Dream Itinerary: Waterways of the Tsars
Day 1 – 4
Your Russian waterways embarkation point, Moscow dazzles in the sun or snow. Time in the cosmopolitan metropolis would not be complete without a visit to Red Square, red meaning ‘beautiful’ in old Russian. Home to the Kremlin, an armoury chamber of Tsarist treasures, and the bell tower, this cultural hub lives up to its name. It’s also where you’ll find the onion-domed St Basil’s cathedral. An architectural gem in the centre of Moscow, this iconic landmark attracts countless visitors to its labyrinthian interior. And don’t miss the lavish metro stations, each one with its own artistic personality and design.
Situated on the banks of the Volga River, the Golden Ring city of Uglich has its own impressive Kremlin. Hosting one of the oldest museums in Russia, this collection explores the lives of 18th-19th-century nobility. It is one of the most highly regarded museums by visitors to the area. The decorative Church of St Dimitry marks the site where Ivan the Terrible’s infant son mysteriously died. Nonetheless, step inside and you’ll find glorious facades and intricate design in contrast to the tragedy that took place there.
Yaroslavl is home to a plethora of churches and is another Golden Ring city accessed via the Russian waterways. The city pairs ornate architecture with artistic and religious history. Walk along the embankment of the Volga river for the best city views, and see where the Volga and Kotorosl meet. And take note of the churches and cathedrals – including the Church of St. Elijah the Prophet – wide boulevards and stately, but often unloved buildings.
The striking Kirillo-Belozersky monastery is still in use today, and the main attraction in the village of Kuzino. Venture through the gardens for idyllic views of the lake, and explore multiple churches and chapels within the ancient monastery walls. The many buildings offer a glimpse into the rich past of this monastery. With a population of just over 1,000, Kuzino is a tranquil contrast to the busier cities discovered on a Russian waterways cruise.
For some of the finest examples of wooden Russian architecture, look no further than Kizhi. With structures dating back to the 14th century, you’ll encounter stunning structures across this island. Kizhi’s famous Church of the Transfiguration, is just one of these wooden creations. Complete with an octagonal bell tower, it was actually built without a single nail. Though it lacks the vibrancy of Russian buildings more common in the cities, it is a striking landmark on this green landscape.
Popular with local artists, Mandrogy is a colourful, purpose-built village that sits on the Svir Riverbank. The charming settlement is home to a number of craft workshops, from pottery and wood carving to weaving and lacework, as well as the open-air vodka museum. For something a little quieter, why not explore the surrounding forests, complete with quaint log cabins. Then stop by one of the many gift shops for a handmade souvenir – maybe a hand-painted Matryoshka doll.
Peppered with palaces and mansions, St Petersburg is nicknamed ‘Venice of the North’ for its islands, canals and bridges. The city will wow travellers who love elegant design and architecture – the Hermitage Museum is home to over three million treasures. Most of which live in the vaults below, although there’s still plenty to see. If grandeur and opulence is high on your list when cruising the Russian waterways, be sure to visit the Grand Palace at Peterhof with its original furnishings and chandeliers.
A 13-day cruise from Moscow to St Petersburg onboard Viking Akun on 8 October 2021 starts from £3,345. Price is per person based on double occupancy.
Visit www.vikingrivercruises.co.uk or call 0800 319 66 60.