Saint Petersburg & Moscow for Single and Solo Travellers
Many consider Saint Petersburg to be the cultural capital of Russia, due to its rich historical traditions, the beautiful museums and the many monument from the era of Tsarist Russia. Back in the eighteenth century the most famous artists received the order to transform the city into a symphony of marble and gold. Once you will wander around here, you will literally be taken back to the times that Saint Petersburg was the centre of the mighty Russian empire. Saint Petersburg is especially famous for its magical White Nights.
Moscow is the capital of the biggest country in the world and a marvellous city full of rough and chaotic energy. It is a huge city where an approximate ten percent of the total Russian population is living, but where more than 80 percent of the total wealth has accumulated. As everywhere in Russia, Moscow is a mix between two worlds: Europe and Asia, democracy and communism, happiness and sorrow, wealth and poverty. But Moscow is more than the capital of all these contrasts. She is the oversized, exaggerated example of all that is good and bad about Russia. A few days in this vibrant city and you will be overwhelmed by her speed of life, energy, crowds, energy, monuments, possibilities and notorious nightlife.
From 28 July to 3 August 2019 (7 days)
€ 1,190 per person (supplement single room € 250)
This price includes:
✓ Flight from Brussels to Saint Petersburg and from Moscow to Brussels (alternative city of departure is possible)
✓ Accommodation in good hotels in Saint Petersburg and Moscow (on double sharing basis)
✓ Train from Saint Petersburg to Moscow
✓ Transport in comfortable (mini)bus or metro
✓ Excursions (see ‘The Trip in Detail’)
✓ Services of an English speaking guide
✓ Entrance fees to museums, monuments etcetera (see ‘The Trip in Detail’)
✓ River cruise in Moscow
✓ Letter of Invitation for Russia and visa support
✓ Professional guidance by Eastward Travels, before and during the trip
This price does not include:
✓ All personal expenses, like phone bills, insurances, medical expenses etcetera
✓ Tickets for Bolshoi and Mariinski Theater (optional)
✓ Visa (total costs around € 70)
✓ Lunches and dinners
Flight details (other points of departure possible)
28 July 2019, Brussels – Saint Petersburg (travel duration: 3 hours)
3 August 2019, Moscow – Brussels (travel duration: 3 hours and 20 minutes)
Minimum 8, maximum 16 persons
Saint Petersburg & Moscow, Day by Day
Day 01: Departure from Brussels (or elsewhere) Day 02: Saint Petersburg, city tour Day 03: Saint Petersburg, Hermitage & Winter palace Day 04: Peterhof and train to Moscow Day 05: Moscow, Red Square and Kremlin Day 06: Moscow, city tour and river cruise Day 07: Back Home
Saint Petersburg & Moscow in Detail
Day 01, Sunday 28 July – Departure from Brussels (or elsewhere)
From Brussels you will fly in three hours to Saint Petersburg, after Moscow the second biggest city in Russia and its most European one. After arrival you will be transferred from the airport to your hotel in the city centre.
Day 02, Monday 29 July – Saint Petersburg, City Tour
To many, Saint Petersburg is the most beautiful and romantic city in Russia. It resembles Paris, Amsterdam and Vienna, but adds a typical Russian flavour. After today you will be able to judge yourself, as you will tour around the whole city and see many of its highlights: Peter and Paul Fortress, St Isaac’s Cathedral, Church of the Saviour of Spilled Blood and Kazan Cathedral, to name a few. Probably you will visit more churches than on an average day. But they are all worth your time. For sure.
Around 300 years ago, Saint Petersburg began to rise from the Neva’s boggy delta. Thousands of workers laboured in a monumental effort against time and the elements to satisfy the autocratic will of one man: Peter the Great. Recently, to celebrate 300 years of Saint Petersburg, thousands of workers were involved in an endeavour nearly as monumental: to restore the city’s elegance and baroque grandeur. Once again, they were doing so largely to satisfy the will of one man: President Vladimir V. Putin. Eager to showcase Saint Petersburg as Russia’s window to Europe and the world, as Peter originally intended it, Putin decreed the reconstruction of dozens of historical and cultural landmarks. Among the projects was the reconstruction of the 1,000-room, 18th-century Konstantinovsky Palace, begun by Peter but never completed. Saint Petersburg today is like an aging beauty immediately after a facelift. It was indeed needed after decades of neglect during the Soviet era, which saw revolution, war and the shift of Russia’s political power to Moscow. It required millions and millions of euros but the results are obvious. Saint Petersburg looks great again. Perhaps even greater than 300 years ago.
Day 03, Tuesday 30 July – Saint Petersburg, Hermitage and Winter Palace + Mariinsky Theatre (optional)
The Hermitage fully lives up to its sterling reputation. This is one of the museums in the world that deserves a full day (if not more) to be discovered. You will be absorbed by all its treasures from the start to the very end. During a four hours guided tour you will see the ultimate highlights. After this, it is up to you to decide which other parts you would like to see. Wander around at random and be stunned by the amazing collection of the Hermitage.
If you wish, there is more culture to explore in this city. Saint Petersburg boasts some of the best theatres in the world. Why not using the opportunity to attend a performance in Mariinsky Theatre? After a day of walking around it will be such a pleasure to rest your feet while enjoying a ballet or an opera.
Day 04, Wednesday 31 July – Saint Petersburg, Palaces of Peterhof
A trip to Saint Petersburg is not really complete without a visit to one of the grand imperial palaces or estates surrounding the city. Though it is difficult to choose the best one, the gilded fountains and gardens of Petrodvorets, make this the number one estate. Perhaps also because it is possible to go here by boat. Originally built by Peter the Great to overlook the Naval Base, he liked the place so much he decided to build a villa and a whole series of palaces. Often described as the Russian Versailles it is a fantastic place to stroll around.
At the end of the afternoon you will travel by the Russian high speed train ‘Sapsan’ to Moscow. Duration of the trip is approximately four hours.
Day 05, Thursday 1 August – Moscow, the Red Square and Kremlin
You will start the day with a visit to the Red Square and St Basil’s cathedral. Naturally, you will also visit Lenin’s Mausoleum, which is also located on the Red Square. Lenin died on the 21st of January 1924, still, entering his mausoleum will give you the feeling that this happened yesterday. Silence prevails. And this is rather unique in Moscow. A stone throw away is the immense Cathedral of Jesus Christ the Saviour, destroyed by the communists, and reopened in 1997.
The Kremlin, the centre of Moscow and the centre of power in Russia, is probably the most wellknown building of Russia. You have seen it on TV or read about it in newspapers or magazines. You might link it to Putin or even Medvedev. Though it is highly unlikely you will meet these two today. But please, do not be disappointed. Instead you can admire its amazing architecture and historical buildings plus the glamour of the Armoury and Diamond Fund Exhibition. Guaranteed this is far more interesting and rewarding.
As Moscow never sleeps, it is highly advisable to spend the evening and (a part of) the night in discovering the secrets of Moscow’s nightlife.
Day 06, Friday 2 August – Moscow, City Tour + River Cruise + Bolshoi Theatre (optional)
The State Tretyakov Gallery is the national treasury of Russian fine art and one of the best museums in the world. The Gallery collection consists entirely of Russian art and artists who have made a contribution to the history of Russian art or been closely connected with it. Founded by the Tretyakov brothers, the immense collection is based on their private collection.
In most cities the metro is nothing but a means of transporting people from A to B. But in Moscow it is more than this, in spite of the fact that on a weekday over 7 million passengers use it. All metro stations on the Circle Line are works of socialist realism, giving you the feeling that you enter underground palaces.
You will finish the day with a river cruise enabling you to see the many Moscow highlights with a completely different perspective.
An evening at the Bolshoi Theatre is still one of Moscow’s most romantic options, with an electric atmosphere in the glittering six-tier auditorium. After a multiyear renovation it only recently reopened its main stage. Both the opera and the ballet are of an exceptional good level here.
Day 07, Saturday 3 August – Excursion to Novodevichy Monastery and Back Home
Novodevichy Convent is a cluster of sparkling domes behind turreted walls on the Moscow River make that the hustle and the bustle of the big city are far away. It might even feel like the Russian countryside. Afterwards you can head for Arbat, the main shopping street and a perfect place to acquire your last souvenirs.
Late afternoon you will depart to the airport, from where you will fly to Amsterdam in just over three hours.
At the end of a Russian day you will surely be pleased to be able to relax in a nice hotel and a comfortable room. Therefore, we are spending a lot of time and making serious efforts to find these places. From our point of view, it is of the utmost importance that the hotels do contribute to your overall Russia experience. Below you can find an overview of the hotels that we are using during this trip. Please, note that in case one or more of these hotels will not be available, we will offer a similar hotel.
Saint Petersburg: Egoeast Hotel Moscow: Hotel Cosmos
Almost all foreign nationals are required to have a visa to travel to Russia. A visa to Russia is a document, permitting to stay in Russia for a specific period of time. A visa lists entry/exit dates, some personal information, passport details and information about the inviting party. The procedure to obtain a visa for Russia differs per country, so it is advisable to visit the website of the Russian Embassy or Consulate in your country. Click here for an overview of Russian Embassies and Consulates in the world.
To obtain a tourist visa to enter Russia, in general, the following documents should be submitted to a Russian Embassy or Consulate:
✓ Your original passport with at least 2 blank visa-designated pages (passport must be valid for at least 6 months after intended departure date from Russia)
✓ One or two copies of a Russian Visa Application Form, completed and signed
✓ Two passport-size photos signed on the back
✓ Prove of (medical) insurance
✓ Invitation letter
Once again, do check the requirements indicated on the website of the Russian Embassy / Consulate in your country. Do also note that the price of a Russian visa differs per country and per nationality. A tourist-visa is valid for a maximum of 30 days and cannot be extended.
Before heading for the Embassy or Consulate you need to have an Invitation Letter. Without this the Embassy or Consulate will never grant you a visa for Russia. In spite of horror stories that Invitation Letters are difficult to obtain, the contrary is rather true. It is easy and pretty straightforward. The best and cheapest way is to ask the hotel of your choice to send you an invitation letter. Most hotels can do this without any problem. In case your hotel does not offer this service, it is also possible to arrange this through online-agencies. There are several agencies that can create your virtual letter of invitation, all of them do it in a communicative, reliable and quick manner. Click on one of the links for further information:
✓ Real Russia
To obtain an Invitation Letter through one of these agencies you should do the following:
✓ Register on their website
✓ Choose the appropriate Visa Invitation, normally a Single-Entry will do
✓ Indicate the starting date and the end date of your trip. If you already have tickets it is advisable to indicate these dates here
✓ Indicate where you will apply for your Visa
✓ Choose the recipient for the Visa
✓ Provide your personal information
✓ Pay with your credit card
During Russian working hours, for many nationalities, the Invitation will be ready and be sent to you within one working day after payment has been received. Then, just head for your Embassy or Consulate to apply for your visa.
Health & Safety
Medical care is readily available in Russia but it depends on where you are travelling. The biggest cities have the widest choice and especially Moscow and St Petersburg are well served. Still, prevention is the key to staying healthy.
Before you go:
✓ Compose your personal medical kit
✓ Check your health insurance
✓ Consult your government’s travel-health website
✓ Buy a DEET-based insect repellent, especially if you travel to Siberia or the Far East
✓ Visit a specialized travel-clinic to be informed about recommended vaccinations
Good medical treatment is not cheap in Russia, so take out a good and trustworthy policy. Find out in advance if your insurance plan will make payments directly to providers (preferable) or reimburse you later. Self-treatment may be appropriate if your problem is minor and you are carrying the relevant meditation. However, if you suspect you may potentially have a serious disease do not waste time. Just travel to the nearest quality clinic.
Some golden prevention rules:
✓ Never drink tap water
✓ Do not drink water from lakes or rivers
✓ Check your body if you have been walking through potentially tick-infested areas
✓ Follow the crowd, go there where the locals eat
✓ Give yourself a few days to get used to the local cuisine
In general, early summer and autumn are the best moments to travel around in Russia. By May the snow has usually disappeared and temperatures are pleasant, while in autumn (September and early October) the colours of nature are fantastic. July and August are the hottest months. Yes, it can also be hot in Moscow and Siberia. Still, logically this is the high season to travel in Russia, simply because it is holiday time. Winter is cold, sometimes extremely cold. But if you are prepared for it, travelling in winter is highly rewarding. The snow makes everything picturesque and the insides of buildings are kept pleasantly warm.
Click here to find out more about the Russian weather.
Russians love children and travelling here with them can be fun as long as you have a relaxed attitude and a degree of patience. In Moscow you can head for Gorki Park, for a rollercoaster ride in summer or ice-skating in winter. Or go to a circus, they are fantastic in Russia. In St Petersburg there are plenty of museums that your child will love. Take, for example, the Oceanarium home to sharks and seals. Or the Artillery Museum with its huge collection of tanks. In both cities there are plenty of parks, both Moscow and St Petersburg are really green cities, where your child can run around without boundaries.
Costs & Money
Moscow has the reputation to be one of the most expensive cities on the planet. And it is true, you can easily spend a fortune here. On the other hand, if you pay a bit of attention, you can also manage to spend less than a fortune. It is all up to you. After all, millions of Muscovites survive in this city on less than € 800 per month. Like in many other cities the restaurants around the tourist highlights are expensive but by far not the best. The same can be said about terraces. Just head a bit out of the center of the center and you will find great restaurants and terraces where your beer or meal is cheaper and better.
ATMs are readily available all over Russia, even in the smaller cities. Be wise though and do not wait till your last ruble before stocking up. Credit Cards are commonly excepted in the bigger cities. But if you are travelling in Siberia or the Far East it is better to not solely rely on them.