St. Petersburg to Boston
June 14-August 2
By Vacations Staff
"St. Petersburg to Budapest" with Intrepid Travel
St. Petersburg to Budapest
Take a journey through ancient cities, cosmopolitan metropolises and stunning mountain regions. From Russia, cross through Ukraine and into Hungary, stopping in several towns along the way on this 16-day trip.
Though only about 300 years old, St. Petersburg holds a rich history as the former capital of Russia. Baroque and neoclassical details can be spotted in the facades of elegant palaces and churches while monuments and museums mark significant events for the city. Spend two days in this cultural hub and pick from countless fascinating sites to explore on your own, like the gardens and fountains of Peterhof, former stomping grounds of Peter the Great, or the Alexander Nevsky Monastery, where some of Russia's famous composers, poets, writers and artists are buried. A nighttime boat tour along the interlacing canals and waterways explores the beauty of the city from a different perspective.
On Day Three arrive in Veliky Novgorod -- one of Russia's oldest cities with more than 1,000 years of history -- and experience the heritage of the region by participating in a tea party with a local family and visiting the public bath house for a steam. A seven-hour train ride delivers you to Moscow, where a three-day stay includes a tour of the famous Kremlin. Inside, see some of the oldest churches in the country and the Armoury Chamber, with an imperial collection of relics including ceremonial clothing and weapons. Outside in Red Square, the glorious St. Basil's Cathedral provides a striking example of Orthodox art.
Meander the cobblestoned streets of Kiev, the hilly capital of Ukraine and its largest cultural center. Take in magnificent city views from the top of the bell tower at the Cathedral of St. Sophia, an 11th-century edifice inspired by Byzantine architecture. The Carpathian Mountain region offers tranquility after a three-day stay in the city. Traverse beautiful countryside, dotted with simple Hutsul houses, on a hike to high pastures where shepherds herd their flocks. The locals in trading hub Kolomyia, Ukraine, teach wayfarers to cook traditional dishes.
Influenced by many empires and religions since its founding in the mid-13th century, the city of Lviv, Ukraine, has developed into a multicultural industrial center. A walking tour of the Old Town passes by the grand opera house, an Armenian church, Jewish quarter and Roman Catholic cathedral.
A cycling tour of Hungary's capital city ventures into the core of Budapest to see the enchanting historic architecture and glitzy modern restaurants and shops. Spend a final two days with Intrepid exploring the numerous exhibitions, from the Thermae Maiores Baths Museum, built by the Romans in the second century, to the Museum of Applied Arts, its brilliant, ceramic-tiled roof an impressive sight. -- Michelle Chumbley
JUNE 29-JULY 6
"Romantic Danube" with Viking Cruises
Budapest to Nuremberg
Visit charming villages and prominent cities along Europe's second-longest river on a "Romantic Danube" cruise. Viking Cruises' eight-day voyage leaves from Hungary's capital and travels through Austria into Germany, ending in Nuremberg.
Budapest straddles the Danube, and a tour begins on the Pest side of the city, with its 19th-century mansions, impressive Parliament building and national opera house. Learn about Hungarian history in Heroes' Square before crossing the river to the hilly Buda side to take in splendid views from the Buda Castle Quarter. In the afternoon, enjoy a Viennese coffee workshop on the ship as you begin to cruise along the Danube.
In Vienna, a half-day tour covers popular spots like Stadtpark, Burgtheater and the Vienna State Opera -- a magnificent 1869 structure that underwent significant internal reconstruction after being bombed in World War II. Spend the rest of the day exploring the sites, join an excursion to Schonbrunn Palace or attend an optional evening concert to complete your visit to Austria's capital city.
While sailing through the Wachau Valley on Day Four, look for castles, monasteries, villages and ruins among the riverside settlements. At a stop in Melk, Austria, a guided tour takes travelers through a Benedictine abbey with a library of medieval manuscripts. Sail on in the evening and soak up the scenic countryside while indulging in local specialties in the vessel's restaurant.
Next up: two medieval German towns with impressive cathedrals and patrician houses. On the Austrian-German border, Passau is home to the Oberhaus Fortress and St. Stephen's Cathedral. Inside the baroque church, attend a special concert on the 17,000-pipe organ. A walking tour in Regensburg the next day leads to 13th-century church spires, a 12th-century stone bridge and St. Peter's Cathedral, a magnificent Gothic church.
After passing through the Main-Danube Canal, arrive in Nuremberg, Germany, a significant location during World War II, suffering severe damage. A tour of the city features former Nazi parade grounds and the Palace of Justice, where the Nuremberg Trials were held for German war criminals. The city's early history can be seen in the Old Town area, Imperial Castle grounds and Main Market Square, with an elaborate Gothic fountain and 14th-century church. -- M.C.
***Fly to London***
14 nights aboard Royal Caribbean International's Adventure of the Seas
Round trip from Southampton
A Royal Caribbean cruise makes it easy to sample eight Mediterranean spots in one incredible voyage. Sailing from Southampton, a gateway to London, the 3,835-guest ship ventures along coastal France, Spain and Portugal, stopping in historic ports where travelers can explore on their own or join optional sightseeing or adventure tours.
The journey begins with two days at sea, giving passengers time to enjoy abundant onboard amenities. Get your heart pumping at the state-of-the-art fitness center, basketball court or in-line skating track, or relax at Vitality Spa with more than 100 treatments available. Ten pools and whirlpools include an adults-only retreat and Adventure Beach, a kids' area with a waterslide. In the evening, Broadway-style shows, ice-skating productions (in the ship's own rink) and a casino with more than 300 slot and table games keep guests entertained.
Founded by the Phoenicians in the 12th century B.C., Malaga is the birthplace of Pablo Picasso and one of Spain's largest ports, with miles of picturesque beaches. While docked here, take an excursion to Alhambra, a palace and fortress with finely carved stucco walls, or discover stalagmites and stalactites in the otherworldly caves of nearby Nerja.
Sail on to the French Riviera and take a sightseeing tour to Cannes, home of its namesake international film festival; Nice, with a broad seafront promenade; or Monaco, the second-smallest country in the world. The town of Antibes, between Cannes and Nice, has a covered market and superb views of the Mediterranean Sea and French Alps.
Spend four days in three cities along the coast of Spain -- Barcelona, Valencia and Cartagena -- and the capital of the Balearic Islands, Palma de Mallorca. In Barcelona, art connoisseurs can revel in more than 4,000 works at the Picasso Museum. A guided tour on the island of Palma de Mallorca visits a Gothic cathedral with nearly 70-foot columns, circular Bellver Castle with hilltop views and a historic bullring. Shop the central market in Valencia or swim and relax in the sun on an excursion to El Saler Beach nearby. While in Cartagena, venture to the palm tree forest of Elche to see groves of majestic date palms.
Lisbon, Portugal, welcomes explorers to its cobblestoned streets, Maritime Museum and 16th-century Jeronimos Monastery, a Gothic Manueline-style masterpiece. A final stop visits Vigo, Spain, an Atlantic Coast city dating to Roman times. Picturesque fishing villages, sparkling beaches, an oyster market and a seashell-covered church are in the area. -- M.C.
Seven nights aboard Cunard Line's Queen Mary 2
Southampton to Brooklyn
The trip: Experience the elegance of a Cunard cruise on a weeklong trans-Atlantic voyage from English port city Southampton to New York. Step aboard the fleet's flagship and most magnificent ocean liner, the 2,620-passenger Queen Mary 2, featuring at least 101 things to do during your trip.
A little R&R: Unwind with a visit to the luxurious Canyon Ranch SpaClub, with options ranging from classic stone massages to exotic Thai treatments. To boost your energy before breakfast, stop by the well-equipped fitness facilities, which include tennis courts and classes in yoga and aerobics. Relax with a hot brew at the afternoon tea, or check out the 8,000-book library.
Fit for a king (or queen): Four main restaurants plus alternative dining venues offer diverse culinary delights. At the intimate, single-seating Queens Grill, for passengers booked in Queens Grill suites, you can savor classic dishes like the roast duck a l'orange with pommes amandine or grilled vegetables, parmesan whipped potatoes and garlic spinach. For something more casual, visit the self-service Kings Court restaurant and sample British-style carved roasts or Italian cuisine.
Nightlife: Tap your toes to a musical production in the 1,000-seat Royal Court Theatre, dance the night away in an expansive ballroom, reminisce with '80s hits in the dual-level G32 nightclub or sing along to karaoke in the Golden Lion pub.
Don't miss: Illuminations, the ship's full-scale planetarium, takes guests on a virtual ride through outer space. Attend a course on celestial navigation and travel to the stars. -- Madison G. Welch
Stay at the Waldorf Astoria New York
Sample the luxurious life at the Waldorf Astoria New York. This Big Apple landmark opened in 1931 as the world's largest and tallest hotel, occupying 47 stories and an entire city block in midtown Manhattan. Today, it remains one of the world's largest Art Deco buildings, and its romantic grandeur can be noted in more than 30 movies and TV shows.
Highlights of the hotel include spacious suites with marble bathrooms; the signature restaurant Peacock Alley, famous for an extravagant Sunday brunch; an elegant 14,000-square-foot spa featuring Guerlain treatments; and convenient proximity to galleries, emporiums and the shops of Fifth and Madison avenues. For more details about the hotel's legacy -- including its claim to be the first hotel with private baths for every guest room -- reserve your spot on a guided tour offered on Thursdays and Saturdays. Guests also can book rooms at the Towers of the Waldorf Astoria, the boutique hotel occupying 16 floors within the Waldorf Astoria New York. -- M.G.W.
***Take a train or plane to Boston***
The information in this story was accurate at the time it was published in January/February 2014. Please visit Vacations To Go or call (800) 510-4002 for current rates and details.