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10 nights
from £4995

Journey from Helsinki to St Petersburg

A unique escorted tour exploring the beautiful Finnish Lakes & the wonders of St Petersburg

  • 4 July 2021
  • Aulanko

In response to continued demand for escorted tours which are a little different to the more mainstream tours on offer, we are delighted to introduce this unique escorted tour which combines the beauty of the Finnish Lakes with the wonders of St Petersburg by way of a journey along the Saimaa Canal which links Finland with Russia.

A maze of lakes, islands, rivers and canals, the Finnish Lakeland is a spectacular region and during our time in Finland we will spend some time discovering two of the country’s most stunning lakes, Lake Saijanselka and Lake Vanajavesi. Travelling further east to the Kymenlaakso region we will also have the opportunity to explore the remarkable scenery at Imatra and witness a ‘Rapids Show’ during which the water is allowed to run freely rather than being blocked by the dam.

Following on from our time in Finland, we will embark the MS Carelia and enter Russia via the historic Saimaa Canal before transferring to St Petersburg to begin our exploration of this fascinating city. A contrast to the natural wonders of the Finnish Lakes, the vibrant city of St Petersburg is filled with equally glorious architectural treasures. Some highlights of our five night stay include visits to the Peter and Paul Fortress, the Russian Naval base of Kronstadt, the royal residence of Oranienbaum and the Palace of Pavlovsk, as well as a private tour option on our penultimate day, ideal for those re-visiting the city and wanting to discover some of the lesser known attractions. We have also ensured there is ample time at leisure in St Petersburg to allow for independent exploration from our centrally located hotel which is only moments away from some of the city’s renowned attractions.

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.  


Finland & Russia Accommodation

Finland & Russia Accommodation

For our escorted tour of the Finnish Lakes & St Petersburg we have selected the following hotels:

View accommodation details

Itinerary

  • Lake Saimaa
  • Hame Castle

Day 1 London to Aulanko, Finland.

Fly by scheduled flight to Helsinki. Arrive in the afternoon and transfer to the Aulanko Scandic Hotel for a three night stay. Dinner will be served in the hotel this evening. (D)

Day 2 Hameenlinna.

After breakfast in the hotel a short transfer brings us to Hame Castle, one of Finland’s Medieval royal castles. Overlooking Lake Vanajavesi, it is believed to have been built at the end of the 13th century following the crusade by Swedish Earl Birger to the Hame region. During the Middle Ages the original fortified camp was built into a residential castle for its commandant before being used as a prison from 1837 to 1972. Following lunch at the castle choose to return to the hotel by coach for a leisurely afternoon or perhaps take the opportunity to walk back along the shores of the lake. (B, L, D)

Day 3 Vanajevesi & Visavouri.

After breakfast at the hotel we will embark on a cruise through the beautiful scenery of the lake district. Enjoy the stunning scenery of Lake Pyhajarvi and Lake Vanajevesi and take lunch on board. In the early afternoon we will make a stop at Visavuori, the house and studio of sculptor Emil Wikstrom who designed the buildings himself and is one of the finest examples of Karelian architecture in existence. Wikstrom’s home is typical of Nordic artists’ homes of the time and in the studio almost 100 of Wikstrom’s works are displayed. Our cruise will continue through the lake country to Tampere, from where we return by coach to Aulanko, stopping on the way for dinner at a local restaurant. (B, L, D)

Day 4 Aulanko to Imatra.

We will check out of the hotel this morning and continue our exploration of the Lake District with a scenic drive to the Kymenlaakso region, one of the first areas of Finland to undergo industrialisation. Arriving in time for lunch at the on-site restaurant, we will explore the fascinating UNESCO World Heritage Site at the Verla Mill Museum, an outstanding example of a late 19th century mill village set in a beautiful and peaceful landscape on the Verlankoski Rapids. We continue eastwards, arriving in Imatra in the late afternoon where we will check in to the Scandic Imatran Valtionhotelli for our two night stay. The hotel was designed by the celebrated Finnish architect Usko Nystrom and opened in 1903. Meet this evening for dinner at the hotel restaurant. (B, L, D)

Day 5 Imatra.

Enjoy a day at leisure to explore Imatra, home to the famous rapids of the River Vuoksi which have been attracting visitors for over 300 years. The rapids were formed 5000 years ago when land rose after the Ice Age and Lake Saimaa’s waters tore the Salpauselka Ridge apart. By the end of the 18th century it had become one of Europe’s most famous attractions, with visitors including Catherine II of Russia and the composer Richard Wagner. The damming of the river in the 1920s meant that the waters are only released in short bursts, and this evening we will be present for the ‘Rapids Show,’ where the sluices are opened to the sound of Sibelius. Dinner will be served at a local restaurant this evening. (B, D)

Day 6 Imatra to St Petersburg, Russia.

A long but rewarding day begins with an early check out and transfer to Lappeenranta, located on the southern shore of Lake Saimaa. Once immigration procedures have been completed, we embark the MS Carelia for our cruise along the historic Saimaa Canal into Russia; a truly unique way to enter the country. Connecting Lake Saimaa to the Gulf of Finland via Vyborg, the Saimaa Canal has a total length of 27 miles, and eight locks manage the height difference of nearly 250 feet between the two water tables. After lunch on board we arrive in the historic Russian town of Vyborg, the site of fierce fighting during World War II but thankfully still home to numerous architectural treasures including the famous Swedish built Medieval castle. Following an orientation tour, we journey through the forests of the Leningrad Oblast to St Petersburg, arriving in the early evening. Check in to the Hotel Angleterre for a five night stay before meeting for dinner in the hotel’s restaurant. (B, L, D)

Day 7 St Petersburg.

After breakfast we will meet for an introductory tour of the city which will take us past many of the city's fine aristocratic buildings and palaces including the Peter and Paul Fortress, one of Russia's most famous historical fortresses, built in 1703. The day of its foundation is considered to be the birthday of the city. Soon after its construction the fortress lost its military importance and for two hundred years it served as a political prison. In the grounds of Peter and Paul Fortress we visit the cathedral which is the burial place of the Romanov Dynasty. After lunch at a local restaurant, return to the hotel to enjoy an afternoon and evening at leisure. (B, L)

Day 8 Kronstadt & Oranienbaum.

This morning we drive northwest to the small island of Kotlin in the Gulf of Finland, home to the famous Russian Naval base of Kronstadt. Closed to the public until 1996, the city has undergone extensive renovation in recent years and is home to the magnificent Naval Cathedral, which was reconsecrated in 2013 following decades of disuse under the Soviets. We will also see the Makarov Monument and the Italian Palace, constructed between 1717 and 1724. After a local lunch head south across the impressive St Petersburg Dam to another of the city’s less visited sites, Oranienbaum. Although never captured by the Germans, Oranienbaum was bombarded during the war and, while its palaces survived largely intact, its restoration was given much lower priority than the more famous estates at Peterhof and Tsarskoe Selo. Today, the small but elegant park has been almost completely restored and we will tour the grounds and visit the Chinese Palace. Return to the hotel in the late afternoon and spend the remainder of the day at leisure. (B, L)

Day 9 Pavlovsk & the Russian Museum.

This morning we will visit the Palace of Pavlovsk which originally belonged to Emperor Paul I and his wife Maria Fedorovna. Catherine the Great gave them the land and appointed her favourite architect Charles Cameron to start the construction of the palace, to commemorate the birth of their son and heir Alexander I in 1777. At the end of the 18th century Pavlovsk Park was the largest landscaped area in the world. Johann Strauss made Pavlovsk an important musical centre when he was invited to participate at concerts there. After lunch at a local restaurant we visit the Russian Museum, the treasure house of Russian national art, including the Benois Wing named after the famous architect, Leon Benois, who designed it from 1910 to 1912. The museum boasts great Russian art, including the Socialist Realism works of the Stalin era, and countless masterpieces including 12th century icons and 21st century paintings. Meet this evening for dinner at a local restaurant. (B, L, D)

Day 10 St Petersburg – Your Choice of Tour.

A city with so many treasures to discover, it is impossible to cover all the touring possibilities in a single visit. With that in mind, this morning has been left clear for private touring by car or minivan. Perhaps visit the city’s Hermitage Museum, Catherine Palace in Pushkin or discover some of St Petersburg’s famous cathedrals; the choice is yours. A selection of tours will be sent out prior to departure, but private requests are also welcome. Meet tonight for a farewell dinner at the hotel. (B, D)

Day 11 St Petersburg to London.

After breakfast transfer to the airport for our return scheduled flight to London. (B)

  • Aulanko
  • Hermitage Museum
  • Palace of Pavlovsk

Dates and Prices

WEB EXCLUSIVE
Prices per person based on double occupancy
4 to 14 July 2021
Category Price
Twin £4995
Single £6295

Tour Reference Code: LAHSP040721

Price Includes: Economy class scheduled air travel • Three nights accommodation in Aulanko • Two nights accommodation in Imatra • Five nights accommodation in St Petersburg • Meals as indicated (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner) • Excursions as described • Noble Caledonia Tour Leader • Gratuities • Transfers • Airport taxes.

Not Included: Travel insurance • Russian visa.

Group Size: We are restricting the group size to just 25 participants.

Please note: Details for the tour suggestions on day 10 will be advised in your pre-departure information sent approximately 12 weeks prior to departure. At this time we will also be offering guests the chance to attend an optional ballet performance during our stay in St Petersburg. The final order of the itinerary may vary to incorporate the performance. Please note that both the lake cruise on day three and the canal cruise on day six are public sailings and are not exclusive to Noble Caledonia. 

Important Visa Information: A visa is required for Russia and Noble Caledonia will provide all supporting documentation needed although the process to apply for the visa cannot be started until three months before departure and in some instances can take up to six weeks. To obtain a Russian visa it will be necessary for passengers to attend application centres in London, Manchester or Edinburgh. This information is correct at the time of printing and should the information change, we will be in touch with booked passengers with updated guidelines.

Finland & Russia Accommodation

For our escorted tour of the Finnish Lakes & St Petersburg we have selected the following hotels:

 
  • Scandic Aulanko

    Scandic Aulanko

    Located on the banks of the beautiful Vanajavesi Lake, the Scandic Aulanko offers easy access to the nearby historic town of Hameenlinna, and provides direct entry to an extensive network of scenic trails, which can be explored on foot or by using the hotel’s bicycles, which can be borrowed free of charge from Reception. The adjoining nature reserve has been a popular visitor attraction for over one hundred years, and the view from the lookout tower on Aulangonvouri Hill is not to be missed. The rooms feature complimentary Wi-Fi, flat screen TV, en-suite facilities, hairdryers, bathrobes and safes. Guests also have access to the on-site spa and wellness centre with gym, sauna, Jacuzzi and massage room. Enjoy your meals in the hotel restaurant which offers both international and regional cuisine with amazing views over the lake.

  • Scandic Imatran Valtionhotelli

    Scandic Imatran Valtionhotelli

    Occupying an enviable location next to the Imatrankoski Rapids, the Scandic Imatran Valtionhotelli dates back to 1903, when it opened its doors following its commission by the Finnish Senate. Its varied history has seen it thrive in its early years before serving as a military hospital during Finland’s war for independence and a Staff Headquarters during World War II. Fully renovated in 2005, the hotel (and its adjoining, more modern annex where our rooms are located) provides the perfect base to explore the area. Rooms feature complimentary Wi-Fi, en-suite facilities, hairdryers, TV, minibar and safe. Bicycles can be hired free of charge from the Reception and guests can use the on-site spa. Dinner will be taken at the hotel’s historic Linnasali Restaurant on the first evening.

  • Angleterre Hotel

    Angleterre Hotel

    Located directly on St Isaac’s Square in St Petersburg and within easy walking distance of a myriad of world-famous attractions, the Angleterre Hotel is ideally situated to maximise your time in this most eclectic of cities. The original hotel on the site dates back to the 1840s, and following a chequered history that included service as a hospital during the Great Siege the current building is the result of complete reconstruction in the late 1980s where only the original façade was retained. Perhaps explore the shops and restaurants on the nearby Nevsky Prospekt or visit one the many cathedrals or museums within easy walking distance of the hotel. The recently renovated rooms are all sound-proofed and air-conditioned, and feature complimentary Wi-Fi, TV, bathrobes, safe and minibar.

  • View all tours
  • Scandic Aulanko

    Scandic Aulanko

    Located on the banks of the beautiful Vanajavesi Lake, the Scandic Aulanko offers easy access to the nearby historic town of Hameenlinna, and provides direct entry to an extensive network of scenic trails, which can be explored on foot or by using the hotel’s bicycles, which can be borrowed free of charge from Reception. The adjoining nature reserve has been a popular visitor attraction for over one hundred years, and the view from the lookout tower on Aulangonvouri Hill is not to be missed. The rooms feature complimentary Wi-Fi, flat screen TV, en-suite facilities, hairdryers, bathrobes and safes. Guests also have access to the on-site spa and wellness centre with gym, sauna, Jacuzzi and massage room. Enjoy your meals in the hotel restaurant which offers both international and regional cuisine with amazing views over the lake.

  • Scandic Imatran Valtionhotelli

    Scandic Imatran Valtionhotelli

    Occupying an enviable location next to the Imatrankoski Rapids, the Scandic Imatran Valtionhotelli dates back to 1903, when it opened its doors following its commission by the Finnish Senate. Its varied history has seen it thrive in its early years before serving as a military hospital during Finland’s war for independence and a Staff Headquarters during World War II. Fully renovated in 2005, the hotel (and its adjoining, more modern annex where our rooms are located) provides the perfect base to explore the area. Rooms feature complimentary Wi-Fi, en-suite facilities, hairdryers, TV, minibar and safe. Bicycles can be hired free of charge from the Reception and guests can use the on-site spa. Dinner will be taken at the hotel’s historic Linnasali Restaurant on the first evening.

  • Angleterre Hotel

    Angleterre Hotel

    Located directly on St Isaac’s Square in St Petersburg and within easy walking distance of a myriad of world-famous attractions, the Angleterre Hotel is ideally situated to maximise your time in this most eclectic of cities. The original hotel on the site dates back to the 1840s, and following a chequered history that included service as a hospital during the Great Siege the current building is the result of complete reconstruction in the late 1980s where only the original façade was retained. Perhaps explore the shops and restaurants on the nearby Nevsky Prospekt or visit one the many cathedrals or museums within easy walking distance of the hotel. The recently renovated rooms are all sound-proofed and air-conditioned, and feature complimentary Wi-Fi, TV, bathrobes, safe and minibar.

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