Days
21
Price from
$3,710AUD

All aboard! Next stop: Romantic heartlands of Russia, Ukraine, Eastern Europe and Italy

Ride the rails through Russia to Eastern Europe’s most charming cities and get a taste of the good life. Break the ice with a Russian face? a loft pub tour in St Petersburg will do! Feel the cool vibe in Kiev? let's go on the street art tour! Ever heard of Tunnel of Love? check! Soaking up the good vibes and minerals in Budapest’s stately thermal spas? Yep. Cruising across Lake Balaton’s emerald waters? Consider it done. Drinking a sunset spritz in Italy’s famous sinking city? You betcha. But don’t forget Zagreb’s awesome museums and nightlife, or the piece de resistance – a big fat slice of cream cake straight out of Bled. Pick up your boarding pass and join us on this rollicking rail journey through Russia, Eastern Europe and Italy.


Start
St Petersburg, Russia
Finish
Venice, Italy
Countries
Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Russia, Slovenia, Ukraine
Code
GCSVC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 18 , Max 29
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why we love this trip

  • Is there any better way to see Europe than by rail? Not only is it an environmentally-friendly and comfortable way to travel, you and your friends get to see the incredible scenery pass right outside your window.

  • Encounter the legacy of Russian tsar Peter the Great while exploring the enigmatic streets that showcase the many palaces and museums of St Petersburg

  • 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

  • Escape to the country and visit Lake Balaton, where you can sail across emerald waters, try your hand windsurfing, or savour a (very) lazy afternoon wine tasting.

  • Eat your way through Croatia’s mix of European cuisines in Zagreb, with everything from fresh Mediterranean seafood to Italian-influenced antipasti and heavenly fried fritule doughnuts.

  • Chill out on the shores of Lake Bled in Slovenia. Visit a church on the tiny island in the centre of the lake and treat yourself to a slice of Bled's famous cream cake.

Is this trip right for you?

  • You'll mostly travel by train, which means you can avoid traffic jams and arrive right in the city centres. European trains are comfortable and always have toilets, but they can be quite busy at times. Remember that you'll have to carry your own luggage on and off the train, so try not to exceed our weight and size recommendations (see the 'Packing' section of the trip notes for more details).

  • This trip is for travellers who appreciate a bit of independence. You'll get plenty of free time in each location to make your own choices and do your own activities. Your leader will always be there to give you tips and suggestions.

  • Cobblestones are so charming and romantic, until you need to wheel a suitcase across them. It's a generally a good idea to bring a backpack instead.

  • As accommodation on this trip is multi-share, single travellers will share a room with (an)other traveller(s) of the same gender, mostly twin, triple and quad share. This trip is a great opportunity to get to know other like-minded people, so embrace it while you can! Hotels in Europe often don't have double beds, but two single beds that can be pushed together/apart. Please also note that most of the accommodations used on this trip offer shared bathrooms, rather than ensuite facilities, and rooms can seem rather small by American or Australian standards.

Itinerary

Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at around 6 pm on Day 1. There are no activities planned until this important meeting. Check the hotel reception for the exact time and place of the meeting. There’s so much to see and do in St Petersburg, you should probably stop in early just so you don’t miss out on anything.

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!
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
To avoid disappointment we recommend that you book any theatre performances that you wish to attend in Moscow or St Petersburg in advance. Please consider carefully which performances you are going to want attend and make sure that the dates correspond to your trip. In particular we recommend you see what's playing at the Bolshoi and Mariinsky, as it may be difficult to get tickets when you are there especially during White Nights in St Petersburg. Here are some useful internet sites to check for what will be on (ballet, opera, exhibitions, etc) in Moscow and St Petersburg when you are there: www.mariinsky.ru, www.bolshoi.ru and www.ticketsofrussia.ru.
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. They’ll be happy to help. You might want to do an Urban Adventures tour as well if you want to make the most of your time here.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
As we are just heading to Suzdal for 1 night and will be returning to Moscow, you may wish to pack just an overnight bag to take with you and leave your large luggage in storage in Moscow until your return.
With another free day in St Petersburg, consider checking out anywhere you missed yesterday, or maybe spend some more time at the Hermitage.

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.
Accommodation
  • Overnight train (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Please consult with your leader how to best plan your time in Moscow, esp. with visit to the Kremlin. Please note that on occasion Lenin's Mausoleum and Red Square may be closed to the public during regular opening hours without prior warning.
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 2 pm, 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!

Looking for stuff to do? Gorky Park is where it’s at. They’ve converted this place into an ‘eco-friendly recreational zone’ (as the officials put it) to encourage sports and a bit more colour in the area – maybe you can put your skills to the test and challenge the locals to a bit of soccer? Otherwise, check out some of the local cafes or kick back on a hammock. Spend the day like a true local!
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
On occasion Lenin's Mausoleum and Red Square may be closed to the public during regular opening hours without prior warning. As Moscow's premier tourist attractions, tickets for the Kremlin and Armoury are in high demand, and the Moscow Tourism Administration sets strict quotas to control visitor numbers. Time in each area is also limited to 90 minutes, with any exceptions possibly resulting in the guide losing their license. While we appreciate that some travellers would like to spend longer in the Armoury Museum, we ask for your understanding that the guide is under pressure to keep to the schedule.

The Diamond Fund isn't included in your tour, but after the Kremlin and Armoury there may be time to visit. Entrance tickets can be purchased in the ticket office at the Armoury. The Diamond Fund is open for visitors from 10am-1pm and from 2pm-4pm. On Thursday it is closed.
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.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kiev Guided City & Street Art Tour
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
You might want to start today by checking out some of the free tour offers in town – Free Tours Kyiv is a good place to start as it’s run by a bunch of young guides and volunteers who totally love the city. This’ll give you a rough lay of the land and let you come up with a view ideas for what to do during your stay.

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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Later Kyiv! 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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
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.
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Rivne Tunnel of Love
  • Pidhirtsi and Olesko Castles in Rivne
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
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!
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
You’re gonna have to get up nice and early for this next one. Wake up at 6.45 am 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 at around 6.30 pm. 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.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today you’ll get a guided walk through the city to check out some of the jaw-dropping buildings and street art lying around (P.s 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. Ruin bars are something that keep popping up around the city – dilapidated buildings redecorated with old furniture, modern art and a bar for drinks (of course) are pretty popular with the locals.

It’s your last night on the trip, so definitely think about making it count. Share a last drink or dinner with the group if you want.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today you'll have a free day to further explore Budapest until 6pm in the evening. Since this is a combination trip, your group composition and group leader may change today.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Enjoy a free day in Budapest. Exploring the historical Buda castle is definitely one way to do it! Forget about the bustling city and lose yourself in the history of the castle and palace complex of the Hungarian kings. The winding streets of Castle District dates back to the 13th century. And there is an old, mid-19th century local pastry shop there!
Optional Activities
  • Hungarian State Opera House Tour - HUF3000
  • Parliament Tour - HUF5200
  • Urban Adventures - Buda Castle Explorer - EUR45
  • Urban Adventures - Bites & Sights - EUR64
  • Thermal Bath - Starting from - HUF4500
  • House of Terror - HUF2000
  • Szechenyi Baths Entrance & locker - EUR16
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Catch the train this morning through Hungary’s green countryside, past manicured vineyards, fields of lavender and woodlands to Lake Balaton. This sprawling freshwater lake is surrounded by ancient fortresses, underwater caves and historic little villages calling out for exploration. Perhaps grab an ice cream and take a stroll through Tihany Town, the oldest medieval village in the region, or pop on a swimsuit and explore the incredible underground lake caves. The water here is so pure you can actually see the bottom! If you’d prefer time out in the sun instead, there is always the portion to simply relax by the lake shore.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Another train, another country. Catch an afternoon train to Croatia's capital, Zagreb. On arrival take an orientation walk on which your leader will point out local amenities and attractions you might want to visit along the way, such as a number of excellent museums to visit including the quirky Museum of Broken Relationships. Ask any questions you might have about the city during the walk.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today is a free day in Zagreb, so check out both the upper town and the lower town to understand the city's culture. The tallest building in town is the gothic Zagreb Cathedral, with iconic twin spires that dominate the city's skyline. Ban Jelacic Square is the city's central point, which is surrounded by multiple structures that reflect different periods of Zagreb's past. There is so much to see and do here, the hard thing is deciding what to choose.
Optional Activities
  • Zagreb Funicular - HRK4
  • Ivan Meštrović Atelier - HRK30
  • Zagreb City Museum - HRK30
  • Lotrščak Tower - HRK20
  • Museum of Broken Relationships - HRK30
  • Mirogoj Cemetary - Free
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Travel by train to the lakeside town of Bled. An eye-popping spot, Lake Bled is found at the edge of the Julian Alps in Slovenia. Needless to say, there are lots of outdoor activities on offer to get the blood pumping. Upon arrival why not head out by bike around the lake or to Vintgar Gorge (4km) and walk through the natural canyon? Explore Bled Castle, perched atop the 100-metre cliff overlooking the lake, or catch a pletna (small wooden boat) over to the island in the middle of the lake to ring the wishing bell. Take a day trip to Lake Bohinj, situated within a glaciated valley in the Julian Alps. There, you can ascend Mt Vogel by cable car for awesome views of the ranges. If the weather is clear you might even see Triglav, the highest peak in Slovenia. For a sample of Bled cuisine, look no further than the famous Bled Cake – a vanilla, custard, cream and pastry delight.
Included Activities
  • Bled Bike Tour
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
No better place to get active than on a full free day in Bled. Go for a lake walk (or run if you feel like!) in the morning, or do your hot yoga poses on the grassy bank of the lake. You won’t find a better set up for it than in Bled! Afterwards perhaps enjoy a full day adventure around the Triglav Massive, including some white water rafting and other blood pumping activities! Check with your leader for all the options and book in advance not to miss out. If you don’t feel like going crazy, just enjoy the beauty of the place; perhaps find a quiet spot near the lake and spend a day reading your book.
Optional Activities
  • Bled Pletna Boat Trip - EUR14
  • Bled Emerald River Adventure (full day) - EUR110
  • Day Trip to Ljubljana - EUR15
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Board the train and brace yourself for some amazing scenery on the way to Venice (approximately 5.5 hours). Venice is one of a kind, built over a hundred small islands connected by 400 bridges. As well as all those romantic canals, it has all the hallmarks of a fine old Italian city: world-class food, performance, art and architecture. Use your free time to explore – the best way to go is on foot. Take in all the famous sights, like the Grand Canal, the old-world shops of the Rialto Bridge, the Palace of the Doge (ruler of Venice), the Piazza San Marco and its golden basilica, and the Bridge of Sighs. Don't even think about leaving until you've eaten some tiramisu. This is where the dish was born, and they know how to do it just right.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
It's time to say ciao to the famous sinking city, and you're free to leave at any time today. Unless you would like to extend your stay here in which case we are happy to help you book additional accommodation. Alternatively, why not join Geckos’ ‘Italy by Rail’ trip, taking you all the way down to Rome.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

8 breakfasts

Transport

Train, Overnight Sleeper Train

Accommodation

Hotel (11 nights), Overnight Sleeper Train (2 nights), Hostel (5 nights), Guesthouse (2 nights)

Included Activities

  • Kiev Guided City & Street Art Tour
  • Rivne Tunnel of Love
  • Pidhirtsi and Olesko Castles in Rivne
  • Bled Bike Tour

Dates & availability

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There are currently no scheduled departures on our St Petersburg to Venice by Rail trip. If you are interested in other trips in the region visit one of the links below.

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Important notes

1. In order for our local operator to book train tickets we require the following information at time of booking or no later than 30 days prior to departure.
• Passengers full name
• Full Passport Details (number, expiry, issued)
• DOB
• City of Birth
2. To avoid disappointment we recommend that you book any theatre performances that you wish to attend in Moscow or St Petersburg in advance.
3. This is a combination trip which will help you avoid hassle of making multiple bookings, but please note that your tour leader and group composition may change on Day 13.

Start and finish time:

Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6:00pm on Day 1. There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.

Itinerary
You don't have a lot of time in Venice at the end of the trip, so if you're keen to explore these spectacular cities in depth, we recommend you tag on a few days after the trip. Please ask a Geckos Travel Consultant for more information.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.