Now Open for Bookings!
Back to the USSR 18-day Escorted Tour
17 June – 04 July 2020
Tour cost, from:
- $10,995 per person twin-share
- $12,795 per person solo occupancy
- To secure your space on this unique tour, return your completed booking form along with a $750 non-refundable deposit to Discover Travel.
Join Discover Travel’s, Peter Dunne, on this escorted tour of the Baltic state capitals and Soviet Russia, exploring Imperial, World War II and Soviet era history – read the full itinerary here.
The Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea each have a long interesting history and an impressive cultural heritage dating back to the 13th century.
Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius, founded in 1323, still bears evidence of its rich heritage in the gothic, renaissance and baroque architecture of its Old Town, best explored on foot. Latvia’s capital, Riga, a blend of sophisticated cafés and restaurants, founded in 1201, was once called the “Paris of the North.” Estonia, the smallest and most northern of the Baltic states, is fondly referred to as “E-stonia”, due to its dynamic, advanced digital society, bears a distinct European presence. That said, Estonians also follow tradition and are great lovers of poetry, cinema and the arts. Tallinn’s charming Hanseatic Old Town is also a World Heritage site. The world’s largest country, Russia, isn’t quite what you might expect. Winston Churchill once described Russia as a “riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”
Our tour starts in Lithuania, where we spend a couple of days discovering Vilnius before venturing out towards the pilgrimage site of the Hill of Crosses. A memorial of Christian devotion since the medieval period, it represents the peaceful resistance of Lithuanian Catholicism to oppression. It’s a short bus ride from there to Riga, our home for the next few nights. The city of Riga blends timeless tradition with cutting-edge cool and we’ll soak up the atmosphere here before heading towards Tallinn for our 2-night stay. The Old Town’s wonderfully preserved medieval architecture and labyrinth of narrow, characterful streets are begging to be discovered on foot.
Russia’s two main cities – former capital, St. Petersburg (Leningrad, as it was) and current capital, Moscow, are next on our journey. We’ll witness the charm of St. Petersburg’s architectural styles converging at Palace Square, impressive art collections of the Hermitage Museum and the beauty of bejewelled Fabergé eggs. From the opulence of the palaces, to the memorial of the Church of the Saviour of Spilled Blood, our 4 night-stay here encompasses the highlights of this majestic city. We then travel by high-speed train to Moscow, a city rich in contrasts. Red Square is the first stop on our 4-night stay to see the ‘onion domes’ of St. Basil’s Cathedral, a landmark that takes on a fairy-tale quality when lit up at night. The underground rail network, the Metro, showcases feats of stylish engineering in its stations and is also a ‘must-see’. We’ll visit the Kremlin grounds, followed by a tour of the State Armoury Museum – a treasure trove of ceremonial arms and armour. Finally, relive the tensions of the Cold War and descend 65m below ground to the once top secret nuclear Bunker 42, a fascinating military complex.
This tour highlights the uniqueness of history and culture of a much-changed region – say “da” to Back to the USSR!
- KGB Museum – Lithuania’s gruesome memorial to the suffering of thousands under Soviet occupation
- Trakai Island Castle Museum – Vilnius’ picturesque lakeside medieval castle
- Explore the sacred Hill of Crosses – more than 200 thousand crosses in one place, on one hill
- Walking tours of the Old Towns of Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn
- Tallinn’s Town Hall and onion-domed Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
- Sample traditional Russian delicacies: dinner with caviar, blini, pickled cucumber, and vodka – da!
- Hermitage Museum, home to celebrated works by Rembrandt and Leonardo da Vinci
- Admire the Impressionists Art Collection in the General Staff Building
- Witness the design and colour during your visit to the Church of the Saviour of Spilled Blood
- Feast your eyes on the opulent Faberge Eggs at the Faberge Museum
- Visit Pushkin to see the elegant, baroque style and neo-classical interior of Catherine’s Palace
- Visit the Peter and Paul Fortress – St. Petersburg’s original citadel
- Experience Moscow’s Red Square and the Kremlin, a city-within-a-city
- See the impressive lights of Moscow by night
- Witness the extravagance and personal collections from the tsars’ treasury at the Armoury Museum
- Tour through the once-secret Cold War military complex of Bunker 42
- Farewell Dinner with Russian champagne and local specialties – a fitting ‘dasvidaniya’ to Russia
- Economy class return airfares from Christchurch
- Superior first-class, or best available first-class hotels
- All transfers and sightseeing transport in private air-conditioned motor coach
- Meals: 14 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 5 dinners
- High-speed Sapsan train: St. Petersburg – Moscow
- Sightseeing and excursions with local guide where applicable as per itinerary
- Admissions to all excursions noted as ‘Highlights’
- Gratuities/tipping for the motor coach driver, tour director and local guides
- Tour escort
- Russian visa for New Zealand passport holders^ (^Other nationalities to be confirmed)