ExpeditionPlus! St. Petersburg, Russia to Istanbul, Turkey

  • Itinerary Summary

    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.

    Apply for the Expedition today!
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    1. Day 1: 2016 Itinerary Updates Coming Soon.

      Highlights: 2016 Itinerary may not include cycling in Russia.

      The Russian Visa process can be arduous and it is particularly difficult to bring bikes in and out of the country. We are determining if it is best to start in Russia but have the bikes meet us at the border, or begin in Tallinn, Estonia.

    2. Day 2: A day of cycling in rural Russia - May Change in 2016

      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).

    3. Day 3: 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).

    4. Day 4: 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).

    5. Day 5: 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).

    6. Day 6: 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.

    7. Day 7: 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).

    8. Day 8: 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)

    9. Day 9: 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)

    10. Day 10: 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).

    11. Day 11: 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.

    12. Day 12: 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)

    13. Day 13: 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)

    14. Day 14: 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)

    15. Day 15: 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.

    16. Day 16: 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)

    17. Day 17: 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)

    18. Day 18: 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).

    19. Day 19: 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)

    20. Day 20: 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)

    21. Day 21: Sosnowica to Lublin

      Highlights: Rural Poland Cycling

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

    22. Day 22: 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.

    23. Day 23: 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)

    24. Day 24: 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)

    25. Day 25: 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)

    26. Day 26: 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)

    27. Day 27: 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)

    28. Day 28: 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.

    29. Day 29: 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)

    30. Day 30: 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)

    31. Day 31: 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).

    32. Day 32: Gherla to 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)

    33. Day 33: 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)

    34. Day 34: 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)

    35. Day 35: 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)

    36. Day 36: 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)

    37. Day 37: 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).

    38. Day 38: 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).

    39. Day 39: 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.

    40. Day 40: 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)

    41. Day 41: Bicycle to Edirne

      Highlights: Turkey!

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

    42. Day 42: 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.

    43. Day 43: 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)

    44. Day 44: 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).

    45. Day 45: 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.

    46. Day 46: 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

      Russia, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Turkey
    • 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
    • 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.
    • Terms

      Terms & Conditions
  • Dates Price Private Room Charge Notes

    * We are happy to match solo travelers who would like to share a room with someone of the same gender. If no match exists, due to hotel pricing, we will charge 50% of the private room charge. This charge will be collected at the time of the final payment. If a roommate assignment is available it will be refunded at the conclusion of the tour.

  • Stories

    • 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

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