Highlights of Russia & the Baltics

Start: Moscow Finish: Vilnius

Visiting: Moscow, Suzdal, Moscow – Overnight Train, Novgorod, St Petersburg, Helsinki, Tallinn, Tallinn / Riga, Sigulda / Riga, Riga, Siauliai / Klaipeda, Curonian Spit National Park / Klaipeda, Aukstaitija National Park, Vilnius


Duration: 18 Nights

Physical rating: Low

Special diets catered: Vegetarians

Tour Operator: Intrepid Travel

Group size: 1 - 12

Age range: 15-99 years

Tour operated in: English


Prices From: $3987

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Tour Overview

Get the low-down of the historical, cultural and culinary highlights of Russia and the Baltics on a 19-day immersive experience through Russia, Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Marvel at the grandeur of Moscow, the beauty of Russia's ancient capitals Suzdal and Novgorod, and the grace of St Petersburg. See the medieval spires of Tallinn, the funky bars of Riga and the Baroque-styled quirks of Vilnius. Visit colourful markets, be immersed in art and architecture and kayak Lithuanian lakes. Discover what these northern European neighbours are hiding within their bounds – often the most unassuming of places have the best-kept secrets, and spots on this trip are no exception.

Highlights

  • iconShare in traditional tastes with visits to the homes of local friends in Suzdal and St Petersburg for a hearty home cooked meal, piles of pancakes and endless cups of tea.
  • iconWith its perfectly preserved medieval wall and watchtowers, Tallinn's quaint Old Town is an ideal place to explore on foot.
  • iconRed Square has long been at the heart of Russian history – visit the austere mausoleum of Lenin, the initiator of the 1917 Russian revolution, contrasting with the eye-bulging treasure collection in the Kremlin and Armoury Museum.
  • iconExplore 13th-century Turaida Castle on a guided tour, then wander through pristine woodlands and along the winding Guaja River.
  • iconAukstaitija National Park offers unique opportunities for both action and relaxation. Kayak across pristine lakes, indulge in home-cooked meals or cleanse yourself in a traditional sauna.

Itinerary

Map Image
icon Day 1: Moscow

Location: Moscow

Accommodation: Hotel

Zdrastvutye! Welcome to Moscow, a city that has survived centuries of revolution and tumult, from the days of the tsars through the communist era to the growing pains of democracy. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm tonight at your hotel. After the meeting, your leader will organise an optional meal so you can enjoy your first taste of delicious Russian cuisine with new friends. If you arrive in Moscow with time to spare, there’s plenty to see in this fascinating, historic city. Consider taking an immersive local-led tour with Urban Adventures like the Moscow Underground tour, which reveals Soviet Russia through the mind-bending Moscow Metro.

Optional Activities:
-Moscow - Moscow Behind the Icons Urban Adventure
-Moscow - Modern Moscow Urban Adventure
-Moscow - Victory Park Museum
-Moscow - Moscow Underground Urban Adventure
-Moscow - Tretyakov Art Gallery
-Moscow - Gorky Park - Free
-Moscow - Bolshoi Theatre
-Moscow - River Cruise
-Moscow - St Basils Cathedral
-Moscow - Red October Art Zone - Free

icon Day 2: Suzdal

Location: Suzdal

Accommodation: Guesthouse

Meals: breaksfast, dinner

Get ready for a morning of travelling. You'll take the train to Vladimir and then get transferred to Suzdal, arriving around middday. The town is a main stop on Russia’s legendary Golden Ring, the circle of ancient and former capitals that played an important part in the formation of the Russian Orthodox Church. Fairy tale-esq Suzdal is filled with contrasting examples of early Russian architecture, where onion-domed monasteries stand next to lovingly decorated wooden cottages. In the afternoon, get to know Suzdal on a 3-hour walking tour of this ‘open-air museum’. Take in the grandeur of the Kremlin, the carved stonework of the Cathedral of the Nativity, the trading square, market and monasteries. If there’s time, walk along the banks of the river and then pop into a local cafe for tea, bliny (pancakes) with caviar, or the Suzdal specialty of medovukha (honey-based spiced mead) or peek inside the crumbling churches that line the narrow streets and alleys. Tonight, meet with your group and be welcomed into a local household to enjoy some hearty home cooking.

Included Activities:
-Suzdal - Home-cooked meal and pastry baking demonstration
-Suzdal - Guided sightseeing walking tour

Optional Activities:
-Suzdal - Belfry Climb
-Suzdal - Mead Tasting

icon Day 3: Moscow

Location: Moscow

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: breaksfast

This morning, say goodbye to Suzdal and travel back to Moscow. The afternoon and evening is all yours to spend. Maybe hop on and off the metro to explore the palace-like stations, visit Tretyakov Art Gallery, or spend a leisurely afternoon at Gorky Park. Tonight would also be the perfect time if you want to see any of the theatre performances, but we recommend you to book the ticket in advance as they are in high demand.

icon Day 4: Moscow – Overnight Train

Location: Moscow – Overnight Train

Accommodation: Overnight Sleeper Train

Meals: breaksfast

Visit the mausoleum of Russia’s most famous revolutionary – Lenin. Join the groups of tourists and locals waiting see the preserved body of the initiator of the 1917 Russian revolution, contained in an austere building in Red Square. Continue with a local guide to the Kremlin grounds, home to the oldest and most important churches in the country, and the resting place for many Tsars and Tsarinas. Walk through the soaring towers and cathedrals of the political and spiritual heart of Russia before entering the Armoury Museum, home to an eye-bulging former royal collection of ambassadorial gifts, Faberge eggs, coronation robes and glittering jewels. This evening board an overnight train to Novgorod (approximately 8 hours) from Moscow's Leningradskiy railway station.

Included Activities:
-Moscow - Kremlin & Armoury Guided Tour
-Moscow - Red Square & Lenin's Mausoleum

icon Day 5: Novgorod

Location: Novgorod

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: breaksfast

Arrive early in the oldest city in Russia. Explore the city's sights on foot with your local guide. The city's foremost attraction is the graceful Kremlin on the banks of the Volkhov River. Inside there are museums and the Cathedral of St Sophia, as well as the amazing Millennium Monument, which tells the story of 1000 years of Russian history. On the opposite bank of the river are quiet shady streets, the graceful ruins of Yaroslav's Court, and other echoes times gone by. In your free time, maybe check out the Yurev Monastery on the shores of Lake Ilmen, visit the Wooden Architecture Museum just outside of town, or catch a performance at the Philharmonic Hall. In the summer you can relax on the little riverside beach or take a boat trip on the Volkhov River. Tonight, maybe hit the banya (bath house) for a refreshing steam and wash with the locals.

Included Activities:
-Novgorod - Walking Tour & Kremlin

Optional Activities:
-Novgorod - Public Banya
-Novgorod - Yuriev Monastery - Free
-Novgorod - Vitaslavlitsy Wooden Architecture Museum
-Novgorod - Volhov River Cruise

icon Day 6: St Petersburg

Location: St Petersburg

Accommodation: Hotel

Travel by private bus from Novgorod to St Petersburg, one of Russia’s most celebrated cities (approximately 4 hours). Truly one of Europe's grandest cities, the living museum of St Petersburg is a blend of baroque European architecture and Russian royal history, built by the Russian tsar Peter the Great by forced peasant labour. Head out on a walking tour with your leader to learn about the city. In the evening, visit the home of our local friends and have a tea party, Russian-style. Not all of the family members speak English, but with your leader on hand to interpret and their warm hospitality, you'll be feeling like one of the family in no time. These families live in St Petersburg's Soviet-era communal apartments, which are still common in St Petersburg. This is a truly unique local experience that you won't find anywhere else.

Included Activities:
-St Petersburg - Tea party with local family

Optional Activities:
-St Petersburg - Saint Isaac’s Cathedral
-St Petersburg - Mariinsky Theatre Perfomance
-St Petersburg - Matryoshka Doll Painting Workshop
-St Petersburg - Saint Isaac’s Cathedral Colonnade
-St Petersburg - St Petersburg like a Local Urban Adventure
-St Petersburg - Kazan Cathedral - Free
-St Petersburg - Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood
-St Petersburg - Boat Trip (price from)
-St Petersburg - State Hermitage Museum (combined ticket)
-St Petersburg - Erarta Modern Art Museum

icon Day 7: St Petersburg

Location: St Petersburg

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: breaksfast

Built on 42 islands, St Petersburg is also known as the ‘Venice of the North’. Spend a free day exploring the city, crossing its many rivers and canals at your own pace. Perhaps enjoy incredible views across the city from the colonnade at St Isaac’s Cathedral, or walk along Nevsky Prospekt – St Petersburg’s main street. Maybe pop into one of the many bakeries or coffee shops along the way, or head down to Aleksandr Nevsky Lavra where Russia's great musicians and writers like Tchaikovsky and Dostoyevsky are laid to rest in the cemetery. Feeling artistic? You could give life to a family of matryoshka dolls in a painting workshop. Whatever you choose, the city is easy to get around and your leader can help you make the most of your free day. Tonight, perhaps gather together your fellow travellers and seek out a cosy restaurant.

icon Day 8: Helsinki

Location: Helsinki

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: breaksfast

After breakfast, transfer to the train station in St Petersburg for your onward travel to Finland. Say goodbye to your Russian leader and hop on the train to Helsinki. Keep in mind that you do have another meeting scheduled at 6 pm, so if you’ve got a few hours spare once you’ve arrived, perhaps check out the magnificent Suomenlinna Sea Fortress, Senate Square or catch a performance at the National Theatre. You may want to consider purchasing the Helsinki Card – which is both an economical way to travel on Helsinki City Transport (HKL) services and free admission to the main Helsinki sights and nearly 50 museums.

Optional Activities:
-Helsinki - Ateneum Art Museum
-Helsinki - Cathedral - Free
-Helsinki - City Museum - Free
-Helsinki - Design Museum
-Helsinki - Mannerheim Museum
-Helsinki - Museum of Cultures
-Helsinki - Open-Air Museum Seurasaari
-Helsinki - National Museum of Finland
-Helsinki - Suomenlinna Sea Fortress
-Helsinki - Kiasma Contemporary Art Museum
-Helsinki - Rock Church

icon Day 9: Tallinn

Location: Tallinn

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: breaksfast

Leave Helsinki after breakfast and catch a ferry across the Gulf of Finland to the Estonian capital of Tallinn (approximately 3 hours). Arrive mid-afternoon, check into your hotel and start your time here with a short orientation walk through the city. The rest of your day is then free to enjoy this exceptionally preserved medieval city and all it has to offer. Perhaps head out and enjoy some of the region's culinary specialties or stop for a drink and people watching on the main square. With its steep red roofs, spires, pastel-coloured buildings and new restaurants and bars, Estonia's capital is a real treat to explore. Seeing the vibrant streets of Tallinn now, it's difficult to fathom that Soviet occupation only ended in 1991.

icon Day 10: Tallinn

Location: Tallinn

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: breaksfast

Today is free to do as you wish, but an exploration of the Old Town is recommended. Located here is the last remaining gothic town hall in northern Europe, Old Thomas; the Raapteek, which has housed a pharmacy since the 15th century; and St Olaf Church, a major landmark of Tallinn. You can head towards Upper Tallinn, home to the noble families, to see amazing views of Lower Tallinn and the medieval spires of the town walls. The 13th-century Toompea Castle, where the Estonian Parliament sits, and the 19th-century orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral are some of the main attractions of Upper Tallinn. Alternatively, you could head to Pirita to chill out at Tallinn's most popular beach, or visit Kadriorg Palace, a palace built by czar Peter the Great for his second wife Catherine I. Make sure you spend some time in the beautiful gardens surrounding the palace. Or perhaps head to the Kalamaja district, with it's well-preserved streets lined with colourful wooden houses.

Optional Activities:
-Tallinn - Estonian History Museum
-Tallinn - Kadriorg Palace
-Tallinn - Peter The Great Museum
-Tallinn - City Bike Tour
-Tallinn - City Museum
-Tallinn - Kiek in de Kök Tower Museum
-Tallinn - TV Tower

icon Day 11: Tallinn / Riga

Location: Tallinn / Riga

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: breaksfast

Spend the morning in Tallinn and visit any sites you missed yesterday. Depart by bus after lunch, crossing the border and arriving in the Latvian capital of Riga in the early evening. The 4-hour journey is a good chance to take a nap or relax with a podcast. Riga is renowned for its welcoming locals and a fascinating art nouveau heritage. Tonight, perhaps grab a drink at one of the many bars in the Old Town after you’ve settled into your lodgings.

icon Day 12: Sigulda / Riga

Location: Sigulda / Riga

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: breaksfast

Travel by public transport to Sigulda, a pretty town with medieval history that backs onto Gauja National Park. Take the cablecar across the river to Turaida Castle, which began construction in 1214 and is made from striking red bricks. Take a guided tour and then explore the castle grounds which feature sculptures set in evergreen woodland. Take a hike along the winding Gauja River with your leader, taking in the clear air and thick Latvian forest. Return to Riga in the afternoon and spend the rest of the day as you please.

Included Activities:
-Sigulda - Gauja River Cable Car
-Sigulda - Day Trip
-Sigulda - Turaida Castle Guided Tour

icon Day 13: Riga

Location: Riga

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: breaksfast

Today you will finally get the chance to explore your base for the past two nights, beautiful Riga. Take an orientation tour and see the Doma Cathedral, St Peter's Basilica, House of Blackheads, the Swedish Gate, The Great Guild & Small Guild and the Cat House. There is nothing scheduled for the rest of the day, so you are free to explore at your own pace. Perhaps pay a visit to The Museum of Occupation of Latvia, which offers insight into the hardships suffered by Latvians during its occupation by, first, the Germans and, later, the Soviets. The Central Market Halls are a great place to haggle for supplies for a picnic lunch if it takes your fancy. Make sure you give the bitter but reputedly healthy Riga Black Balsam a try. The recipe is secret, but it contains rare ingredients such as Valerian, Wormwood, Black Pepper, Ginger, Gentian and Linden flower.

Optional Activities:
-Riga - Riverboat Cruise
-Riga - St Peter's Tower
-Riga - Central Market Halls - Free
-Riga - Museum of Occupation of Latvia - Free
-Riga - Beer Spa

icon Day 14: Siauliai / Klaipeda

Location: Siauliai / Klaipeda

Accommodation: Guesthouse

Meals: breaksfast

Set off by private bus after breakfast and cross the border into Lithuania. After a stop at the famous Hill of Crosses at Siauliai, continue onto the former Prussian city of Klaipeda (approximately 6 hours in total), the city of sculptures and jazz. Klaipeda used to be a member of the Hanseatic League and is the gateway to the Curonian Spit – a long and narrow sand dune peninsula separating the Curonian lagoon from the Baltic Sea. Upon arrival check into our local family-owned guesthouse, then head out to the waterfront and explore the Old Town centre, which features 18th-century wooden buildings and other historic monuments.

Included Activities:
-Siauliai - Hill of Crosses

icon Day 15: Curonian Spit National Park / Klaipeda

Location: Curonian Spit National Park / Klaipeda

Accommodation: Guesthouse

Meals: breaksfast

Today, take a day trip to explore the unique World Heritage-listed Curonian Spit National Park – the second-oldest national park in the former Soviet Union. This is a spectacular landscape full of beaches, sand dunes and forested areas. The peninsula is only 400 metres wide in parts but 98 kilometres long. It formed only 5000 years ago by strong winds and currents which constantly change the shape of the landscape to this day. Only recently a whole village was swallowed by the inexorable sand. According to legend, the spit was formed by the girl giant Neringa, who poured sand into the Baltic Sea to protect the bay from storms and create an embankment for fishermen to live. On our day trip you will explore the tiny village of Nida and the surrounding beaches by bike. Look in the distance to see the Russian border, and learn about amber, which has been mined here since the 19th century. Spot the rather unique attribute of the area, the weather vanes. Each village has its own unique design. For lunch, perhaps try the smoked pike for which the spit is famous.

Included Activities:
-Curonian Spit - Bike Ride
-Curonian Spit - Full Day Trip to the National Park

icon Day 16: Aukstaitija National Park

Location: Aukstaitija National Park

Accommodation: Homestay

Meals: breaksfast, dinner

After breakfast, travel by a mix of private transport and local trains to the town of Ignalina (approximately 6 hours) and then on to Aukstaitija (pronounced owk-sty-chee-ah) National Park and the charming village of Ginuciai where our home stay is located. As one of the most delightful national parks in the Baltic states, Aukstaitija has 126 lakes, an abundance of waterways, hills and woods. Enjoy the hospitality and home-cooking of our host family for the next two days.

icon Day 17: Aukstaitija National Park

Location: Aukstaitija National Park

Accommodation: Homestay

Meals: breaksfast, lunch, dinner

This morning you will take a guided kayak ride through the lakes and rivers, past villages and through forests, to an ancient pagan site on top of a hill with a wishing tree. The top affords great views across the surrounding forests and lakes. The rest of the day is free to visit some of the local attractions, such as the nearby villages that date from the 14th century and consist of traditional wooden houses and farmsteads. The 19th-century Ginuciai Watermill is another point of interest. You can hike to some glorious lookouts, do some fishing, take a swim in the lake or river rapids, or just relax. Perhaps ask our host family to fire up the sauna for the ultimate relaxation and cleansing experience.

Included Activities:
-Aukstaitija National Park - Guided Kayak Trip

Optional Activities:
-Aukstaitija National Park - Sauna
-Aukstaitija National Park - Bike Hire

icon Day 18: Vilnius

Location: Vilnius

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: breaksfast

Continue your journey today by local train to the capital of Lithuania, Vilnius (approximately 4 hours). Having once been occupied by Sweden, Poland, France and Russia, each occupier has left its mark in some way on this picturesque city. Vilnius offers a different picture of the Baltics than Riga and Tallinn, but it’s every bit as interesting. On arrival, take an orientation walk with your leader that covers Cathedral Square and its free-standing belfry an the length of pedestrianised Pilies Gatve, lined by baroque churches. The rest of the day is free. A definite must is a visit to the Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights, previously called the Museum of Genocide Victims and better known under the name KGB Museum, as it is located in the former KGB headquarters of Vilnius. If you’d like a break from Vilnius’ historic monuments, maybe take a walk through some of the charming gardens around the city. Perhaps visit the ‘republic’ of Uzupis. This inner-city quarter declared independence from Lithuania in 1997 and has statue of Frank Zappa.

Optional Activities:
-Trakai - History Museum & Castle
-Vilnius - TV Tower
-Vilnius - KGB Museum
-Vilnius - Gediminas Castle Tower
-Vilnius - University Museum
-Vilnius - National Museum
-Vilnius - KGB Museum Tour

icon Day 19: Vilnius

Location: Vilnius

Meals: breaksfast

Your Baltic Experience comes to an end today. Have the time to stay on and dive deeper in Vilnius? An Urban Adventure is the perfect way to see the city through local eyes. Check out urbanadventures.com/destination/Vilnius-tours for information.

Optional Activities:
-Vilnius - Undiscovered Vilnius Urban Adventure
-Vilnius - Flavours of Vilnius Urban Adventure

What's Included

  • icon
    Accommodation

    Hotel (12 nights), Guesthouse (6 night), Overnight Sleeper Train (1 night), Homestay (2 nights)

  • icon
    Meals

    17 breakfasts, 1 lunches, 3 dinners

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    Aukstaitija National Park - Guided Kayak Trip

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    Sigulda - Gauja River Cable Car

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    St Petersburg - Tea party with local family

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    Suzdal - Home-cooked meal and pastry baking demonstration

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    Curonian Spit - Full Day Trip to the National Park

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    Suzdal - Guided sightseeing walking tour

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    Suzdal - Guided Walking Tour

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    Sigulda - Turaida Castle Guided Tour

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    Moscow - Red Square & Lenin's Mausoleum

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    Curonian Spit - Bike Ride

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    Novgorod - Walking Tour & Kremlin

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    Sigulda - Day Trip

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    Siauliai - Hill of Crosses

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    Suzdal - Home-cooked dinner

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    Moscow - Kremlin & Armoury Guided Tour

Accommodation

  • Hotel (12 nights), Guesthouse (6 night), Overnight Sleeper Train (1 night), Homestay (2 nights)

Transport

  • Overnight Sleeper Train , Private Vehicle , Public Bus , High Speed Train , Taxi , Metro , Ferry , Canoe , Tram

Included Activities

  • Suzdal - Home-cooked dinner
  • Suzdal - Guided Walking Tour
  • Moscow - Kremlin & Armoury Guided Tour
  • Moscow - Red Square & Lenin's Mausoleum
  • Novgorod - Walking Tour & Kremlin
  • St Petersburg - Tea party with local family
  • Sigulda - Gauja River Cable Car
  • Sigulda - Day Trip
  • Sigulda - Turaida Castle Guided Tour
  • Siauliai - Hill of Crosses
  • Curonian Spit - Bike Ride
  • Curonian Spit - Full Day Trip to the National Park
  • Aukstaitija National Park - Guided Kayak Trip

Book with Confidence

  • icon
    Low Deposit

    Intrepid Travel requires a deposit of 200 GBP to secure a place on this tour, and the final balance is not due till 21 days before departure..

  • icon
    Secure payments

    All payments to TourHub are deposited into an externally regulated Trust account.


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    Spend the majority of time amongst your group to reduce exposure to others

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    Travel more exclusively

    Your tour guide can focus all their attention on your group

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Dates & Availability

Select departure month

Saturday Jun 19, 2021

Nights

19

Available

8

$3987.19

Saturday Jul 10, 2021

Nights

19

Available

6

$3987.19

Saturday Jul 31, 2021

Nights

19

Available

11

$4146.96

Saturday Aug 14, 2021

Nights

19

Available

11

$4146.96

Saturday Aug 28, 2021

Nights

19

Available

12

$4146.96

Saturday Sep 04, 2021

Nights

19

Available

7

$4105.28

Saturday Sep 18, 2021

Nights

19

Available

11

$3987.19