Experience Plus!

Bicycle Tours Since 1972

Experience Plus - Bicycle Tours since 1972
ExpeditionPlus! St. Petersburg, Russia to Istanbul, Turkey
Pencil In/Questions

Bicycle Tours in Russia: ExpeditionPlus! St. Petersburg, Russia to Istanbul, Turkey

This is a continental-scale bicycle tour unlike any you've done before! We'll travel by bicycle through historic regions of eastern and central Europe and between two of Europe's most exotic cities. Highlights will again include St. Petersburg, Tallinn, Riga, the Transylvanian Alps, and Istanbul.

Join us for the trip of a lifetime and pedal through Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria, on your way to Turkey.

Come early and join us on the 4-day St Petersburg extension which includes tours of the Citadel and Peter's Palace.

Apply for the Expedition today!

Day 1: Aug 14: Gather in St. Petersburg, Transfer to Peterhof, Russia

Highlights: Bike fitting and welcome dinner

Most of us will meet in St. Petersburg a few days early to be tourists and see this wonderful city built by Italian architects beginning in the early 18th century. Our biking expedition starts today with an afternoon shuttle to Peterhof, a place known as the 'Russian Versailles.' Once we've settled into our hotel, we will fit bikes and have dinner together tonight.

Day 2: Aug 15: A day of cycling in rural Russia

Highlights: Kingisepp

We'll pedal from Peterhof to Kingisepp. This is a small town located on the Luga River west of St. Petersburg. Estimated Distance: 124 km (77 miles).

Day 3: Aug 16: Leave for Toila, Estonia

Highlights: Welcome to Estonia

We cross into Estonia today and pedal to Toila. Our hotel tonight is west of Sillamae, a fascinating, planned Soviet industrial town. Estimated Distance: 79 km (49 miles).

Day 4: Aug 17: Ride in Lahemaa National Park

Highlights: Lahemaa National Park

We cycle west on country roads towards Lahemaa National Park, today. Our hotel tonight is located in the Park. Estimated Distance: 113 km (70 miles).

Day 5: Aug 18: Bicycle to Tallinn through Estonia's Lahemaa National Park

Highlights: Coastal riding, Tallinn

We'll depart early today so we can take time to enjoy our ride and the views of this spectacular natural area. This evening we are in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. Distance: 86 km (53 miles).

Day 6: Aug 19: Tallinn layover day

Highlights: Explore Tallinn

We'll have all day to explore Tallinn. We begin with a brief orientation walk together to explore the city; then you are on your own to relax and enjoy this wonderful "Hansa" town. Tallinn's old town is a UNESCO World Heritage site. No riding today.

Day 7: Aug 20: Bicycle Tallinn to Local Farm

Highlights: Ride into Rural Estonia

We head south today to stay at a farmhouse restored to a guest house. It's an easier day today so we have some time in the morning to explore more of Tallinn. Estimated Distance: 85 km (53 miles).

Day 8: Aug 21: Pedal to Parnu

Highlights: Back to the Coast of Estonia

We keep heading South today towards Parnu, a nice coastal resort and spa town of Parnu. Since 1996, Parnu is considered Estonia's Summer Capital, so enjoy the bustling life of town this evening! Estimated Distance: 110 kms (68 miles)

Day 9: Aug 22: Ride from Parnu along the coast of Latvia

Highlights: Gulf of Riga

We pedal south along the Gulf of Riga, a great glacial depression left over from the continental glacier to Limbazi today. Estimated Distance: 145 km (90 miles)

Day 10: Aug 23: Ride to Riga, Latvia

Highlights: Bicycle to Riga

We wind through glacial hillocks and ponds to Riga, the capital of Latvia and another important Hansa town. Estimated Distance: 93 km (58 miles).

Day 11: Aug 24: Layover day in Riga

Highlights: Rest day in Riga

Take 36 hours in Riga today. Riga is a world treasure on the UNESCO World Heritage list. We begin our layover with an orientation walk to familiarize ourselves with this important town. One of the main centers of the Hanseatic League in the 13th century Riga burned more than once over the centuries and now sports the finest collection of art nouveau architecture in Europe. No ride today.

Day 12: Aug 25: Pedal Riga to Birzai

Highlights: Cycling through Rural Latvia

We bicycle through rural Latvia today where you'll see the landscape change with much richer farmlands. We begin to see more dairy cattle, single milk cows, and small fish ponds for raising carp. We sleep near Birzai. Distance: 103 km (64 miles)

Day 13: Aug 26: Birzai to Anyksciai

Highlights: Wetlands and parks

We continue amid glaciated terrain to the edge of the Lithuanian wetlands and a series of regional parks. Anyksciai is home to one of the largest glacial erratics in the Baltics. Distance: 103 km (64 miles)

Day 14: Aug 27: Bicycle to Vilnius, Lithuania

Highlights: Trakai

Our destination today is Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. Vilnius is the third of the Baltic capitals and some consider it the most interesting. It is less overrun by cruise ship tourists and still retains a local "village" character, though it is quite sophisticated. Estimated Distance: 127 km (79 miles)

Day 15: Aug 28: Rest day in Vilnius

Highlights: Orientation walk of Vilnius

We'll take a guide orientation walk of Vilnius this morning so you can see the highlights that you might want to go explore later on your own. Vilnius was the capital of the Grand Duch of Lithuania from 1200 until the late 1700s. No ride today.

Day 16: Aug 29: Vilnius to Alytus

Highlights: Ride in Rural Lithuania

We pedal southwest today through a continuing series of national and regional parks and wetlands to the town of Alytus. The hotel Vaidila is located in the center of town, Rotuses Square, and next to Kurortas Park, a delightful and peaceful place to enjoy nature. Distance: 108 km (67 miles)

Day 17: Aug 30: Alytus, Lithuania to Augustow, Poland

Highlights: Biebrzański National Park

Like the Baltic Republics, Poland is full of lakes and wetlands left from the great Continental Glacier. The area we pedal today continues to be a great area of regional and national parks. We are in Augustow tonight, a center for river kayaking in Poland. Distance: 106 km (66 miles)

Day 18: Aug 31: Augustow to Bialystok

Highlights: Biebrza National Park

We pass through Biebrza National Park today, Poland's largest. It stretches along the Biebrza River and is the focal point of the largest marshland in Central Europe, yet more evidence of the North European Plain's Continental Glacier. The park is a Mecca for wildlife, birdwatchers, and nature lovers. Estimated Distance: 111 km (69 miles).

Day 19: Sept 1: Bialystok to Siemiatycze

Highlights: Europe's largest remaining forest

We travel through the heart of the "Podlaska" today, the borderlands between Poland and Belarus. This is one of the largest remaining forested regions of Europe. It is also culturally diverse, having been a cultural boundary between Central Europe and the steppe lands of Russia and Belarus for centuries. Distance: 130 km (81 miles)

Day 20: Sept 2: Holowczyce to Sosnowica

Highlights: Bug River

We continue through the southern part of the Podlaska today, across the Bug River and on to Sosnowica. Distance: 128 km (80 miles)

Day 21: Sept 3: Sosnowica to Lublin

Highlights: Rural Poland Cycling

We continue through wetlands, forests and farmland to the town historic town of Lublin with its well preserved city center. Estimated distance: 70 km (43 miles)

Day 22: Sept 4: Rest day in Lublin

Highlights: Lublin

Enjoy a rest day today as we relax and take it easy in this bustling and enchanting city. No riding today.

Day 23: Sept 5: Lublin to Zamosc

Highlights: UNESCO World Heritage site Zamosc

We'll head straight on the Zamosc today so we can spend as much time as possible in this unique town. On the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1992, Zamosc is a perfectly designed 16th century Italian Renaissance town. We'll have time for an orientation walk early this evening. Estimated Distance: 103 km (64 miles)

Day 24: Sept 6: Zamosc to Lancut

Highlights: Small farm towns

We ride across the remaining part of the North European Plain today and finish in Polish Galicia, near the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains. Lancut is famous for its 17th century Italianate castle which metamorphosed over the centuries. It survives now with a neo-baroque façade. Distance: 156 km (97 miles)

Day 25: Sept 7: Lancut to Iwonicz Zdroj

Highlights: Foothills of the Capathians

Our ride today takes us through the foothills of the Carpathians to the town of Iwonicz Zdroj, one of the oldest Polish health resort and spa towns. Distance: 104 km (64 miles)

Day 26: Sept 8: Iwonicz Zdroj, Poland to Humenne, Slovakia

Highlights: Slovakia

As we climb up to the 500 meter summit of our pass (the lowest pass in the Carpathians) we enter "wooden church" country. We'll be in Slovak "Ruthenia", part of the borderlands of Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and the Ukraine. The Ruthenians enjoy a distinct culture and once built elaborate wooden churches. We'll pass several on our ride today. Humenne has a skansen (from the Swedish word referring to an outdoor museum) with several wooden houses and a wooden church. Distance: 139 km (86 miles)

Day 27: Sept 9: Humenne to Sarospatak

Highlights: Hungary

We've crossed Slovakia at its narrowest point and will enter Hungary today. Sarospatak is a part of the Landscape of the Tokaj World Heritage wine region recognized by UNESCO. Sarospatak is renowned throughout Hungary for its Calvinist college and Renaissance castle, one of the finest in Hungary. The Tokaj hills define the northern limits of the Pannonian Plain. This plain has formed the heartland of Hungary from the time the ancestors of the present population galloped out of the Asian steppe lands. The Pannonian plain is a rich agricultural region formed from wind-born sediments which blew south as the great continental glacier melted, leaving fine dust to blow. Called "loess," similar deposits, sometimes tens of feet thick also cover parts of France. Distance: 102 km (63 miles)

Day 28: Sept 10: Rest day in Sarospatak

Highlights: Rest day

Rest day today. Take time to visit this quaint town and rest-up in preparation for the mountains that wait. No ride today.

Day 29: Sept 11: Sarospatak to Nyjrbator

Highlights: Wine Country

Our ride today takes us through the vineyard landscapes of the Tokaj region, through the town of Tokaj and then east across the Tisza River into one of the least traveled parts of Hungary. We are in the small town of Nyjrbator this evening. Distance: 98 km (60 miles)

Day 30: Sept 12: Nyjrbator to Zalau, Romania

Highlights: Romania

We've a long ride scheduled today as we cross the border into Romania. We will leave the Pannonian plain as we cross into the wooded hills north of Transylvania today. Estimated Distance: 164 km (101 miles)

Day 31: Sept 13: Zalau to Gherla

Highlights: Heart of Transylvania

We are well into the heart of Transylvania today, headed to the pre-Roman town of Cluj-Napoca. First settled by the original Dacians who came from Thrace in Greece, the Romans occupied it by the second century AD. Today it remains on the historic cultural and linguistic boundary between Romanian and Hungarian speakers even though it is in the heart of Romanian Transylvania. Distance: 103 km (64 miles).

Day 32: Sept 14: Gherlato Targu Mures

Highlights: University town of Targu Mures

We wind our way amid the foothills of the Transylvanian Alps today to the important university town of Targu Mures. The city plays host to one of the finest 20th century Orthodox Cathedrals in Romania. Distance: 100 km (62 miles)

Day 33: Sept 15: Targu Mures to Sighisoara

Highlights: Half day off to explore Sighisoara

We've scheduled a particularly short day today after two long days to provide a half day rest in one of the most beautifully preserved and enchanting Medieval towns in all Transylvania. We'll take an orientation walk together in Sighisoara this afternoon. The town holds a well-deserved place on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Distance: 85 km (53 miles)

Day 34: Sept 16: Sighisoara to Balea Lac

Highlights: Climbing the Transylvanian Alps

We're in the mountains again today, heading to the base of our next major mountain chain, the Transylvanian Alps. We'll go over the Fagaras range today and some riders have considered it the most spectacular day of riding on the entire ride from St. Petersburg to Istanbul. Our high point comes at 2034 meters (6673 ft.). The total climb today is just over 1600 meters (5250 feet). Distance: 128 km (80 miles)

Day 35: Sept 17: Down the other side

Highlights: Romania's highest mountain pass

After the summit we follow the Argesul River downhill to our destination tonight! Estimated Distance: 85 km (53 miles)

Day 36: Sept 18: Curtea de Arges to Jitaru

Highlights: Olt River

We'll follow the Olt river valley today and all the way to Jitaru. It's an easy ride today, as we are now in the plains of the Danube River, after crossing the Fagaras mountains. Distance: 124 km (77 miles)

Day 37: Sept 19: Jitaru to Zimnicea

Highlights: The Danube River plains

We have roughly 500 km to go before we reach Istanbul so we'll take a little extra time to relax. We'll continue along the Olt River valley until we reach the Danube and Zimnicea. Distance: 155 km (96 miles).

Day 38: Sept 20: Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

Highlights: Crossing the Danube, one of Europe's oldest cities

We cross the Danube by ferry into Bulgaria and pedal to Veliko Tarnovo, one of Bulgaria's oldest cities and capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire in the 12th and 13th centuries, between the Byzantine domination and that of the Ottoman Turks. Near the town of Dryanovo you may want to stop and visit the historic, Dryanovo Monastery. Rebuilt several times over the centuries, the monastery is still occupied. Old Town Veliko Tarnovo is enchanting and together with the surrounding area, gathers some of the most important historic buildings and monasteries in Bulgaria. We'll be here two nights. Estimated Distance: 84 km (52 miles).

Day 39: Sept 21: Rest day in Veliko Tarnovo

Highlights: Rest day

We'll enjoy a rest day today in Veliko Tarnovo. The town itself was a spiritual center during the Second Bulgarian Empire and remains a center of historic monasteries in Bulgaria. On the banks of the Yantra River, Veliko Tarnovo has the largest collection of historic buildings of any city in Bulgaria. No ride today.

Day 40: Sept 22: Yambol, Bulgaria

Highlights: Long day in the mountains

We have another long day today as we head east and south towards Yambol. It is another long day so pace yourself as we go over the mountains towards Turkey! Estimated Distance: 143 km (89 miles)

Day 41: Sept 23: Bicycle to Edirne

Highlights: Turkey!

Edirne was the second capital of the Ottoman Empire, before Istanbul eclipsed it. Estimated Distance: 116 km (72 miles)

Day 42: Sept 24: Rest day in Edirne

Highlights: Rest day

This is a rest day in Edirne. Enjoy the warmth and hospitality of the Turkish people as you get to know this fascinating city. We'll take a group walk this morning to explore some of the architectural works of Sinan, the architect of Suleiman the Magnificent. No ride today.

Day 43: Sept 25: Pedal from Edirne to Vize

Highlights: Turkish Thrace

We continue through Turkish Thrace, the ancient Greek region, toward Istanbul. We'll be in Vize this evening. Distance: 117 km (73 miles)

Day 44: Sept 26: Bicycle from Saray to Büyükçekmece

Highlights: Last full day of riding

Our last full-day's ride takes us to Büyükçekmece on the coast south of Istanbul. We overlook the Marmara Sea this evening. Estimated Distance: 132 km (82 miles).

Day 45: Sept 27: Boat ride into Istanbul

Highlights: Istanbul!

We'll have a short ride to our ferry this morning. We'll be in the heart of Istanbul by early afternoon where we can take a short orientation walk together. We have a final dinner this evening to celebrate the completion of our great adventure.

Day 46: Sept 28: Tour ends in Istanbul

Highlights: Congratulations!

Our trip ends this morning but be sure to stick around to explore Istanbul another few days. Congratulations for all that you have accomplished.
  • Highlights
    St. Petersburg, Tallinn, Riga, Bucharest, Slovakian mountains, Timisoara , Istanbul, Transylvanian Mountains
  • Includes
    Use of a quality 27-30 speed bicycle, 46 days, 45 nights accommodation, all breakfasts, 75% packed lunches, 70% of dinners (drinks not included), luggage transfers/van support, 2 ExperiencePlus! tour leaders and a local guide for each country.
  • Countries
    Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Russia
  • Begin/End
    St. Petersburg, Russia/ Istanbul, Turkey
  • Arrive/Depart
    St. Petersburg Airport (LED) / Istanbul Ataturk Airport (IST)
  • Total Distance
    About 3900 km (2,400 miles)
  • Daily Distance
    Average 75 miles per day
  • What to Expect
    The excitement and challenge of crossing a continent! Experiencing cultural similarities and tremendous differences sometimes within the same day's ride.
  • Rating
    501
    ExpeditionPlus! tours are for strong, experienced cyclists. Long daily mileage and some mountainous routes mean minimal van support. Not recommended for casual cyclists.
  • Notes
    Apply for the Expedition today
    If you'd like to spend a few days in Istanbul at the end of the Expedition, check out our 3-day Istanbul Extension.
  • Terms
Please call 1-800-685-4565 or e-mail us for the dates for this tour.

Click on the "pins" for details about each day's highlights.

Map Key

Green pinStart
Yellow pinCity (on route)
Red pinEnd
Other city dotCity (not part of route, provided for reference)
An epic trip. This is the furthest I have ridden on tour and have firmed up a few ideas for future rides. I will be riding with ExperiencePlus! in the future.
Colin M., Glasgow, Scotland
Everyday was like Christmas for adults with the gift unwrapping as we peddled along the route.
Steve B., Portland, OR
The tour was fantastic.
Peter B., Melbourne, Australia
What was your favorite experience on this trip? The whole trip was fantastic to me. I enjoyed meeting local people, especially Claudia the farmer in Romania. I especially enjoyed the day we crossed from Poland into Slovakia. The roads were excellent that day and we had a long, long down hill on an excellent road into Slovakia.
Joe B., Alexandria, CA
A must do experience of a lifetime and don''t be daunted by the distances involved.
George K., Adelaide, Australia
I loved the St. Petersburg ExpeditionPlus! trip.
Lindy F., Calgary AB
It was a GRAND tour in every respect.
Harold & Carolyn M., Centerville, UT
As a plus to the expeditionary style of this trip, I very much liked the fact that the routes were new and untested. I also enjoyed the "pot luck" style of a new hotel each evening. It was always a treat to see where we would hang our hats next and many hotels were indeed a treat (the ground floor waterfront, the palace, the rustic chalet style complete with folk singers...). Meals were tremendous (especially dinners) - plentiful and delicious. The local guides added local color, which just further enriched the cultural experience.
Heather M.
New York, NY
All in all a trip with indelible memories... both off and on the bike!
Howard B.
Camp Hill, PA
So now we're in fascinating Istanbul, and it feels strange to shuffle among the throngs of tourists after pedaling through almost exclusively rural countryside. It's been ten countries, seven weeks and 2500 miles since departing from St. Petersburg. I can't say enough about ExperiencePlus! and this great trip. Sign up for next year's version! It's hard to imagine travel being much more exciting.
David K.
Truckee, CA
[My favorite part?] The Journey: For me, this adventure was never about just the riding of the bike. It was about seeing the former Soviet Block countries at a pace that was slow enough to be able to observe the beauty of the land and the day-to-day life of the people and communities we were traveling through. The people: I can't emphasize enough how important camaraderie is when attempting a journey such as this. The miles flew by while I was having long chats with my fellow travelers while peddling along through the countryside. Their humor and companionship kept me going on the tough days.
Dan C.
San Jose, CA
You guys are the BEST!!!!
Mary G.
Sarasota, FL
The entire trip was great!
Rick and Kathy M.,
Pittsburgh, PA