Departing from the pier, your private St. Petersburg excursion begins with a short drive to the Hermitage Museum, located along the river's bank. The Hermitage Museum is the largest art museum in Russia and ranks among the most prestigious and fabulous museums in the world, with its collection of Western European art being second to none. It was founded by Catherine the Great in 1764 as a private court museum and evolved into the most remarkable collection of art in the world, containing about three million objects of unparalleled importance. The Hermitage Museum occupies the Winter Palace, the winter residence of the Russian Tsars, and four more buildings: the Small Hermitage, housing Catherine's original collection, the Old Hermitage, the Hermitage Theater, Catherine's private theater, and the New Hermitage. The route takes you through the State Rooms of the Winter Palace, the collection of Western European art, featuring Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Titian and others. You will see the Dutch and Flemish Art collections, including masterpieces by Rembrandt, Rubens and Van Dyck, and collection of Spanish art, second only second to Madrid's Prado.
After touring the museum, free time will be taken for lunch on your own and your guide will make suggestions of local restaurants. After lunch, your excursion continues with a drive towards one of the most recognizable landmarks of St. Petersburg, the Church on the Spilled Blood. The church was built on the site of the 1881 assassination (spilled blood) of Tsar Alexander II. It sports a fantastic ornate "Russian-style" exterior of traditional colorful onion domes, ceramic tiles and colored glazed bricks. Next to the Church, you will find one of the city's most popular flea markets where you can browse the aisles and bargain for the best deals on colorful Russian souvenirs. Inside visits to the church are not allowed on Wednesdays.
Please note: Most dealers at the flea market are not able to take credit cards. It is suggested to have some local currency although more and more will accept Euro and some US dollars.
Note that all of our tours in St. Petersburg are operated by authorized guides, and you therefore do not need to secure an independent visa in order to participate in this tour. However, in order to book this tour, you must provide us with full names, dates of birth, nationality, and passport numbers for each tour participant so that our guides can secure the proper tour visas on your behalf. Note also that, if you wish to explore St. Petersburg on your own while not accompanied by one of our guides, you will need to secure an independent visa.
Please be aware that cruise lines occasionally mislead passengers by telling them that they are not allowed to disembark the ship in St. Petersburg unless they are on an excursion purchased through the cruise line. In addition, the cruise lines also sometimes tell passengers that they cannot disembark the ship until the passengers on the cruise lines' excursions have done so first. This is incorrect, and you are free to exit the ship as soon as passengers start to disembark because Russian law states that a cruise ship cannot hold passengers onboard against their will as long as they have the proper documents. In order to clear immigration, you will need to bring along: 1) Your passport; 2) A photocopy of the picture page of your passport; and 3) A copy of your tour tickets. We will provide you with your tour tickets as part of the documents we e-mail to you after you make a tour booking.
Due to administration and immigration restrictions, there will be no refund for programs canceled within 15 days of departure.
Reviewer: Nan, the globetrotter
The guide, a college graduate with a history of art major, was perfect for the Hermitage visit. She was sensitive to our slower pace and followed our requests, such as wanting to eat lunch at a small restaurant which caters to locals, perfectly. This private excursion for the three of us was the best shore excursion we've ever taken.