Your tour starts with a scenic drive to Alupka where you'll visit the splendid Vorontsov Palace. Perched atop a hill overlooking the turquoise waters of the Black Sea and surrounded by wooded mountains and lush greenery, this palace built for Prince Mikhail Vorontsov, a member of one of 19th century Russia's wealthiest families, is an eclectic blend of Gothic Revival and Moorish styles. Surprisingly, the combinations harmonize well together, making for a decidedly beautiful and striking piece of architecture. The interior of the palace is equally impressive, with carved ceilings, wood paneling, ornate fixtures and an excellent collection of paintings.
Leaving the palace, your next stop is the charming Alupka wine-tasting hall, where you'll be treated to a sampling of some delicious regional wines before continuing on to the Swallow's Nest, one of the most spectacular attractions in Yalta. Balanced on the brink of a 130 foot cliff overlooking the Black Sea, this diminutive castle with its dramatic location, ramparts and sweeping views is a must-see for any visitor to Yalta. A stop at an observation platform provides an opportunity to take some amazing photos of this landmark.
Continuing on to Livadia, you'll enjoy a delightful lunch at a local restaurant before beginning your tour of the legendary Livadia Palace. Used as the summer home of the last of the Russian Tsars, Nicholas II, this graceful Italian Renaissance-styled palace made of white Inkerman stone has an unquestionably rich history, having also been the site of the Yalta Conference in 1945. It was here that British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Russian Secretary-General Joseph Stalin met to establish the Yalta Declaration which ultimately decided the fate of post-war Europe. The private apartments of the Tsar's family are open to the public and many personal artifacts giving insight into the daily life of the Russian aristocracy during the early 20th century are on display, such as photographs taken by the Tsar himself. In the classroom, a touching reminder of this ill-fated royal family remains in sketches made by the Tsar's four daughters. On the palace grounds, courtyards encircled by columned archways and balconies are home to a vivid array of colorful flowers and stately palm trees, while splashing fountains further serve to enhance the tranquil ambiance found here. Some brief time will be allowed for you to purchase a memento of what is sure to be a truly memorable highlight of your tour before returning to the ship.
Please note: This tour includes approximately 4 hours of walking and/or standing and is not considered suitable for wheelchair guests or those with mobility concerns. Caps and comfortable walking shoes are recommended. The order of sites visited may vary.