Cities of the Golden Ring of Russia and their sights
The Golden Ring is an encyclopedia of ancient Russian architecture. Classical route begins and ends in Moscow and unites eight cities: Sergiev Posad, Pereslavl-Zalessky, Rostov Veliky, Yaroslavl, Kostroma, Ivanovo, Suzdal and Vladimir.
You can see on the map that the route forms a ring northeast of Moscow. These are not just ordinary cities, but places with unique history and ancient monuments. That’s why the ring is “golden.
We tell you about the main attractions of each city of the Golden Ring and share the details you need to know before you travel.
Sergiev Posad is the only city near Moscow on the route of the Golden Ring of Russia. It was named after St. Sergius of Radonezh, the founder of the largest monastery in Russia, the Trinity Sergius Lavra. The Trinity cathedral is the most ancient building of the lavra, and the Assumption cathedral is the most majestic.
The relics of Sergius of Radonezh are kept here, and the horizontal iconostasis was created by students of Andrei Rublev. On the territory of the monastery Dmitry Donskoy took a blessing from Sergius of Radonezh before the battle of Kulikovo, and Andrei Rublev wrote his “Trinity”. During the Time of Troubles, the walls of the monastery withstood a 16-month siege by the Polish-Lithuanian army. The monastery twice served as a refuge for Peter I.
If you come to a church service in the Lavra temple, you can listen to the choir. In the Assumption Cathedral the morning service usually starts at 08:00 and the evening one at 17:00. Photo: pixabay.com
In the city you can go to the exhibition “Russian Matryoshka Museum”. Sergiev Posad is considered the home of the world-famous souvenir. Fans of caves will be interested in the Gefsimansky Chernigov hermitage. And in the museum “Sergievskaya kukhminster” you can visit a merchant’s tea party.
Not far from the city center there is a waterfall with a height of 20 meters – Gremyachy Klyuch. You can go to the memorial and literary museum Muranovo, where personal belongings and manuscripts of F.I. Tyutchev are collected. Or visit the Abramtsevo estate – a symbolic place for Russian culture. At the turn of XIX-XX centuries Repin, Vrubel, Korovin, Levitan and others worked here. Today it is a complex of museums. You can get to all these places by cab, the trip to each will cost about 850 rubles.
This small town in 150 kilometers from Moscow has left its trace in the pages of Russian history: in 1152 it was founded by Yury Dolgorukiy; Prince Alexander Nevskiy was born and grew up here, and on the Lake of Pleshcheevo in the late XVII century young Peter I created his poteshnaya flotilla, which laid the foundation of the Russian army fleet.
Pereslavl-Zalessky is the city of monasteries. The main temple and the earliest architectural building of the town is the Transfiguration cathedral. It is worth to look into Trinity cathedral of Danilov monastery, where walls are decorated with ancient frescos.
To visit Pereslavl and hear the stories of the lives of the saints will be interesting not only for believers. Photo: pixabay.com
In the city will be interesting not only for pilgrims. You can go to the Pereslavl-Zalessky State Historical-Architectural and Art Museum-Reserve to get acquainted with wooden sculpture and carving of the XVI-XIX centuries, see the treasures of the monastery sacristies, study the interior of noble estates. The ticket costs 350 rubles. Visit the new embankment near the Church of the Forty Martyrs. It goes along the Trubezh River and leads walkers to Plescheyevo Lake, which will surprise you with its beauty at sunset. The church, by the way, is also good: it is neat and painted pink.
For those who like unusual entertainment: there is a museum of iron in the city. Here, 400 kinds of irons from different countries are on display.
Rostov the Great
Rostov was founded in 862, and its fate has never been easy. The city has survived arson, destruction and even a tornado. For three hundred years it was the center of the Rostov principality. It had its own archdiocese, which has lost its importance over time.
Before your trip watch the film “Ivan Vasilievich changes his profession”. Some scenes were filmed here. Photo: pixabay.com
The Rostov Kremlin is the city’s calling card. In the late 1970s, the Kremlin played the role of the Moscow Kremlin in Leonid Gaidai’s comedy “Ivan Vasilievich Changes Profession”, so you have definitely seen this structure. The Rostov Kremlin is a museum-reserve, so a walk through the territory will cost 100 rubles per person.
The embankment of Lake Nero is another attraction. Rostov became the second city of Kievan Rus, which was baptized. In honor of the event on the shore was established Memorial Cross. Peter I planned to build a fleet here, but because of the shallow depth of the lake changed his mind. Today you can rent a boat at the pier and take a boat trip on the water area. Rental price of the catamaran – 600 rubles per hour, the boat – 700 rubles.
The main temple of the city – Assumption Cathedral. In 1937 the church was blown up and the city park was laid out in its place. The Cathedral was restored only in 2010 for the millennium of Yaroslavl.
It is impossible to visit Yaroslavl and not to go to the Strelka. Exactly here at the confluence of the Volga and Kotorosl rivers in the IX century appeared a settlement of Finno-Ugric, which marked the beginning of Yaroslavl. And also you should come here to see and hear the singing fountains. They work from May to October.
Along the main embankment are houses of merchants, fountains and temples – Ilya the Prophet, Ilyinsko-Tikhonovsky, Assumption. Locals ride bicycles or rollerblades along the embankment.
The Church of Elijah the Prophet is an Orthodox church in the historic center of Yaroslavl on Sovetskaya Square. Photo: pixabay.com
If you want to touch the beautiful, check out the Yaroslavl Art Museum, the Golden Ring Show-Maket, the Volkov Theatre or the planetarium.
Try Yaroslavl delicacies: Vyatka cucumbers, Mologa cheese and Rassol snack. Take Yaroslavl chocolate, izrazets and a figurine of a bear as a souvenir.
The history of the town is inseparably connected with Grand Duke Yury Dolgoruky: he founded Kostroma in 1152 as the north-eastern outpost of the borders of ancient Russia. Among the significant historical events are the election of Mikhail Romanov to the throne in Kostroma and the march of Ivan Susanin through the Kostroma swamps.
During the reign of Mikhail Romanov, the Holy Trinity Ipatiev Monastery was the most privileged place of Kostroma. Photo: pixabay.com
The city has two rivers, the Volga and the Kostroma, and attractions are located along their banks. The main one is the Holy Trinity Ipatiev Monastery. It was here in Kostroma that Mikhail Romanov was summoned to reign, bringing an end to the Time of Troubles. Behind the massive walls of the monastery there is an architectural and museum complex. Visitors can see ancient icons, preserved church utensils and paintings of the Trinity Cathedral. The price of the entrance ticket is 170 rubles.
Kostroma is famous not only for architecture and monasteries, but also for cheese. There is even a museum of it in the city. There are scales, cans and milking machines there. You can taste the cheese for 200 rubles and then buy the one you like in the store of the museum.
For Kostroma souvenirs, choose linen products, jewelry with Krasnoselskaya scansion or fairy-tale gifts from the Terem Snegurochka.
In Ivanovo, unlike other cities of the Golden Ring, there are few ancient structures. On the contrary, constructivist architecture rules here. The gems of Ivanovo-Voznesensky constructivism include the building of the former hotel “Centralnaya” on Revolution Square, the railway station, the house-community for 400 apartments, designed by Moscow architect Ilya Golosov for the cooperative of the First Working Township, substation number 2 of Moscow architect Sergei Gruzenberg and Ivaselbank, built by the project of Viktor Vesnin.
The height of the Ascension Cathedral is 64 meters. The church is the second most important in Ivanovo after the Seraphim of Sarov Church. Photo: pixabay.com
Nevertheless, of the monasteries, the Holy Vvedenskaya cloister deserves attention. After the revolution, the temple was used as a warehouse, and then – as an archive. The building was returned to the church only in the 1990s.
One of the main attractions is the Museum of Ivanovo chintz. Visitors can see exhibits ranging from ancient homespun fabrics to modern factory samples. There are also weaving looms and wooden irons. You will pay 120 rubles for the entrance.
Suzdal is an open air museum. There are several hundred churches and monasteries, five of which are included in the list of UNESCO world cultural heritage.
The Suzdal Kremlin is an ensemble of architectural monuments, some of which have survived to this day. Photo: pixabay.com
The place of attraction for all pilgrims is the Spaso-Evfimiev Monastery. It was built on the high bank of the river Kamenka in 1352 to protect the city from the north. Later, in the XVII century, around the monastery a high seven-meter stone wall, 1160 meters long, was built. Along with the wall, 12 towers were built. Spaso-Evfimiev Monastery is open to tourists as a museum ensemble. Entrance to the territory costs 450 rubles.
Attention should be paid to Suzdal Kremlin. Here you can see the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, bishop’s chambers, bell tower and even a wooden church of Nikola from the village of Glotovo.
Vladimir is an important tourist center that attracts travelers with architectural monuments from the UNESCO World Heritage List. Among them are the Golden Gate, pre-Mongolian white-stone temples and the famous frescoes by Andrei Rublev.
One of the main attractions of the city is Dmitrievsky Cathedral. It was built in the late 12th century as a house church of Prince Vsevolod the Big Nest. Next to the temple stretched Vladimir’s palaces. Formerly the provincial administration was located here, and now it is a museum center with galleries and expositions. A single ticket to all the halls of the complex costs 500 rubles.
But the main attraction of the city is the Holy Dormition Cathedral. This oldest Russian temple was built during the reign of Grand Prince Andrei Bogolyubsky and was conceived as the main temple of Russia. The entrance ticket costs 200 rubles. The Golden Gate, the architectural monument of the XII century and a famous attraction of the old city, is not far from the cathedral. The entrance fee is 150 rubles.
What to bring
In many cities of the Golden Ring make souvenirs from clay. You can buy bells or trinkets to remember. From Yaroslavl carry figurines of bears, from Rostov – flax and finewax, from Kostroma – cheese, from Suzdal – mead, from Pereslavl – spicy herring.
How to prepare for a trip to the Golden Ring
The classic route of the Golden Ring includes eight cities in the following order: Sergiev Posad, Pereslavl-Zalessky, Rostov the Great, Yaroslavl, Kostroma, Ivanovo, Suzdal and Vladimir.
Tour operators organize trips by bus. Such tours fit into four or five days. However, it is believed that you can see all the attractions of the Golden Ring for a week trip, and it is best to go on a trip by car. Therefore, short organized tours are good only for a quick overview. More detailed trips are better to organize on your own.
A trip by car along the classic route will take a little more than 700 km. The cities of the Golden Ring are connected by good federal and regional roads.
Lodging and tickets
Independently organizing a car trip, the main thing is to choose a place to stay and book a hotel room. If you are going to travel by public transport, it is important to think about train, electric train and bus timetables and buy tickets in time.
To save on restaurants and entertainment, get a Tourist Passport. This is a normal discount card for services of private companies – for example for sightseeing tours of the city, bicycle rentals, dinner in a restaurant or souvenir stores. This passport will not give a discount to visit major attractions – temples, state museums and exhibitions. A complete list of partners is listed on the website of the program.
The passport costs 1000 rubles and is valid for 10 years. It can be made only in Yaroslavl and Vladimir. It won’t be possible to make it online.
The address in Yaroslavl: 30 Revolutsionnaya St.
Address in Vladimir: ul. Mira d. 36B (Exhibition Hall “Sky33”).
Plan your trip from May to September when the average temperature is close to +20°C.
Most places accept cards, but small stores and small museums may need cash. Withdraw them in advance and make sure there is petty cash.
Be prepared for the fact that the destination is touristy, which means the cost of services and goods will be close to the capital. For example, in the restaurant “Guest hut” in Sergiev Posad for dinner you will have to pay 800-1500 rubles. And a ticket to the museum of show-museum “Golden Ring” will cost 680 rubles for an adult, 420 rubles for children from 4 to 13 years old, and free for children under 3 years old.
Do not forget
When you’re packing, remember that you’ll spend most of your time outdoors. Don’t forget photo or video cameras to capture the architectural monuments.
How and what to drive
The distance between the intermediate cities of the classic route of the Golden Ring is about 100 km. Gasoline along the entire route will be at the capital’s prices.
Check the technical condition of the car in advance. You have a long way to go, so it is better to think about safety in advance. In small towns on the route you can, of course, find repair shops, but there is a chance that not everywhere will be able to cope with complex repairs.
Trains and buses
There are many trains to the cities of the Golden Ring. For example, an electric train ticket from Moscow to Sergiev Posad will cost 216 rubles, to Yaroslavl – about 900 rubles. You can also get to the place from other Russian regions. The cost of tickets will depend on the distance.
All cities of the Golden Ring are connected by shuttle buses. Buses and minibuses go both from Moscow and from other regions. The ticket from Moscow to Sergiev Posad, for example, will leave in 250 rubles, to Yaroslavl – 500 rubles. This is the cheapest, but not very comfortable way to travel. Buses have only seats and often there is no restroom.
You can choose tickets from anywhere in Russia and see the prices on Yandex Travel. You can choose options not only by bus and train, but also by plane. The airport is located in Yaroslavl.
In any case, the tourist will have to adjust to the schedule. It is convenient to look at Yandex Timetables.
The optimal route
The best option is to stay overnight in each city. There are eight cities in total, so the trip will take just over a week.
If you have time, you can stay for two nights in large cities – Vladimir, Kostroma, Yaroslavl. If, on the contrary, you have little time, you can combine several cities – in one day visit Sergiev Posad and Pereslavl-Zalessky, in another – Suzdal and Ivanovo.
To make it short
1. It’s better to travel around the Golden Ring in warm weather – from May to September. If you travel in summer, be prepared for lines and a large number of tourists.
2. To save on tickets to museums and hotel reservations, it is worth to issue a tourist passport – a discount card to places of the Golden Ring.
It is better to choose a “classic” route of the eight cities and travel independently by car. This way you will not be driven by the group, and you will see all the sights.
4. Buy local craft souvenirs or products that are made in the Golden Ring cities as a gift for family and friends.
5. Traveling along the Golden Ring is not only a pilgrimage to monasteries. The trip will be remembered by nature, unusual museums and the spirit of antiquity.
Golden Ring travel guide from locals
Asked residents and guides in each Ring city where to go for a visiting visitor.
We added Uglich and Serpukhov to the traditional eight cities. They are also interesting!
Rostov the Great
Maria Danilova, the administrator of the city group
Rostov – it’s monasteries, you can’t get away from them anywhere. They are picturesque, photogenic and distinctive. Spaso-Yakovlevsky Demetrius Monastery, one of the oldest in Russia. Trinity-St. Sergius Varnitsky Monastery – birthplace of Sergius of Radonezh.
Rostov Kremlin: “Ivan Vasilievich changes his profession” and many other films were filmed here.
Rostov Gymnasium named after merchant-mecenate A. L. Kekin is also worth seeing: it is more than 110 years old, it is a huge three-storey building in classical style. Outside the gymnasium is interesting to photographers, and inside – for the dancers: there is a huge assembly hall with columns, where balls are held with a live orchestra, in dresses and costumes of XVIII or XIX century. The biggest and most beautiful balls are held at Christmas and Easter.
And we also have a factory “Rostov finift”, the products of which are famous all over the world. If you buy souvenirs in Rostov, it is better to take the Finift.
Irina Plishina, researcher of urban culture
I recommend Yaroslavl Art Museum and the Governor’s Garden, where regular concerts are held. In the museum-reserve, which is sometimes unfairly called the Kremlin, the best place is the observation deck on the bell tower. From there you have a breathtaking view of the old city.
I highly recommend modern private museums: the high-tech “Show-Mockup of the Golden Ring” (reduced to the size of a room model with moving parts). Kids love it, adults can’t tear themselves away from it either. The charming and quiet Orlov Museum, which has a large collection of antique porcelain sculptures, is a true porcelain theater: from European ladies and gentlemen to Russian street characters and ethnographic sketches. By the way, the Orlov Museum is hosting a stunning exhibition of lace porcelain until the fall of 2022. It is an absolute technological marvel.
If you have any time at all, go to the theaters. We have the first Russian theater – the Volkov Theatre. From the repertoire I would first of all pay attention to the phantasmagoric performance “Tsiolkovsky”, it’s for those who understand, or the musical “Jewish Happiness” directed by Yegor Druzhinin – for those who like a more understandable theater.
There is an unusual project “Radio Factory” – an example of “site-specific”, i.e. theater with headphones. It is a walk through an old factory, the former Yaroslavl Big Manufactory. It will allow you to see the hidden landmark of Yaroslavl – Krasny Perekop area.
For architectural impressions it is necessary to go to the center, on quiet green streets of old city, right in the gold XVII century of the Yaroslavl architecture. Ilya the Prophet, John the Forerunner, John Chrysostom in Korovniki, Nikola the Wet – these are not just names, but the names of Yaroslavl temples: tiles, stunning interiors and frescoes. Especially wonderful paintings in the Church of Elijah the Prophet.
A little secret: near the Church of St. John Chrysostom in Korovniki there is a charming, though slightly neglected, beach. I recommend to get here in the summer evening, lay out a picnic and meet the sunset, looking at the confluence of the Volga and Kotorosl rivers. But it’s better to be covered with mosquito repellent beforehand.
In general, a summer evening over the Volga is one of the main things, which must be properly addressed in Yaroslavl.
You can worthily meet the Volga sunset, walking along the embankments and Strelka, armed with ice cream or even a glass of light wine from the refectory of Afanasyev monastery.
With the proper persistence, you can book a table at a restaurant with a veranda. But this will require some finesse, as there are only three verandas above the Volga: in “Vanilla Sky”, the hotel “Volga Pearl” and in the summer cafe “The Tower”, which, hopefully, will reopen for the summer season.
Even more ingenious ways to admire the sunset – a ride at night on the Ferris wheel, or take for a small penny tickets to an old river streetcar and sail it to the Tolga monastery and back.
Finally, about food. I love the poke from Multifish, gyros at Gyros and Grill, fish soups and seafood pastas at Lady Shark, and potato waffles at Hopmalt Pub. If you want a party, there are beautiful restaurants like “Fairy Tale”, “Mamuka” or “Lights”.
And the main event which combines the sea of food and the sea of entertainment is a huge picnic “Pier na Volga”, held in August at Yaroslavl Strelka.
Lyubov Razumova, photographer
It may sound a little strange, but in our Russian city it is interesting to study Roma culture. Come and visit the only museum of Roma culture and life in Russia – it is located on Kozueva Street, 3/46. Almost every Sunday there is a screening of films about the holidays and the life of the Roma, which filmed one of the main workers of this charming place – Sergey Makentosh.
For lovers of horses and horse races I recommend visiting Kostroma Hippodrome – by the way, it is a training place not only for horses and their riders, but also for weightlifters.
And our main attraction is the fire tower, which has a museum in it. It is on Susaninskaya square, built in 1830th by the architect Fursov. There is a legend about it: once upon a time in Kostroma was a passage of Emperor Nicholas I. And when he saw the watchtower he said: “I don’t even have such in St. Petersburg. It is one of the symbols of our city.
Sergiev Posad – not only the Holy Trinity Sergius Lavra, although I recommend to go there for a tour. There are works by Andrei Rublev and Daniel the Black, embroideries by Russian masters, and in general a lot of beautiful things.
The Historical and Art Museum-Reserve is very good: it is called the “Hermitage of Russian Culture” for its collections of relics and treasures from the eleventh to sixteenth centuries. Just don’t wander around on your own – you’ll get lost, there are too many exhibits. If you want to cope in a day, be sure to take a guide.
There is a restaurant “Russian Yard” in the center of the city, it is located next to the Lavra. It recreates the atmosphere of the Russian way of life, very good service and dishes cooked according to Russian ancient recipes.
In the center, go to a museum-restaurant “Sergievskaya kukhmisteriya” where they cook dishes of XIX-XX centuries, show old books and teach to make landrines – such Russian lollipops.
And finally, if you are not far from Sergiev Posad, there is a museum “Abramtsevo” with Vrubel and Vasnetsov, and also an ethnopark “Kochevnik” with yurts and camels. If you have time – I recommend to go there.
We have a very good aeronautical school in the city, so I advise to look at the city from above – from the balloon you can enjoy great views of the churches, houses and nature. In the summer, in mid-July, the Golden Ring of Russia balloon festival takes place, and the air is filled with balloons – it’s very beautiful. I should warn you right away: ballooning is not cheap, but you will have impressions enough for the whole life.
Pereslavl is very meditative. It is better to walk through apple orchards, evening Danilov Monastery or morning Feodorovsky, the shore of Lake Pleshcheyevo and enjoy the silence. From restaurants I can definitely recommend pizzeria on Trubezh in the city center and cafe “High”. There is nothing extraordinary there, just delicious.
Natalia, museum worker
The train station in Ivanovo is interesting – in 2021 it became a site for an art residence. The building, which itself is a monument to the avant-garde era, featured paintings by contemporary artists. The exhibition combined industrial design, fashion and street art.
We also have the famous old textile enterprise “Krasnaya Talka”. And the museum of chintz, where they offer guided tours, showing the fabrics, which were previously produced in the factories. There is a favorite tourist sculpture of a rhinoceros with chintz flowers and patterns. In general, Ivanovo – first of all weaving, and in the appearance of old buildings of the city you can often see former enterprises, which were engaged in the manufacture of fabric. It is enough just to walk through the center.
People come to us to enjoy the silence and nature. If we’re talking about some specific locations, feel free to go to Spaso-Evfimiev Monastery. This is a real fortress – with brutal walls, truly Russian buildings and a monastery garden, where you can meditate and feed the rooks and other birds.
In the main cathedral of the monastery there are striking frescoes, which will be of interest, first of all, to artists – but also just lovers of beauty, too.
Everyone is used to the fact that Vladimir is an Orthodox city. But I advise to walk around Vladimir’s Catholic Church of the Holy Rosary.
It is very green and beautiful: the abbot, Father Sergius Zuev, has arranged a real garden with flowers and flowerbeds there.
Nearby is another attraction of the city – a singing fountain, one of the first in Russia. It seems that the water breaks through the sidewalk. Jets gracefully change the flow and direction. There is music playing and changing: from European classics of the XVIII-XIX centuries up to Queen group. At dusk the lights come on.
Nearby is the Museum of Crystal: it’s notable for its location in the building of a former Old Believer church, which was confiscated by the Reds.
We also have an oak tree, which is more than a hundred years old. Around it, local residents have created a sculptural composition on the themes of Pushkin’s fairy tales.
It is easy to find the oak – nearby there is a local fire station and a monument to the heroes-firemen. The fireman is a statue, but the pump next to him is working: if you start pumping water, water pours from the hose.
And another little thing, but funny: a flower bed, broken in a bronze umbrella.
I recommend to go up to the Sobornaya Mountain, take some pictures and just to appreciate all the beauty of the city – this is the best place from where you can see Serpukhov.
We recommend to visit Vysotsky and Vladychny monasteries: there is a legendary icon “The Unpouring Chalice”, or rather, copies of it. The inhabitants of the monasteries will tell you the story of the icon in a very interesting way.
But, frankly speaking, the monasteries are attractive to non-believers – they make the world’s best kvass and bake the tastiest kovrizhki. Perhaps they are so tasty because they are made without any chemicals or dyes. A sample of the very authentic Russian cuisine that we are all so fond of talking about.
Also in Serpukhov is an excellent museum of history and art – Shishkin, Levitan, Aivazovsky, Goncharova, Makovsky and many other artists who made Russian art famous are on display there.
Finally, the Pokrovskaya and Troitskaya churches: the first is a temple-museum, the second is famous for the “Pisan” tilted bell tower, which is very colorful in the photos.
Our city is small, but for those who want to see it in a day, this is rather a plus.
Visit the Uglich Kremlin on the high right bank of the river, in the historic heart of the city. It was built in the middle of the 10th century between a brook and the Shelkovka River, which flow into the Volga. It is a very beautiful place.
The Kremlin includes several medieval buildings: the princely chambers, the Church of Tsarevich Dmitry, the building of the City Council and the Savior Transfiguration Cathedral with a bell tower. In the princely chambers are exhibited curious exhibits of XVII-XIX centuries.
Of course, the history of Uglich is connected with the murder of Tsarevich Dmitry – you can’t avoid it. We have the Church of the Tsarevich on the Blood, built on the site of his death. There is a legend that on the anniversary, blood seeps through the sand on this spot. For fans of macabre stories, it’s perfect. But to be honest, I myself have never seen such a thing.