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7-day itinerary for Russia: 1 week in Moscow and St. Petersburg

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7-day itinerary for Russia: 1 week in Moscow and St. Petersburg
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Planning a 1-week trip to Russia and thinking how to combine Moscow and St. Petersburg in one trip? Look no further, in this post; I’ll share with you this 7-day itinerary for Russia that we planned for all our relatives who wanted to visit Russia and in the end, really enjoyed visiting Russia in 7 days!

If you’re new to this blog, hi, I’m Liza. I was born and raised in beautiful St. Petersburg, Russia and in the last 4 years of blogging, I created over 40 articles about travel to Russia, from the transport guides to the safety tips! Click here to access all the Russia posts >>>

guide to transport in St. Petersburg

Useful information about Russia:

Currency in Russia: Russian ruble. The exchange rate as of April 2020: $1 = 73 Rub, 1 EUR = 80 Rub , £1 = 92 Rub. Make sure to check the exchange rate before your trip, as the ruble can be pretty volatile!

Russian plug: European (same as in Germany, France etc.). If you need a travel adapter, bring US to Europe or the UK to Europe or just get this adapter that is suitable for 150+ countries

Safety in Russia: Russia is safe, but you need to be cautious like everywhere else. If you want to know more about safety in Russiacheck this post.

Language: Russian. Not that many people speak English, however, most of the restaurant menus are written in two languages. I recommend you to learn these 10 useful phrases in Russian, as your trip will be much more comfortable!

Without further ado, let’s get started!

Overview of the 7-day itinerary for Russia: Moscow and St. Petersburg

Let’s look at the itinerary of this 7-day trip to Russia first. The end and start point of the trip is actually St. Petersburg, and that’s because everyone in the EU (except for the UK) is eligible for the free e-Visa to Russia for up to 8 days.

However, you need to enter and exit Russia through St. Petersburg only. 

If you’re planning to apply for the Russian visa anyway, then you can reverse the itinerary and start with Moscow instead, as there are generally more flights to Moscow (it’s a way bigger city than St. Petersburg).

Day 1: Arriving in St. Petersburg, exploring the city centre

Day 2: Exploring the Peterhof Palace, St. Petersburg canal boat tour

Day 3: Exploring the Catherine Palace, exploring the rest of the city centre, theatre at night

Day 4: Hermitage Museum & Peter & Isaac’s Cathedral, taking a speed train to Moscow

Day 5: Red square & the museums

Day 6: Izmailovo Kremlin, Moscow Cathedral & exploring the city centre, taking an evening train back to St. Petersburg (alternatively, staying one more night in Moscow and taking a train back to St. Petersburg the next day)

Day 7: Flying back from St. Petersburg

weekend in Moscow: best things to do

Where to stay in St. Petersburg & Moscow

I have a separate post about the best areas to stay in St. Petersburg, feel free to check it out. However, if you want my advice, these three well-rated and affordable hotels have perfect location and breakfast included and would be great for staying 3-4 nights in St. Petersburg: Kaleidoscope on Rubinshteina, Vesta and Hotel Alliance. 

However, if you want to stay in a proper palace in St. Petersburg, these two hotels would be a great option: the State Hermitage Official Hotel and Belmond Grand Hotel Europe.

In Moscow, it makes sense to stay as close to Red Square as possible. These hotels would be a great option: Tverskaya Residence, Design Hotel Senator.

For the last night in St. Petersburg, you can stay closer to the airport, so you can easily depart the next morning. If your flight departs late, then pick a hotel in a central location. If you decide to stay two nights in Moscow, you don’t need another night in St. Petersburg, and you can time your train to go back to St. Petersburg and head to the airport. 

7 days in Russia: what to do?

7 days in Russia essentials: what do you need to bring with you & things to know

If it’s your first time in Russia, you probably have some questions. 

First, what’s the plug type in Russia? Well, it’s the same as in mainland Europe – Germany, France or Italy, so if you’re from Europe, you don’t need a travel adapter. If you’re from the UK or the US, I recommend buying this travel adapter that works for 140+ countries. 

SIM card: roaming in Russia could be expensive, so in order to have Internet everywhere, you can buy a local SIM card. You can do it in the airport – some of the main mobile broadband providers are BeeLine, MTS, Tele 2 and Megafon. You will be asked for your ID in order to buy a SIM card – that’s normal, nothing to worry about.

Asking for directions: once you have Internet, you won’t need to ask for directions. Unfortunately, very few people in Russia speak English, so finding someone who might help you could be challenging. However, it’s easier in restaurants and cafes. So if you are really lost and need directions, you can enter a Starbucks or another coffee spot and ask people working there. 

Credit cards are widely accepted in Russia, so no need to bring lots of cash with you. However, make sure to have some cash with you, as you might need it to pay for souvenirs or transport (if you decide not to buy local transport card). 

Taxis: I recommend using ride-sharing apps like Gett and Yandex Taxi in Russia or Taxi apps like Taksovichkoff. You don’t need to communicate there almost at all, and the price is always fixed. Normal taxis could be tricky, as the driver could be overcharging you (similar to Istanbul in Turkey). 

7 days in Russia: Moscow and St. Petersburg in 1 week

Day 1 in St. Petersburg. Pulkovo Airport, Heading to the city centre, evening tour around the city.

Depending on your arrival time on your first day in Russia, you can either spend the entire day exploring the city or you head to the hotel and just sleep. 

If you have some time before sleep, you can head to the Nevsky Prospekt metro station and just walk around the city centre. I recommend walking the entire Nevsky Prospekt from the start (near Dvortsovy Bridge) to Ploshad Alexandra Nevskogo. Nevsky Prospekt is the main street of St. Petersburg, and it’s stunning. It’s also quite long, so make sure to bring comfortable shoes. 

I believe that after this walk, you will be already pretty tired. If you’re keen to try Russian food for dinner, you can find a restaurant from my list of the best places to try Russian food in St. Petersburg.

Day 2: Peterhof Palace and the Canal Boat Tour

Alright, on the second day of your week in Russia, I recommend heading to the Peterhof Palace – one of the most stunning palaces in St. Petersburg. If you’re visiting Russia in summer, you will be able to explore the marvellous Peterhof park with the fountains as well. However, if you’re visiting off-season, the fountains will be off, so you won’t spend as much time in the park.

I recommend buying tickets for the palace and the park online to avoid queues that could be huge during the high season. You can also buy a private tour that will sort out the tickets for you and deliver you from and to your hotel (as well as guide you through the park and the palace). However, if you’re on a budget or simply want to get there and explore yourself, you can find more information in my other post about Peterhof. All the directions on how to get to Peterhof by public transport you can find HERE.

Again, in the high season, you will probably spend 4-6 hours in Peterhof, including 2-3 hours for getting there. In the low season, your visit will be shorter – about 3 hours plus transport.

Best museums in St. Petersburg, Russia
Peterhof palace and the fountains

So I imagine you might be tired at the end of the day and would want to do something relaxing. In this case, I can recommend a canal boat tour.

There are multiple tours with various routes. However, the one I recommend starts near the Moika river (crossing with Nevsky Prospekt) – you can find a ticket office there and buy your canal boat tour. You can also book a canal boat tour online

If you’re looking for a slightly different experience (more upscale), I can recommend taking a cruise dinner at the Volga Volga ship-restaurant. That would be around 3500 rub per person or £40 pp with the current exchange rate. You can find out more or book here.

Day 3: Exploring the Catherine Palace, exploring the rest of the city centre, theatre at night

On your third day in St. Petersburg, I recommend exploring another stunning place – the Catherine Palace located in Tsarskoe Selo town close to St. Petersburg. It would take you about 1 hour to get there and again, you can definitely buy a tour that will bring you there, or you can explore it on your own. If you leave the city centre by 9, by 10 or 10:15, you should be near the palace already. Getting to the Catherine palace might be a bit challenging, but you can always get a taxi there, which would be about £10-15 if you book online through Yandex Taxi or Gett. You can also buy a tour visiting the Catherine Palace.

During the busy touristic times, Catherine palace has a queue, however, it moves pretty fast. 

Catherine Palace is probably the most beautiful palace in entire Russia, and it’s famous for its amber room and its giant ballroom that was featured in the cartoon Anastasia and where you might have seen it already. There is so much you can do inside the palace! However, besides the palace, there is also a stunning park and a couple of other historical buildings in Tsarskoe Selo town. You can easily spend the entire day in this area and return to the city centre by night. However, on average, people spend 4-5 hours exploring the palace and the park and eat something in the palace cafe. Unfortunately, there aren’t many places to eat in the town. Well, there are, but you need to walk for ages to reach them. So I recommend either bringing a sandwich with you or eating something in the cafeteria of the palace and then having a proper meal in the city centre. 

Catherine Palace, St. Petersburg in winter

Depending on the time you’re back from the palace, and you finish your meal, you can either spend some time walking around the city centre and, perhaps, exploring another part of the city centre (I highly recommend walking to the Chernyshevskaya area and exploring the Tavrichesky Garden) or walking to the State Russian Museum and exploring the Summer Garden as well as walking the charming streets of the city centre. 

best museums in saint petersburg

At night, you can go to the theatre to watch opera or ballet. You need to book tickets in advance, and I recommend using the official websites of Mariinsky and Mikhailovsky theatres. You can read my post about the best theatres to watch ballet in Russia and which ballet to choose.

If you’re visiting St. Petersburg in summer, you can also check out the opening of the bridges that happens at night. The best bridge to look at would be the Dvortsovy bridge next to the Winter Palace (the Hermitage). Here you can find the times when the bridges open.

Day 4: Hermitage Museum & Peter & Isaac’s Cathedral, taking a speed train to Moscow

On the fourth day in St. Petersburg, head to the Hermitage. Make sure to buy tickets online to skip the queue, which can be massive. Alternatively, you can also buy a private tour, where you will skip the queue, and you will be guided through the museum. You can buy a tour like this one here. 

Hermitage is enormously big and has a stunning collection of art and the world’s best masterpieces. You can easily spend the entire day here, however, I never spend more than 3 hours there. I would say 3-4 hours is the optimal time to spend in Hermitage.

The Hermitage Museum - best things to do in Russia in winter

After visiting the Hermitage, you can walk to Isaac’s Cathedral, however, before visiting the Cathedral, I recommend you stopping for lunch in one of the best restaurants of St. Petersburg, Cococo, located very close to the cathedral. The prices are similar to prices in European restaurants, so it’s not too expensive, however, all the dishes are unique, and I can definitely recommend visiting this restaurant. 

St. Isaac’s Cathedral is a former cathedral that is now a museum. It’s very impressive inside; however, if you’re fit, you can also explore the Colonnades of the Cathedral. From the top of the colonnades, you can see the panorama of St. Petersburg, and it’s stunning. It’s definitely one of the best views you can find in the city. 

how expensive is Russia, Moscow and St Petersburg prices (2 of 7)

Once you finished sightseeing, you can head to your hotel, pick up your luggage and head to the train station to catch a speed train to Moscow. The last speed train to Moscow departs at 8:50 pm, however, if you can, take an earlier train, perhaps, the 6:57 one or maybe even the 5 pm one, so you don’t arrive in Moscow very late. You need to buy tickets in advance. You can do it on the official website of the Russian Railways. Make sure to arrive 30 minutes before the train departure, as per Russian security rules, they need to scan your baggage like in the airport and then check your passport as well. Strangely enough, you can only buy a train ticket in Russia with a passport. 

Once you arrive in Moscow, hire a taxi through Yandex Taxi or Gett and head to your hotel. 

Day 5: Explore the Red Square, its museums and the city centre of Moscow

You made it to Moscow, congratulations! I actually have a separate post about spending two days in Moscow, so here, I will be rather short. If you like, you can buy a private guided tour in Moscow – they will take to the main highlights of the city. You can book a tour online here. If you want to explore Moscow on your own, head to the Red Square first. 

Moscow in winter. Moscow Christmas Market

If you’re lucky and you’re in Moscow on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, you can visit Lenin Mausoleum on the Red Square from 10 am to 1 pm only. The entrance is free. 

The most important museums on the Red Square are the Armoury Chamber and the Assumption Cathedral – they are definitely worth paying a visit. Another place to explore on the Red Square is the historical department store GUM, where you can either have lunch or try one of the best ice creams (they still use their famous Soviet recipe). 

If you’re done by 1 pm or 2 pm, you can also head to the Tretyakov Gallery – one of the most important art galleries in the world. 

After the museum, head to Russia’s best restaurant called White Rabbit. Make sure to book it in advance! If you would prefer a budget-friendly option, you can eat in one of the various Georgian restaurants. Georgian food is generally amazing in Russia and if you haven’t tried Georgian cuisine before, you should! It’s very delicious, and it’s really one of its kind. Some of the best Georgian restaurants in Moscow include Jonjoli, Chichico, Darbazi and Hachapuri. Alternatively, explore the street food scene of Moscow and head to the Danilov Market or Central Market on the Rozhdestvensky Boulevard. 

Day 6: Izmailovo Kremlin, Moscow Cathedral & exploring the city centre, taking an evening train back to St. Petersburg 

One your second day in Moscow and the 6th day of your weeklong trip to Russia, head to the Izmailovo Kremlin. Izmailovo Kremlin looks very different from the Kremlin on the Red Square, however, it’s very pretty as well. It’s a wonderful place to look for souvenirs.

 

weekend in Moscow: best things to do

Another must-visit attraction in Moscow is the Moscow Cathedral – Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. The entrance is free as it’s a functioning cathedral and it’s very big inside and pretty amazing. 

Moscow in winter. Moscow Christmas Market

Once you’re done with these two attractions, grab a quick lunch and head back to the city centre. The city centre of Moscow is pretty big, and there are some nice places to visit. Head to the Bolshoi theatre to see the building and walk around the streets of Moscow. Make sure to check out Stary Arbat street – one of the oldest streets in Moscow and once with the most restaurants and shops. Check out the Zaryadie Park close to the Kremlin and walk to Lubyanka. 

Afterwards, head to your hotel, pick up your luggage and catch a train back to St. Petersburg. Alternatively, you can stay one more night in Moscow and take a train back to St. Petersburg the next day if your flight departs late. 

Day 7 of 1 week in Russia: St. Petersburg and getting back

Once you’re back in St. Petersburg, it all depends on your departure time. If you depart late in the evening, you can maybe still see some of St. Petersburg’s best museums – you can check them in my list of the best museums in St. Petersburg. If you don’t have much time left, just head back to the airport.

Alright, this was the 7-day itinerary for Russia: how to spend one week in Moscow and St. Petersburg. I hope you enjoyed this post and found it useful. Should you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to ask them in the comments.

most beautiful metro stations in St Petersburg

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