Moscow – St. Petersburg – Helsinki – Stockholm – Olso – Copenhagen
Experience White Nights in Russia & Scandinavia
Tour: July 11 – July 24, 2018 Price: $5,495 + Tax + Visa
Moscow: Discover Russia’s capital on this cultural walking tour with all entrance fees covered. Start your tour in Moscow’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed – Red Square. The square is encircled by some of the country’s most famous buildings, presenting a powerful and picturesque scene to every visitor. Your guide will enlight you with the historic events that took place at the sites as you walk past the marvelous State Historical Museum, the Kazan Cathedral. Pay close attention to the historic fortified complex of the Moscow Kremlin that includes four palaces, four cathedrals and the enclosing Kremlin Wall. Today, the Kremlin Wall is the official residence of the president of the Russian Federation.
Your guide will then take you inside the incomparable St Basil’s Cathedral, marking the geometric center of Moscow that was built on the orders of Ivan the Terrible in 1555. The church is the second largest building in Russia’s capital and is unparalleled in Russian architecture. With your guide, you will get to walk through the labyrinth of narrow vaulted corridors and vertical cylinders of the church and marvel at the cathedral’s decorations in rich detail and color. The metro tour of Russia’s capital and most populous city, Moscow, is your chance to get a unique insight into the beautiful and impressive architecture of the city’s underground stations. Admire their marble walls and high ceilings representing Stalin’s desire for glory after World War 2, and see first-hand how the interiors change with the rise of new political eras. A must do while you’re in Moscow is experience the Volga river cruise because there is no river cruise in Russia that’s comparable to the Volga river cruise that places you so completely in another place and time.
St Petersburg: The tour of St Petersburg offers visitors the opportunity to take in as much as possible of St Petersburg’s second largest and most beautiful city in Russia with 300 years of history. St Petersburg has accumulated all the grandeur of the Russian Imperial Court and became one of the largest centers of culture and science. During this tour, you will also visit The Peter & Paul Fortress, the oldest and most historical construction in St Petersburg. The Peter & Paul Fortress was built for fortification. The Peter & Paul Cathedral is a unique sample of Russian 18th-century architecture and served as a burial-place for the Russian emperors. The last Russian tsar- Nicholas II and his family were buried in the cathedral’s small St. Catherine chapel in 1998. Next, make a stop at St Isaac’s Cathedral, built in St Petersburg in 1858 by the architect Montferrand. It is the fourth highest among the world’s cathedrals under the single cupolas. It has the resemblance St Peter’s in Rome, St. Paul’s in London. and Santa Maria del Fiorre in Florence. The richly-adorned interior, lined with marble, malachite and lazurite columns, was intended for 10,000 worshippers.
Included in your sightseeing tour is the Hermitage Museum, which is Russia’s best gallery of world art. It’s one of the most prominent art museums in the world and definitely the main tourist attraction of St Petersburg. The Hermitage has about 2.7 million exhibits and displays a full range of world art from Ancient Egypt to early 20th century Europe. The exhibitions include works by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian, unique collections of Rembrandt, Rubens, Renoir, Cezanne, Manet, Monet, Pissarro, Van Gogh, Matisse, Gauguin and sculptures by Rodin. The collection is huge and very exciting.
AV Travel purposely organizes the Russia & Scandinavia tours in the summer so that you may experience The White Nights Festival, an annual international art festival takes place during the season of the midnight sun. The White Nights Festival consists of a series of classical ballet, opera and music events performed by Russian dancers, singers, musicians, actors as well as famous international guest stars. The Scarlet Sails celebration is the culmination of the White Nights season, the largest public event anywhere in Russia with the annual estimated attendance about one million people, most of whom are students from thousands of schools and colleges.
Helsinki: The city tour begins at the Senate Square where you’ll find the monument of the Russian tsar Alexander II, erected in his honor shortly after the annexation of Finland. This is Helsinki’s most historic and beautiful square designed in the early 1800s at the height of the Russian Empire’s fascination with the architectural glories of ancient Greece and Rome. On the north side of the square is the Lutheran Cathedral, featuring triplicate statues of saints and four small cupolas ringing in the central dome. As you face the cathedral, the Senate, capped by a low dome and graced by six Corinthian columns is on your right. Opposite from the cathedral, on the south side of the square stands the ocher facade and Ionic columns of a house from 1762, redesigned by Engel. Leaving the square, you should head to the most interesting parts of Helsinki such as the Presidential Palace, City Hall, Parliament building, Finlandia Hall, Opera House, Sibelius Monument, and the Temppeliaukio Church that was built underground.
Stockholm: You may have limited time to spare but make sure you’ll experience the stunning Stockholm historical guided tour. Your guide will lead you past the main sites of Stockholm such as the Royal Opera House, Royal Palace as well as the secret gems that normal tourists may miss. Soak up the charm of the city as you walk through the districts of Slussen, Södermalm, Stockholm’s Old Town, and Gamla Stan. End your trip by partaking in a popular Swedish tradition coffee break ‘fika’ and enjoy the pleasantness atmosphere that the city has to offer. If you have heard a lot about Stockholm nightlife and want to see it for yourself, here are some of the popular places with a mixed crowd with luxurious and international vibe that you might want to check out: Club Kharma, The Laroy, Raw Fusion, and the Golden Hits Bar.
Oslo: The capital of Norway, Oslo is the country’s hub of culture and tourism. The city is beautifully situated at the head of the Oslofjorden and is surrounded by forest hills. In other words, the city’s museums and attractions are quite stunning. The tour guide will be sure to stop at the Vigeland Sculpture Park and the Neoclassical neighborhoods that are full of brightly painted 18th and 19th century houses, the Akershus Castle where you can admire the Renaissance architecture, the Royal Palace, home of the Norwegian royal family, and the Oslo City Hall where the annual Nobel Peace Prize ceremony takes place.
Oslo has a very lively art and music community that attracts internationally known artists to its stages and concert halls. Norwegians are proud of their cultural heritage, including the local tipple of choiceakevitt – a traditional spirit flavoured with spices and herbs. Norwegians normally go out late on Fridays and Saturdays after a vorspiel (pre-party) involving drinks at home; therefore, the street atmosphere from 10:00PM on the weekends can be quite lively, to say the least.
Copenhagen: This morning, your guide will take you to the Danish castle, Rosenborg Slot, built between 1606 and 1633 in the Dutch Renaissance style, typical of Danish buildings of the time, by the architectural innovator King Christian IV. Today, the castle contains a museum exhibiting the Royal Collections, heirlooms representing the span of royal Danish culture from the late 16th to 19th century. Some of these artifacts belonged to the nobility and the aristocracy in the past. The particularly interesting attractions include the glittery crown jewels, the Danish Crown Regalia, coronation furnishings, and impressive family portraits. The castle is surrounded by the city’s oldest public park, Kongens Have, featuring the lovely botanical garden. Your castle tour is immediately followed by a visit to the vibrant harbor district of Nyhavn to Amalienborg Palace, winter residence of the Royal Family. Here, you will have the opportunity to see the Changing of the Guards, view the greatest works of Danish Rococo architecture and visit two of the four palaces: Christian VIII’s palace, which is partially organized as a museum for the Glücksburg royal family and the Christian VII’s palace, which is used by the Queen for receiving guests and official representatives. In the centre of the courtyard is an equestrian statue of King Frederik V and is considered as one of the most outstanding equestrian statues in the world. The statue was unveiled in 1771, five years after King Frederik V’s death.
Check-in at LAX. Depart for Moscow, Russia. An AV Travel tour guide will escort you throughout the trip
Arrive in Moscow, the capital city of the Russian Federation. After hotel check-in and dinner, we will visit the Red Square. Make a stop at Moscow’s subway system. It is called an ”underground palace” for its marvelous beauty with marble walls, high ceilings, stained glass, mosaics and chandeliers. The system is now being modernized partially in preparation for the 2018 World Cup, which will be hosted in Russia. (D)
This morning we’ll visit the Kremlin, a UNESCO World Heritage sight. It also serves as the official residence of the President of the Russian Federation. With its cultural and historical significance, the Kremlin is undoubtedly one of the most visited sights in Moscow, a must-visit stop for those interested in Russia’s rich history and culture. Visiting the Kremlin complex and all of the sights inside can be a minefield of architectural sorts, with so much to see and do.
In the afternoon, embark on a cruise on the Volga River in an absolutely romantic landscape. (B/D)
Transfer to Saint Petersburg by high-speed train (Sapsan) and arrive in the afternoon. Here we’ll visit the Hermitage Museum, the grandest museum of art and culture in St. Petersburg and the second largest in the world. Founded in 1764, the museum comprises 397 display rooms with over 3 million pieces of artwork from Egypt, Greece, ancient Rome, the East and the West. In 1990 the museum was recognized as a UNESCO heritage. Its majesty is comparable to the Louvre in Paris, the Prado in Madris, or the Tate in London. With a huge amount of artwork being offered here, some people have calculated that, it could take around 6 months to see every exhibit in the Hermitage Museum. (B/D)
A whole day in St. Petersburg. Our next stop is the Peter and Paul Fortress, which was founded by Peter the Great in 1703 and built to protect St. Petersburg from the Swedish. The cathedral also houses the tombs of almost all Russian Imperial rulers (tsars), from Peter I to Alexander III. The Alexander Column is the focal point of Palace Square in Saint Petersburg. The monument was raised in 1833 to mark the Russian victory in the war with Napoleon’s France in 1812. The Peter and Paul Cathedral is a Russian Orthodox cathedral located inside the Peter and Paul Fortress. It is the first and oldest landmark in St. Petersburg. During its construction, Peter the Great ordered that no other building should be higher than this cathedral. And the Peter and Paul Cathedral has remained the highest Orthodox cathedral in Russia ever since.
The Catherine Palace is a Rococo palace located 30 km south of St. Petersburg. It was the summer residence of the Russian tsars. Visit the world-famous Amber Room, decorated with 6 tons of amber and backed with gold leaves and mirrors. During World War II when the Nazis invaded St. Petersburg, the Amber panels were looted, and in the final months of the war, they disappeared. A replica was completed in 2003 to mark the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg. Despite strenuous effort to recreate the room, the some of the original contents have remained missing for decades. (B/D)
Visit the Peterhof Palace, a series of palaces and gardens laid out on the orders of Peter the Great. Visit Saint Isaac’s Cathedral, the largest Russian Orthodox cathedral in the city. It is the largest orthodox basilica and the fourth largest cathedral in the world. It can hold 14,000 visitors at the same time. Be prepared to swoon at the majestic grandeur of 112 granite pillars, each weighing 130 tons and serving as support for the cathedral. It is said that 400 kg of gold and 1,000 tons of copper was used to gild the vital parts of the cathedral.
Especially, a coach will be reserved for you to go see the midnight sun (White Night), an incredible phenomenon that is not to be missed in your St. Petersburg trip. (B/D)
Transfer to Helsinki, Finnland, by train for 3-4 hours. Arrive in Helsinki at noon. Visit and marvel at the unique structure of Temppeliaukio Church (Rock Church), one of Helsinki’s most popular attractions. Visit a farmer’s market at Market Square. In the late afternoon, we’ll board a cruise trip, departing from Helsinki for Stockholm, Sweden. (B/D)
Arrive in Stockholm in the morning. Visit the maritime Vasa Museum. Watch the changing of the royal guard ceremony, one of the most popular attractions for visitors to Stockholm. (B/D)
Visit the Royal Palace, which is the official residence and major royal palace of the Swedish monarch. The palace houses 608 rooms, making it larger than the Buckingham Palace in England. Our next stop is the Stockholm City Hall, the iconic landmark of the city. It was built with 8 million red bricks and stands at a height of 105m. (B/D)
Transfer to Oslo, Norway and make a stop at several landscapes. Arrive in Oslo in the late afternoon. After dinner, if time allows, enjoy sightseeing in Oslo night time. (B/D)
Visit the Viking Ship Museum, the world’s best-preserved Viking ships and finds from Viking tombs. Visit the Vigeland Park, the world’s largest sculpture park made by a single artist – Gustav Vigeland. Indeed, the unique sculpture park is Vigeland’s lifework with more than 200 sculptures in bronze, granite and wrought iron. Visit the City Hall where the Nobel Peace Prize takes place on December 10. In the early evening, board a cruise and depart for Copenhagen, Denmark (overnight on the cruise). (B/D)
Arrive in Copenhagen in the morning. We’ll visit the Amalienborg Palace and Rosenborg Castle, built during the Renaissance. (B/D)
Visit the Statue of the Little Mermaid. Enjoy a lavish farewell dinner with Denmark’s most delicate specialties in Tivoli Gardens. (B/D)
Fly back to the United States. (B)