St Petersburg - Palaces and Art

Peterhof Palace
Peterhof Palace
Yusupov Palace
Yusupov Palace
Winter Palace
Winter Palace
Russian Museum
Russian Museum
Menshikov Palace
Menshikov Palace
English embankment & St Isaacs Cathedral
English embankment & St Isaacs Cathedral
The interior of St Isaacs Cathedral
The interior of St Isaacs Cathedral
River canal in St Petersburg
River canal in St Petersburg

The dazzling art and architecture of St. Petersburg make for a truly captivating and cultural city break. Gaze at iconic paintings created by the masters at the State Hermitage Museum, tour opulent residences - including the legendary Peterhof Palace, often referred to as the “Russian Versailles” - and even take part in a traditional Matryoshka Doll workshop on this magnificent Russian adventure.

St Petersburg is an intriguing city and this tour allows us to enjoy a diverse range of authentic encounters, from rousing stage performances and visits to royal palaces with their impressive interiors, to immersive experiences that bring us closer to Russia’s distinctive traditions. Folklore and culture will be explored throughout this fascinating week, as will architecture and regional cuisine. No stone is left unturned on this enchanting tour and we will return home with vivid memories that are sure to last a lifetime.

  • Learn about the tradition of Matryoshka Dolls at a hands-on workshop, where we can paint our own
  • Take an all-encompassing tour of St. Petersburg, with its many famous and historic sights
  • Enjoy a private champagne piano recital at the Brodsky Museum, a real privilege not available to many
  • Spend ample time at the fantastic State Hermitage Museum, where its collections are presented to us
  • Take a private boat ride along the river and see this wonderful city from a new perspective along the way

Themes

  • Cultural Excursion

Practicalities

  • Special Access
  • All Inclusive

Itinerary 2018

Day 1

This afternoon we arrive in St Petersburg, Russia’s majestic second city, and transfer to our central hotel. Here we enjoy an engaging introductory talk from our Guide Lecturer, before tucking in to our first dinner as a group.

Day 2

After breakfast we waste no time in venturing out to the State Russian Museum in Mikhailovsky Palace, where we explore the largest collection of fine Russian art in the world: over 400,000 exhibits spanning more than 1,000 years.

Our next stop is St Isaac’s, the city’s largest Orthodox cathedral, with its glistening golden interiors. Constructed over 40 years in the early 1800s, the building has a fascinating past: stripped of its religious imagery by the Soviets, it hosted Russia’s first public demonstration of Foucault’s pendulum in 1931, and was then painted grey to avoid being bombed in the Second World War. Today it has largely been restored to its former glory. We take a look around the cathedral’s museum, and ascend to its colonnade for amazing views across the city.

Later this afternoon we learn all about the folk-craft history of Matryoshka Dolls, the nested doll sets more commonly known as Russian or “Babushka” dolls.

Day 3

We could not come all this way without delving in to the world’s largest collection of paintings at the State Hermitage Museum complex – our breath-taking destination for the morning. This peerless institution was first founded in the 18th century by Catherine the Great, and would take days – even weeks – to explore in its entirety.

We content ourselves with a few hours at the expansive Winter Palace – former residence of Peter the Great and other Russian royalty. Here, within some of the palace’s 1,500 rooms, we view examples of national art dating from the 11th century onwards. An astounding testament to the might of Imperial Russia.

Breaking for lunch, we continue on to Nicholas Palace, a beautiful building created for the children of Emperor Nicholas I. Within these walls we enjoy performances of Russian folk music and dance, before ending the day with dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 4

We spend this morning at Peterhof Palace – known to many as the Versailles of Russia. Situated within an expanse of immaculate gardens, this UNESCO World Heritage site was commissioned by Peter the Great in the early 18th century.

This afternoon is ours to discover the city without the group, relaxing or exploring our surroundings in whatever way we prefer. Before the day comes to an end we come back together for dinner and enjoy the stunning performance of Swan Lake.

Day 5

Our fifth day sees us crossing the Neva River to Vasilievsky Island, one of St Petersburg’s most historic districts. Upon Vasilievsky we find Menshikov Palace, the first stone building in the city. Formerly the residence of the Governor General Menshikov, one of Peter the Great’s closest companions, it now houses a branch of the Hermitage Museum, with a particular focus on 17th and 18th century art from Europe and Russia.

Following lunch, our island exploits take us on to Peter and Paul Fortress, a citadel founded in 1703, which was used as a Bolshevik prison and execution ground in the early 20th century. On site, beneath the world’s tallest Orthodox bell tower, we find St Peter and Paul Cathedral, the final resting place of many a Russian emperor and empress, including Tsar Nicholas II and his family.

Day 6

This morning we enjoy a private boat trip down the River Neva – a chance to view the city’s sparkling buildings from the water. We continue on to Yusupov Palace, the immense aristocratic home at which Rasputin’s life came to an untimely end. Despite being seized by the Soviets in the 1920s, the palace retains many of its original features – a gem of 18th- and 19th-century Russia.

After lunch as a group, our final afternoon is free for us to use however we wish. Return to the vast galleries of the Hermitage, stroll through some of the city’s splendid parks, or seek out souvenirs in St Petersburg’s stylish shops. Tonight we reconvene for a sumptuous farewell dinner and drinks with the group.

Day 7

After a comfortable night’s sleep, we wake to breakfast and a few more hours to explore the wonders of the city in our own time. Our flight departs in the afternoon.

Itinerary 2019

Day 1

We fly from London to St. Petersburg, Russia’s second largest city, known for both its amazing architecture and buildings of historic significance. Upon arrival, we check into our hotel and enjoy an introductory lecture before dinner.

Day 2

This morning, we pay a visit to the Russian Museum, which is home to one of the biggest fine art collections in the entire country. The museum is housed within the grand
Mikhailovsky Palace. After lunch, we take a tour of the city and St. Isaac’s Cathedral, and then we have a Matryoshka doll painting class. Later, we are treated to a very special champagne piano recital at the Brodsky Museum.

Day 3

Our day today will be spent at the fabulous State Hermitage Museum. We enjoy early entrance and marvel at its incredible exhibits before our special visit to the jewellery collection. We will take a break for lunch at the on-site café and later we can continue our tour of this incredible museum. In the evening, we will enjoy an early dinner and then it’s on to the Nikolaevsky Palace for a traditional folklore show. This beautiful building is the perfect setting for an evening of culture before we return to our hotel.

Day 4

Today we get to explore the majestic Peterhof Palace and gardens, located just outside St. Petersburg. We enjoy early entrance to this iconic building and, once inside, we tour its dazzling interior and then move outdoors to wander its manicured grounds. After lunch at the Orangerie, we will indulge in a little free time to further explore the area or just relax. We eat dinner before attending an evening performance.

Day 5

Menshikov Palace is the first destination on our list for today. Here, we can see a mixture of domestic apartments and palatial grandeur, as well as sculpture, paintings, and even furniture from the 17th and 18th centuries. We then enjoy lunch here at the palace restaurant. Next, our island exploits take us on to the Peter and Paul Fortress, a citadel founded in 1703, which was a notorious Bolshevik prison and execution ground in the 19th and 20th centuries. In the evening, we enjoy dinner together at a local restaurant before returning to our hotel.

Day 6

Our final full day of this tour is upon us and we start it off in style with a private canal boat ride. We continue on to Yusupov Palace, the aristocratic home in which Rasputin was gruesomely murdered. Despite being seized by the Soviets in the 1920s, the palace retains many of it’s original features. After lunch, our final afternoon is free to spend at leisure; buy souvenirs, wander the area or indulge in some local treats. After dinner, we will head back to our hotel for the night.

Day 7

A free morning awaits us and, after lunch, we will transfer back to the airport where we will catch our return flight home and bid a fond farewell to this great experience.

What's Included

  1. Expert Guide Lecturer
  2. Tour Manager
  3. Local Travel - Private a/c coach
  4. Meals - All meals included with wine at dinner
  5. Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in programme; tips included
  6. Hotels
  7. Flights

Travel Information

The weather in September should still be pleasant with temperatures ranging from 10 – 20 ?c. There is a possibility of rain.

Layers are recommended as the weather is changeable and do pack something warm for the evenings when temperatures can drop considerably. You should bear in mind that modest clothing is required for entering Orthodox churches. Women should bring a head scarf with them. For the ballet performance there is no strict dress code although shorts and t-shirts are not generally accepted.

There will be quite a lot of walking around the city as there will be around the art galleries and museums themselves. Comfortable shoes are recommended but walking boots will not be necessary. Some visits will involve travelling by coach and there will be a boat ride.

The currency in the Russian Ruble currently about 83 to the pound. Whilst most hotels and larger shops will take cards, you may want to take some cash with you. ATMs can be found throughout the city but you could also order a small amount before you leave. If you want to change money in Russia you will need to go to a bank.

For full information about Passport validity and Visa requirements as well as Health and Vaccination information please click here.

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2018 Tour Details

Sun 2nd September - Sat 8th September

Available

£3,195

inc.

sgl supp: £595

ZAP18A

Led By: Christianna Bonin

2019 Tour Details

Sun 1st September - Sat 7th September

Available

£3,495

inc.

sgl supp: £495

ZAP19A

Led By: Isabel Stokholm

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