These ancient cities with majestic monasteries and golden domes, trade chambers of the Volga’s merchants and workshops of famous artisanal crafts will inevitably enchant visitors and will stay in their hearts forever.
It is impossible to skip these places if you travel to Russia as you risk missing a number of pages from the colorful and vivid history of Russia. But it would be a mistake to think that there is nothing to do besides visiting clerical and secular monuments. Quite the contrary, in Yaroslavl you can indulge in the most delicious donuts (ponchiki) in the Central Region. In Kostroma you can take a couple of cheese blocks packed in birch-bark boxes. Visitors can take part in the International Cucumber Festival in Suzdal or be enchanted by the blueness of the Plesheev lake in Perslavl-Zalesskiy. By the way, this wonderland is not far. It is only a couple hours away from Moscow, and it has excellent touristic infrastructure with delicious dining and budget-friendly accommodation.
Hundreds of tourists travel to the Golden Ring cities by bus, river cruise ships, cars, and trains. But organized excursions remain by far the most convenient way to travel across the Golden Ring.
The trip durations vary from 2-3 days (weekend tours, as we call them) to full 9-10-day trips, designed to visit all of the towns of the “Great Eight” with an option to extend the itinerary to Novgorod the Great, Tver, Gus Hrustalny, Bogolubovo, Murom, Myshkin, Plios, Tutaev, Uglich, Aleksandrov, and many other cities.
By the way, you can travel the Golden Ring both circularly and radially. For example, you can travel directly from Rostov the Great to the Boris and Gleb Monastery, from Yaroslavl to Tutaev, from Kostroma to Plios and Shelykovo, from Ivanovo to Shuya and the folk arts centers in Palekh, Holui, and Mstiora. Those mini-programs normally include visits to 4-7 cities.
Because of strong interest from international tourists, there are a great number of places where you can try the national cuisine, including sandwich shops and local bars, where you can have, for example, meat and potatoes in a pot and a shot of vodka, for “sightseeing” purposes, of course. Or you can dine at the Russian haute cuisine restaurants like the renown Moscow’s Café Pushkin. It is worth noting that budget-friendly places offer quality food made with fresh ingredients, formidable portion sizes, and reasonable prices. Hotels often offer a continental breakfast, occasionally a buffet, and an a la carte dinner.
While in the Golden Ring, the cities local gastronomic delights, like donuts in Yaroslavl, cheese in Kostroma, and mead and cucumber in Suzdal. are a must-try. Cucumber is offered with a wide variety of preparation options in Suzdal, including fresh and pickled. Try pike dishes in Rostov the Great.
Travelers from big cities find a special allure in arranging accommodation in old townhouses or in original log cabins.
What to see:
In Sergiyev Posad – the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius (the largest monastery of the Russian Orthodox church), a lot of churches, chapels, monasteries, palaces and chambers, open-air history and art museums, and the Toy Museum.
In Perslavl-Zalesskiy – the Cathedral of the Transfiguration, the churches of Alexander Nevski and Simeon Stolpnyk, the monasteries Goritsky, Nikitsky and Trinity-Danilov, the "Boat of Peter the First" museum-estate, the Smoothing Irons Museum and the Locomotives Museum.
In Rostov the Great – the "Rostov Kremlin" open-air museum, the Church of the Savior on the Sands, Tolga Mother of God and of the Ascension, the Christmas, Holy-Yakovlevsky, and Boris and Gleb Monasteries, and the Enamel Museum.
In Yaroslavl – the Savior-Transfiguration Monastery, the Epiphany Church of Elijah the Prophet and Nikola Nadein, along with many minor churches, Gostiny Dvor, the Metropolitan Chambers, etc...
In Kostroma - Shopping malls, the Church of the Resurrection in Debr, Ipatiev Monastery and Trinity Cathedral, Theophany Convent, numerous churches, the Fine Arts Museum, the Museum of Nature and even the Museum of Ivan Susanin’s Heroic Act!
In Ivanovo –Vvedenskaya church, the church of Elias and Kazan, the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin, the Ivanovo Regional Art Museum, the Ivanovo Museum of Local History, the Museum of Ivanovo Chintz, the house-museum of the Tsvetaevs.
In Suzdal – the Suzdal Kremlin, the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Mother of God, the Archbishop's Chambers and the bell tower, the Pokrovsky and Spaso-Evfimeev monasteries, the Cathedral of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin, the Boris and Gleb Cathedral, and an open-air museum made with a wooden structure.
In Vladimir – the Golden Gate and the Water Tower, the cathedrals of Assumption and Dmitrievsky, the Chambers museum, the Christmas and Knyaginin monasteries, the churches of the Assumption of the Virgin, Martyr Nikita, Intercession on the Nerl and the Trinity, and the priceless frescoes by Andrei Rublev.