Author: Ronald Hingley

Description: Well-known scholar Hingley sketches Russia's multiple transformations from her illiterate, pagan, Slavic roots to a multi-ethnic empire in this highly readable, well-illustrated brief history.

Russian Short Stories

Author: Robert Chandler (Editor)

Description: This fine collection of tales captures the sweep and soul of Russian literature, including works by Pushkin, Gogol, Dostoevsky, Chekhov and Tolstoy along with lesser-known greats.

Speak, Memory

Author: Vladimir Nabokov

Description: Nabokov's richly imagined memoir wonderfully evokes cultural life among the well-to-do in turn-of-the-century St. Petersburg.

St. Petersburg Map

Author: Berndtson & Berndtson

Description: A detailed, laminated city plan of St. Petersburg, with street index inset. Place names are in transliterated English.

Sunlight at Midnight: St. Petersburg and the Rise of Modern Russia

Author: W. Bruce Lincoln

Description: A wonderfully written, informative portrait of St. Petersburg, focusing on the city's development in the 18th and 19th centuries as Russia's "window on the West." Highly recommended for travelers with an interest in the character and significance of the city and its monuments.

The Hermitage: A Journey in Time and Space

Author: Kultur Video

Description: This 116 minute documentary, directed Vladimir Ptashchenko and accompanied by orchestral music, showcases the extraordinary collections, Originally established as the private collection of the Russian Empress Catherine the Great.

The Ransom of Russian Art

Author: John McPhee

Description: McPhee tackles a rather unusual topic for him: the story of suppressed Russian art and the man who brought it to America.

The Routledge Atlas of Russian History

Author: Martin Gilbert

Description: A fantastically interesting, useful survey of the history of Russia in maps. This revised edition follows the fate of Russia since the demise of the Soviet Union, with 161 maps covering rebellion, famine, expansion, trade, the military, communism's collapse and myriad other topics.

The Winter Queen

Author: Boris Akunin, Andrew Bromfield (Translator)

Description: Akunin sets a suspected murder among the glitterati of late 19th-century Moscow in this first book in the series of clever detective novels starring the rascal Erast Fandorin, wildly popular in Russia. The series continues with: The Turkish Gambit (RUS263), set during the 1877 Russo-Turkish War; Murder on the Leviathan (RUS225), an homage to Christie; and The Death of Achilles (RUS291), back in Moscow. Fandorin is deputy to the governor-general of czarist Moscow in Special Assignments (RUS371), facing a serial murder and a swindler.

Tsar, The Lost World of Nicholas and Alexandra

Author: Peter Kurth, Peter Christopher (Photographer), Edvard Radzinsky (Introduction)

Description: A tribute to the last of the Romanovs, featuring a treasure trove of never-published photographs and illuminating text. It brings to life in sumptuous detail the tumultuous life and times of Nicholas and Alexandra. Masterful.

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