Arrival Transfer to the Ship
On arrival in St. Petersburg, our driver will meet you at the airport with a Go Russia sign board. Transfer to the ship where we'll kick off the proceedings with a cocktail reception.
City Tour around St. Petersburg
After breakfast, we take to the streets of St Petersburg for a guided tour. It's a magnificent city, enchanting visitors with a plethora of historical and cultural sights. St. Petersburg is a city of canals and rivers, built on 101 islands and linked by 350 graceful bridges, thus earning the name "Venice of the North". Our bus tour will stop at the major landmarks including the Peter & Paul Fortress and the Church of Christ’s Resurrection (The Saviour of the Blood), which revives the traditions of 17th century Russian church building.
Visit to the Hermitage
The Hermitage's collection of over three million works of art from masters such as Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt and Picasso puts it into a class of its own. The building itself is stunning; once the Tsar's Winter Palace, it occupies a prime location in the city overlooking the River Neva. Even spending a day in this great museum will leave you longing for more.
Free Time in the Village
Today's stop is at the village of Mandrogi, picturesquely situated on the river surrounded by woodland. The villagers will welcome us and present a special programme of their traditions and culture and then we will have the opportunity to visit a museum dedicated to Russian vodka at Remeslennaya Sloboda to learn all there is to know about the production of this classic Russian spirit. There are plenty of opportunities to wander around the village and through the nearby forest as well as to admire the wooden architecture here.
Visit to the Open-air Museum of Wooden Architecture
Sailing as far as Kizhi via the Volga-Baltic canal, we pause at the northern end of Lake Onega to visit the renowned Museum of Wooden Architecture. The Church of the Transfiguration, with over twenty domes, is the ultimate in Russian fairy-tale church architecture. The Kizhi museum is one of the most interesting cultural sights in Northern Russia, and is also recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Visit to the Largest Monastery of the Russian North
Today we reach Goritsy, a tiny settlement where the largest Russian Orthodox monastery of the Russian North, the Kirillo-Belozersky monastery, is found. We'll stop to explore before continuing our river journey later in the afternoon.
City Tour around Yaroslavl
Yaroslavl is an important port strung out for eighteen miles on both banks of the Volga. Founded in the 11th century by Prince Yaroslav the Wise, many of its architectural and historic treasures have been preserved. Deserving of a special mention are the magnificent 13th century Spassky Monastery complex, a group of several majestic 17th century cathedrals, an elegant rotunda and the remains of an ancient trading centre.
Unknown corner of the Russian Golden Ring Ancient Plios, with 2514 inhabitants, is the smallest and perhaps the most picturesque historic town of the Russian Golden Ring, famous for breathtaking riverside vistas, tastefully restored period Chekhov-style dachas (cottages) and inimitable atmosphere of relaxed but sophisticated country living. Optional tour to Suzdal.
City Tour around Nizhny Novgorod
Today, we arrive in Nizhny Novgorod, colloquially shortened as Nizhny, the fifth largest city in Russia, ranking after Moscow, St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk and Yekaterinburg. We'll visit its interesting Kremlin before taking a stroll along the car-free promenade called Pokrovska. Reboarding the shop, we set off for Kazan.
City Tour around Kazan
The fascinating city of Kazan, half Russian, half Tatar, has a long and chequered history. Founded in the 13th century by the Mongols, it served as the seat of the Golden Horde or Tatar Empire. The Golden Horde was destroyed and it became the capital of the Khanate of Kazan, but it wasn't to last: Ivan the Terrible conquered the city in the 16th century bringing it under Russian rule. It is absolutely charming with a unique blend of Muslim and Christian cultures. We will enjoy a guided visit to the UNESCO-listed Kazan Kremlin. Also of interest are the towers and walls, erected in the 16th and 17th centuries but later reconstructed; the Qol-Şarif mosque, which has been rebuilt inside the citadel.
City Tour around Ulianovsk. Visit to the Lenin Museum
Ulianovsk was called Simbirsk back in 1870 when Lenin was born. He lived in homes in this town until 1887 which exist today for us to pay a visit. Lenin's real name was Vladimir Ulyanov, and in 1924, the town honoured its visionary former resident by changing its name. We'll pay a visit to the Lenin Museum in order to find out more.
City Tour around Samara
We dock in Samara, one of the largest Russian cities and once a closed city during Soviet times. As Kuybyshev, renamed in 1935 in honour of Bolshevik leader Valerian Kuybyshev, it was an important centre for the defence industry during the Cold War. It was also nominated as Russia's alternative capital during WW2 in case Moscow fell to the invading Nazis. A city tour around Samara will give us the chance to find out more.
City Tour around Saratov
It's thought the name Saratov might originate from "Sary tau" meaning yellow mountain, a reference to the sandy hills which surround the city. It was once the home to migrants from Germany who moved here in the 18th and 19th centuries and settled in what was an autonomous republic. However, the Second World War changed all that and they were shipped off to Kazakhstan and Siberia. The city was "closed" during the Soviet era as it was a major military aircraft manufacturing base. It was also, incidentally, the home of Yuri Gagarin, first man in space.
City Tour around Volgograd
Volgograd, once known as Tsaritsyn and later Stalingrad, has a tragic history. Destroyed by 200 days of intense shelling in World War Two, this courageous city has quite literally risen from the ashes to become the modern city you see today. The symbolic renaming of the city to reflect Russia's longest and best loved river is a nod to the many casualties who lost their lives during what Russians call the Great Patriotic War. We'll have a guided visit to Mamaev Kurgan where we can pay our respects at the statue of The Motherland Calls.
Along the Volga
We sail along the Volga today so sit back, relax and enjoy the scenic views as we make for Astrakhan.
City Tour around Astrakhan
Today we take a city tour around Astrakhan, located on the Volga Delta about 100km from the Caspian Sea. It dates from about the 13th century and was an important settlement at the time of the Golden Horde. Ivan the Terrible muscled in eventually, destroying the Tatar city and claiming it for Russia. It remains today a trading centre for sturgeon and the production of caviar.
Along the Volga
Once again we have a free day to sail along the Volga, giving us time to reflect on what we've seen over the past two weeks.
A second stop at Volgograd gives us free time to explore the city on our own. There's the opportunity of an optional visit to the Military Cemetery in Rossoshki.
Along the Volga
Leaving Volgograd, we continue to cruise along the Volga today.
Our restful journey will give us plenty of energy to recommence our sightseeing programme today with a visit to Rostov-on-Don, where our cruise ends. Modern Rostov-on-Don was founded on December 15, 1749 as a customs house was set up to control the trade with Turkey. The Volga-Don Shipping Canal transformed trade in the area and so in 1952 Rostov effectively became a port for five seas: the Black Sea, the Sea of Azov, the Caspian Sea, the White Sea and the Baltic Sea.
Tour Dates & Prices
Departure Transfer from the Ship
We'll ensure you are collected and transferred safely to the airport for your return flight.