The itinerary for the Golden Ring Tour
Day 1. Drive from Moscow to the historical settlement of Vladimir.
See the sights on a coach tour, hearing the history of the town once known as the capital of Rus, and then head inside the magnificent Assumption Cathedral (once Russia’s main cathedral). Admire treasures like Rublyov’s The Last Judgement frescoes, and then get on your car to travel to the Cathedral of St Dmitry, marveling at its incredible stone carvings from the outside. Your trip will also include Vladimir’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed sites. Such as the Golden Gates, Museum of Crystal, Lacquer Miniature painting and embroidery.
Stop for lunch and a drink in a traditional Russian restaurant, enjoying a bowl of hearty Russian borscht (beetroot soup) and other specialities, then check in to your hotel. Spend the rest of your afternoon and evening at leisure.
Overnight in Vladimir
Day 2. Vladimir – Suzdal – Kostroma
Pass through the open-air Museum of Wooden Architecture and Peasant Life to see traditional old izbas (wooden houses) and churches – all built without using a single nail. Then, continue your tour back into town to see Suzdal’s churches and monasteries.
After a break for lunch, travel north to Kostroma, a town situated on the banks of Kostroma river. See its highlights on a city tour, marveling at its star attraction – the 14th-century Monastery of St Ipaty. Hear tales of the Godunov family who founded the place of worship, and learn about the rivalries between them and the Romanov dynasty – another powerful Kostroma family. Check in to your hotel and enjoy free time in town.
Overnight in Kostroma.
Day 3. Kostroma – Yaroslavl – Rostov-Veliky
Leave Kostroma after breakfast and travel West to the ancient town of Yaroslavl which was once a major political and economic centre. Once the second largest city in Russia, Yaroslavl holds a collection of sites to rival the country’s capital. See the best sites on your city tour, admiring the onion-domed St John the Baptist Church and Strelka Park where the town’s founder (Yaroslavl the Wise) fought a sacred bear to save his people. Stop to visit the Monastery of Transfiguration of the Saviour – one of Russia’s richest monasteries – and then head inside the Church of Elijah the Prophet to see some of the brightest frescoes in the Golden Ring tour.
Enjoy lunch in town, and then travel south to Rostov-Veliky, a town that’s often considered the prettiest in the Golden Ring with its silver-domed Kremlin. See the highlights on your city tour, stopping outside the Kremlin and the fairytale-esque Monastery of St Jacob. Check in to your hotel, and then spend your night at leisure.
Overnight in Rostov-Veliky.
Day 4. Rostov-Veliky – Pereyaslavl-Zalessky – Sergiev Posad – Moscow
Say your goodbyes to Rostov-Veliky after breakfast, and then head to Pereyaslavl-Zalessky, a small town popular for vacationing Muscovites. Sat on the shores of Lake Pleshcheevo, the pretty town is best known for its two
main attractions: Red Square and the Cathedral of the Transfiguration (one of Russia’s oldest buildings). See them both on a city tour by car, and then travel further south to your final Golden Ring town of your tour, Sergiev Posad.
The town’s undisputed highlight is the Trinity Lavra Monastery of St Sergius, an active monastery that sprawls around the town. Taking a well-deserved place on the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the colossal monastery comprises onion-domed churches and countless buildings with eye-catching architecture. See the best bits, such as the Cathedral of the Assumption, on your coach tour and listen to the stories of St Sergius, after whom the monastery is named.
Stop in town for lunch and then return to Moscow, where your Golden Ring Tour finishes.