As an extension or a standalone tour, this is a tour through some of the modern Russia’s most significant cities: Chechnya and Stalingrad!
Our first stop will be the Capital of the Chechen Republic, Grozny, once labelled as the most destroyed city on the planet after the vicious civil war which engulfed the republic for almost two decades. During that period, Chechnya was deemed as the most dangerous place on earth for a number of years. Today, it has seen the war brought to an end through the iron-fisted reign of the Kadyrov regime and a rebuilt Grozny has been called ‘the Dubai of the Caucasus’. We’ll be led by a local guide through this fascinating and often surreal city to try local Chechen food, visit the Kadyrov centre dedicated to the regime, ascend to the helipad of Grozny business centre, visit the local bazaars and much more!
After Chechnya, we’ll board a train north through the volatile republic of Dagestan to the site of the most brutal battle in human history and the turning point of WW2: Volgograd, formerly Stalingrad! After a relaxing day on the train, we’ll hit the ground running with a tour of this once-decimated city by visiting one of the world’s best WW2 museums with a whole host of relics. We’ll also descend into the former command bunker of Freidrich Von Paulus himself and visit the huge complex of Rodina Mat. The next day we’ll journey out to the Volga Don Canal and see where Operation Uranus sealed the fate of the German 6th Army, and also see an enormous Soviet monument commemorating the event. We’ll then visit the biggest statue of Vladimir Lenin on earth, enjoy lunch in a Soviet airplane and much more!
This tour is a standalone section of a longer tour, the individual portions of which can be seen below:
For those continuing from our South Ossetia tour, we’ll enjoy breakfast and a free morning in Tskhinvali to explore the city
Around 11, we’ll return to Vladikavkaz and arrive in the late afternoon before we check in to our hotel.
Dinner and overnight in Vladikavkaz
Those joining the tour only from this part arrive in Grozny and overnight at their own leisure.
Thursday 23rd September
After breakfast we’ll meet our driver and depart for the 2 hour drive through Ingushetia to the republic of Chechnya, formerly the most dangerous place on the planet. The security situation has now stabilized there and it’s safe to travel.
After checking into our hotel and grouping up we’ll meet our local Chechen guide and head for a traditional lunch before exploring the city.
We’ll start at the bottom of Vladimir Putin boulevard and explore the Kadyrov museum; complete with a tank and gold plated monument outside, it’s dedicated to the family of the ruling regime here, and it really is a sight to behold!
We’ll then walk down the main avenue and see the press house, site of the most recent attack on the city by Islamic insurgents.
We’ll explore the bustling Chechen bazaar and buy some souvenirs before heading to the Akhmat Kadyrov mosque, one of the biggest mosques in the region.
We’ll then ascend to the helipad of Grozny business plaza for a birds eye view of the city once called ‘’the most destroyed city on earth’’ by the UN in the 1990s.
We’ll enjoy a traditional Chechen dinner of Zhig Zhig Galnash (a sorta garlicky beef stew with boiled dumpings).
Overnight in Grozny.
Friday 24th September
We’ll have an early start for our train to Volgograd and settle into our Soviet-era transport for the day.
Day on the train with lunch and dinner to be obtained on the platforms at various breaks in the journey.
Overnight on the train.
Saturday 25th September
We’ll arrive in Volgograd in the morning and head to our nearby hotel to check in.
After a short rest we’ll head out and explore the city that was the site of the most brutal battle mankind has ever witnessed.
Our first stop will be the WW2 Museum, arguably one of the best in the world. In the museum complex, amongst a mass of tanks and weaponry, is the former grain mill that was a fierce fighting position during the battle of Stalingrad and it still bears countless scars of war.
We’ll see Pavlov’s house — a fortified apartment complex that a Red Army platoon held for over 60 days during a heavy Wehrmacht offensive. The house is named for the commander of the platoon, Yakov Pavlov.
Explore the interior of the WW2 Museum, featuring countless artifacts including the sniper rifle of Vasily Zaitsev, the Sword of Coventry and an impressive 3D panorama of the Battle of Stalingrad to give you an idea of the different points where the battle raged.
We’ll then visit the nearby Lenin statue with a mural of the defenders of Stalingrad behind before visiting the stunning Volgograd Planetarium featuring stunning Soviet-era architecture, a gold mosaic of Stalin and a huge bust of Yuri Gagarin.
Lunch in a Soviet-era InTourist restaurant
We’ll then divert down a nondescript side street next to a derelict supermarket; below here is the former command bunker of General of the 6th Army: Von Paulus. It was from here that he commanded German troops during the battle and was received news of the betrayal by Hitler. It is now an incredible museum which we’ll explore thoroughly.
After the bunker, we’ll check out the craft beers of Volgograd in an underground bar that still bears the scars of WW2 on some of the walls.
Dinner and overnight in Volgograd.
Sunday 27th September
After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll meet our driver for the 1.5 hour drive out into the rural Volga Region. We’ll visit the Volga-Don Canal and see the mind blowing ‘Meeting of the Fronts’ memorial. It was at this point, during the infamous Operation Uranus, that two Soviet Fronts surrounded the German forces at Stalingrad and formed a ring of steel that began to rapidly close and inevitably destroy the German 6th Army, arguably the turning point of WW2.
After exploring the monument, we’ll then check out the stunning park on the banks of the Volga featuring many Soviet monuments to Young Pioneers, Cosmonauts, WW2 heroes and even billboards to global Communists from the DDR to North Korea!
We’ll check out Lenin in the village before returning to the outer ring of Volgograd to see a real trip highlight: none other than the biggest statue of Vladimir Lenin on the Planet! Standing over the mighty Volga at over 57 metres, this is the biggest monument to a human being ever created and has to be seen to be believed. A slightly smaller monument to Stalin formerly stood here, but was torn down in the 1950s.
After this we’ll have a lunch stop at a very interesting spot: an Armenian restaurant built into a former Aeroflot YAK 40!
We’ll then head to a monument of a T-34 battle tank that took part in the battle for Stalingrad.
We’ll then see the Kazansky cathedral, One of the few churches to survive the Russian revolution, it was heavily damaged during the battle of Stalingrad and was even used in the early days by Nazi troops to hold a mass to celebrate a presumed quick victory that would thankfully never come.
The day will culminate in arguably one of the most important WW2 battlefields in existence, the infamous hill of Mamayev Kurgan.
We’ll explore the complex in depth and take in its mass of awe-inspiring Soviet monuments, all loomed over by the enormous Rodina Mat — the tallest statue of a woman in the world.
Explore the small but well-done Stalin Museum dedicated to the infamous Soviet leader.
We’ll then have coffee in the adjoining WW2-themed cafe with a giant portrait of Stalin looming over you, and the option to dress up as a Red Army soldier whilst you dine!
Returning to Central Volgograd, we’ll stop at the city courthouse, which is a prime example of Soviet Brutalist architecture featuring an impressive relief of Marx, Engels and Lenin bordered with a giant hammer and sickle and a Young Pioneer flame.
Evening meal at a very good local steakhouse restaurant in the city.
Overnight in Volgograd
Monday 27th September
End of tour
Onward travel throughout Russia or back to Moscow can be arranged by YPT.