Memorable & personalized luxury holidays.
A land of gargantuan contrasts, Russia is one of the world’s most intriguing destinations. The home of atheist communism has some of the most sacred churches on the planet. There’s nothing Bolshevik about the pomp and ostentation of its imperial palaces. Censorship notwithstanding, Russian art, music, dance and literature have swayed global imagination. The flux of new money has replaced the erstwhile austerity with a correspondingly intense desire to live the good life. The past, the present and the future all await the traveller who embarks on the Russian quest.
The Baltic States, emerging from the shadow of their colossal neighbour, are becoming the favourites of those who seek the unusual. Equally historic, quirky and endowed with natural beauty, the countries of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia have plenty to fill your soul and appease your wanderlust.
Moscow City Religious & Historic Tour – A tour of Moscow is one of the best ways to see its many sights. Start at the Red Square, with the prototypical 16th Century St. Basil's Cathedral, known for its onion domes. See Lenin’s massive Mausoleum and travel to the Kremlin, the most powerful seat in this hemisphere. Inside the Kremlin walls are four palaces and cathedrals. See the islands on the Moskva river, including the red brick factory of Red October on Bolotny Island, now a hub for entertainment and food.
Diamond vaults – Gape at Catherine the Great’s sceptre, the famous Orlov diamond and the world’s largest collection of diamonds. The building is equally grandiose.
Armoury Museum – The highlight of the Kremlin tour, the Armoury Museum features the largest collection of Fabergé eggs, along with historic artefacts, clothes, jewellery.
Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts – The largest collection of non-Russian art is on display here, starting from Ancient Civilisation relics to the paintings of the Dutch Golden Age. The collection of Rembrandt’s works, including “Portrait of an Old Woman” eclipses even the masterpieces of Botticelli, Tiepolo etc.
Golden Ring Tour – Visit the towns and sites that take you to Russia’s tumultuous past. Important centres before the Mongol invasions, they now serve as reminders of the country’s glorious tryst with architecture and religion. Some of Russia’s most sacred sites are on this circuit.
Suzdal – Considered the diamond of the Golden Ring, Suzdal with its wooden cottages and quiet air seems to exist in a time capsule. An erstwhile royal capital, it is now a must see tourist spot, especially for the onion domed church at the Euthymius Monastery. It also has an open air Museum of Wooden Architecture, featuring archetypal wooden churches.
Sergiev Posad – The blue and gold domes of the Trinity Cathedral in the Monastery of St. Sergius dominate the skyline of this iconic Russian town. The monastery is considered the spiritual home of the Russian Orthodox Church, while the Church houses Russia’s most precious and famous painted icon: The Holy Trinity, by Rublev. Sergiev Posad is also the birthplace of the famous Russian Matryoshka dolls.
Vladimir – A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Vladimir is the site of the Dormition Cathedral and the St. Demetrius Cathedral.
Pereslavl-Zalesskiy – An ancient Russian town founded by Yuriy Dolgorukiy, it is the home town of Russian prince Alexander Nevsky. Top places here include the Spaso-Preobrazhensky cathedral and the Nikitskiy Monastery.
St. Petersburg – The first city of Russia when it comes to culture, St. Petersburg has an alluring past and a pulsating present!
Cathedral of the Spilt Blood – Built on the spot where Alexander II was assassinated, the Cathedral is St. Petersburg’s most significant landmark. Its multi-coloured domes are similar to St. Basil’s. The interiors resemble a painting, with a kaleidoscopic collection of religious mosaics - the largest in the world.
Hermitage Museum – The most popular and extensive collection in Russia is housed in four buildings including the sumptuous Winter Palace. The Hermitage's collection include works of Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian, Rembrandts, Rubens, Renoir, Cezanne, Manet, Monet and Pissarro. Other A-listers include Van Gogh, Matisse, Gaugin and Rodin. The Gold and Diamond rooms are also top attractions. A day is simply not enough to take in its grandeur.
Peterhof Palace – The Grand Palace of Petersburg is gilded with gold and is the work of several Tsars and Tsarinas. Founded by Peter the Great, it was conceived to be an even grander version of Versailles. The ensuing Tsars ensured that Peterhof retained its glory, especially Nicholas I. The Great Cascade featuring four fountains is one of the main attractions.
Peter and Paul Fortress – Established to guard St. Petersburg, the city grew from this fortress on Zayachy Island. It is also the final resting place of the House of Romanov. Steeped in history and with panoramic views from the fortress walls, it’s one for the books.
Pushkin – See Empress Catherine the Great’s palace and the Rococco summer residence of the Tsars. An easy day trip from St. Petersburg.
KGB museum, Original Sokos Hotel Viru, Tallinn, Estonia – Imagine the KGB knowing everything from your choice of appetizer to your phone call home! The residents of the Hotel Viru were spied upon by the dreaded Secret Service which had a radio station right on the 23rd floor. The secret room was discovered only in 1994 and is of great interest to Cold War buffs.
Kamchatka National Park – The sight of the ‘3 brothers’ (natural rocks) welcoming visitors in the Avachinsky bay is a harbinger of things to come. The Kamchatka peninsula (Kamchatka Krai) is a world unto itself with 169 active volcanoes, colour changing mountains, a valley of geysers, huge wild Salmon populations, lakes, thermal springs, Brown Bears and Sea Eagles. Those making this long trip eastwards are sure to be entranced by the sheer variety of landscapes & natural wonders. Your list should include the Klyuchevsky group of volcanoes, the black volcanic deserts of Tolbachik, the Uzon caldera and the Kutkhiny Baty, a valley made of light and whitish pumice stone whose shape resembles upturned boats.
Amur Tiger & Leopard tracking, Sikhote Alin Biosphere Sanctuary – Two of Russia’s biggest cats are also the most endangered animals on the planet. Roughly 40 or so Amur tigers and leopards roam the vast swathes of the Sikhote Alin region. It is also an unusual biosphere having a mix of temperate and taiga vegetation, making it home to other rare species like the Goral, Sika Deer and Asiatic Black Bear. The lakes here are practically bird magnets hosting Temminck’s Cormorant, Hazel Grouse, Chinese Merganser, Mandarin Duck, Asian Spruce Grouse, Blakiston’s Fish-owl, Hodgson’s Hawk Eagle, White-tailed Eagle and Steller’s Sea Eagles. Explore this fantastic region and do your bit for conservation with customized tours that join anti-poaching patrols.
Cycling in the Baltics – All it takes is two wheels to absorb the sheer beauty and variety of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Gear up for brilliant landscapes, long stretches of coast, rich history and architectural splendour. Start from the Lithuanian capital Vilnius and travel on, seeing the fairy tale island castle of Trakai, natural wonders like the Curonian Spit & Gutmana caves, the quirky Hill of Crosses, the oldest Latvian Church at Krimulda (1205), the striking lighthouses of Estonia, 16th century castles and manor houses. Enjoy local produce and fresh seafood, along with the bracing Baltic air. The journey ends at Tallinn, Estonia’s capital.
Scarlet Sails and crimson skies – will wonders never cease?! Take a walk at midnight under a clear, bright sky in St. Petersburg to experience the spirit of the White Nights Festival.