Moscow to Budapest

Route Map

This fascinating journey takes you from the dazzling capital of Russia through the little known Baltic states and countries once hidden behind the Iron Curtain to Budapest, Hungary’s charming capital. Immerse yourself in the deep history, diverse cultures and warmth of the local people as you travel through cosmopolitan cities and towering mountain ranges.

Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary

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Day 1 to 2 – Arrive Moscow

The first day of your tour is simply an arrival day with no pre-organised activities. In order to allow time to relax and see some of the sights you may wish to add pre-tour accommodation.

Golden onion domes and towering skyscrapers, cosy cafes and hushed churches, Russia’s capital city is beautiful, atmospheric and overflowing with history. There is plenty to see and do here, including numerous cathedrals, museums, art galleries, palaces, the State History Museum and the iconic St Basil’s Cathedral, towers and monuments. Moscow’s Red Square (Krasnaja Ploshad) is the main centre of Moscow and was a market place during the fifteenth century. The square acquired its present name in the seventeenth century. The red part of its name does not refer to Communism or to the colour of the stone (which is actually grey) but derives from the old Russian word ‘krasniy’ meaning beautiful. During the Soviet regime the square was known for its May Day parades and is the site of Lenin’s Mausoleum.

Just a few minutes’ walk away from Izmailovsky Park Metro, the lively and bustling Izmailovsky Souvenir Market is an absolute must-see. The entire market is surrounded by a mock wooden fortress which is prettily decorated with statues from Russian legends. Browse around the seemingly endless stands, shopping for wooden matryoshka dolls, chess sets, amber jewellery and Soviet memorabilia such as authentic army belts and gas masks, or if you’re looking for less kitsch and more art, you could aim for the traditional Russian handicrafts and original paintings. Don’t forget to haggle! A useful word to know is’skolka’ or’how much?’.

More than a people-moving system, Moscow’s metro system is a network of beautifully and artistically decorated stations. Why not take a self-guided tour of the system and discover Moscow’s original underground art scene. (Please note you will need to pay for your own metro tickets).

We will spend our days in Moscow visiting some of the great historical sites of the city. The Kremlin is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and a main focus of Russia’s political and historical heritage since the 13th century, housing both royalty and religious figures. The Kremlin wall contains a mass grave of Bolsheviks who perished during the battle for Moscow in 1917, together with the ashes of a number of well-known Russians, including writer Maxim Gorky and Yuriy Gagarin, the first Russian man to visit space.

It is said that soon after January 21, 1924, the day that Vladimir Lenin died, the Soviet government received more than 10,000 telegrams from all over Russia, which asked the government to preserve his body somehow for future generations. Lenin’s tomb, and final resting place, was then promptly set about being designed and a wooden tomb was constructed within 6 days of his death. A larger mausoleum was constructed later that year and stands today in the centre of the city in the prominent Red Square.

Optional Excursions

St Basil’s Cathedral – 250 RUB • Tretyakov Gallery – 400 RUB • Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts – 300 RUB • Moscow Metro & Novodevichy Cemetary Tour – from 15 EUR • State Historical Museum – 300 RUB • Museum Panorama (Battle of Borodino) – 200 RUB • Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics – 200 RUB • Museum of Russian History – 300 RUB • Christ the Saviour Cathedral – Free • Bolshoi Theatre – from 500 RUB

Accommodation

2 night(s) in hotels

Meals

1 Breakfast

Day 3 to 3 – Moscow & Overnight train to Veliky Novgorod

We have the whole day to spend in Moscow enjoying some last minute sightseeing before we next head to Veliky Novgorod by overnight train – it’s a good idea to buy some snacks before we board!

Included Excursions

Entry & Guided tour of Moscow Kremlin

Accommodation

1 night(s) on overnight sleeper trains. No single room upgrade available.

Meals

1 Breakfast

Day 4 to 4 – Veliky Novgorod

One of the oldest cities in Russia, Veliky Novgorod is steeped in history. It was one of the first hubs of religious, political and commercial activities in Russia and it is here where we find St Sophia’s Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in Russia. Admire the five domed architecture that dominates the Kremlin in Novgorod, and visit the exhibition of the ancient bells that used to ring in St Sophia’s bell tower. Previously, the bells were heard from a 50 mile radius and had a distinct melody in memory of the composer Sergey Rakhaminoff, born in Novgorod. The bells were damaged during World War II, so unfortunately they now are grounded, however you can still enjoy panoramic views of Veliky Novgorod from the bell tower itself.

Included Excursions

Guided tour of St Sophia’s Cathedral and the Kremlin

Optional Excursions

Open Air Museum of Wooden Architecture – 150 RUB • St George Monastery – Free • Fine Art Museum – 150 RUB

Accommodation

1 night(s) in hotels

Day 5 to 6 – St Petersburg

The cosmopolitan city of St Petersburg is known as the’Venice of the north’ because of its rivers and canals which are fascinating and easy to explore by boat. There are many sights to see in this former capital including the Winter Palace, the famous Church of the Spilt Blood and the Hermitage museums.

We will take an orientation walk around the key sights of the city, include a visit to the Hermitage Museum (with a local guide) to explore the extensive art collection there, and then you will be free to explore this great city at your leisure.

Included Excursions

Entry & Guided tour of the Hermitage Museum

Optional Excursions

Vodka Museum Tour and Tasting – 500 RUB • Mariinsky Theatre – from 1000 RUB • Catherine Palace – 400 RUB • Peterhof Palace – 550 RUB • Canal Boat Ride – 1000 RUB • Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera) – 250 RUB • Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood – 250 RUB • St Isaac’s Cathedral – 250 RUB • Cabin of Peter the Great – 200 RUB • Faberge Egg Museum Guided Tour – 450 RUB

Accommodation

2 night(s) in hotels

Meals

2 Breakfast

Day 7 to 8 – Tallinn

Our next stop is Tallinn, Estonia’s capital. Famous for its enchanting historic centre, the city is a popular holiday destination on the Gulf of Finland. Roam the cobbled streets and explore scenic ruins or climb the hill of Toompea, which is filled with medieval buildings, 14th century churches, turrets, spires and enticing alleyways.

Tallinn also offers alluring boutique shopping similar to that found in Swiss cities. The city is full of artists and artisans so you may also find wonderfully made glass, weaving and pottery here. The cafe scene is thriving and you can find everything from sunlit street cafes to Art Deco style bakeries. Within the walls of the Old Town there are lots of excellent restaurants to enjoy and a thriving nightlife, with clubs open until the wee hours. Estonians are true beer lovers so you might like to try an authentic local brew.

Optional Excursions

Kadriorg Palace & Park – 5.50 EUR • Lahemaa National Park Day Tour – 55 EUR • Coastal Cliffs & Soviet Paldiski Day Tour – 45 EUR • Tallinn City Museum – 4 EUR • Estonian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum – 8 EUR • TV Tower – 10 EUR • St. Olav’s Church & Viewing Deck – 2 EUR • Alexander Nevsky Cathedral – Free • Walking Tour – Free

Accommodation

2 night(s) in hotels

Meals

2 Breakfast

Day 9 to 10 – Riga

Riga is more than 800 years old and its clever blend of medieval centre and modern city infrastructure will enchant you. The UNESCO World Heritage listed Old Town has its own particular charm, while the city is also famous for its fascinating Art Nouveau architectural heritage which you can discover as you wander the streets of this ‘Paris of the East’. A must-do is a visit to Riga’s most famous Gothic church, St Peter’s, thought to be about 800 years old. Its famous spire has been rebuilt three times in the same form since 1667, with its latest rebuild completed in 1973. Climb the spire and enjoy spectacular views over the city.

Optional Excursions

Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum – 2.50 EUR • St Peter’s Church Tower – 9 EUR • Museum of the Occupation of Latvia – Free • Walking Tour – Free • The Dome Cathedral – Free • Museum Art Nouveau – 6 EUR • Academy of Sciences Observation Deck – 3.50 EUR

Accommodation

2 night(s) in hotels

Meals

2 Breakfast

Day 11 to 12 – Vilnius

The capital of Lithuania, Vilnius boasts an attractive baroque Old Town that is the largest in Eastern Europe and is praised as the ‘New Prague’. Located on the edge of the Neris River, with its pine covered hills, friendly people, and blend of old and new, this is a picturesque city well worth exploring. You will have time to explore the main sights of the city including Gediminas Castle on the top of Gediminas Hill and Cathedral Square at the base of the hill, which is dominated by Vilnius Cathedral and its 57 metre-tall belfry.

While you’re exploring the square between the cathedral and the tower you should hunt for the secret stebuklas (miracle) tile. The tile marks the southern end of the 2 million person, 650 kilometre long human chain between Tallinn and Vilnius, which was formed in protest against Soviet occupation in 1989. Local legend has it that if you find the pretty mosaic-covered tile you should stand on it and turn around three times clockwise while making a wish, which shall then be granted.

Included Excursions

Entry & Guided tour of the KGB Museum

Optional Excursions

Trakai Castle – 6 EUR • Grutas Park – 6.5 EUR • Walking Tour – Free

Accommodation

2 night(s) in hotels

Meals

2 Breakfast

Day 13 to 14 – Warsaw

Warsaw, Poland’s capital, has been revitalised as a tourist destination. The city was almost entirely destroyed in World War II but a lot of effort has gone into its rebuilding. Since the fall of communism many old buildings have given way to modern skyscrapers, the dilapidated old town has been brightened up, and entertainment and services transformed to match that of other western capitals.

Home to various palaces, castles and citadels, Warsaw is noted for the Soviet-era Palace of Culture and Science, as well as the marketplace at the 10th Anniversary Stadium, a converted festival site where you can buy all sorts of interesting items. Also recommended is a visit to the Old Town, which was rebuilt between 1949 and 1963 after being destroyed in World War II in the Renaissance, Gothic and Baroque styles of architecture from the 17th and 18th centuries. You can visit the Historical Museum of Warsaw and Royal Castle at nearby Old Town Square.

Optional Excursions

Warsaw Uprising Museum – 18 PLN • Palace of Culture and Science Observation Deck – 20 PLN • Museum of the History of Polish Jews – 30 PLN • Lazienki Park and Palace – 40 PLN • Royal Castle Tour – 23 PLN • Walking Tour – Free • Wilanow Palace – 20 PLN

Accommodation

2 night(s) in hotels

Meals

2 Breakfast

Day 15 to 16 – Kraków

Poland’s more famous and cultural city is Kraków, which has managed to preserve centuries of amazing architecture and artistic traditions as most of the historic buildings and monuments emerged unscathed from World War II. Kraków was the royal capital for 500 years so a must-see is the royal Wawel Castle, a beautiful renaissance palace which now houses a museum. During the evening the cosmopolitan city offers a wild nightlife, with plenty of restaurants, music clubs and bars to explore.

Kraków is our base to visit the UNESCO listed Auschwitz-Birkenau German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp, a sobering tribute to the people that perished there during the Holocaust. Situated close to the Polish town of O?wi?cim, the camp was originally designed for Polish political prisoners but became the most notorious camp of World War II because an estimated 1.6 million people of 27 nationalities, including 1.1 million Jews, 150,000 Poles and 23,000 Roma were killed by the Nazis.

Included Excursions

Guided Tour of Auschwitz Concentration Camp

Optional Excursions

Wieliczka Salt Mine Tour – 130 PLN • Oskar Schindler’s Factory – 21 PLN • Saint Mary’s Basilica – 10 PLN • Galicia Jewish Museum – 15 PLN • Wawel Royal Castle – 25 PLN • Walking Tour – Free

Accommodation

2 night(s) in hotels

Meals

2 Breakfast

Day 17 to 17 – High Tatras Mountains

The High Tatras constitutes of a large mountain range which forms a natural border between Slovakia and Poland and is the highest mountain range of the Carpathians. The tallest mountain is Gerlach at 2,655 metres, located in Slovakia just north of Poprad.

After making our way to Starý Smokovec (Nový Smokovec) we have time to relax and unwind. For the energetic there is an opportunity to go to the nearby mountains for some hiking. There are various paths ranging from gentle to highly demanding, winding among spectacular peaks and rock walls. Alternatively you can admire some of the beautiful natural sites of the region, such as the glacial lake of Strebske Pleso.

Optional Excursions

Summer Toboggan (Tatrabob) – 3 EUR • Hiking – Free • Water Park – 22 EUR • Bike Hire – from 12 EUR • Solisko Chairlift – 13 EUR • Furnicular ride – 7 EUR

Accommodation

1 night(s) in a guesthouse. No single room upgrade available.

Meals

1 Breakfast

Day 18 to 18 – Overnight train to Prague

After getting our fill of the crisp mountain air we board an overnight train to Prague.

Accommodation

1 night(s) on overnight sleeper trains. No single room upgrade available.

Meals

1 Breakfast

Day 19 to 20 – Prague

Prague is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and you will have plenty of free time to visit the stunning City of 1,000 Spires, including the bustling Old Town Square where you can find a beautiful astronomical clock, the enchanting Charles Bridge where you can watch artists and buskers at work and Wenceslas Square. There is also time to wander the lofty heights of Hradčany Castle and St Vitus Cathedral for magical views over the city.

Prague is a town that loves to party so you may also want to experience the nightlife as there are many great bars and restaurants and plenty of pulsating night clubs to enjoy. Czechs have been brewing beer since the 9th century and invented the world’s first Pilsner, so Prague offers a great opportunity to sample some of the world’s finest beers.

Optional Excursions

Kutna Hora Day Trip – 700 CZK • Brewery Tour – 1200 CZK • Beer Tasting – 590 CZK • Hradcany Castle – 350 CZK • Jewish Museum – 300 CZK • Town Hall Clock Tower – 120 CZK • Boat Tour – 260 CZK • Mucha Museum – 240 CZK • City of Prague Museum – 120 CZK • Karlstejn Castle – 270 CZK

Accommodation

2 night(s) in hotels

Meals

1 Breakfast

Day 21 to 22 – Vienna

Welcome to Austria! Birthplace of some of the greatest classical musical compositions, Vienna charms with its cultural history and opulent beauty. Known as the ‘city of music’ many composers such as Mozart, Beethoven and Strauss were born or worked here and you can learn all about their works in places such as Haus der Musik and Mozarthaus, Mozart’s main apartment in Vienna which holds an insight into his celebrated life.

Perhaps you would like to catch a jaw-dropping orchestra performance at the Vienna Philharmonic, or watch a ballet or opera performance at the Wiener Staatsoper? You may also choose to visit the Schloss Schönbrunn, the palace of the Habsburg family, and discover the Baroque grandeur of the Austrian dynasty. Once you have delighted in the culture and beauty of Vienna, there are a host of a lively restaurants, cafes and bars to soak up as you watch the world go by in this vibrant city.

Optional Excursions

Albertina Museum – 13 EUR • Schoenbrunn Palace – 13 EUR • Spanish Riding School Morning Exercise – 15 EUR • Belvedere Palace – 14 EUR • Sigmund Freud Museum – 10 EUR • City Bike Tour – 29 EUR • Vienna Mozart Concert – from 49 EUR

Accommodation

2 night(s) in hotels

Meals

2 Breakfast

Day 23 to 23 – Budapest

After a short train journey we arrive in Budapest, Hungary’s stylish capital. It is known as the ‘City of Spas’ for its abundance of natural thermal springs. To fully explore the city why not book a few extra nights in the city to enjoy some of its sights?

Straddling the Danube River, the city is comprised of two very different historic cities, Buda on the west bank and Pest on the east bank. Highlights here include Castle Hill, Matthius Church, Fisherman’s Bastion, the Liberation Monument, the fabulous St Stephen’s Basilica and the much photographed Parliament Building.

Terror Haza (Terror House) is a popular museum recounting stories of espionage and atrocities committed during World War II and during the communist period. During your optional visit you can view very moving testimonial footage from survivors and visit old jail cells, torture chambers and interrogation rooms.

The Dohany Street Synagogue is the largest synagogue in Europe and features stunning decorations. You can also wander around Central Market Hall and enjoy the intoxicating sights and smells of’Budapest’s pantry’ and get an idea of Hungary’s food culture – you can even buy chocolates by the kilo!

The perfect place to relax after a day of sightseeing is in a traditional bath. The Szechenyi Medicinal Baths are one of the city’s more famous Neo Baroque-style baths with indoor and outdoor pools, thermal pools, saunas and massages in a beautiful setting. After a nice soak you can visit numerous restaurants and bars to visit on Liszt Ferenc for an enjoyable evening’s entertainment.

Optional Excursions

Budapest Parliament Tour – 5200 HUF • Szechenyi Thermal Baths – 4900 HUF • House of Terror – 2000 HUF • Great Synagogue – 3000 HUF • Danube Cruise – 3900 HUF • Hungarian National Museum – 1600 HUF • Memento Park – 1500 HUF • Buda Castle – 1700 HUF • Fisherman’s Bastion – 700 HUF • Walking Tour – Free • Hop on Hop off Bus – from 5000 HUF

Accommodation

1 night(s) in hotels

Meals

1 Breakfast

Day 24 to 24 – Depart Budapest

Your adventure of a lifetime comes to an end today. If you have a late flight or have lengthened your stay by adding post tour accommodation you will have more time to explore the sights.

Meals

1 Breakfast

 

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