If you’d like to visit Russia’s amazing historical sites but find the prospect of such a different culture and language just a little scary, Exeter International (020 8956 2756,www.exeterinternational.co.uk) specialises in tailor-made trips, from a Volga river cruise to the Black Sea ‘Russian Riviera’.
Perhaps the most popular trips, however, are their innovative city breaks to Moscow and St Petersburg, where Exeter International have their own offices for extra support if needed. St Petersburg is especially dazzling and winter is arguably the most romantic time of year to visit, when the city, with its frozen rivers, looks stunning under a blanket of snow.
Exeter International can arrange a number of behind-the-scenes experiences, reports the Daily Mail, including an exclusive tour of the storage rooms of the Hermitage Museum in the Winter Palace, and a visit to the Amber Room workshops of Catherine Palace where you can see craftsmen recreating the exquisite amber panels. The company will also organise a performance at the world-famous Mariinsky Theatre and a private meeting with a ballerina at the Hermitage Theatre.
Such attention to detail (the company even provides you with a list of choice restaurants to try) explains why the company has been recommended by the big name newspapers - the Financial Times, the Observer, the Times and The Sunday Times Travel Magazine. Check their website for their New Year's Eve in St Petersburg deal. Prices, with British Airway flights and four nights' accommodation start at £1,095 per person, sharing a double room.