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Novgorod for Day Trip From Cruise Ship in St. Petersburg

Malibu, California
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Novgorod for Day Trip From Cruise Ship in St. Petersburg

We are taking a Baltic Cruise, and we have three days in St. Petersburg. This will be our second cruise to the Baltics and St. Petersburg. We have arranged for the same private guide all three days that we used last time - she's so wonderful that she's become a personal friend and came to visit us in the USA as our house guest for a week!

Our original plan for this cruise was to use the "Moscow option" and spend our second day not in St. Petersburg, but in Moscow. However, the second day is a Thursday - when the Kremlin is closed. The second day is the only day that the long trip to Moscow is possible. But there is no point in going all the way to Moscow without seeing the Kremlin! Major disappointment!

Plan B - Instead of Moscow, our guide suggested that we might want to go to Veliky Novgorod on our second day,Thursday. I haven't found too much about it other than that it's one of the oldest cities in Russia and it has lots of churches. One church is okay, but we're not really interested in visiting lots of them, and if we make the long trek to Novgorod, it has to be for much more than a church. What else is there to see and do in Novgorod? Is it worth the 2.5 - 3 hour drive each way in the car between St. Petersburg and Novgorod? Or are we better off staying in St. Petersburg and seeing again what we did last time? I loved St. Petersburg, so revisiting sights wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. However, if there is somewhere outside of St. Petersburg that is incredible, fabulous, amazing - then, I'd like to go there, too. Does Novgorod fit that description? Alternatively, if it doesn't, can you suggest a place outside of St. Petersburg that does? Preferably a place that is closer to St. Petersburg? Or even a place within St. Petersburg that is off-the-beaten-path that we might not have seen last time we were there?

BTW - I posted this also on the Veliky Novgorod forum, but I'm hoping for more information by posting here as well.

Thanks for your help!

Moscow, Russia
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1. Re: Novgorod for Day Trip From Cruise Ship in St. Petersburg

> Or are we better off staying in St. Petersburg and seeing again what we did last time?

Have you really covered all 393 attractions last time? Wow...

tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g298507-Activiti…

Dereham, United...
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2. Re: Novgorod for Day Trip From Cruise Ship in St. Petersburg

I have to say that I agree with Marassa but may not have put it quite so bluntly!! I left St Petersburg after 6 full days of sightseeing wishing I could have stayed for another 2 weeks at least, as I felt I only scratched the surface. I could, for example, have spent 2 full days at the Peter and Paul Fortress rather than 4 - 5 hours. It depends on your interests but I found the Leningrad Defence and Siege State Memorial Museum a very moving expereince, Yusopov Palace was a great visit and I found the Russian Museum amazing especially the Folk Art section.

I had wanted to visit Novgorod too but decided against the long journey as it would take up too much of my precious time. As I only had a guide for the Hermitage and covered the rest on my own and on foot I maybe visited the same places as you did last time as you would have progressed round the city more quickly and without queues!

Whatever you decide have a great time!

Rome, Italy
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3. Re: Novgorod for Day Trip From Cruise Ship in St. Petersburg

Would you be interested in a town that has a kremlin AND old cathedrals AND is in the vicinity of St Petersburg? If the answer is yes, then can I suggest visiting Pskov? It is also ideal for visiting the nearby fully functioning and completely gorgeous Pskov Monastery of the Caves (Pskovo-Pecherskaya Lavra).

St. Petersburg...
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4. Re: Novgorod for Day Trip From Cruise Ship in St. Petersburg

Hi MalibuCa,

when are you visiting?

Have you been to all the grand suburbs of St.Petersburg: Pushkin (Tsarskoe selo) with the Catherine's palace (with amber room), Peterhoff (fountains in the summer untill Sept. 15-17ish 2012), Pavlovsk, Kronshtadt....

>>a place within St. Petersburg that is off-the-beaten-path that we might not have seen last time we were there?

you didn't mention what you've seen already but among off-beaten-path: Smolniy cathedral, Jewish synagogue, the Mosque, Russian museum, Ethnograpy museum, Menshikov Palace, Summer garden (open summer 2012 after years of reconstruction), Aurora-ship museum, Icebreaker Krasin museum, St.Nicolas church (near Mariinsky theater), modern art museum Erarta.... to name a few...

St Petersburg Russia
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5. Re: Novgorod for Day Trip From Cruise Ship in St. Petersburg

Do you have special interests, hobbies or areas of research? If so, you will probably find a venue or museum that specializes in it. If you spent 2 days in St Petersburg on a previous cruise, you saw a short list of destinations that all cruisers seem to ask for but that is scratching the surface. All that said, some of the most interesting exploration of the city has nothing to do with museums and cathedrals but instead, in going out and interacting with locals and learning about daily life, chatting with people who are not directly involved with the tourism industry.

If you had more time, V. Novgorod is interesting and a really nice small town with a long history. Wandering around Pavlovsk Park or the nearby town of Puskin, outside of the estate at Catherine Palace would be an option without spending 6-8 hours in a car as required for the trip to V. Norgorod.

Malibu, California
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6. Re: Novgorod for Day Trip From Cruise Ship in St. Petersburg

Thank you, all, for the great suggestions. Frankly, one of the things we'd really like to do (since we have already visited the major sights in St. Petersburg) is get a real flavor for daily life for the Russians. When we traveled to China, we did a home visit in the apartment of a Chinese couple, and we also visited an elementary school, where we were able to interact and play with the children. That was one of the most memorable days of our entire cruise. It transformed what I thought would be a ho-hum commercial port into an unforgettable experience. I would love to do something like this in St. Petersburg, if possible. I've asked our guide whether she can arrange a "local" interaction for us, but I would love to hear any suggestions on how to accomplish this if anyone here on Tripadvisor has an idea.

Thanks!

Pasadena, California
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7. Re: Novgorod for Day Trip From Cruise Ship in St. Petersburg

We travelled to Russia in 2005, and had a fabulous time, so every year or so I look at the Russia forums just to relive the trip.

As it happens, we spent 2 memorable and wonderful days in Novgorod.

To recap our trip briefly, our family spent a week staying with friends in Moscow, and 2 days/1 night on a private tour of the Golden Ring towns of Vladimir and Suzdal. Then we travelled by train to Novgorod, and then continued by train to SP, where we spent a week. Our friends took us everywhere in Moscow, and we had the guide for the Golden Ring; we were on our own in Novgorod and St Petersburg.

Reasons we loved Novgorod:

Novgorod has many of the qualities of the Golden Ring cities--scenic, a look at a smaller city, intimate, and full of monuments of the medieval Russian past.

The medieval Kremlin in the center of town, right on the river, is spectacular.

Within it is one of the most ancient churches in Russia, with frescoes on the inside and the most gorgeous medieval bronze doors, covered with biblical scenes. Also inside the Kremlin: a lovely pedestrian friendly park for people watching; a famous 19th century monument; 2 or 3 excellent museums, one with English signage, which is a rarity in Russia. We saw the small museum of "treasures" (great) and the history museum (even greater).

There was also a really neat and good restaurant located in one of the Kremlin towers, called "Detinets" (which just means Kremlin, I think). Try to eat there if it is still open. One of our more memorable meals in Russia.

We took a 1.5 hour scenic boat ride on the river, leaving from a dock right next to the Kremlin. Fun, great scenery, and full of Russian tourists. We didn't notice any other non-Russian-speakers on board.

We were there for 1.5 days and still didn't have a chance to see everything-- for instance, on the outskirts of town, a famous monastery and the nearby Museum of Wooden Architecture. We had already visited a Museum of Wooden Architecture in Suzdal, so we didn't take the time. But it is well worth seeing one-- old houses and churches in the unique Russian style are collected and gathered together in a "village" setting.

St. Petersburg is a fabulous city, but it is a very specific kind of place, unique in Russia. I would highly recommend a visit to Novgorod with your friend. I'm sure it will be a nice drive, and will give you a view of a totally different side of Russia and a much earlier period of its history.

If this town were in France or Italy, it would be overrun with tourists. When we were there, we hardly saw any other Western visitors. Tourism in Russia seems still to be in an embryonic stage: St. Petersburg is the big draw, then Moscow, then the "Golden Ring" cities, mostly seen by people on river cruises. If you've ever been to a town in Tuscany or Provence, and wished that you could have visited it before the mobs of tourists descended-- well, Novgorod is your chance.

Let me know if you have any other questions.

Malibu, California
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8. Re: Novgorod for Day Trip From Cruise Ship in St. Petersburg

Thanks, pasca - sounds like you have a marvelous trip to Russia! There's no question about including Novgorod if we could stay there overnight (for 2 days), but being only a day trip, I'm concerned that most of our day will be spent in the car. You do make a good argument, however, for including it in our itinerary. I will let you know if I have more questions, but you've been very helpful already. BTW - looks like we're practically neighbors - you're Pasadena and I'm Malibu! See you around town!

Thanks!

Pasadena, California
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9. Re: Novgorod for Day Trip From Cruise Ship in St. Petersburg

You might want to ask how much time you will have in the town. If you leave early enough, and stay late enough, it might be worth it. We go to Santa Barbara, for instance, all the time as a day trip...which is a little shorter drive, but not much.

Queenstown, New...
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10. Re: Novgorod for Day Trip From Cruise Ship in St. Petersburg

We are also interested in what to do off the beaten track for our trip next year in June. Palaces, Churches , Museums are great but how to you get to see and experience ' Russia to day" thats not touristy