Explore the old Russia of onion-domed churches rising behind medieval walls, traditional wooden peasant cottages, and legendary, expansive countryside. You'll experience the highlights of rural and provincial Russia in a short time on this seven-day tour, traveling beyond Moscow and St. Petersburg and getting the chance to visit lesser-known places including Vladimir, Yaroslavl, and Suzdal.

Highlights

  • Feel the ancient rhythms of life in Suzdal
  • See some of the finest examples of old Russian architecture in Vladimir
  • Sleep within the Kremlin walls at Rostov
  • Visit towns that see very few foreign tourists

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to Moscow! Moscow
Day 2 Sergiev Posad - Pereslavl Zalesky - Rostov Rostov Yaroslavl
Day 3 Rostov Veliki Yaroslavl
Day 4 Yaroslavl - Kostroma Kostroma
Day 5 Kostroma - Suzdal Suzdal
Day 6 Suzdal - Vladimir - Moscow Moscow
Day 7 Depart Moscow Moscow

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Moscow

Moscow
Moscow skyline

Welcome to Moscow! After arriving and checking in to your hotel, the rest of the day is yours to spend at leisure. Depending on your time of arrival, you may have time to get a glimpse of the famous Red Square, with onion-domed St. Basil's Cathedral at one end, or to ride the Moscow Metro.

Day 2: Sergiev Posad - Pereslavl Zalesky - Rostov

Sergiev Posad
Sergiev Posad

Leaving Moscow behind, you'll drive for around two hours to your first stop of the day, Sergiev Posad. This otherwise ordinary town is home to Russia's most important monastery, the magnificent Trinity Lavra. This houses the shrine of the national saint, Sergius. You may think of Sergiev Posad as Russia's version of the Vatican. It's a stunning place to stop and take photos.

Continue on for about an hour to Pereslavl Zalesky. This landlocked town was the unlikely birthplace of the Russian Navy, a story you'll hear when you stop here. The town also has some early medieval churches. Of all the stops on this route, Pereslavl is probably the most authentic example of a typical provincial town. Few tourists come here, and most are Russians from Moscow.

Continue for another hour to your stop for the night, Rostov, where you'll sleep in a hotel within the walls of the medieval Kremlin.

Day 3: Rostov Veliki

Rostov Kremlin
Rostov Kremlin

Spend the day in Rostov Veliki, a photographer's paradise. The town has a monastery that seems straight from the history books, with onion domes rising over battlements, overlooking a lake and surrounded by forest. Wooden houses line the roads. This is an under-visited yet quintessential stop on the Russian Golden Ring circuit. Afterward, drive for about an hour to Yaroslavl.

Plan your trip to Russia
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Day 4: Yaroslavl - Kostroma

Yaroslavl
Yaroslavl

This morning, explore the Volga River city of Yaroslavl, with its charming river walks, wonderful Kremlin, and churches. Yaroslavl features on Russian money, and you'll enjoy a walk along the river to soak up the atmosphere.

In the afternoon, drive for about 90 minutes to Kostroma, where you'll spend the night.

Day 5: Kostroma - Suzdal

Ipatiev Monastery
Ipatiev Monastery

Today, explore Kostroma, a town that few foreigners visit but that is a favorite of Muscovites, who love the slower pace of life and the friendliness of the locals. The star attraction here is the Ipatiev Monastery, which played an important role in the rise to power of the famous Romanov dynasty.

Afterward, continue for three hours to Suzdal.

Day 6: Suzdal - Vladimir - Moscow

Typical house in Suzdal
Typical house in Suzdal

Today you’ll explore Suzdal, one of central Russia’s fairytale towns. After visiting the Kremlin, check out the Wooden Architecture Museum, where you’ll be able to venture inside peasant huts, wooden churches, and get a taste of what life was like over a century ago. 

On your way from Suzdal to Vladimir (30 minutes), you’ll also visit the Church of the Intercession on the Nerl, widely considered to be the most sublime and elegant example of medieval Russian architecture. 

Vladimir was the capital of the once-mighty Grand Duchy of Vladimir (1150s to 1330s) when Moscow was simply a border garrison town. You’ll have a general tour around Vladimir to see the Uspenski and Dmitrovksi Cathedrals and the Golden Gate. These are jewels in the crown of old Rus architecture, and rare survivals from that almost legendary epoch of Viking marauders, epic trading voyages and heroic principalities.

After lunch, drive to Moscow, a journey of about four hours.

Day 7: Depart Moscow

Moscow's Kremlin

It's time to say goodbye to Russia for now! After breakfast, you will be taken to the airport to catch your flight home.

Map

Map of Russia's Rural Golden Ring - 7 Days
Map of Russia's Rural Golden Ring - 7 Days