| Breakfast: ||Breakfast at the hotel.|
| Morning: ||Discover St. Petersburg, often described as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Its miles of canals, laced together with graceful bridges set amidst 18th century buildings, have earned it the name "Venice of the North." Conceived of by Peter the Great and designed by his favorite European architects, St. Petersburg was meant to be Peter's link to the western world. The capital of Russia from its birth in 1703 until the revolution, the city celebrated its 300th anniversary in 2003. Today explore the city, the Peter & Paul Fortress and the Hermitage Museum.
A drive near the Neva River introduces you to the heart of Peter's beautiful city. Visit Vasilievsky Island with its beautiful view across the river to the Winter Palace and the Peter and Paul Fortress. Drive by enormous Palace Square, framed by the Winter Palace and the General Staff Headquarters, where Imperial parades and festivals were celebrated, and admire the facade of nearby St. Isaac's Cathedral. Discover the statue of Peter the Great, named the Bronze Horseman by Pushkin.
Then explore the Hermitage. The Hermitage, also known as the Winter Palace, was built in 1754-62 as the principal home of the czars, and was lavishly rebuilt in 1839 after it was destroyed by fire. Originally a small private palace gallery begun by Catherine the Great with a purchase of 255 paintings from Berlin, the Hermitage today houses the largest museum collection in the world. It includes works by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian, Rembrandt, Rubens, the French Impressionists, Van Gogh, Matisse, Gauguin and Picasso. The fabulous rooms with their inlaid floors and gilded woodwork and the grand double entry staircase are works of art in themselves.|
| Lunch: ||Lunch at a local restaurant.|
| Afternoon: ||After lunch, those who wish may stay at the Hermitage to explore the museum independently.
The rest of the group will continue with the city exploration, visiting St. Isaac's Cathedral, Church of Savior on the Blood, and Peter and Paul Fortress.
St. Isaac's Cathedral took 40 years to complete. The 48 red granite columns around the lower part of the building each weigh 110 tons, and the upper columns around the rotunda weigh 67 tons apiece. The dome is covered with 220 pounds of gold, and the interior columns are faced with lapis lazuli and malachite. The cathedral is bursting with sculptures, frescoes, stained glass works and woodcarvings.
The Church of the Savior on the Blood was built on the spot where Czar Alexander II was killed by a bomb in 1881, and was commissioned in the style of St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow by his son and successor, Alexander III. For many years closed for renovation, the church's beautiful interior is now open to visitors. Four jasper columns inside mark the spot where the czar was killed.
Across the Neva River from the Hermitage on Hare Island, the Fortress of Peter and Paul was one of the first structures in St. Petersburg. Peter the Great laid the cornerstone of the earthen fortress in May 1703, intending it to be used to repel a Swedish invasion. After the Swedes capitulated, the fortress was transformed into a prison in 1718. Most importantly, it is the burial place for most of the czars beginning with Peter the Great.|
| Dinner: ||Dinner on your own.|