Discover the "Old World"... from Baltic cities to St. Petersburg and Moscow, where architectural gems from the Middle Ages intertwine with age old customs, ingrained in local towns, cities and villages…
Explore Helsinki, Finland; Riga, Latvia; Vilnius, Lithuania; and Tallinn, Estonia – with their age-old castles, medieval lanes, and incredible architecture – and experience a kaleidoscope of different views traveling by coach, train and high-speed ferry. Visit Moscow's Kremlin and Red Square, and tour St. Petersburg's Peter and Paul Fortress, the Peterhof, and Catherine Palace in Pushkin. More special experiences include lunch in the celebrated Gallery of Artists restaurant and a visit to see works by Zurab Tsereteli in Moscow... and in St. Petersburg, an evening of Russian ballet, a gala "Tchaikovsky Night" dinner, and a Tauck Exclusive guided visit to The State Hermitage Museum when crowds are fewer!
Tour begins: 6:00 PM, Grand Hotel Kempinski Vilnius. Your transfer is included from Vilnius Airport to the Grand Hotel Kempinski Vilnius in the heart of Vilnius' Old Town, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Join us for a welcome reception and dinner tonight at your five-star hotel on Vilnius' historic Cathedral Square.
Discovering historic Vilnius
Experience a living museum of Baroque and Renaissance architecture on a walking tour along the cobblestone streets of Vilnius’ Old Town this morning. As the oldest and largest surviving medieval town in northern Europe – and a UNESCO World Heritage Site – Vilnius abounds with historic architecture, including its magnificent 16th-century Cathedral and adjacent Cathedral Square, steps from your hotel, and the Baroque Church of Saints Peter and Paul; if you wish, you may visit the Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights (formerly the Museum of Genocide Victims), situated in Vilnius' former Soviet-era KGB headquarters. After an included lunch, the afternoon and evening are free in Vilnius to explore and enjoy dinner as you please.
Travel to Riga, Latvia via the "Yellow Roads"
Depart Vilnius and journey along the Yellow Roads through the pristine countryside of Lithuania; cross into Latvia and stop for lunch in seaside Jurmala on your way to the capital, Riga, an important trading center for Central and Eastern Europe from the 13th to the 15th centuries. Visit Riga's opulent 19th-century Opera House, which was painstakingly rebuilt in the 1990s and is a source of great national pride for the Latvian people. Your home for the next two nights is located in the heart of the old city. Enjoy dinner at the hotel tonight.
Explore historic Riga, Latvia's capital
Take a drive to Riga's Art-Nouveau New Town, considered the best in Europe, for a guided walking tour; many of these Art-Nouveau gems were designed and built by Latvian architects including Mikhail Eisenstein (father of the noted 20th-century Soviet film director Sergei Eisenstein). After some free time to enjoy lunch as you please in town, join us for a walking tour of Riga Market and the cobbled streets of Old Town, revealing buildings dating back 800 years, including Riga Castle, the Swedish Gate and the Three Brothers Medieval Dwelling House. This combination of period architecture has earned Riga's Old Town UNESCO World Heritage Site designation. The rest of the day and evening are yours to enjoy as you wish in Riga.
Journey to Tallinn, then on to Helsinki
Depart Latvia and cross into Estonia this morning, stopping in seaside Parnu for lunch. Arrive early afternoon in Estonia's capital city of Tallinn, an outstanding example of a medieval Northern European trading center. On a guided walking tour along the cobblestone streets of Lower Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, see the Town Hall square, centuries-old walls and towers (one affectionately dubbed “Fat Margaret”), and St. Olaf’s Church, renowned as the tallest building in the world from 1549 to 1625. Next, board a ferry to cruise in first class across the Gulf of Finland to Helsinki, Finland for a two-night stay, enjoying dinner aboard the ferry.
Helsinki, Finland's fascinating capital
Finland's capital city is an intriguing mix of parks, waterways, and various architectural styles, which you'll explore on a morning sightseeing tour. Visit the extraordinary Temppeliaukio (The Rock) Church, built into solid rock in the 1960s; see the Neo-Classical Senate Square, the green cupolas and white columns of Helsinki Cathedral, the Sibelius Monument and Finlandia Hall. Then attend a private concert featuring the music of Finland's beloved national composer of the 19th and early 20th centuries, Jean Sibelius. Spend the afternoon and evening discovering more of Helsinki on your own, enjoying lunch and dinner in the city as you please.
Via high-speed rail to glorious St. Petersburg
From Helsinki, travel to Russia and opulent St. Petersburg via a fast train; the historic center of Peter the Great's "Window to the West" is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Get acquainted with Russia's cultural capital on an orientation tour that includes the imposing Peter and Paul Fortress, among the city's oldest structures, built in 1703. Inside the fortress, Peter and Paul Cathedral, with a tall golden spire, contains the tombs of the Russian czars, including the city's founder Peter the Great. Your home for the next four nights is itself a historic landmark – the celebrated Belmond Grand Hotel Europe on the famous Nevsky Prospekt. Dinner tonight is à la carte at a local restaurant in St. Petersburg.
A day around St. Petersburg and a night at the ballet
Today begins with an excursion to Petrodvorets, on the Gulf of Finland, for a tour of the Peterhof, the summer palace of Peter the Great. After lunch on the palace grounds, a hydrofoil whisks you back to the city for a visit to St. Petersburg's Grand Choral Synagogue (holidays permitting), followed by some free time. Tonight, enjoy a glorious evening of Russian ballet (schedule subject to change).
Catherine Palace & more St. Petersburg treasures
Journey to Pushkin (Tsarskoye Selo) for a visit to the opulent Catherine Palace, expanded by Empress Catherine the Great in the mid-18th century, and its remarkably restored Amber Room. Back in St. Petersburg after lunch, take a guided tour that includes a visit to the 19th-century Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood, built as a memorial to Czar Alexander II on the site of his 1881 assassination. Spend the rest of the day exploring more of St. Petersburg on your own.
The State Hermitage Museum & Tchaikovsky Night
Today, Tauck has arranged an early morning visit – when crowds are fewer – to The State Hermitage Museum, boasting one of the largest collections of art and artifacts in the world. Displays include prehistoric cultures, classical antiquities, and Western European art; you'll also view the Impressionists Gallery. Spend the rest of the day at your leisure, then join us this evening for a sumptuous four-course "Tchaikovsky Night" dinner at the L'Europe restaurant – accompanied by live music and dancers from the Marinsky Theatre or a comparable local ballet company.
The magic of Moscow
Take another high-speed rail journey – this time to Russia's capital city, Moscow – for a three-night stay near the Kremlin. A drive along the river leads to lunch at the fantastical Gallery of Artists restaurant in Dolgorukov House, one of the most beautiful neoclassical buildings in the aristocratic Old Moscow district. The President of the Russian Academy of Arts, the artist Zurab Tsereteli, restored and reconstructed the building and opened his art gallery here; you’ll see a collection of his over-the-top works on your visit after lunch. Check in at the Four Seasons Hotel Moscow and spend some free time before joining us for a walking tour of Red Square, followed by an evening spent as you please.
From the Tretyakov to the Moscow Metro
Begin the day with a lecture on the history of Russia at the hotel. Then join your local guide for a visit to the State Tretyakov Gallery/National Museum of Russian Fine Art, featuring 11th- to 20th-century paintings and sculptures by Russian artists. Next, head to Bolshoi Square to tour the beautiful Moscow Metro, renowned for its opulent architectural designs and plentiful public art, with a local guide, before returning to the hotel for dinner this evening.
Inside Red Square & the Kremlin
Today, tour Red Square and the 64-acre Kremlin, the center of Russian power for centuries and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You'll enjoy early entry into the Kremlin Armory; walk through Alexander Gardens and visit Moscow's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier; and see the Cathedral of the Archangel and Assumption Cathedral. Spend the afternoon pursuing what interests you most in Moscow. Tonight, please join us for a farewell reception and dinner at your hotel at "the doorstep of the Kremlin."
Tour ends: Moscow. A transfer is included from Four Seasons Hotel Moscow to Sheremetyevo International Airport or Moscow Domodedovo Airport. Please allow a minimum of 3 hours for flight check-in.