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Churches, Palaces and Ballerinas in Russia

By The Kirker Team, 18 November 2016

Russia remains un-ticked on many people’s wish-list – mainly due to the perception of cost, complexity and the added inconvenience of obtaining a tourist visa. Kirker Holidays includes the visa in all holidays to Russia and experts seamlessly handle each application on your behalf, with a fast-track service available for short-notice breaks. Russia also need not be extravagant – especially if you travel out of high season. October surprisingly falls within low season (which extends to the end of March), when hotel rates fall and there is great potential for free night offers, but weather can still be pleasant.  Furthermore, museum queues are far shorter and there are fewer crowds at museums now the cruise season has finished.

My first trip to Russia started with four days in St Petersburg visiting its many jewel-box palaces and galleries, all beautifully showcased against a back-drop of cloudless blue skies. The mind-boggling Church on the Spilled Blood and the impressively opulent Peterhof Palace with its sprawling gardens were two of my three highlights… the third being my visit to the recently opened new stage at the Mariinsky theatre to see a ballet performance of Cinderella. Having enjoyed ballet for 10 years as a child, I was probably just as excited as the young girls practising their pliés in the stalls during the intervals! I was not disappointed…what a privilege. My top tip would be to book a table for a pre-performance dinner at Sadko, an authentic Russian restaurant just a few minutes’ walk away – enjoy a hearty stroganov whilst listening to live folk music. The Kirker Concierge can secure much sought-after tickets for the best seats at the Mariinsky before you travel, and would be glad to make a restaurant recommendation and book a table for dinner.

Hotel Astoria is perfectly positioned within the “Golden Triangle” area of the city, within which are many of the essential sights, including the St Isaac’s Cathedral. Please ask at time of booking for the supplement for a Superior Deluxe room with a view of St Isaacs Cathedral Square.

We then took the high-speed Sapsan train to Moscow, taking a very impressive 3 hours and 45 minutes non-stop. Similar to the Continental Eurostar trains, the 1st Class service provides added space and comfort and a meal with wine served at your seat.

Moscow was a big surprise. Contrary to my preconceptions, Moscow is very beautiful and far less ‘corporate’ than I had anticipated. There was a great buzz to the city, added to by the Olympic torch relay taking place. As we were heading to Red Square people were lining the Moscow River embankment and as we crossed the Great Stone Bridge, we were lucky enough to watch the flame being carried across from the Kremlin. For a short stay, I would recommend the Ararat Park Hyatt – in the very heart of the historic centre. For a truly spectacular view of the city, take the elevator up to the Conservatory Bar & Lounge on the 10th floor for breath-taking panoramic views of the Kremlin, Red Square and the world-famous Bolshoi Theatre.

Moscow and St Petersburg provide a wonderfully contrasting two-centre holiday. Why not factor in another couple of nights and combine the two?

To make an enquiry please speak to one of our experts on 020 7593 2288, or enquire online

Our expert reservations team regularly travel to a wide range of destinations to explore new cities, visit hotels and to research museums, galleries and restaurants so that we can offer the most up-to-date advice and recommendations.