Join award-winning river cruise specialists Viking for an 13-day Waterways of the Tsars river cruise. Combining Russia’s countless iconic landmarks with Viking's Inclusive Value designed exclusively for guests, you’ll discover the very best of Russia from a unique vantage point. Here are our top 10 Viking moments.
1. Opulence almost beyond comprehension.
Peterhof Palace, a mere 29km hop to the west of St Petersburg dishes up enough extravagance to leave you momentarily stunned. Plucked from the imaginations of Peter the Great, a Russian tsar, the splendour stretches from shining statues to palaces, gardens, fountains and the infamous Grand Cascade. Enjoy a guided tour with Viking, meandering through a town so ravishing, it’s almost too rich for the eyes. And take sunglasses, because the shimmer of gold is never out of sight.
2. St Petersburg’s most famous street is Nevsky Prospect.
Named after the 13th century prince, Alexander Nevsky, and framed on either side by impressive buildings, the grandeur of architecture along Nevsky Prospect is unmistakably Russian. Fuel your wanderings with cake stops and coffee shops, of which there are plenty. Bistro-style Russian cuisine will warm your insides, while people watching from within is equally satisfying.
3. There are city squares, and then there's St. Petersburg Palace Square.
It's impossible not to be impressed by this grand and expansive space. With the great length of the Winter Palace flanking the plaza’s southern-side, and the stoic Alexander Column commanding attention, you’ll feel very much in the presence of emperors and empires.
4. Don’t know your Здравствуйте from your Прощай?
On-board a Viking river cruise you’ll be treated to a Russian language class and fascinating history lesson. While the landscape glides past the window, learn the essentials of a dialect with 33 letters in its alphabet... Удачи. That means good luck!
5. Cheers to Mandrogi!
From grand palaces and St Petersburg to a little slice of Russia far less exposed - Mandrogi. A tiny island village on the bank of the Svir River scattered with charming gingerbread style timber houses. Enjoy a guided tour weaving through the cobblestone laneways, culminating with a visit to the Museum of Russian Vodka. With 2,800 different types of vodka on-site, one sip might just turn into a showdown. The beauty of a river cruise is the distinct lack of driving required.
6. Russia’s most iconic wooden landmark.
Kizhi is just a sliver of an island sitting on Lake Onega, but it is arguably home to one of the most profound structural feats in Russia. The Kizhi Pogost enclosure houses two 300-year old wooden churches and a bell tower. Made entirely of wood, they were built in 1714 without one single nail. You'll be compelled to scrutinise the intricacy of the design, with characteristic Russian "onion domes", it’s equally beautiful and intriguing.
7. Venture within the walls of the Moscow Kremlin.
Kremlins are defined as fortified city centres, and although there are plenty to be found across Russia, The Moscow Kremlin is quite possibly the best known, and without doubt, the most fortified. Marvel at the great kremlin wall, the city’s first defence. Fashioned from signature red brick and great steepled towers, the handsome aesthetics only hint at the beauty beyond its threshold.
8. St Basil's Cathedral. The great icon of Russia.
Think of Russia and you'll undoubtedly conjure images of Moscow's St Basil's Cathedral. Russia’s poster boy, the patterns and shapes are instantly recognisable. Distinctly Russian and unique to this remarkable nation, cast your eyes over one of Russia's greatest treasures.
9. GUM. It’s pronounced 'goom.'
A tour of Red Square always calls for a leisurely stroll down the aisles of GUM. As Russia's most famous (or infamous) shopping mall, with row upon row of exclusive boutiques and designer names, your credit card might not reach, but the hallways, as architecturally stunning as they are, are always worth a meander. Thankfully, Café Tsum on the fourth floor, sells light bites and refreshments, at prices that won’t ask you to re-mortgage the house.
10. Farewell dinner and toast to new friends.
To complete your foray into Russia, your Viking hosts organise an on-board farewell dinner. You will dine like tsars of yesteryear, and afterwards you’ll partake in an authentic Russian vodka degustation. Raise your glass to newfound lands and newfound friends. Nostrovia!