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12 nights
from £4795

The Glories of Russia

A captivating river cruise linking St Petersburg and Moscow including exclusive cultural & musical highlights with London Festival Opera & Guest Speaker, Professor Ludmilla Selezneva aboard the Volga Dream

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  • History and Culture
  • Lake Ladoga

Travel with us aboard the luxurious MS Volga Dream on this exclusive charter that promises to be a truly inspiring journey in Russia’s heartland, with its rich cultural heritage, wonderful architecture and dramatic history. We begin in St Petersburg, one of the world’s most beautiful cities and cruise to Moscow, a city full of contrasts and energy. Whilst cruising between Russia’s two greatest cities we will travel through quieter rural landscapes and also visit unique Uglich, Yaroslavl and Kizhi. This is an enchanting voyage through a land that has inspired so many writers and musicians over the centuries.

We have arranged for some memorable excursions for our journey along the Volga including specially arranged early entrances to the Hermitage and the Armoury Museum at the Kremlin and to further enhance the journey we will be accompanied by London Festival Opera who will perform a selection of wonderful Russian repertoires. Our Guest Speaker, Ludmilla Selezneva will complete the experience with fascinating talks on all things Russian, especially its history and peoples.

With such a wealth of the arts, history and architecture, a journey to Russia can be a challenge to plan. However the beauty of this trip is that over the course of only 13 days you will have gained a vast amount of knowledge in the most comfortable means possible. The shore excursions, talks by Ludmilla and music performances by London Festival Opera will provide you with a unique insight into Russian life, both past and present, and altogether make for an unforgettable trip.

Useful Links & Travel Advice

Please find a selection of useful websites to refer to for information from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, on visa requirements, NHS travel health advice and other useful travel tips.  

  • Itinerary Highlights

    Catherine's Palace

    - Onboard costumed performances by London Festival Opera
    - Opportunity to attend optional evenings of music ashore in St Petersburg & Moscow
    - Specially arranged early entrances to the Hermitage and State Armoury
    - Guided tours of the Diamond Fund, the Old Tretyakov Gallery and the Pushkin Museum
    - Visits to Peterhof, Catherine Palace, Yusupov Palace, the Kremlin, Red Square, and Novodevichy cemetery
    - Concert of a famous Spiritual choir in Yaroslavl

    More information
  • London Festival Opera Performances

    We are delighted to be joined by London Festival Opera who bring together artists from the major British opera companies including the Royal Opera House, English National Opera and Glyndebourne Festival Opera. The company has a considerable reputation and has appeared in some of the world’s leading opera houses. Artistic Director, Philip Blake-Jones will provide a comprehensive programme during our time sailing and whilst moored, the repertoire planned being:

    • Soirée d’Opéra’: Featuring the operas of Mozart, Verdi, Tchaikovsky, Saint-Saëns & Bizet

    • ‘Opera Gala ‘: Arias & ensembles from the works of Verdi, Offenbach, Tchaikovsky & Puccini

    • ‘Russian Gala’: Featuring highlights from Tchaikovsky’s ‘Eugene Onegin’ & songs by Rachmaninov & Shostakovich. The artists will appear costume for this performance

    • ‘Farewell Opera Gala’: Featuring the works of Mozart, Donizetti, Verdi, Tchaikovsky & Rachmaninov

    More information

Volga Dream

Volga Dream

The vast network of Russian waterways is served by numerous standard class vessels, however for our journeys along the Volga we are fortunate to be using the deluxe MS Volga Dream for our journeys along the mighty river. The elegant MS Volga Dream entered service during the spring of 2007 and was rebuilt from a 200 passenger vessel to accommodate just 100 passengers in an intimate setting. The result is a splendid and spacious vessel which offers the most superior accommodation and services on the route.

View vessel details

Itinerary

Day 1 - London to St Petersburg, Russia.

Fly by scheduled flight and on arrival transfer to the MS Volga Dream. Meet your fellow travellers this evening at the Welcome Drinks & Dinner on board.

Day 2 - St Petersburg.

Begin today at the meticulously restored Peterhof, St. Petersburg’s most famous and spectacular Imperial estate, often cited as the “Versailles of Russia”. Visit Bath Cottage and stroll in the vast Lower Park with its 176 fountains of various forms and styles, four cascades, and numerous gilded statues of ancient gods and heroes. Afterwards, return to St. Petersburg by hydrofoil where we will have lunch in a local restaurant. This afternoon we will visit the wonderful Fabergé Museum at Shuvalov Palace. This beautiful museum contains the world’s largest collection of works by Carl Fabergé, including nine of the famous Imperial Easter Eggs, regarded not only as the finest jewelled works of art, but also as unique historical artifacts. The museum’s collection also includes decorative and applied works made by the Russian masters of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Return to the ship, and after dinner this evening enjoy an onboard performance by London Festival Opera.

Day 3 - St Petersburg.

This morning drive to Tsar’s Village for a visit to Catherine Palace. See the exquisitely restored Amber Room and stroll in the formal gardens. We will enjoy lunch in a local restaurant and then in the afternoon we visit the magnificent Yusupov Palace, once the residence of the wealthiest and most respected family in Imperial Russia, which saw one of the most dramatic episodes in Russia’s history – the murder of Grigory Rasputin. Return to the ship for a relaxing evening on board or for those who have pre-booked there will be an optional musical evening ashore at the Mariinsky Theatre or similar (subject to schedules and availability).

Day 4 - St Petersburg.

This morning we visit the famed Hermitage Museum where we have an early entrance allowing us to enjoy the masterpieces away from the crowds. This former residence of the Russian Tsars has 400 rooms and features spectacular examples of nearly all schools of Western art. Proceed to the Gold Rooms of the Hermitage, (subject to permission) which are closed to the general public, to see the amazing collection of Scythian gold and Tsarist jewellery. After lunch in a local restaurant you can relax as we take a ceremonial canal cruise, offering fantastic views of St. Petersburg’s greatest landmarks, including the Peter and Paul Fortress, the Winter Palace and the Old Stock Exchange on Vasilyevsky Island, as well as St. Isaac’s Cathedral and the Admiralty. Return to the MS Volga Dream this evening as we begin our cruise.

Day 5 - Svirstroy & The Svir River.

This morning step ashore for a brief visit to the peaceful village of Svirstroy to experience daily life in this typical rural hamlet. Continue cruising as we navigate the Svir River toward Lake Ladoga, Europe’s largest freshwater lake, past a shoreline dotted with graceful willows, alder trees and stately pines. This afternoon enjoy a second performance by London Festival Opera on board.

Day 6 - Kizhi.

Today we explore the tiny, picturesque island of Kizhi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site on Lake Onega. The open-air Museum of Architecture includes the Church of the Transfiguration, a unique oniondomed masterpiece built without a single metal nail and resembling something from a Russian fairy tale.

Day 7 - Goritsy.

Today we cross Lake Beloye, or the White Lake, formerly known as the “Tsar’s fishing grounds”. Arrive in the peaceful village of Goritsy to tour the fortress-like Kirillov-Belozersky Monastery with magnificent frescoes by one of the Russia’s most renowned icon painters.

Day 8 - Yaroslavl.

This morning we visit the oldest city on the Volga River, Yaroslavl, a World Heritage Site. Visit the Church of St. Elijah the Prophet, featuring detailed frescoes and icons. Here, you will be treated to a stirring a cappella choir performance. Afterwards there will be time to experience the lively farm market before returning to the MS Volga Dream. Alternatively, join an excursion to the Governor’s Palace, a living museum of Russian art, history and culture. This evening London Festival Opera will perform on board.

Day 9 - Uglich.

We arrive this afternoon in Uglich, dating back to the 10th century. A walking tour of this Golden Ring city includes the Chapel of Dimitry, a 17th century treasure built on the site where Ivan the Terrible’s 10 year old son met his death. Visit the Church of the Transfiguration, noted for its beautiful iconostasis, and attend a concert of choral music.

Day 10 - Moscow.

We arrive into Moscow mid-morning and after an early lunch on board will depart for a tour to see Red Square with its iconic St Basil’s Cathedral and GUM department store. The remainder of the afternoon will be at leisure or you may wish to join an optional guided tour of the Moscow Metro, where you can experience some of the most beautiful metro stations in the world. This evening for those who have prebooked, there will be an optional evening of music ashore at the Bolshoi Theatre or similar (subject to schedules and ticket availability).

Day 11 - Moscow.

This morning we depart for an early visit to the Kremlin to see the Armoury Museum with its collection of Tsarist thrones, ceremonial crowns, coaches and gifts of state. View the ornate gems of the Diamond Fund, including Catherine the Great’s diamond-encrusted coronation crown and the 190 carat Orlov diamond. Also visit the Square of Three Cathedrals (including entrance to one Cathedral). After lunch in a local restaurant we continue on to visit the Old Tretyakov gallery to view its extraordinary collection of Russian art, ranging from 12th century icons to 20th century paintings. Return to the ship and relax on board this evening.

Day 12 - Moscow.

This morning we take a trip to see the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour and the fascinating Novodevichy Cemetery. The cemetery holds the tombs of notable Russian authors, musicians, playwrights, and poets, as well as political leaders and scientists. After lunch in a local restaurant we will visit the Pushkin Museum, the largest museum of European art in Moscow and home to works by Van Gogh, Gauguin, Picasso and Matisse. Return to your ship and this evening enjoy the Farewell Dinner on board with your fellow guests, followed by a final highlight performance by London Festival Opera..

Day 13 - Moscow to London.

Disembark after breakfast and transfer to the airport for your return scheduled flight to London.

Dates and Prices

SPECIAL OFFER - SAVE UP TO £400 PER PERSON FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY
Prices per person based on double occupancy
14 to 26 September 2019
Category Brochure Price Special Offer Price
Standard twin - Cabin Deck £4995 £4795
Superior twin - Main Deck £5495 £5295
Deluxe double - Promenade Deck £5795 £5495
Junior Suite double - Promenade/Sun Deck £6095 £5795
Superior stateroom twin - Sun Deck £6595 £6195
Deluxe Junior Suite Double £6895 £6495
Owner's Stateroom double - Promenade Deck £7695 £7295
Standard Single - Promenade Deck £5095 £4895
Deluxe single - Sun Deck £5395 £5195
Standard twin for sole occupancy - Cabin Deck £8195 £7995
Deluxe double for sole occupancy - Promenade Deck £9395 £9195

Tour Reference Code: RCVD140919

Price Includes: Economy class scheduled air travel, 12 nights aboard the MS Volga Dream on full board basis, complimentary house wine and soft drinks with lunch and dinner, shore excursions as described, music performances on board, gratuities, Tour Manager, Guest Speaker, transfers, welcome bottle of champagne (deluxe cabins and suites only), port taxes, UK airport taxes.

Not Included: Travel insurance, Russian visa, optional tours as described.

NB. Excursions, music events and performance days subject to change depending on availability, schedules and entrance time to venues. Details of music programmes and prices will be available approximately 2 months prior to departure, full information will be sent as soon as received by our Russian agents. Ports and itinerary are subject to change.

  • All Decks

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Volga Dream

The vast network of Russian waterways is served by numerous standard class vessels, however for our journeys along the Volga we are fortunate to be using the deluxe MS Volga Dream for our journeys along the mighty river. The elegant MS Volga Dream entered service during the spring of 2007 and was rebuilt from a 200 passenger vessel to accommodate just 100 passengers in an intimate setting. The result is a splendid and spacious vessel which offers the most superior accommodation and services on the route.

 
  • MS Volga Dream
  • Restaurant
  • Bar
  • Superior Junior Suite
  • Library/Games Room
  • Owners Stateroom
  • Appetizer
  • Lounge
  • Your Cabin/Suite

    Cabins are located over four decks and categories range from standard cabins on the Cabin deck to staterooms on the Sun Deck.

    All cabins are outside facing with Standard staterooms featuring porthole windows, Main and Promenade deck cabins feature large picture windows, except for the Owner’s suite located on the Promenade deck which has both large picture windows and a private wrap around terrace. All cabins and suites on the Sun deck feature picture windows. On the upper two decks, Promenade and Sun, you will find deluxe cabins and suites.

    All cabins offer individually controlled air-conditioning and heating, direct dial telephone, satellite flat screen television and minibar. Additional comforts provided include bathrobes, slippers, hairdryer, bathroom accessories kit, bottled water (replenished daily).

  • Your Space

    Spread over four decks, the onboard facilities include a delightful restaurant which accommodates all guests in one sitting. The lounge is a pleasant space for relaxation with large panoramic windows and bar area. On the large, spacious Sun Deck you will find comfortable deck furniture. There is also a library which features board games and internet access (charges apply), an outside bar with comfortable deck furniture, fitness centre, sauna, and boutique.

  • Your Dining

    The stylish restaurant is located on the Main deck and sits all passengers at once in tables of four, six and eight. In keeping with the superior quality of the vessel, the cuisine aboard the MS Volga Dream is what you would expect aboard a luxurious river vessel and both Russian and international cuisine is served. Breakfast is served buffet style with both continental and cooked meal options, and lunch is served buffet-style, with an a la carte option for your main course.  When weather permits guests are welcome to enjoy their meals on the Sun deck. Dinner is usually a four course affair, including some specialist themed evenings which will feature national delicacies. Afternoon tea is served daily in the lounge and there is a coffee and tea station operating 24hours a day.

  • Life Onboard

    With just 100 fellow passengers and 60 crew members, the MS Volga Dream prides itself in its personal and friendly ambiance. Although the atmosphere aboard is informal, the comfort and service is akin to a five star hotel, otherwise not available in remote rural areas of Russia. 

    Your daily programme will be busy ashore, but your time on board will be relaxed and convivial. In addition to shore excursions there will be daily activities aboard the vessel for your enjoyment, such as Russian language classes, a traditional tea party, Russian cooking classes and if the weather permits a barbecue on the Sun deck.

    To further enhance your enjoyment Guest Speakers will join you on your cruises as well as carefully selected guides.

  • For your comfort

    The MS Volga Dream’s dedicated crew of 60 is there to ensure that your journey along Russia’s iconic river is comfortable, informative and above all safe. The ship is not designed for those with severe mobility restrictions or wheelchair dependent passengers as there are no elevator facilities onboard. There is a full time doctor on board in the unlikely case of an emergency or a passenger seeking medical attention.

    Smoking on board is restricted to a specially designed area on the Sun deck.

    On board we use a boarding card system to ensure all passengers are accounted for. The reception is manned 24 hours day.

  • Ship Directory

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    Please find below further details pertaining to the vessel or click on the booklet to download.

    We are delighted you have chosen the MS Volga Dream for your voyage along the Russian Waterways.

    The MS Volga Dream entered service during the spring of 2007. This elegant vessel has been totally rebuilt from a ship that originally accommodated over 200 passengers and now accommodates just 100. The result is a splendid and spacious vessel which offers the most superior accommodation and is considered to be the best on the Volga, with elegant lines, comfortable decor and fine dining. The cabins and suites are located over four decks and the onboard facilities include a delightful restaurant, offering the best of Russian cuisine and international choices, a pleasant lounge with large panoramic windows and bar area, an outside Sun Deck, library and fitness centre.

    The atmosphere on board is friendly and informal and, although your daily programme will be busy ashore, the cruise is also planned with time to relax on board. The Russian crew who all speak English will do much to add to your enjoyment whilst on board.

    AIR CONDITIONING

    All cabins have individually controlled heating and air conditioning.

    ALARM

    An alarm will be sounded in the event of emergency. Please follow the instructions provided on board for what to do in the event of emergency. ALL ABOARD

    Your times for embarkation and disembarkation will be provided by your Cruise Director/ Tour Manager.

    ANNOUNCEMENTS

    During your time on board, various announcements will be made by the ship’s crew and the Cruise Director/ Tour Manager. Please listen out for these announcements as they will be of importance or interest.

    BAR/BEVERAGES

    Your bill for drinks consumed throughout your journey should be settled at the end of your voyage.

    CABIN INFORMATION

    All cabins feature a picture window apart from the Standard cabins on the Cabin Deck which have a porthole that cannot be opened. All cabins feature a twin bed configuration with the exception of those named as double or single cabins. Cabin sizes vary – please contact Noble Caledonia if you would like more specifics on cabin dimensions.

    CABIN FACILITIES

    All cabins feature a private bathroom with shower, picture window/s* which can be opened (*excludes some categories – see cabin information above for details), spacious closet, air conditioning, direct dial telephone, wide-screen satellite television, electronic safe, minibar, radio, hairdryer, bathrobes, slippers and a welcome fruit basket on arrival.

    CRUISE DIRECTOR

    A local Cruise Director will accompany you on your voyage together with a Noble Caledonia Tour Manager.

    CURRENCY

    The currency on board is the Russian Rouble. The ship accepts Visa, MasterCard and American Express cards.

    DAILY PROGRAMME

    Each evening the next day’s programme will be delivered to your cabin.

    DRESS CODE

    While there is no formal dress code on board, comfortable and practical attire is recommended during the day for excursions and something dressier for the evening. More formal dress is required only for the Welcome and Captain’s dinner (black tie is not necessary).

    ELECTRICITY

    Electricity onboard is 220v, with 2-pin power outlets. We recommend you take an adaptor with you.

    ELEVATOR

    There is no elevator on board.

    EMBARKATION/DISEMBARKATION

    Embarkation and disembarkation times will be provided by your Cruise Director.

    EMERGENCY & SAFETY PROCEDURES

    Full details of the ship’s emergency and safety procedures will be provided following your embarkation. Please note there is a Doctor on board the vessel.

    FIRE SAFETY

    On your cabin door is a deck plan displaying your closest (and all other) emergency exits. Emergency exits are marked in green and fire extinguishers fitted in all corridors.

    FIRST AID & MEDICAL MATTERS

    A Doctor is available on board the ship (charges apply). Further medical assistance can be sought from one of the hospitals along the river in the event of emergency. Should you require emergency assistance, please call the ship’s reception.

    FITNESS ROOM

    A fitness room is available on board the vessel.

    GRATUITIES

    Gratuities have been included in your holiday price for both shore excursion and ship staff.

    GIFT SHOP

    A small gift shop selling practical and souvenir items is available on board the vessel.

    HAIRDRESSER

    There is no hairdresser aboard the vessel.

    HOUSEKEEPING

    Your cabin will be cleaned once a day and you will be provided with a ‘turn down’ service at night.

    KEYS TO CABIN

    Each cabin will receive their own cabin key. Before leaving the ship we kindly ask all passengers to swap the cabin key with a shore pass which will be provided to you by the ship’s reception desk. After your return to the ship please return your shore pass back to reception in exchange for your cabin key.

    LAUNDRY

    A laundry service is provided on board. A price list can be found in your cabin. There is no dry cleaning facility available.

    LIBRARY AND GAMES

    A small library can be found on board and various board games are available for your enjoyment.

    LOST PROPERTY

    Lost property can be handed in to the ship’s reception. Please ensure you have all of your belongings with you before you return home. Should you leave items on board the ship we are only able to return them to you at your own cost.

    MEALS

    Breakfast, lunch and dinner are provided on board. Breakfast is buffet-style, lunches are a mixture of both buffet and served courses and dinners are a served-affair. Dietary requests can be catered for on request. Please provide any such requests in writing to Noble Caledonia at the time of your reservation and please reiterate these requests to the ship’s Hotel Manager upon your embarkation.

    MOORING

    Docking space is allocated by the local river authorities. On occasion other river cruise vessels may be required to dock alongside our ship. This may result in restricted cabin views and may also entail us being required to embark and disembark the ship through another vessel’s public areas and/or for the other ship’s passengers to do the same.

    MOSQUITOES

    Please ensure you take the appropriate precautions to guard against mosquito bites.

    OPERATIONS AND CHANGES

    Despite our meticulous planning efforts, there may be times when changes must be made to the daily programme due to circumstances beyond our control such as heavy river traffic or fluctuating water levels. The ship’s Captain and crew will do their utmost to find the best and safest solution. Any changes to the day’s schedule will be communicated as soon as possible.

    PAYMENT

    The currency on board is the Russian Rouble and Visa, MasterCard and American Express cards are accepted on board the ship. An itemised bill will be presented to each passenger prior to their disembarkation for any items purchased during the cruise.

    POST

    The vessel’s gift shop has postcards and stamps for you to purchase (subject to availability), and items can be posted on your behalf by the ship’s crew (although as they are unable to do so at every port of call, this could take longer than if you were to post yourself). Please note that neither the ship nor Noble Caledonia can be held responsible for items of post that are not successfully delivered on your behalf.

    QUESTIONNAIRES

    A questionnaire will be provided to all passengers towards the end of their sailing. We would be grateful for you to complete and return this.

    RECEPTION

    Reception is manned between the hours of 07:00 and 23:00 daily. A member of the crew can be contacted at all times by telephone.

    ROOM SERVICE

    Room service is available.

    SAFE

    All cabins are fitted with a safe and we recommend you place your valuables inside the safe whenever you are away from your room. Please remember to remove all items from your safe prior to you departing the vessel at the end of the cruise.

    SAFETY

    Please take careful note of all safety instructions provided to you by the Master and crew of the vessel. Full safety instructions are available to you in your cabin.

    SAUNA

    A sauna is available for use on board the vessel. Please contact the ship’s reception to make an appointment.

    SMOKING

    Smoking within your cabin or any of the vessel’s public areas is strictly prohibited. Designated smoking areas are provided and can be advised by the ship’s reception upon embarkation.

    SUN DECK

    The ship has a Sun Deck which is available for guests to enjoy. There may be times, for example at periods of inclement weather or low bridges, whereby it is necessary to close the Sun Deck. Please listen carefully to the Captain and crew for instruction. Please also note that the Sun Deck and its steps may become slippery if the weather is cool or dew forms.

    TELEPHONE

    Should you wish to make an internal call please dial the corresponding cabin number. If you are wishing to make an external call, please contact the reception desk.

    VISITORS

    Visitors are not permitted aboard the vessel, however with the prior consent of the ship’s reception, this can sometimes be possible. Please provide as much notice as possible to the senior staff so that the necessary arrangements can be made. The ship’s operators reserve the right to deny boarding to any visitors.

    WATER

    Complimentary water is available during breakfast, lunch and dinner. Bottled water is replenished daily in your cabin.

    WI-FI

    Wi-Fi is included in the holiday price, but please note that services can be erratic and cannot be guaranteed, especially outside of the main city areas.

    PLEASE NOTE 

    The above information is accurate and correct to the best of our knowledge at the time of publishing. Noble Caledonia accepts no responsibility for any errors or omissions and none of the facilities or features of the vessel described herein which are not specifically described in our advertisements and on your holiday invoice as being included in your holiday price will be deemed to be included in your holiday package. If you would like further information about the vessel or about any of your holiday arrangements, please do not hesitate to contact us.

  • Deck plans
    • All Decks

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Itinerary Highlights

- Onboard costumed performances by London Festival Opera
- Opportunity to attend optional evenings of music ashore in St Petersburg & Moscow
- Specially arranged early entrances to the Hermitage and State Armoury
- Guided tours of the Diamond Fund, the Old Tretyakov Gallery and the Pushkin Museum
- Visits to Peterhof, Catherine Palace, Yusupov Palace, the Kremlin, Red Square, and Novodevichy cemetery
- Concert of a famous Spiritual choir in Yaroslavl

London Festival Opera Performances

We are delighted to be joined by London Festival Opera who bring together artists from the major British opera companies including the Royal Opera House, English National Opera and Glyndebourne Festival Opera. The company has a considerable reputation and has appeared in some of the world’s leading opera houses. Artistic Director, Philip Blake-Jones will provide a comprehensive programme during our time sailing and whilst moored, the repertoire planned being:

• Soirée d’Opéra’: Featuring the operas of Mozart, Verdi, Tchaikovsky, Saint-Saëns & Bizet

• ‘Opera Gala ‘: Arias & ensembles from the works of Verdi, Offenbach, Tchaikovsky & Puccini

• ‘Russian Gala’: Featuring highlights from Tchaikovsky’s ‘Eugene Onegin’ & songs by Rachmaninov & Shostakovich. The artists will appear costume for this performance

• ‘Farewell Opera Gala’: Featuring the works of Mozart, Donizetti, Verdi, Tchaikovsky & Rachmaninov

River Guides

  • To see our current selection of tours for the river Volga click here.
     
    • The Assumption Cathedral along river Volga
      Volga

    The Volga is Europe’s longest river and flows through the centre of Russia’s vast spaces with eleven of the country’s largest cities in its drainage basin. It has some of the world’s largest reservoirs along its route that provide hydroelectric power and, with its many tributaries, it drains most of western Russia and ends in the Caspian Sea. There are many navigable waterways connected with it too linking Moscow to the White Sea, the Black Sea and the Baltic as well as to St Petersburg and the vast lakes Ladoga and Onega. For three months of the year it freezes.

    The Volga system flows through the most populated area of Russia though that is sometimes hard to believe. Outside the great cities, this is a landscape of woods and water. Occasional villages and windmills and the onion domes of churches rise above endless forests of silver birch. It is still, quiet and not even an aeroplane vapour trail can be seen in the sky. Not something you can say about Moscow, a fitting introduction to the enigma that is Russia. In Red Square the Kremlin, powerhouse for decades of a regime that suppressed religion, faces the baroque gilded gingerbread masterpiece that is St Basil’s Cathedral. Across the square from them both is the great emporium GUM, nowadays an extravagant mall filled with the likes of De Beers and Cartier, conspicuous consumerism having long replaced the drabness of the Soviet era. St Petersburg is exquisite, built on numerous islands, criss-crossed by bridges and canals, and lined with 18th century palaces. Must-sees include St Isaac’s Cathedral and the Hermitage, the world’s best ballet and the scene of Rasputin’s murder, a stroll down Nevsky Prospekt. and Catherine the Great’s Palace – that marvel of white marble and goldleaf she called her “little toy”.

    Smaller but no less fascinating gems can be found between the two great cities of Russia. Kizhi Island is on Lake Onega, Europe’s second largest lake – frozen from October to May. It is essentially an outdoor museum with a multitude of original wooden buildings, including the Transfiguration Cathedral built in 1714 without a single nail. Its 22 onion domes sheathed in aspen shingles shimmer like silver in the sun. Uglich is another highlight with the medieval gem of the Alexeyevsky Monastery and the Resurrection Monastery with its huge cathedral – where you shouldn’t miss a concert of male voices (with those famous Russian basses).

Book with Confidence

Speak to one of our advisors on 020 7752 0000