BS2 Eastern Europe Experience TOUR

SEARCH TOUR

With Helsinki, Finland & St Petersburg, Russia

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS:

  • DATES & PRICES
  • FULL ITINERARY
  • MAP & HOTELS
  • TRIP INFORMATION

Dates & Prices

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Prices are in US Dollars (USD), before taxes (if applicable) - All pricing reflects per-person Land Only expenses, however, we can book flights from virtually every city. Please call us for an air quote.


Start DateEnd DatePriceMore Info
Sat 12 Sep 2015Thu 24 Sep 2015 $3550
Wed 01 Jun 2016Mon 13 Jun 2016 $3550
Tue 02 Aug 2016Sun 14 Aug 2016 $3550
Sat 17 Sep 2016Thu 29 Sep 2016 $3550

Optional Single Supplement: $760 (number of singles limited).


Tour Overview


This extensive 13-day exploration of the Baltic States and Russia is nothing short of a truly wonderful experience. Visit the chapel of Saint Kazimieras, located in Cathedral Square in Vilnius, Lithuania, or look up at the Gedimino Tower and admire this 14th-century defence system. A relaxing walk along the cobblestone streets of the Jewish quarter of the city might just lead us to one of the many recluse courtyards. Riga, Latvia, is located near the two majestic rivers of the Nemunas and the Neris and it has just as impressive Baroque architecture throughout. The Town Hall in the centre of the city sets the tone of ambience,as do the rolling green hills just outside the city's boundaries. Set foot in one of the many souvenir shops along the harbours of Tallinn, Estonia, and then it's off across the cold waters to Helsinki, Finland, also known as the 'Daughter of the Baltic'. This trip could not end on a better note than by visiting one of the world's most important museums, the Hermitage, and by seeing the collection of porcelain in Catherine's Chinese Palace in St Petersburg, Russia.

Regions visited: Central And Eastern Europe and Western Europe
Countries visited: Lithuania; Latvia; Estonia; Finland and Russia


Testimonials


An intense and busy tour providing a lot of history about the Baltic countries

The combination of the three States that have regained their freedom from Soviet Russia, combined with the visit to St. Petersburg was an excellent combination for a tour. I learned a lot.

The Kaunas and Hill of Crosses stops on the trip from Vilnius to Riga were great stops and breaks on the trip. The buses were comfortable. The smaller van was great in St Petersburg. I think Erin, our tour leader, did a great job with her selection of meals. Good informative trip.

Full Itinerary

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Day 1 Arrive in Vilnius
Arrival in Vilnius, capital of Lithuania.

In 1994 the Old Town of Vilnius was included on UNESCO's World Heritage list. With its diverse architecture and colourful history, Vilnius is a cosmopolitan place, though with just 543,000 inhabitants, it has an almost village-like atmosphere, making it an easy place to get to know.

A NOTE ON SUITABILITY: Though we do not rate this tour "strenuous", it is a busy programme with numerous city / town walking tours featuring uneven surfaces, inclines and / or stairs. You must be able to spend several hours on your feet per day, walking at a leisurely pace. There may not be porters available in all locations. We also make use of public transit in some cities in order to maximize sightseeing where vehicles are impractical (most people quite enjoy this insight into daily life). If you are unsure of your suitability for this trip, please contact one of our destination specialists.

Overnight in Vilnius.

Meal plan: dinner

Day 2 Vilnius & Trakai
This morning we travel to Trakai, a former capital of Lithuania. The town, situated on the shores of several lakes, has two prominent castles built to fend off German knights in the 14th century. Trakai is famous for its population of Kara-Kalpak people. Brought to Trakai from the Crimean Peninsula by the Grand Duke Vytautas in the late 14th century, the Kara-Kalpak still hold their Jewish religious services in the yellow Kinessa, built in 1812. Our tour here includes a visit to the Trakai Historical Museum, housed within the main rooms of Trakai's island castle.

We return to Vilnius for a lunch break and town tour.

Sweden, Poland, France and Russia have all ruled Vilnius in the past, and this afternoon we will witness the influences that this has had on this beautiful city. The Old Town is one of the largest in Europe, with nearly 1,500 historic buildings of note built over several centuries creating a splendid blend of many different architectural styles.

Our walking tour will take us to Cathedral Square in the heart of the city. Inside the cathedral we see the famous chapel of Saint Kazimieras, considered an architectural gem. Rising in the distance behind Cathedral Square is the Gedimino Tower, once part of the 14th century defense system. We will also see the baroque Peter and Paul Church, originally built in the 14th century. The Gates of Dawn, on the eastern side of the Old Town, were one of the original nine gates into the city. The original Gothic defensive wall was once over 2 km (1.5 miles) long. From this
remaining gate we will walk down through the streets of the old town. Nearby is the Jewish Quarter, with its cobblestone lanes and hidden courtyards.

Overnight in Vilnius.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 3 Vilnius - Kaunas - Siauliai, Lithuania - Riga, Latvia
Today we travel to Riga via Kaunas to see the Castle and Old Town at the confluence of the two largest Lithuanian rivers, the Nemunas and the Neris. We see the Town Hall Square, lined with 15th-16th century merchants' houses, and the 17th century baroque Town Hall dominating its center. Nearby Kaunas Cathedral and Gothic Vytautas Church dominate the riverbank. After our visit we continue north to Riga.

En route we stop at the Hill of Crosses, located just north of the small industrial city of Siauliai. Siauliai is the Lithuanian national pilgrimage center, and a city of famous cultural traditions and legends. On a small hill stand thousands of crosses that represent Christian devotion and act as a compelling resistance memorial to the German and Soviet occupation. Today newlyweds often come here after their wedding ceremony to ask for God's blessing.

After our stop we will proceed to the border and continue on to Riga.

Overnight in Riga.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 4 Riga: City Tour
Riga, founded in 1201 by the German bishop Albert, is the largest of the three Baltic capitals and boasts an impressive kaleidoscope of various architectural styles.

We start with a panoramic drive taking in some of the most famous sights of Riga. Our route along the embankment of the River Daugava provides us with wonderful views of the city. Our route takes us to the center of town to the Jugendstil District and Alberta Street, an open-air architectural museum and one of the best collections of Art Nouveau buildings in Europe. We then drive through the modern part of the city, observing the university building, National Opera, Academy of Arts and central train station. We will then leave our bus at the entrance to the Old Town.

Our walking tour of the Old Town will include Riga Castle, Dome Cathedral, St. Peter's Church, Swedish Gates, Large and Small Guild Houses, and the Freedom Monument. During your free time, we recommend a visit to the Museum of the Occupation, dedicated to information about Latvia and its people under two occupying totalitarian regimes from 1940 to 1991 (entrance by donation).

Overnight in Riga.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 5 Riga: Rundale Palace
This morning we travel about 90 minutes to a region known as Bauska, where we visit Rundale Palace, an architectural pearl created by architect Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli, designer of the Winter Palace in St Petersburg. Construction of the palace was completed only in 1768 and now it is a magnificent sample of baroque style with elements of classicism, with crystal chandeliers, rich stucco moulding, silk wallpaper, collection of paintings, and frescoes by Italian artists. This is the place where leaders of the state, wishing to receive high guests with really regal honours, hosted the royal couple from Denmark when they visited in Latvia.

The balance of the day is yours to further explore this beautiful, compact city on your own.

Overnight in Riga.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 6 Riga, Latvia - Parnu - Tallinn, Estonia
This morning we depart Riga for Tallinn, visiting Parnu en route. There was a trading settlement in Parnu before the German crusaders arrived, but recorded history of the city dates back to the 13th century. From the middle of the 19th century, Parnu developed as a resort town with its good beaches and relatively good weather. During the Soviet era, Parnu's guesthouses, inns and hotels were converted to sanatoria. We will do a stroll through parts of the Old Town, including the town's oldest building, the Red Tower.

We continue to Tallinn, the capital of Estonia.

Historically, Tallinn has been attacked, sacked, razed and pillaged on numerous occasions. Although extensively bombed by Soviet air forces during the latter stages of World War II, much of the medieval Old Town still retains its charm. The Tallinn Old Town became a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 1997.

Overnight in Tallinn.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 7 Tallinn: City Tour
Today we have a guided WALKING tour of this important Baltic Sea harbour city. We begin with a visit to the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, built in the nineteenth century. The cathedral dominates the Lossi Plats, and is an imposing testament to the Russian imperialist influence. We also visit the Dominican Monastery, which played an important role in bringing Christianity to Estonia. We have the opportunity to visit the Toompea Castle site, a 13th century castle where the current parliament of Estonia holds its sessions. In the immediate area we will also visit the Toomkirik Lutheran cathedral, founded in 1233, with its impressive carved tombs inside.

This afternoon you will have some free time to stroll through the picturesque Old Town with its jumble of medieval buildings, turrets and walls.

Overnight in Tallinn.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 8 Tallinn, Estonia - Helsinki, Finland
This morning we take a fast ferry from Tallinn to Helsinki (HAVE YOUR PASSPORTS HANDY!) and embark upon a tour of this sophisticated capital. Affectionately known as the 'Daughter of the Baltic', Helsinki is sited at the arrowhead of a peninsula, surrounded by an archipelago of 315 islands, perfectly placed between its two great trading cousins, Stockholm and Moscow. From a European perspective, Helsinki is relatively young (450 years), yet it is Finland's sixth-oldest town. The Swedes, who extended their empire into Finland in 1155, founded the city of 'Helsingfors' (the name still used by the Swedes) in 1550 when King Gustav Vasa needed a site for a strategic, competitively placed trading port. It languished as a coastal backwater until Imperialist Russia invaded in 1809.

We will enjoy a comprehensive walking tour taking in the most important and interesting parts of Helsinki, such as the historical centre and the diplomatic quarters, the Presidential Palace, City Hall, the Parliament building, Finlandia Hall and the Opera House. We stop at Senate Square, and, if possible, Temppeliaukio Church. During the afternoon you can explore the busy market place or the many souvenir shops close to the harbour.

Overnight in Helsinki.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 9 Helsinki, Finland - St Petersburg, Russia
We depart Helsinki on Finnish train 'Allegro' to St Petersburg (+/- 3.5 hours), arriving in the mid- afternoon.

St Petersburg is a relatively new city, founded in 1703. When it was nine years old it became the capital of Russia and retained this status till 1918. Even now it is referred to as the "Northern Capital" of Russia. Over almost 300 years of its history, St Petersburg accumulated all the grandeur of the Russian Imperial Court and became one of the largest centers of culture, science and industry. Created by Peter the Great as a sea port on the Baltic, it was essentially "a
window to the West" for Russia, combining the best of the West and the East.

Overnight in St Petersburg.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 10 St Petersburg: The Russian Museum & Peter and Paul Fortress
This morning we visit the Russian Museum. The museum opened in 1898 by Alexander III in the beautiful Mikhailovsky Palace -- well worth inspecting before we take a look at the collection inside. Works of Russian art abound with over 370,000 pieces in the collection. There are prized paintings, sculptures, iconographic art and several masterpieces. It truly is an encyclopaedia of Russian life, character and soul.

We also visit the Peter and Paul Fortress and St Isaac's Cathedral. At the fortress we will see how the fort played an important role in the development of St Petersburg. Inside the stone walls we will visit the Cathedral of Peter and Paul, the final resting place of the Romanovs. At St Isaac's Cathedral we will notice the interior reliefs of exceptional beauty. We will also hear of the many legends that make this church famous throughout Russia.

As we travel around from point to point today you will also have a general orientation / panoramic tour of this compact city.

Overnight in St Petersburg.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 11 St Petersburg: Peterhof Palace & the Hermitage
This morning we visit Peterhof Palace (Petrodvorets), a remarkable example of an eighteenth and nineteenth century country estate. Built by Peter I in 1717, the palace was to be "better than the French king's at Versailles." An intricate system of water fountains surrounds the palace in the immaculate gardens. We will have a chance to walk through the palace and the gardens. We return to the city by hydrofoil (weather/season permitting).

This afternoon we explore one of the world's leading museums, the Hermitage. With over 400 exhibition halls, it is virtually impossible to list all of the treasures. While walking through the many galleries, look out for Madonna by Raphael, Judith by Giorgione, Titian's Saint-Sebastian, and many, many paintings by Rembrandt. Inside this beautiful Winter Palace are some of the finest collections of French impressionist works. In addition, there is a fine collection of ancient and classical works from ancient Egypt, Syria, and Mesopotamia. One could easily spend several days wandering the halls inside the building; for the purposes of our formal guided tour today, we concentrate on the highlights and provide an orientation to those wishing to explore further on their own during some designated free time. You are welcome to remain in the museum and make your own way back to the hotel on your own. It is also a popular option to book an extra nigth in St Pete's and visit the museum again on your own.

Overnight in St Petersburg.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 12 St Petersburg: Pushkin & Pavlovsk Palace
This morning we travel to Pushkin to see the sumptuous Catherine Palace, created in the eighteenth century by Catherine the Great, the second wife of Peter III. Designed by Rastrelli, this palace is a truly stunning example of classical baroque architecture and interior design. The true glory of the palace is the Amber Room, made of several tons of the golden tree resin -- the lightest gem in the world. The room was first installed in the Winter Palace, but in 1755 Empress Elizabeth ordered Francesco Rastrelli to move it to the Catherine Palace.

We also visit Pavlovsk Palace, one of the most splendid residences of the Russian Imperial family and part of the World Heritage Site of Saint Petersburg and related groups of monuments.

Overnight in St Petersburg.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 13 Departure
Departure from St Petersburg.

NOTE: Due to Russian visa requirements, please advise your booking agent or tour consultant if you plan to extend your stay in Russia after our tour.

SCASTLIVOGO PUTI!

Meal plan: breakfast

Tour Map

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

*The red tour trail on the map does not represent the actual travel path.


Hotel List


The following is a list of sample hotels at some locations included on this tour. The hotels shown here are meant to provide a general sense of the standard of hotel we usually aim for; they are not necessarily confirmed for your chosen departure.


Hotel Congress

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Vilnius
Country: Lithuania

The hotel Congress, situated in the very centre of Vilnius, is the ideal place for business travellers and tourists. As
... of the oldest hotels of Vilnius, it was constructed on the banks of the Neris river, next to the legendary Bridge Zaliasis ("Green Bridge") dating back to the 16th century. The hotel is contiguous to the Old Town which can be admired through the bedrooms windows.




Read More.

Hotel Vecriga

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Riga
Country: Latvia

With only 14 rooms, this hotel is suitable for our smaller groups. In the very centre of Old City is
... one of the coziest Riga hotels – Vecriga (in translation: Old Riga). Construction of the building began in the 15th century. Every room has a mini bar, telephone, TV.

Read More.

Reval Central

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Tallinn
Country: Estonia

All Hotel Central's guestrooms offer multi-channel and pay TV, free WiFi Internet and blackout curtains. Each room has a minibar,
... and direct-dial telephone. Modern decor with the comforts of home.


Read More.

Radisson Blu Helsinki

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Helsinki
Country: Finland

This stunning hotel in Helsinki sits in the city’s heart, where its striking exterior serves as an architectural landmark in
... skyline. With proximity to transport and attractions, the city centre hotel allows guests to easily explore sites like Tennispalatsi Culture Centre and Ateneum Art Museum. The 262 rooms are both comfortable and stylish, and delectable on-site dining options are also available. The hotel houses the city’s most renowned event facilities, which include 13 conference and banquet rooms for up to 300 guests. A special Brain Box breakout room is designed to elevate efficiency and encourage creativity.


Read More.

Sokos Presidentti

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Helsinki
Country: Finland

Recently completely refurbished, Sokos Hotel Presidentti is located next to the Kamppi mall, in the heart of Helsinki, next to
... wealth of culture attractions and the best shopping in town.The extensive refurbishing of rooms and restaurant facilities was completed in the spring of 2007.


Read More.

Oktiabrskaya Hotel

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Saint Petersburg
Country: Russia

Location: St Petersburg, where the two main avenues, Nevsky & Ligovsky, meet just in front of Moskovsky Railway station.

... room has a bathroom (with bathtub and shower), equipped with the comfortable furniture made in Austria, direct-dial telephone, TV (international and Russian satellite channels), fridge or mini-bar. Some of the hotel rooms give truly magnificent city views.

Read More.


Trip Information

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Inclusions

Breakfast and dinner (hotels & local restaurants) daily. All transport, accommodation, sightseeing and entrance fees for sites noted as 'visited' in the detailed itinerary. Gratuities for local guides, drivers, restaurant staff, porters. Airport transfers for land & air customers and for early arriving / late departing land & air customers who book their extra hotel nights through us.

Exclusions

Tour Leader gratuities, lunches, drinks, personal items (phone, laundry, etc), international air taxes (if applicable), excursions referenced as 'optional'. Airport transfers for Land Only customers. Our post-reservation trip notes offer further guidance on optional meal costs and shopping.

Seasonality and Weather

This tour is offered in spring, summer and fall the most popular of which is are spring and fall when temperatures are relatively mild and crowds thinner. Showers quite possible in spring and fall, somewhat less so in summer though can occur any time. Summers can be humid though long daylight hours maximize exploration.

Transport and Travel Conditions

Land transport throughout by private air-conditioned motor coach, 24-36 seats depending on ultimate group size (see 'group size'). Though we will have a couple of full bus days there are plenty of stops of interest. Hydrofoil crossing to Finland. Comfortable day train to St Pete's.

Accommodation

Well-located, air- conditioned, mid-range hotels (3 star) throughout. Many are smaller properties (3-4 story) that may not have elevators. All hotels have en suite bath, though most have shower only. Porter service is rarely available; you MUST be independent with your luggage. Single rooms are limited and likely smaller than twins.

Staff and Support

Tour Leader throughout, driver, local step-on guides in various locales.

Group Size

10-21 (plus Tour Leader)

BS2 TRIP DETAILS

DURATION13 days

TOUR STARTVilnius

TOUR ENDSt Petersburg