Take a husky tour in Finland
Check into Hotel Kamp
On arrival at Helsinki airport, you’ll be met by our driver for a private transfer to the Hotel Kämp, Helsinki’s most prestigious hotel, built in 1887.
Arrival and orientation tour
There’ll be time for you to settle in and freshen up before our private city tour. Accompanied by an excellent guide, you’ll see some of the sights for which Helsinki is best known, including the Helsinki Cathedral, Uspenski Church and Helsinki City Museum. We’ll have you back at the hotel in time for dinner.
Suomenlinna Maritime Fortress
We’ll continue our sightseeing programme of Helsinki with a boat ride across to Suomenlinna Maritime Fortress. Despite its location within sight of the Finnish capital, it was actually built by the neighbouring Swedes back in 1748 to defend the city from Russian attack. The Russians used it as a garrison when they conquered in 1808 and it wasn’t to end up in Finnish hands until in 1918. There’s plenty to explore and we’ll return to the mainland for lunch where we’ll sample reindeer meat at one of the eateries in the central market, located just across the quayside from the boat dock.
City sightseeing: museum visits
This afternoon, we’ll enjoy visiting some of Helsinki’s best museums, in a programme that can be tailored to your own interests. Perhaps choose from the Museum of Contemporary Art, Museum of Photography, Bank of Finland Museum or the Post Museum.
Dinner at Muru Restaurant
For dinner tonight we’ve selected Muru Restaurant. They claim to offer fun dining rather than fine dining, but we’d say it’s both. Don’t forget to admire the quirky bar made from old wine boxes.
Ferry trip across the Gulf of Finland
Today we’ve arranged a full day excursion to the city of Tallinn, across the Gulf of Finland. You’ll take the comfortable ferry from the centre of Helsinki and make the two hour crossing to the Estonian capital. Catching the ferry requires an early start, but it’s a popular day trip nevertheless. You’ll be able to relax on board and enjoy a leisurely breakfast before disembarking.
City tour of Tallinn
In Tallinn, our guide will be waiting to meet you and you’ll enjoy a comprehensive sightseeing tour of the city. You’ll get a flavour of Tallinn, seeing its most important sights such as the city’s ramparts, Town Hall Square, St Catherine Passage, the domed St Alexander Nevsky cathedral, the cannon tower known as Kiek in de Kök and the view over the city from the Kohtuotsa viewpoint. There’ll also be time to visit the Tallinn TV Tower; on a clear day you can see across the Gulf of Finland from the top. We’ll make sure you are delivered to the ferry in plenty of time for the return crossing to Helsinki. On board, you’ll be able to have dinner. On arrival in Helsinki, you’ll be met by a driver who’ll take you back to the hotel.
Seurasaaren open air museum
It’s our final day in Helsinki. Opening for the summer in May each year, the Seurasaaren open air museum is a good choice if its season coincides with your visit. Located on an island near the city, there are a wide range of wooden buildings brought from all corners of Finland to explore, including a church, hayloft, farmsteads and manor houses.
This afternoon, if the weather’s sunny, we’d recommend you go for a stroll in Kaivopuisto Park – in summer it’s a great choice for a picnic and in winter, for tobogganing down the hill.
Ateneum art museum and gallery
If the weather’s not playing ball, then instead head indoors to admire the art on display at the Ateneum which has a wide range of art showcasing the nation’s best artists past and present.
Dinner at Ateljé Finne
Dinner tonight is at the atmospheric Ateljé Finne, housed in what was once the studio of Finnish sculptor Gunnar Finne. It offers regional cuisine with a twist.
Travel to St Petersburg by air or sea
It’s your choice whether you transfer to the former Russian capital of St Petersburg by ferry or by air, but whichever you choose, we’ll ensure you’re smoothly transferred to your hotel on arrival.
Check into the four seasons hotel
The Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace was once a 19th century Royal palace and features two marble lions at its front entrance. Its opulent heritage interiors reflect its past life. Russia’s most elegant and most European city is a delight. It’s known as the Venice of the North as it’s built across 101 islands linked by bridges.
You’ll have a drive around this afternoon to get your bearings and admire some of its beautiful architecture. The sumptuous Art Nouveau L’Europe restaurant is our choice for dinner, and if you are here on a Friday, you’ll dine to the sounds of Tchaikovsky. The caviar and champagne Sunday brunch is also worth looking in for.
The Hermitage Museum
Our day to day has a single focus: the Hermitage Museum. This world-renowned museum contains an estimated 3 million works of art in its extensive collection. If you wanted to spend a minute in front of each one, people reckon you’d need a decade, or more. This was once a private art collection, begun by Peter the Great and expanded by Catherine the Great. For 165 years it’s been open to the public. You’ll take a morning and afternoon guided tour, punctuated by a long lunch to help you process what you’ve seen and recharge your batteries. Look out for works from the likes of Leonardo da Vinci, Rubens, Rembrandt, Van Gogh and many more, contained in a collection of historic buildings including the famous Winter Palace. As this will no doubt be a tiring day, dinner tonight will be at the hotel.
We’ll delve a little deeper today into the sights that were glimpsed on our orientation tour. We’ll pay special attention to the Peter and Paul Fortress, St. Isaac's Cathedral and the Church of Christ's Resurrection (The Saviour of the Blood), the church built on the site where Emperor Alexander II was fatally wounded in March 1881. As well you’ll pay a visit to the Aurora. At the latter you’ll see the cannon which was fired on Lenin’s orders as the signal to begin the Great Social Revolution. At all these sites, a knowledgeable guide will be able to answer any questions you may have.
Dinner at Russkaya Rybalka
Later, after a short rest, you’ll head out for dinner at Russkaya Rybalka. This charming place, specialising in fish and housed in a wooden lake hut, is a favourite with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Alexander Palace and Catherine Palace
Today’s itinerary gives you the opportunity to visit Tsarskoe Selo. There, you’ll find two extraordinary and lavishly decorated palaces. The first, Alexander Palace, was where the last family of tsars resided. Nearby, you’ll visit the exquisite Catherine Palace, designed in Baroque style. The undisputed highlight here is the Amber Room. It features a series of mosaics, recreated after the originals were lost during World War Two.
Troika ride and some shopping
Before you leave, a troika ride awaits – a chance to travel in a traditional horse drawn sleigh. Back in St Petersburg, the rest of the afternoon is free for you to do as you please: enjoy the hotel’s facilities, hit the boutiques for a spot of shopping or take a walk along some of the city’s pretty canals.
Dinner at Terrassa
Dinner tonight will be at Terrassa. This is a place to dress to impress; you’ll be glad you made the effort as the food and the views overlooking Kazan Cathedral are also first class.
Located in the St Petersburg suburbs is Peterhof, Peter the Great’s summer palace. Also known as Petrodvorets, its known as much for its landscaped gardens and ornamental fountains as it is the palace itself. It dates from the early 18th century and is often compared to the Palace of Versailles in France. You’ll enjoy a guided tour as you explore this very special place.
Returning to the city, we’ll visit a typical dacha. Dachas are summer homes and while not on the scale of that built by Peter the Great, they are cosy, inviting and a must-see while you’re in Russia. They’re social places and our hosts will serve tea and vodka to ensure we feel welcome. As you know, it’s your final day in St Petersburg.
To round off your day and end this part of your holiday in style, we’ve arranged for you to watch the Feel Yourself Russian folklore show at the Nikolaevsky Palace. With colourful costumes, talented performers and a beautiful backdrop, this is sure to be one of the highlights of your trip.
Take the Sapsan high-speed train transfer to Moscow
Our transfer today will be via the high speed Sapsan train on which you’ll travel Premium class. This, the flagship of the Russian Railways fleet, is modern, comfortable and above all fast, covering the distance to Moscow in half the time it would take by road, reaching speeds of up to 155mph.
Check into the Ritz-Carlton Moscow
Our driver will meet you at the station and transfer you to the hotel in time for lunch.
Orientation tour of Moscow
There’ll be time to rest and unpack before we head out on a city orientation tour by car. This will incorporate many sights, including the cemetery at New Maiden’s Convent, final resting place of Chekhov, Prokofiev, Khrushchev and Yeltsin. We’ll also enjoy panoramic views from the viewpoint at Moscow State University and also the ornately decorated stations of the Moscow Metro. Dinner tonight will be at the hotel.
This morning we’ll begin at the most famous location in all of Russia: Red Square. Red in Russian means beautiful and you’ll think it aptly named. Before us will rise the colourful onion domes of the iconic St Basil’s Cathedral. Nearby, you’ll find the impressive GUM department store whose scale needs to be seen to be believed and the embalmed body of Lenin in his mausoleum.
You’ll also have a guided tour of the Kremlin’s grounds and cathedrals. The Armoury Museum is fascinating and not only contains weaponry but also gems such as the exquisite eggs designed by Fabergé.
Dinner at Café Pushkin
This evening, we’ll arrange a table for you at the Café Pushkin, whose attentive service and delightful heritage decor complements the excellent French and Russian cuisine that’s served.
This morning we’ll visit the famous Bolshoi Theatre, founded in 1776 and renowned for its wonderful performances of opera and ballet. This building has hosted the likes of The Nutcracker and Swan Lake. We’ll go behind the scenes and take a guided tour of the theatre this morning.
This afternoon, you’ll enjoy the outdoors with a visit to Gorky Park. In summer, this amusement park is popular with walkers and joggers; in winter, you can go ice-skating or take a troika ride. Following an early dinner at Godunov Restaurant, renowned for its Russian fare, we’ll return to the Bolshoi should you wish to see a performance; tickets sell fast so you’ll need to plan well in advance.
Excursion to the Golden Ring town of Suzdal
The Golden Ring is the name given to a string of historic towns that encircle the Russian capital and the prettiest of them all is Suzdal. This delightful town takes about three and a half hours to reach from Moscow, but it’s more than worth the time invested. Suzdal was bypassed by the Trans-Siberian Railway and as a result didn’t develop like nearby cities such as Vladimir. Today, it’s a charming blend of wooden cottages and beautiful churches with golden cupolas that glint in the sunshine. A short stroll away you’ll find the wildflower meadows that surround the town, making it one of the highlights of any visit to this part of Russia.
You’ll enjoy a carriage ride, a relaxing lunch and a leisurely walking tour with a knowledgeable guide who’ll bring the history of Suzdal’s main landmarks to life.
Visit to Spaso-Evfimiev Monastery
You’ll pay a visit to the Spaso-Evfimiev Monastery and its museums, which include exhibits chronicling what life would have been like in Stalin’s gulags. Then sit back and relax as our careful driver takes you back to the city where you’ll enjoy dinner at the hotel this evening.
Check out of the hotel and head to the airport
Today marks the end of your tour which we’re sure you’ll have enjoyed immensely. Our driver will collect you from the hotel and transfer you to the airport for your flight home.