Day 1: Arrival in Minsk
A short flight from Kaliningrad if coming from Pre-Tour; fast train from Vilnius (our Baltics Tour) OR international flight in mid day. After time to refresh, an early dinner.
Day 2: Minsk
A full day tour of Minsk's most notable buildings, monuments, parks and the National Art Museum.
Day 3: Khatyn-Vitebsk
On the way to Vitebsk, we stop at the Khatyn Memorial, symbolic sculptural composition and monuments to commemorate Belarusian citizens who died during World War II. It is quite a moving experience.
Day 4: Vitebsk
Enjoy an informative tour of Vitebsk's main highlights including the 12th century Annunciation Cathedral with its Golden Domes, the classical architectural style of the Governor's House a monument to Marc Chagall, the famous Vitebsk People's Art School building (originally organized in 1918 by Marc Chagall, Kazemir Malevich and Alexander Romm).
In the afternoon tour continues including a visit to the Art-Centre of Marc Chagall to see the artist's original works and also the Museum-House of Marc Chagall where the artist spent his childhood and youth.
Day 5: Excursion to Polotsk
Polotsk, (100 km from Vitebsk), is one of the most ancient cities of the Eastern Slavs. An archaeological expedition of the Institute of History of National Academy of Sciences of Belarus suggests that Polotsk already existed in the first half of the 9th century.
City tour of Polotsk includes a visit to the Savior Ephrosiniya Convent where one can see miracle-working relics of the Saint that have been kept for more than 900 years, St. Sophia Cathedral and other remarkable buildings of the past.
Return to Vitebsk for overnight.
Day 6: Vitebsk-Minsk
On the return to Minsk we stop for a quick look at the new cathedral in Minsk called the Church of All Saints. It is a striking architectural design all sparkling white stone with several spires topped by golden domes and steeples.
Afterwards, we stop at the National Library of Belarus and go up to the observation deck for the marvelous panorama of Minsk.
Day 7: Minsk-Mir-Nesvizh-Brest
We shall depart at 8 am for our excursion to Mir and Nesvizh, culminating in Brest.
In Mir we visit the ancient castle, an example of a purely Belarusian stone defensive architecture of the 16th century. We continue to Nesvizh to see a magnificent Catholic Cathedral of the Divine Body of the Christ built in 1593. The Cathedral is famous for a family burial-vault of the many generations of the historically influential Radziwills with it's beautiful frescoes.
Next, the tour visits Nesvizh Palace (the historical residence of the Radzivills) which includes a museum inside the Palace and a landscaped park in the English tradition. Both the Palace and Park are included in the Heritage List of UNESCO monuments.
We then continue to Brest, arriving for dinner.
Day 8: Brest-L'viv
After a guided city tour of Brest, our group is driven to L'viv the capital of Western Ukraine, known as the "City of Lion." Founded in the 13th c. by King Danylo Halytckyj, it was named in honor of his son Lev (Leo).
Day 9-10: L'viv
In L'viv we enjoy two full days with highlights including a walking tour of city sites, Lviv Art Gallery, visits to the Shevchenkivsky Hay (the Shvevchenko Park open air museum), the "Golden Horseshoe of Lviv," and a number of the nearby charming small towns.
Day 11-12: Kyiv
Early morning flight to Kyiv. Full day tour of Kyiv where historical architecture abounds. Guided visits to churches, monasteries and an excursion to the open-air Ukrainian Museum of Folk Architecture and Rural Life in the village Pyrohiv.
We also go to Babiy Yar, a ravine and site of a series of massacres carried out by the Nazis during their campaign against the Soviet Union.
We enjoy a one hour Dnipro Cruise to see the Golden Domes of Kyiv in their evening glory.
Free time is allocated to explore art galleries with opportunities to see and purchase local crafts.
Day 13: Kyiv: Excursion to Chernobyl
Chernobyl is an ancient town — there is no clear information about its age, however first known historical records mention it on 1193. Before the disaster, the town was an important port on the river of Prypiat. After the evacuation in 1986, Chernobyl was converted to an administration center of Chernobyl Zone. We drive around the town and make stops near the entrance of the city, see its central square and exhibition of real robotic equipment that was used during initial cleanup of structures. Then we drive to the inner zone and to the city of Pripyat — the satellite town of Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, established in 1970.
Day 14-15: Odessa
We depart early for the 475 km drive to Odessa and stop to enjoy a refreshing time at the beautiful Sofiyivsky Park. Afterwards we drive through the Jewish neighborhood and make a brief stop at the Jewish Center and site of Rebbe Nachman's grave, a pilgrimage since 1811.
On the 2nd day we embark on a walking city tour.
The evening is free for independent exploration. Take the opportunity to check out the extravagant 18th c. Paccazh corridor with a vaulted glass roof.
Day 16: Tiraspol, Transnistria -Chisinau
En-route to Chisinau we visit Tiraspol, Transnistria, at the present moment the administrative center of the self proclaimed Transnistria (Moldova). Feel the atmosphere of this disputed territory which always has been a battlefield between the major powers of the region. Interesting architectural history includes the buildings of the Soviets, the monument of Suvorov and the Central Plaza.
Day 17: Chisinau & Milesti Mici Wine Cellar
The city of Chisinau is beautifully surrounded by seven hills seated in the Bac river valley. A morning guided tour of "the city made of white stone" includes references to well-known architects and poets such as Bernardazzi, Sciusev and Pushkin all of whom attributed to providing Chisinau with a unique character all its own.
This afternoon we enjoy a tour of Milestii Mici, one of Moldova's most famous natural wine cellars and one of the largest wine depositories in the world. Followed by wine tasting and a late lunch at the wine cellar.
Day 18: Excursion: Soroca
A full day excursion to the historic town of Soroca. The entire city is a well-preserved example of medieval architecture, and this is because it was a stronghold of Stephen the Great (a Romanian prince of the late 15th century). We will start our visit with "The Candle of Gratitude" (aka The Thanksgiving Candle). Next is a visit to Soroca Fortress. Afterwards, we visit the old synagogue, where services are still offered. We also visit the Jewish cemetery. From here we will take a short walk around the area called Gypsy Hill to see their large and extravagant castle-like homes.
Day 19: Excursion: Hoginesti Village & Old Orhei (Orchey)
Visit village of Hoginesti, known as the "pottery village," where we engage with master potter Vasile Goncear. We also visit the Old Orhei complex. A highlight here is the well maintained and still functioning Orthodox cave monastery St. Maria Dormata. Tonight, we enjoy a delicious and abundant dinner at a small family-run casa in village Trebujeni and sample Moldavian dishes and wine.
Day 20: Depart
Transfer to airport.