Grand Tour of Russia: St. Petersburg – Moscow by Luxury Cruise & Train

  • Golden Eagle

  • 26-day Escorted Tour

    Luxury

    The Tour

    The Grand Tour of Russia, an epic 26-day journey from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok, highlights the unique cultures and magnificent landscapes of this beautiful and expansive country. Traverse the river and rail networks on board the MS Volga Dream and the Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express.

    Passengers on the Grand Tour of Russia will enjoy some truly incredible scenery as the MS Volga Dream ventures towards Moscow. See the remarkable wooden architecture of Kizhi Island that has endured centuries of challenge and revolution and the inspiring tranquility of the Svir River. From Moscow, board the Golden Eagle as it embarks upon the Trans-Siberian railway. Enjoy the unique culture and magnificent landscapes of Mongolia, the grandeur of Lake Baikal, and the historical significance of the military port of Vladivostok.

    Russia’s first luxury river cruise ship, the Volga Dream, offers an unrivaled level of comfort and style, as well as the finest accommodation, service and care. Prioritizing a personal approach, the Volga Dream provides a unique opportunity to explore the beauty of a truly enigmatic country.

    The Grand Tour of Russia begins with three days in St. Petersburg. At night, stay in the five-star Belmond Grand Hotel Europe. Then, embark on the Volga Dream for your six-night cruise to Moscow, where you’ll spend another three days touring the city and staying in the 5-star Ararat Park Hyatt. Last, but certainly not least, begin your Trans-Siberian luxury rail adventure on the Golden Eagle. Highlights include viewing the early-morning mist rising over Lake Baikal, as you ride outside on the engine, followed by a picnic lunch on a secluded beach.

    There’s no better way to see the vastness of Russia and Siberia. The Trans-Siberian journey has long been a favorite of IRT clients — and now, with the addition of St. Petersburg and the Volga cruise, an already-epic trip becomes even more so.

    Two Imperial Suites will continue to be available on all Golden Eagle departures. These new compartments are the most spacious – 120 square feet – offered on the train and feature a fixed king-sized bed, a dedicated dressing table and lounge area, and more. For details about this and other upgrades, click here.

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    “It was a fine way to see Siberia, a vast land mass of unending field and forest, punctuated by surprisingly vibrant, colorful cities and warm, smiling people. We were like a cruise ship making stops at varied, otherwise inaccessible ports of call.”

    — Owen Hardy, Publisher, The International Railway Traveler®

    “I went on the Golden Eagle…and although I had already traveled to 132 countries, this was the most dramatic and most fantastic trip I have ever taken. It was so well organized and in every way fabulous. I want to continue receiving your notices and hope I can find a similar train trip soon.”

    — W. Friar, Trans-Siberian, 2008

    The Itinerary

    Day 1: St. Petersburg
    Upon arrival in St. Petersburg, the city that Peter the Great transformed from marshland into a vibrant center of islands, canals, bridges and pastel-coloured palaces, transfer to the deluxe Grand Hotel Europe. In the evening, gather for a meeting with your guide, or spend the rest of the day exploring central St. Petersburg on your own. (Dinner at own arrangements.)

    Day 2: St. Petersburg
    Today, enjoy a city tour of St. Petersburg. After lunch, visit the Faberge Museum, which contains the world’s largest collection of works by Carl Faberge, including 9 Easter eggs commissioned by the Russian royal family. In the evening, board a small river boat for a sail around the numerous rivers and canals of St. Petersburg. City tour includes: Split of Basil Island (walking tour), Spilled Blood Church (photo stop), Peter and Paul Fortress (entrance), St. Isaac Cathedral (photo stop), and the Nevskiy Prospekt drive. (B, L)

    Day 3: St. Petersburg
    This morning, enter the famed Hermitage Museum before regular hours to avoid heavy crowds. After lunch, travel to the meticulously restored Peterhof, St. Petersburg’s most famous and spectacular Imperial estate, often cited as the Versailles of Russia. Visit the authentic Bath Cottage and stroll in the vast Lower Park, where you will find 176 fountains of various forms and styles, four cascades, majestic palaces, and
    numerous gilded statues of ancient gods and heroes. Return to St. Petersburg by hydrofoil. (B, L)

    Day 4: St. Petersburg & MS Volga Dream Departure
    This morning, travel to Catherine the Great’s Palace, which houses the extraordinary Amber Room, made of six tons of solid amber deftly carved and framed in gold leaf. Once deemed the “eighth wonder of the world,” the room was stripped by the Nazis in 1941, but majestically reconstructed in honour of St. Petersburg’s 300th birthday.
    After lunch in Podvorie, a restaurant in a traditional Russian log house, visit a ‘Russia in Miniature’ Interactive Museum. Done with great care and attention to detail, this very realistic model of Russia will give you a great picture of the regions, cultures, and peoples of this vast country. Then, transfer to the MS Volga Dream and begin sailing along the Russian waterways. Gather for the Captain’s welcome reception and dinner as we begin our cruise. (B, L, D)

    Day 5: Svir River & the Village of Mandrogi
    While cruising along the 139-mile-long Svir River, appreciate the quiet understated beauty of a region that has long inspired artists and poets. The ship passes quaint riverside hamlets before reaching Lake Ladoga. Step ashore for a brief visit to the vacation village of Mandrogi to experience daily life in a quaint wooden village on your own. Tonight, enjoy a barbecue dinner on the open deck of the Volga Dream. (B, L, D)

    Day 6: Goritsy
    In the tiny settlement of Goritsy, visit the Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery, founded in 1397, and now home to one of the best collections of Russian icons in the world. After a guided tour, continue cruising toward majestic Lake Onega. Tonight, enjoy a Russian dinner with vodka tasting on board the ship. (B, L, D)

    Day 7: Kizhi Island
    The Kareliya region, which spans the area from St. Petersburg to the Arctic Circle, is a vast wilderness of forest and water. Discover Lake Onega, fed by 58 rivers and home to 1,369 islands, including Kizhi. See a collection of ancient Russian wooden houses and windmills, and the famous Transfiguration church, built in 1714 without a single nail. Later, back on board the ship, enjoy a piano concert featuring pieces by Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff. (B, L, D)

    Day 8:  Yaroslavl
    Founded in 1010, Yaroslavl is one of the oldest cities in central Russia and the Volga’s first port. In the Spassky Monastery, see the Transfiguration of the Savior and admire the mosaics at the Church of Elijah the Prophet. Take part in a costumed reception at the governor’s house, and then re-board the MS Volga Dream in time for lunch. Later, take part in a Russian tea ceremony and cooking class. (B, L, D)

    Day 9:  Uglich
    After a full day of cruising through forested countryside, dock in the ancient trading town of Uglich, one of the spokes of Russia’s renowned Golden Ring. Explore the impressive Church of St. Dmitri-on-the-Blood, erected on the site where Dmitri, son of Ivan the Terrible, was murdered in 1591, and attend an enchanting concert of choral music at St. John’s Church. Later, back on board the ship, enjoy a documentary film, “Construction of the Moscow Canal.” (B, L, D)

    Day 10: Moscow Arrival
    In the early afternoon, disembark from the Volga Dream and transfer to the deluxe St. Regis Moscow Hotel Nikolskaya or the Ararat Park Hyatt Hotel. After lunch, join an orientation tour of Moscow and visit the famous Novodevichy Cemetery which holds the tombs of Russian authors, musicians, playwrights, and poets, as well as famous actors, political leaders, and scientists. Next, visit the Museum of Cosmonautics to learn about Yury Gagarin’s first flight into space. Then, proceed to an outdoor Exhibition of Achievements of the People’s Economy – a truly remarkable footprint of Soviet Architecture and design. (B, L)

    Day 11:  Moscow
    This morning, enter the Kremlin for a visit to the Armoury Museum to view its collection of opulent coronation finery, hand-forged armour, weapons, royal carriages and sleighs, and dazzling Faberge eggs. View the ornate gems of the Diamond Fund, including Catherine the Great’s diamond-encrusted coronation crown and the 190-carat Orlov Diamond. Afterwards, continue to the Square of Four Cathedrals. After lunch, walk around the famous Red Square and visit GUM – Moscow’s largest department store. The rest of the day is at leisure to explore Moscow on your own or seek out a cultural performance at one of the city’s renowned venues. IRT clients especially love taking in a ballet at the world-renowned Bolshoi Theater. Tickets MUST be booked in advance. Contact us for details. (B, L)

    Day 12:  Moscow
    This morning we continue our city tour of Moscow. After lunch, proceed to the famous State Tretyakov Gallery, the first museum dedicated exclusively to Russian fine art. We end the day with an enlightening tour of the opulent and unique stations of the Moscow Metro – showpieces of Socialist art furnished with statues, frescoes and mosaics, unsurpassed anywhere in the world. (B, L)

    Day 13:  Depart Moscow
    This morning, check out from your hotel and transfer to the Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express at Moscow’s Kazansky Station.
    Upon arrival at Moscow Kazansky Station, you will be greeted in the magnificent Imperial Waiting Room with a cold glass of Russian Champagne and canapes as you mix with the other guests and are welcomed by the train staff. The excitement in the waiting room audibly mounts and, 30 minutes before departure, your car attendants will escort you to Platform 1 where the Golden Eagle awaits. (B, D)

    Day 14:  Kazan
    Situated on the River Volga, the picturesque and historic city of Kazan is the capital of Tatarstan. Here we have the opportunity to see for ourselves its rich tapestry of history and culture. One of the highlights of this city tour is our exploration of the Kremlin Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Within the walls of this ancient citadel, explore the stunning mosque and picture-perfect onion-domed cathedral. (B, L, D)

    Day 15:  Yekaterinburg
    Founded in 1723 by Peter the Great, Yekaterinburg is the capital of the Urals. Known as the Great Divide, the Ural Mountains create the natural border between Europe and Asia so that the cultural and architectural influences of European and Asian civilizations come together in this fascinating and cosmopolitan landscape. Our city tour takes us to the poignant site where the Romanov Tsar, Nicholas II of Russia, was executed with his family by the Bolsheviks in 1918 following 78 days of imprisonment. Now a church dedicated to their memory, this site provides us with a powerful insight into the turmoil of the Russian Revolution. We will also drive to the obelisk marking the geographical border and we can drink a glass of champagne with one foot in Europe and the other in Asia.

    Our program today features a visit to the recently opened Museum of Military Machinery. The museum houses an amazing collection of different types of military hardware, including tanks, aircraft, boats and even armoured trains. You will also see a wide range of civilian vehicles (particularly Russian models). The museum is a real treat for anyone with an interest in the Soviet past, unparalleled by anything else along the route. (B, L, D)

    Day 16: Novosibirsk
    A modern ‘Soviet’ city, we experience the life and character of Novosibirsk’s rich culture where the arts and sciences dominate. The city is located in the heart of Russia and is situated on both banks of the River Ob. Our city tour takes us to Lenin Square where the imposing Opera House is located. An architectural marvel, it houses two permanent ballet and opera companies and is one of the largest opera houses in the world. In front of the Opera House, we visit an impressive statue of Lenin – a marvelous opportunity to have your photograph taken with this iconic political leader.

    Alternatively, south of the city you could visit Novosibirsk’s excellent Railway Museum on our Freedom of Choice tour. The museum displays locomotives and rolling stock from the late 1800’s, including carriages of  the Tsars, through to the Soviet era. Or choose to go to the Mineralogical Centre with its fine display of Siberian minerals. (B, L, D)

    Day 17: On Board the Golden Eagle
    Today is a day to unwind and reflect on the many sights and sounds we have experienced on our journey so far. Chat to your fellow passengers, perhaps learn a few words of Russian or simply enjoy the ever changing landscape outside your window as it unfolds. (B, L, D)

    Day 18: Irkutsk
    Our visit to Irkutsk, the ‘Paris of Siberia’, takes in the most significant sites and museums in this fascinating city, including an exploration of the classic wooden architecture with its intricately carved lace- like decorations that has given many of this region’s buildings such a distinctive and unique appearance. We also visit the Volkonsky House Museum, which is dedicated to the memory of the aristocrats who were exiled to this remote outpost after the failed Decembrist uprising of 1825, and we recreate the
    atmosphere of that time with a champagne reception and private concert.

    Later, learn to cook some traditional Russian dishes with a local chef and prepare your own lunch with our Freedom of Choice option. Or you might also wish to visit a traditional Russian Dacha (summer house) or an urban apartment to get an insight into the everyday life of an average Russian family. (B, L, D)

    Day 19: Lake Baikal
    Few natural sights can surpass the beauty and grandeur of Lake Baikal, a major highlight on our Trans-Siberian journey. Lake Baikal is the deepest lake in the world and holds 20 percent of the world’s fresh water.

    Also known as the ‘Pearl of Siberia,’ it is home to a unique breed of freshwater seal and over 50 species of fish including omul. For five hours we wind our way through tunnels along cliff-hugging tracks above the lake with a vista of snow-capped peaks along the far shore forming a picture-perfect backdrop.

    To add to the grandeur of the day, our Golden Eagle train will be hauled by a Soviet-era steam locomotive on this beautiful section of the line. There will be plenty of opportunities for photographs as the train winds its way along the lake. This will be an unforgettable part of our journey.

    Weather permitting, we stop in an extremely picturesque location by the lake for photographic opportunities. For the brave of heart, there is time for a refreshing swim in the crystal clear and ice-cold waters of Baikal. Travelling onward to the end of the Baikal branch line, we leave the train and travel by boat on the lake to Listvyanka, a small Baikal settlement nestling at the base of the surrounding hills. There, we visit the Lake Baikal Museum and Aquarium, where you can learn about the flora and fauna of the lake.

    We will enjoy a delicious barbecue, including freshly smoked omul fish, prepared by our own chefs on the shore of Lake Baikal to complete a memorable day.

    As part of our Freedom of Choice excursion program, you can choose a hiking opportunity that offers some spectacular and panoramic hillside views of the lake below.  (B, L, D)

    Day 20: Ulan Ude
    The ethnic and cultural diversity of Ulan Ude, the capital of the Buryat Republic, offers a unique insight into its heritage. As we tour the area you will notice the different faces of these welcoming Buryat people. During our exploration of the Old Believers’ Village, we have the opportunity to learn about the culture and history of these religious people as we are treated to a concert featuring local traditions and folk singing. (B, L, D)

    Day 21: Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia
    Our Trans-Siberian adventure now takes us into Mongolia’s capital of Ulaan Baatar. Mongolia, once the very centre of an enormous empire led by Genghis Khan, is a country of beautiful landscapes and nomadic people, and is rich in both culture and history. Mongolia is famous for its endless green Steppes, grazing livestock, and white, nomadic Gers (Yurts) dotted all across the countryside.

    We start the tour at Gandan Monastery, one of Mongolia’s most important Buddhist Monasteries housing a community of over 500 monks. The full name, Gandantegchinlen, translates as ‘the great place of complete joy’. At Chinggis Square (formerly Sukhbaatar Square) we can see the central monument to Genghis Khan, undoubtedly the most feared and revered Mongol. We then drive out of the city to Gorkhi-Terelj National Park and enjoy the beautiful scenery of wild Mongolia, having the opportunity to visit a traditional Ger and meet a nomadic family, or try our hand at horse-riding, an intrinsic part of Mongolian life.

    Alternatively, there is an option to stay in the city as part of our Freedom of Choice tour. After Gandan Monastery and Chinggis Square we visit the National Museum where we learn about the country’s intriguing history. We will also see Bogd Khan Winter Palace Museum, the winter residences of Bogd Khan, the last Mongolian emperor, built between 1893 and 1903.

    We can also explore the city and have some free time for shopping for Mongolian souvenirs, and their
    specialty cashmere. Finally, enjoy a performance of traditional Mongolian throat singing and contortionists before re-boarding the train. (B, L, D)

    Day 22: On Board the Golden Eagle
    Enjoy a more leisurely pace today as we travel through the beautiful landscape of the Russian Far East. You
    may wish to attend one of the interesting lectures, or a Russian language lesson. (B, L, D)

    Day 23: On Board the Golden Eagle
    We have another relaxing day today. It’s the perfect opportunity to practice your Russian or simply relax as our journey follows the Shilka and Amur rivers, close to the Chinese border. Enjoy Russia at its most dramatic and remote, as the Golden Eagle travels onward to Vladivostok. (B, L, D)

    Day 24: On Board the Golden Eagle
    Passing directly north of Seoul, Darwin and Osaka, we spend our last full day on board the Golden Eagle today as the most easterly point of this mammoth journey is reached when we pass through Khabarovsk and cross the River Amur. Tonight we enjoy our final dinner on board our private train that has been our home for the last twelve days as we approach our final destination on this unforgettable journey. (B, L, D)

    Day 25: Vladivostok
    After travelling through 8 time zones and covering a staggering 6,600 miles (10,600kms) along this iconic railway, the Golden Eagle pulls into its final destination, Vladivostok. Vladivostok is a military port, located on the western shores of the Sea of Japan and is home to the Russian Navy’s Pacific Fleet. Due to its military importance, the city was closed to foreigners between 1930 and 1992. Vladivostok (literally translated as ‘Ruler of the East’) offers visitors an interesting opportunity to explore its principal military attractions including a visit to a preserved World War Two submarine. Our city tour will also take us to the iconic suspension bridge over Golden Horn Bay, one of the largest of its kind worldwide, which opened in 2012 for the APEC conference. Our hotel in Vladivostok, where we stay for one night, is the four-star Hotel Hyundai. (B, L, D)

    Day 26: Vladivostok
    Following breakfast, you will be transferred to Vladivostok Airport to begin your journey home. (B)

    2017 Dates:

    July 12-August 6

    2018 Dates:

    Trip is not available in 2018.

    2019 Dates:

    To Be Announced

    The Prices

    2017 Pricing: Please note: All prices are per person.
    MS Volga Dream Cabin Categories Silver Cabin (Golden Eagle)
    Gold Cabin (GE)
    Imperial Cabin (GE)
    Standard Twin Cabin Deck
    $20,590
    $24,190
    $36,590
    Superior Twin Main Deck
    $21,290
    $24,890
    $37,290
    Deluxe Double Promenade Deck
    $21,790
    $25,390
    $37,790
    Deluxe Twin Sun Deck
    $21,990
    $25,590
    $37,990
    Junior Suite Double Promenade & Sun Deck  $22,790  $26,390  $38,790
    Deluxe Junior Suite Double Sun Deck  $23,590  $27,190  $39,590
    Owner’s Suite Double Promenade Deck  $25,090  $28,690  $41,090
     Single Occupancy Cabins on MS Volga Dream
     Standard Single Promenade Deck  $30,790  $36,790  On request
     Deluxe Single Sun Deck  $31,290  $37,290  On request

    For single occupancy of other cabin categories, please contact us for pricing.

    Other

    Deposit required:  10% of the total tour cost.

    Please note: Arrival and departure transfers included, even if you extend your stay.

    Double-entry Russian visa required for this trip.

    Latest News: Click here for Track 25, our blog, for the latest news on this and other tours on our World’s Top 25 Trains™.

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    The Highlights

    • Guided tours in St. Petersburg, Yaroslavl, Moscow, Kazan, Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk, Lake Baikal, Ulan Ude, Ulaan Baatar, & Vladivostok
    • Private before-hours tour of the Hermitage Museum (located in the Winter Palace of the Tsars) in St. Petersburg
    • Tour Peterhof, the “Versailles of Russia,” and Catharine the Great’s Palace, home of the Amber Room
    • Visit Lake Lagoda, Lake Onega, and Yaroslavl, one of the oldest cities in central Russia
    • Afternoon barbecue on Lake Baikal shore, largest freshwater lake in the world (weather permitting)
    • Dinner, concert and dancing provided by the Old Believers, breakaway Eastern Orthodox sect living outside Ulan Ude
    • Irkutsk, elegant home of the upper-class “Decembrist” revolutionaries, exiled by Tsar Nicholas I in 1825
    • Yekaterinburg, infamous execution site of Tsar Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra, their son, daughters and servants, by the Bolsheviks in 1918
    • Grand Moscow’s Red Square, the Kremlin and Kremlin museum, with its Imperial jewels and Fabergé eggs
    • Most meals (in St. Petersburg & Moscow, you are on your own for dinner for a few evenings), fine wine with lunch and dinner, hotels, gratuities, off-train tours and arrival/departure transfers included
    • 3 nights at the 5-star Belmond Grand Hotel Europe in St. Petersburg, 3 nights at the 5-star Ararat Park Hyatt or the 5-star St. Regis Moscow Nikolskaya, and 1 night at the 4-star Hotel Hyundai in Vladivostok
    Inside the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.
    Inside the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.
    Moscow's Red Square  (Photo by Owen Hardy)
    Moscow's Red Square (Photo by Owen Hardy)
    The Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express at Lake Baikal.  (Photo by Owen Hardy)
    The Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express at Lake Baikal. (Photo by Owen Hardy)
    The MS Volga Dream cruises between St. Petersburg and Moscow. Photo by Golden Eagle Luxury Trains.
    The MS Volga Dream cruises between St. Petersburg and Moscow. Photo by Golden Eagle Luxury Trains.