Day 1 - St Petersburg
Zdrastvutye! Welcome to Russia. The great city of St Petersburg has survived centuries of revolution and tumult, from the days of the tsars through the communist era to the growing pains of democracy. There’s so much to see and do in St Petersburg that it’s worth arriving a few extra days before the start of the trip. Once you’ve had your welcome meeting, you might want to jump on board with an optional dinner with your new friends. Into your art? There’s plenty of chances to check out some of the cool factories and plants that have been converted into art spaces. Into your drinks? There’s some pretty neat bars along the way. Your leader can take you to these places if you want – just ask!
Day 2 - St Petersburg
If you could say one thing about the St Petersburg – it’s big. Real big. Big buildings, big parks, big squares and you’ve got two big days to explore the whole thing, so get running! If you’re into checking out some of the cool old buildings and developed sites, you can’t go past the Palace Square, Kazan Cathedral Peter and Paul Fortress or Saint Isaac’s Square – try to spot the European influence in these buildings while you’re here. Another thing you might want to check out is the Hermitage Museum – there’s so much art in here that it could literally take you 15 years to see everything. If you’re still stumped for ideas or are looking for a few ideas for places to eat, drink or chill, just ask your leader. You might want to do an Urban Adventures tour as well if you want to make the most of your time here.
Day 3 - St Petersburg / Overnight train
With another free day in St Petersburg, consider checking out anywhere you missed yesterday, or maybe spend some more time at the Hermitage. Alternatively there are number of abandoned factories and plants which were turned into art-spaces and loft projects. In the evening, you'll board a train to your next destination – Moscow. The train ride takes a long 9 hours, and you'll be sleeping on the overnight ride.
Day 4 - Moscow
After a big night on the rails, wake up in Moscow in the morning and head to the hostel. You might not be able to check in immediately as the usual check in time is 2pm, but if that’s the case then there’s still the chance to drop off your luggage before heading on to explore this awesome city. You’ll get to see a side of Moscow often missed as you quite literally head under the city to learn about one of the coolest metro stations in the world. The architecture here is top-notch – one look at the hanging chandeliers and you’ll be wondering if you’re waiting for a train or standing in a ballroom. Get a bit of inside knowledge to learn how to ride the rails after getting the scoop on its Soviet past, then start exploring the city!
Day 5 - Moscow / Overnight train
You’ve got a bit more time to explore Moscow today as the entire day is free until the afternoon. The city is totally jam packed with Soviet history, so if that’s something you’ve always been a bit curious about, there’s plenty to check out. A good option would be to run over to Red Square, a place where beautiful Christmas trees stand tall next to the coloured domes of St Basil’s Cathedral – it’s definitely one of the prettier sites that Moscow has to offer and also houses the body of Lenin in a mausoleum which you might get to explore. The Kremlin also sits nearby if you want to cop a glimpse of the centre of Russian politics – the Russians, the Kremlin is effectively what the White House is to Americans. If you’re looking to get under the skin of the city, ask your leader about some of the Urban Adventures on offer in Moscow. Once the evening kicks in, jump on board an overnight train to your next stop – Kyiv, capital of Ukraine.
Day 6 - Kiev
Jump off the train in the morning and stretch those legs before dropping your luggage off at the hotel. You’ll then get the chance to explore the city on a unique walking trip past some of the killer street art that’s slowly becoming more and more known across the world. Keep your phone on charge and your cameras handy, these beauties are definitely worthy of chucking on the ‘gram. A cool little fact you might want to keep in mind while you’re checking out all these neat murals is that over 100 city walls have been decorated here over time, and it’s not just by the locals – international artists drop in to leave their mark here too as the scene is just that attractive.
Day 7 - Kiev
Alright, so lets say you’re hunting for night clubs, swimming beaches, amusement parks and boat rentals – Venetsianskyi (or Hydropark) has got you covered. That said, the centre of town (mainly around Independence Square and Khreschatyk Street) turns into planet party in the summer months as there’s so many good restaurants, bars and clubs in the area. In the summer months, you can easily catch thousands of people having a good time in this region you might want to check out what all the hype is about. That should have you covered in the evening, but what about during the day? Honestly, the parks here are stunning – especially the M. M. Hryshko National Botanical Gardens which offer a view over the entire city (not to mention all the flowers, so pretty!). There’s a café about a block away, so you could grab a snack or some coffee and relax in the park if you want.
Day 8 - Rivne
Later Kiev! Today you’ll head on a train towards the provincial city of Rivne. This ancient and pretty city might have once been one of the country’s finest, but World War II had other plans and ended up ruining a lot of the town’s cultural buildings. Bit mean, really. That said, it’s still great to look at and the views you can get over the flat landscape are gorgeous – Rivne actually has bragging rights as one of the greenest cities in Ukraine. Want proof? Check out Shevchenko Park – 30 lush hectares of babin’ parkland.
Day 9 - Rivne / Lviv
Take the scenic route towards Lviv today before stopping off at the Tunnel of Love near Klevan. There’s a reason it’s got a rep as one of the most romantic spots in the country – this archway of vines and trees growing over industrial rail-lines is so green and perfectly formed, it’s almost like it’s from another world. Romantics and honeymooners come from far and wide to experience the unique landscaping, created by trains and nature. It’s believed couples who are in love can make a wish here and if the love is real, then the wish will come true. Afterwards, go castle hunting near Rivne with stop-offs at the Pidhirtsi and Olesko Castles. The rustic scenery of Pidhirtsi next to the green and grassy surrounds looks like it belongs in a fairytale (albeit a creepy one), and Olseko’s hilltop location definitely belongs on a postcard.
Day 10 - Lviv
After waking up in Lviv, get ready to explore the day at your own pace. It’s a good looking city to be sure, there’s a bit of charm in the old houses and the bigger buildings in the city have got a real Central-Euro vibe to them, but you’ll get to figure that out in your own time. Maybe take a walk to the Rynok Square, the Pharmacy Museum, the Italian Courtyard or any number of different local churches, each with their own unique quirks. One of the best things you’re going to find out about this city are the multicultural influences that lie in the food and culture. You might have to search a little bit, but there’s plenty of menu items with traces of Jewish, Hungarian, Austrian and Polish influence behind them. Maybe later in the day try to find a restaurant and dig in to some goulash or herring pate to see for yourself!
Day 11 - Budapest
You’re gonna have to get up nice and early for this next one. Wake up and travel to Budapest, the capital city of Hungary. It’s going to be a big ride – you’ll get there nearly 12 hours later. Once you arrive, take an orientation walk near the hotel and then the evening’s all yours for exploration No doubt you’ll be a little bit hungry after all the travelling you’ve been doing, so perhaps duck out to one of the bars next to the Danube and go for an evening stroll afterwards.
Day 12 - Budapest
Check out some of the jaw-dropping buildings and street art lying around (there’s heaps!). Once you’ve got the low-down from your leader about where to go in the city, spend the rest of the day exploring by yourself. A good place to start might be to hunt down some cafes and bars with the group. Café culture in Budapest is all about traditional vibes and super strong coffee – lots of it. You’d be surprised about how long some of the cafes have been standing – Gerbeaud Café, for example, has been around since 1858 and serves up a famous ‘konyakos meggy’ (sour cherry, matured in cognac and covered in dark chocolate), so try that if you find it. Central Kavehaz, New York Kavehaz and Hadik Kavehaz have all got a larger-than-life old school feel that’s closer to dining in a mansion rather than a coffee shop. Bar culture, on the other hand, can get real messy. Hedonism is one word that’s usually thrown around with it, but if that’s not your vibe then there’s plenty of places to kick back and relax.
Day 13 - Budapest
Well that's a wrap. The journey from St Petersburg to Budapest comes to an end today and there's no further activities planned. Still got the travel bug? Why not continue on to venice on our 'Budapest to Venice by Rail' trip, or alternatively head down towards Athens on our 'Budapest to Athens by Rail' trip, taking in the highlights of the Balkans. Both trips are designed to coincide with your trip.
Accommodation, Food (as stated), Transport, Selected Activities
Meals Included: Breakfast: 5 Lunches: 0 Dinners: 0
Encounter the legacy of Russian tsar Peter the Great while exploring the enigmatic streets that showcase the many palaces and museums of St Petersburg
Live it local in the lively Gorky park in Moscow, check out the awesome architecture in Moscow metro stations, or get up close with the Russian power center Red square and Kremlin
Wander the streets in Kiev and Lviv, two amazing cities showcasing the free and young spirit of Ukraine, a country with its troubles – but still knows the importance of a good time
Enjoy a city escape and chase the romance at the uniquely landscaped tunnel of love – iconic for its awning trees made by nature and passing trains. It's believed that if a couple who are truly in love make a wish here then it will come true
Be inspired by Budapest, one of the largest and most beautiful cities in Eastern and Central Europe. The hospitality scene here is awesome, lively and sometimes hedonistic – no doubt you'll rave about it once you get home
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