Arctic Explorer – Quest for the Northern Lights: St. Petersburg-Moscow aboard the Golden Eagle

  • Golden Eagle

  • 12 Day Escorted Tour


    The Tour

    The Arctic Explorer: Quest for the Northern Lights journey takes you through stunning St. Petersburg and Moscow before exploring far north in search of the magnificent Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights).

    Travel aboard Russia’s premier train, the incomparable Golden Eagle.

    Note: The Golden Eagle train includes five Imperial Suites on all departures. These luxurious compartments are the most spacious – 120 square feet – and feature a fixed king-sized bed, a dressing table and lounge area, and more. For details about this and other upgrades, click here.

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    The Itinerary

    Day 1: St. Petersburg
    Upon arrival into St. Petersburg, transfer to the luxurious Four Seasons hotel (or similar) for a two-night stay. This evening, enjoy a welcome champagne reception and meet your fellow travelers. Specially selected international wines are included with dinner, as with all meals during the tour.

    Why not extend your stay in St. Petersburg with pre-tour nights to explore more of the city at your leisure?

    Day 2: St. Petersburg
    St. Petersburg is a stunning city, crowded with splendid palaces, impressive historical monuments, wide boulevards, and beautiful bridges, and is renowned as the Ballet Capital of the World.

    Enjoy a guided tour of Catherine’s Palace in Pushkin and the Hermitage Museum, the former Winter Palace of the Tsars, which houses the royal art collection containing over three million works. It is one of the world’s largest and most impressive art museums. Next, tour St. Isaac’s Cathedral and Nevsky Prospect.

    Note: February departures will tour St. Isaac’s Cathedral & Nevsky Prospect on the morning of Day 3.

    Make your evening in St. Petersburg extra special by purchasing a ticket for a ballet or opera performance at the world-renowned Marinsky Theatre (subject to schedule and availability and pre-booked six weeks prior to departure).

    Day 3: St. Petersburg
    This afternoon we transfer to the station to board Russia’s premier train, the Golden Eagle, and settle into our modern, stylish cabins to embark upon our rail adventure to the Arctic Circle. We have a unique opportunity to celebrate our arrival with a signature Gala Caviar Dinner in the beautifully-designed restaurant car. Enjoy complimentary champagne, international wines and live musical entertainment for a celebration you won’t forget.

    Note: on the Dec. 29-Jan. 9 departures, the Gala Dinner is also a special New Year celebration.

    Day 4: Crossing the Arctic Circle 
    Enjoy a relaxed start to the day with a sumptuous breakfast. Listen to a talk, or simply relax and enjoy the ever-changing winter landscape outside our window.

    Our Guest Astronomer will host an afternoon tea with freshly baked Russian cakes, and talk about the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) in our stylish Bar Lounge Car.

    Day 5: Kirkenes & Northern Lights
    This morning leave the train with an overnight bag at the Russian border station of Nikel, and transfer by bus (90 minutes drive) across the Russian/Norwegian border to Kirkenes for a two-night stay at the Thon Hotel (or similar).

    We will visit the magical Snow Hotel, which is just 9 miles (15 km) outside Kirkenes. We’ll have a welcome drink in the snow bar, and a tour of the Snow Hotel, with its ice sculptures and snow paintings by local and international artists. After a traditional meal including a reindeer hot dog in the snow hotel’s warm lodge restaurant, we’ll take an evening bus tour in search of the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights). If the sky is clear, our guest astronomer will be on hand to advise us during star-gazing.

    Optional Activities in Kirkenes: Add a snowmobile tour or a magical excursion by husky dog sledge in search of the Northern Lights. Each sledge is pulled by a team of eight dogs, and can seat two people, plus a driver (also called a dog musher). These activities have limited availability, are at additional cost, and are weather-permitting – please inquire at time of booking.

    Upgrade to Snow Hotel: For the “coolest” lodgings around, choose to overnight at the Snow Hotel (at additional cost). Upgrades to the snow hotel are limited, so book early to avoid disappointment. The snow hotel stays at a constant minus five degrees centigrade and thermal sleeping bags are provided. Showers, toilets and a Scandinavian sauna are provided in a building next to the snow hotel.

    Day 6: Kirkenes & Northern Lights
    This morning, a unique winter experience awaits on our King Crab Safari. The excursion begins with a snowmobile-drawn sleigh across the frozen fjords. Warm clothing and a helmet is provided. Through a hole in the ice, your master guide will demonstrate how to catch the magnificent Arctic King Crab (which can span two yards and weigh up to 33 pounds) and prepare it for cooking. We then continue by sleigh to the nearby Fisherman’s Lodge, where the crabs you catch will be prepared and cooked for you. Enjoy your delicious King Crab meal by the cozy log fire.

    Also included during your stay in Kirkenes is a one-hour husky dog sledge ride and a visit to the resident reindeer.

    Day 7: Arctic Circle
    Today we cross the border back into Russia and re-join our train which is waiting for us in Nikel. We’ll spend the afternoon on board travelling through arctic Russia. Relax and enjoy the ever-changing winter landscape outside your window or chat to fellow passengers.

    Day 8: Murmansk
    Today we travel to Murmansk, a city halfway between Moscow and the North Pole, and 120 miles (200 km) north of the Arctic Circle. As the main city of the Kola Peninsula, it started as a tiny settlement and Arctic trading post. Murmansk was founded in 1916 under pressure from the British to establish a port. Thanks to the influence of the Gulf Stream, the port is ice-free year-round. It is the home port of Russia’s nuclear-powered icebreakers, and we’ll visit the Nuclear Icebreaker Museum Ship.

    Day 9: Petrozavodsk
    Petrozavodsk stretches along the western shore of Lake Onega – the second-largest lake in Europe. It is one of the major cultural and industrial centres of the North-West of Russia and is the capital of the Republic of Karelia.

    Note: guests on the Dec. 29-Jan 1 departures will take a city tour and then celebrate Sochelnik (Russian Christmas Eve) with a Karelian Folk Performance. They will then continue the festivities with a traditional Russian Christmas Eve meal, known as the Holy Supper.

    Day 10: Vladimir & Suzdal (Dec. 29-Jan. 9 departures) / Moscow (Feb. departures)

    Guests on the Dec. 29-Jan. 9 departures: See Russians celebrate their Christmas Day today.  The historic city of Vladimir will be beautifully decorated for Rozhdestvo (Russian Christmas).

    Vladimir was founded in 990 and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of Russia’s oldest communities. Our tour takes in Uspensky Cathedral, built between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries. It is considered one of the most important and beautiful of Russian cathedrals, where many of the prominent Russian Tsars were crowned.

    From Vladimir we travel to Suzdal, one of Russia’s most perfectly-preserved walled cities dating back to 1024, located 22 miles (35 km) from Vladimir. Visit the atmospheric St Euthymius Monastery to witness an enchanting choral performance by the resident monks. Finish with a horse-drawn sleigh ride through this stunning location.

    Guests on the Feb. departures: Arrive at Moscow station.

    Visit Red Square, an iconic symbol of Russia’s former military and political might with its eclectic mix of fascinating architecture, including the ornate St Basil’s Cathedral’s magnificent onion-domed spires, the beautiful façade of the world famous GUM Department store, constructed in Tsarist times, and the somber and evocative site of Lenin’s tomb. Our touring program also takes us to the Kremlin — the spiritual, historical and political heart of Moscow — and to see the treasures of the Tsars in the Armoury Chamber.

    All departures include two nights at the five-star Four Seasons (or similar). Superbly located in Moscow’s city center, and within easy walking distance of Red Square, the Kremlin, and the Bolshoi Theatre, this historic hotel offers spacious and luxurious accommodation.

    Day 11: Moscow (Dec. 29-Jan. 9) / Vladimir & Suzdal (Feb.)
    Guests on Dec. 29-Jan. 9 departures will tour Moscow today (see Day 10 for touring description).

    Guests on Feb. departures will visit Vladimir and Suzdal by regular train today (see Day 10 for touring description).

    All departures enjoy a farewell dinner at the hotel this evening.

    Day 12: Moscow
    Breakfast in the hotel brings the tour to a close. Airport transfers are provided for your departure flights.

    Why not extend your stay in Moscow to explore more of the city at your leisure? Please inquire.

    2020 Dates:

    December 29-January 9, 2021

    2021 Dates:

    February 1-12
    December 29, 2021-January 9, 2022

    2022 Dates:

    December 29 2021 - January 9, 2022 (Provisional)
    February 1 - 12 (Provisional)

    The Prices

    2020 Departure Pricing Double Single Deposit amount
    Silver Class $12,995 $18,195 $1,500
    Gold Class $14,995 $21,495 $2,500
    Imperial Suite $24,995 $49,995 $5,000


    2021 December Departure Pricing Double Single Deposit amount
    Silver Class $15,995 $23,995 $1,500
    Gold Class $19,785 $32,995 $2,500
    Imperial Suite $34,395 $68,795 $5,000


    2021 February Departure Pricing Double Single Deposit amount
    Silver Class $13,495 $20,195 $1,500
    Gold Class $15,595 $25,695 $2,500
    Imperial Suite $25,995 $51,895 $5,000

    Please note: all prices are per person.

    2022 tour can currently be booked at 2021 rates – for a limited time only!


    The Golden Eagle is your luxurious hotel-on-wheels. Unpack just the once and settle into your well appointed and comfortable en-suite cabin as you begin this voyage of a lifetime. One of your cabin attendants, available at all times, will be on hand to look after all of your needs.

    Traveling with a small group? Ask about the Romanov Suite. For Romanov Suite details, please click here.

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    The Highlights

    Nature’s most spectacular and magical light show – the Northern Lights.
    Guest astronomer on hand to advise during star-gazing.
    All drinks, meals, gratuities, private airport transfers, more, included.
    The historic city of Vladimir, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
    The grandeur of Moscow’s Kremlin, the treasures of the Tsars in the Armoury Chamber and the somber and evocative site of Lenin’s tomb.
    King Crab Safari  in Kirkenes.
    St. Petersburg
    St. Petersburg
    Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express.  Photo by Owen Hardy
    Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express. Photo by Owen Hardy
    Kirkenes Snowhotel, (c) Helge Stærk
    Kirkenes Snowhotel, (c) Helge Stærk