The Russian capital’s festive colour
Though the Russian Orthodox Christmas remains two weeks away, the week before New Year, when western celebrations are in full flow, is a marvellous time to visit mighty Moscow. As the city streets erupt in a riot of colour and lights, and the markets bustle with visitors, you'll be able to experience this great European capital at its romantic winter best. Take a guided tour of Moscow's world-famous sights, spend time wandering the markets and illuminated streets, and join us to celebrate Christmas with a special champagne lunch in a Moscow restaurant.
WHAT DOES THE PRICE INCLUDE?
Day One: Outbound flights to Russia
Fly to Moscow, meet your Tour Manager and transfer to your hotel in the city centre. Settle in to your room, and perhaps enjoy a drink at the bar before you head out for dinner – you'll find an enticing choice of restaurants to consider right on your doorstep, wherever you choose to stay.
Day Two: Included Moscow city tour
Today's guided tour brings to life this, one of the world’s great cities. See Red Square, where multi-coloured, onion-domed St Basil’s Cathedral, Lenin’s eerie Mausoleum and the great Victorian pile of GUM (the former State Department Store and now a glittering shopping mall complete with dazzling decorations) look out over the vast space to the colourful stalls of Moscow’s largest Christmas market.
Encircling Red Square, like rings on a tree-trunk or the layers of a Russian doll, you'll find the rest of the city’s central areas, each vying to outdo the others with its extravagant festive decorations. A giant Christmas bauble adorns Manezh Square, while Tverskoy Boulevard is transformed into a wintertime paradise for children of all ages.
The rest of your day is left free. Browse the markets on Red Square, warmed by a gluhwein or vodka, visit a museum or wander the city's shops and stores. Unlike most European cities, Moscow remains fully open over "our" Christmas, meaning you can enjoy a full day of sightseeing and shopping before beginning your celebrations with dinner at your hotel this evening.
Day Three: Christmas Day
After the chance to swap presents, this morning, we'll head out for a second included guided tour. Our destination is the mysterious citadel of the Kremlin. Behind its turreted walls you'll discover a fascinating enclave of imposing – and off-limits – government buildings like the Senate House and the Presidium, the vast State Kremlin Palace concert hall, as well as beautiful squares, churches and palaces. See the three cathedrals of the Assumption, the Annunciation and the Archangel – the last containing the Tombs of the Tsars – and the Ivan the Great Belltower, the Kremlin’s tallest structure. Neither the monumental Tsar Bell or Tsar Cannon have ever been used, while the ornate facade of the Armoury Palace hints at priceless treasures hidden within.
After a fascinating morning, sit down for a glass of champagne and a Christmas lunch at a Moscow restaurant, before spending the afternoon as you see fit.
Day Four: Optional Russian traditions excursion
Spend today relaxing or making the most of your time in Moscow, or join our festive optional excursion. Take a short horse-carriage ride through the winter wonderland of Kolomenskoye Tsaritsyno, the former Royal estate in the south of the city, before enjoying lunch washed down with a vodka tasting at Korchma Taras Bulba - a traditional Ukranian tavern recreated in the heart of Moscow.
Make the most of your final evening in Moscow, tonight, and soak up the atmosphere as the city readies itself for its own Christmas - still a few days away, on 7th January.
Day Five: Fly back to the UK
Bid “do svidanya” to Moscow and your hotel, today, as your return to the airport to catch your flight home at the end of a wonderful - and very different - Christmas holiday.
Passports and visas
Please note that visas are required for travel on this tour. The visa application process requires you to appear in person at the Russian embassy in either Edinburgh or London. We will send you full application details, including your invitation letter, approximately eight weeks prior to your holiday. Please note that you can not obtain your visa until you have received your invitation letter from us. The cost of the visa is approximately £110 per person if obtained directly. The cost is approximately £187 per person if using the services of our preferred visa agency - CIBT. Passports must be valid for at least six months after the visa expiration date.
Foreign Office Travel Advice
Visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice to find out the latest Foreign And Commonwealth Office travel advice for your holiday destination, as well as information about passports and visas.
Hotel transfer times
The transfer time from the airport to your hotel is approximately one hour.
Combining hotel transfers
We sometimes need to combine transfers to and from your hotel. We always try to keep any wait to a minimum, but you may be asked to wait at the airport for up to an hour, while other incoming flights arrive, before the transfer to your hotel. Similarly, we may need to transfer you back to the airport up to three hours before your flight home departs.
Booking optional excursions
If you'd like to join any of the optional excursions on this tour, please be aware that they are only available in advance and that it will not be possible to book them once you arrive on holiday.
If you have notified us of any special requirements, please check that they have been noted and acknowledged. This is especially important with any dietary needs you may have.
The majority of our tours involve a certain amount of walking, including a short walk from the coach stop to the town, attraction or venue you're visiting. If you are bringing a wheelchair, please let us know at the time of booking so that appropriate arrangements can be made.
Occasionally, for operational reasons, we may have to change the order of the excursions on your holiday. This includes reversing the itinerary. The final day-by-day itinerary will be confirmed on your Final Travel Documents, which you will receive approximately three weeks prior to your departure.