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Welcome to Helsinki, the cool capital of Finland, whose sophisticated streets and laidback atmosphere are yours to enjoy, before meeting your Travel Director and fellow travel companions for an orientation drive to see the city's iconic sights followed by a Welcome Reception.
Follow the beautiful shoreline along the Gulf of Finland, crossing the border into Russia. We journey through the lush forests of Karelia to the imperial city of St. Petersburg - our home for the next three nights. You will have the option of admiring the 'Venice of the North', taking to its waters and navigating the city's canals by boat, or perhaps indulge in the delicious flavours of a traditional pie at the Stolle bakery, while you wander through the city's narrow lanes and grand boulevards this evening.
Join a Local Specialist this morning to explore the city's iconic sights including the Tsar's Winter Palace, Nevsky Prospekt, St. Isaac's Cathedral and the Statue of Peter the Great, whose inspired vision for this city saw it evolve into an elegant metropolis to rival even the most sophisticated of European capitals. Then visit the Peter and Paul Fortress, built to protect the city against invading forces in the 18th century, and the spectacular Hermitage Museum to see one of the world's largest and most valuable art collections. Admire the exquisite works of da Vinci, Rembrandt and Vermeer which hang proudly on its magnificent Baroque and Rococo walls.
Spend the day exploring St. Petersburg, admiring the ornate golden domes and colourful mosaics of cathedrals and churches. Consider joining an Optional Experience to visit the gardens and cascading miracle of engineering at the spectacular Peterhof fountains of Peter the Great's summer residence, then spend your evening at leisure.
Board a high-speed Sapsan train that will take you across the vast Russian landscape to the capital city. Delve into the tumultuous and captivating history of Moscow. This evening, we dine at our hotel.
Join a Local Specialist for a sightseeing tour of the imposing Red Square - the site of grand celebrations, fierce fighting and beautiful architecture. See the domes of St. Basil's Cathedral, before venturing beyond the red walls of the Kremlin for a memorable visit to the seat of Russian power. Please note: on certain departures, the Kremlin will be visited on day 7.
Immese yourself in the kofe culture of Moscow, before taking to its streets to learn about the city's triumphs and defeats. You have a full day at leisure to explore the sights. Stroll along the flower-lined boulevards of Gorky Park, admire the exquisite underground art and history showcase that is the Moscow Metro, or consider an Optional Experience to the Tsar's Treasury Chamber or St. Sergius Monastery and its handicraft market.
Follow in the footsteps of Napoleon's retreating army of 1812, passing near the bloody battlefields of Borodino, before stopping for a Regional Meal lunch in the Smolensk region. We cross the border and journey to Minsk, the cosmopolitan capital of Belarus and our home for the next two nights. This evening we dine on traditional cuisine at our hotel. Later, consider visiting the Old Town and indulging in the honey flavours of the local medovukha drink.
This morning, we join our Local Specialist to see the iconic sights of Minsk, including the Hero City Memorial, built to commemorate the city's status as one of the Hero Cities of the former Soviet Union. Consider a visit to the Saint Elizabeth Convent during your free afternoon to see its beautiful stained glass and religious icon workshop. This evening, 'Connect With Locals' and join Anatolij and his family in their Belarus farmstead for a traditional Be My Guest dinner. Enjoy rousing accordion choruses and, of course, a few shots.
We journey west and cross the border into Lithuania, arriving later in the capital Vilnius, renowned for its beautiful Baroque façades. Join a Local Specialist on a leisurely tour past the city's iconic sights. See the Bishop's Palace and the University, the oldest university in the Baltics, founded in 1579. Explore the 17th-century Baroque Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, built on the site of a temple to the pagan goddess of love. Walk to the Gates of Dawn, the Carmelite Church of St. Theresa and former Jewish Ghetto, passing the Cathedral on the way.
Enjoy a leisurely morning in Vilnius, departing the city after lunch. Our first stop is the extraordinary Hill of Crosses at Siauliai. This site features thousands of crosses, each mysteriously claiming its place since the mid-19th century. We arrive in the ancient city of Riga later, where we will spend the next two nights. This evening, after dinner, maybe take to the streets to explore the Latvian capital's inspiring Gothic spires.
Stroll through the winding medieval streets of Riga's UNESCO-listed Old Town - with one of the world's finest collections of Art Nouveau buildings and a Hanseatic trade history we will have an opportunity to explore during a sightseeing and walking tour with a Local Specialist. Spend the rest of the day discovering the sights on your terms. Admire the skyline from the comfort of a canal boat, view the 14th-century House of the Blackheads or indulge in the herbal flavours of the city's favourite Black Balsam at a traditional city tavern - the choice is yours.
We follow the Gulf of Riga north into Estonia, and travel via Parnu, a popular beach resort for Tallinn residents. Explore the beautifully preserved streets of Tallinn's old Hanseatic Quarter with a Local Specialist. See its 15th-century Luhike Jalg Gate and visit Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, a symbol of Russian power, with its magnificent gold-plated dome. This evening join your companions for a Regional Meal at a local restaurant, celebrating delicious Estonian flavours.
We board a ferry this morning, crossing the Baltic Sea to Helsinki where we'll meet a Local Specialist for a sightseeing tour past the modern marble façades of Finlandia Hall, the Senate and Market Squares, and café-lined Esplanadi. This evening, we toast to an unforgettable northern adventure, joining our fellow travellers for a special Farewell Dinner.
Our time together has come to an end. We say a fond farewell to newfound friends at the end of a memorable trip. Airport transfers are available. Conditions apply.
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