Two-week Golden Ring Tour inc. Moscow and St. Petersburg15 Days | Moscow, Sergiev Posad, Pereslavl-Zalessky, Rostov Veliky, Borisoglebsk, Yaroslavl, Myshkin, Uglich, Kostroma, Plyos, Suzdal, Kideksha, Vladimir, St. Petersburg

Two-week Golden Ring Tour inc. Moscow and St. Petersburg

This 2-week Golden Ring tour is our most extensive tour of Russia’s famous “Golden Ring” of medieval cities. Join us on this journey through a fascinating part of the country that is bursting with fortresses, monasteries, churches, unique museums, and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Discover seven of the eight main Golden Ring cities, visit atmospheric small towns, admire the views of the legendary Volga River, and immerse yourself in Russia’s history and traditional culture. Starting in Moscow, and ending in the elegant city of St. Petersburg, the tour also gives you the chance to experience the contrasts between old and new in these two vibrant cities.

Tour itinerary:

Day 1: Moscow – Arrival
 
Arrive in Moscow, meet your driver, and transfer to the hotel (check in is possible from 14:00). Free time. Overnight at the hotel.

During your free time, we offer the following optional activities (at additional cost):
Visit to the Armoury in the Kremlin (except Thursdays);
Night city tour, ‘Evening lights of Moscow’;
River cruise on the motor ship ‘Flotilla Radisson Royal’;
Tickets to the Bolshoi Theatre, concerts, the circus, or other performances.

Day 2: Moscow
 
After breakfast, take a guided tour of Russia’s capital city, Moscow. Like Rome, this is a city on seven hills. Your tour of the metropolis starts at Vorobyovy Gory (Sparrow Hills) in the south-west of the city. Elevated 78 metres above the river, these hills are Moscow’s main panoramic viewpoint. They offer excellent views of most of the city’s attractions: the Kremlin, Stalin’s famous “Seven Sisters” skyscrapers (such as the main building of Moscow State University), the modern Moscow City skyscrapers, the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences, Russia’s “White House”, Shukhov Tower, Luzhniki Stadium, and the Ostankino TV Tower. After visiting Vorobyovy Gory, descend to the Memorial Complex on Poklonnaya Gora (Victory Park) to see the Church of St. George the Victorious, the Triumphal Arch, and the major street of Kutuzovsky Prospekt. Then, visit the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, one of the tallest Orthodox churches in the world. The original cathedral was destroyed in the 1930s by order of Stalin and only rebuilt in the 1990s. The cathedral has a 69-metre-high dome, on the inside of which are beautiful images from the New Testament. Continue the tour at the famed Red Square, walking past St. Basil’s Cathedral, Lenin’s Mausoleum, the famous GUM department store, the monument to Minin and Pozharsky, and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Alexander Garden. The day ends at the impressive Kremlin and its cathedrals (closed on Thursdays and replaced with an alternative sight). Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 8-9 hours
Day 3: Moscow – Sergiev Posad – Pereslavl-Zalessky
 
After breakfast, check out of the hotel and transfer to the train station. Take the commuter train to Sergiev Posad (75 km, 1 hour), one of the eight main cities comprising the “Golden Ring” of medieval cities in north-eastern Russia. Meet your guide for a tour of this historical city. The highlight of your city tour is the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, a UNESCO World Heritage site considered to be Russia’s most important monastery and the spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church. Learn about the monastery’s history and architecture and the life of its founder, the monk Sergius of Radonezh and explore several unique historical monuments. Highlights include Cathedral Square, Trinity Cathedral (1422), where the relics of St. Sergius are kept; the Church of the Descent of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles (1477), which is Russia’s earliest surviving example of its type of architecture; the Church of St. Sergius, which boasts one of one of the most beautiful carved iconostases in Russia and an elaborately-decorated Rectory; and the Cathedral of the Assumption (1585), which was modelled on the cathedral of the same name in Moscow’s Kremlin. Finally, take the opportunity to taste the delicious fresh bread and the famous kvass (a traditional fermented beverage commonly made from rye bread) produced at the monastery. After the tour of Sergiev Posad, transfer to Pereslavl-Zalessky, another Golden Ring city (74 km, 50 min). Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 4-5 hours
Day 4: Pereslavl-Zalessky – Rostov
 
After breakfast, meet your guide for a tour of Pereslavl-Zalessky. Start by exploring the architectural complex of Red Square, an open-air museum. This includes the pearl of the city, the Spaso-Preobrazhensky (Transfiguration) Cathedral – an ancient structure of 12th century Vladimir-Suzdal architecture. The Cathedral has great historical significance – it is where decrees were announced, the Pereslavl princes were crowned, and troops were assembled. Continue to the Church of Alexander Nevsky, St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral, and the Church of Peter the Metropolitan. The city has also preserved the Pushkin Garden, a fragment of the wall, and the outbuildings of the former Mother of God-Sretensky Monastery. On the shore of the Pleshcheevo Lake you’ll see an enormous sacred boulder, Sin-Kamen, which is one of the few genuine ritual objects that have survived from the times of pagan Rus. The last stop for the day is the Museum-Estate “The Little Boat of Peter the Great”, where, for his amusement, the Tsar built vessels that are considered the forefathers of the Russian Navy. Free time in Pereslavl-Zalessky before driving to Rostov Veliky (66km, 45 min). Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 5-6 hours

During your free time, we offer the following optional activities (at additional cost):
Master class on painting wooden chopping boards and figures in Berendey’s House (a beautifully carved building that is now a cultural centre with a museum of folk-art);
Visit to the Museum of Flat Irons;
Visit to the Teapot Museum.

Day 5: Rostov – Borisoglebsk – Yaroslavl
 
Breakfast followed by a guided tour of the city of Rostov, which boasts many monuments. Start in the historical centre, where you’ll see 18th and 19th century merchant estates and Gostiny Dvor, a historic indoor market surrounded by a gallery with arcades. Then walk to the Assumption Cathedral, which is part of the same complex as the Rostov Kremlin. The cathedral has an impressive belfry that has preserved its set of 15 bells. If you wish, you may enter the belfry (optional, at additional cost). The Kremlin itself is the former residence of the Rostov bishops and metropolitans and is a complex of buildings surrounded by walls. The complex also includes the Stable Yard, the only known building of its type in the country to have survived. After exploring the Kremlin, continue to Rostov’s most beautiful monasteries: the Nativity Convent and the Spaso-Yakovlevsky Dimitriev Monastery, founded on the shore of Lake Nero in the 14th century. The monastery boasts a hydrogen sulphide spring believed to have healing properties. End the city tour at the Museum of Rostov Enamel, where you’ll learn about the rare folk-art of applying enamel to metal products that originated in Rostov in the middle of the 18th century. Free time. Then transfer to Borisoglebsk (20 km) and visit the Boris and Gleb Monastery, one of the richest monasteries of ancient Rus. The complex includes the Cathedral of Saints Boris and Gleb, the Refectory Church of the Annunciation, the Sretenskaya and St. Sergius of Radonezh gate churches, and a beautiful belfry. Free time in Rostov. Afterwards, transfer to Yaroslavl, which is considered to be the capital of the Golden Ring (75 km, 1 hour 10 mins). Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing: 4 hours

During your free time, we offer the following optional activities (at additional cost):
Master class on painting enamel;
Ceramics workshop;
Bell ringing concert;
Bell ringing master class at Rostov Kremlin;
Visit to the Museum of Bells;
Visit to the Water Tower for a panoramic view of Rostov;
River boat cruise (May-September).

Day 6: Yaroslavl
 
After breakfast, meet your guide for a tour of Yaroslavl. UNESCO recognizes the city’s historical centre, with its impressive architecture, as a World Heritage Site. Highlights of the tour include the Church of Elijah the Prophet, the Church of John the Baptist in Tolchkovo, the building of the Contemporary Russian Theatre, the monument to Prince Yaroslav the Wise, the monument to the actor Fyodor Volkov, and the modern sculpture of the Holy Trinity, which was inspired by Andrey Rublev’s famous Trinity Icon. You’ll also have the opportunity to take a photo with the famous Yaroslavl Bear, walk along the Volga River embankment, and admire the panoramic views from the six-columned rotunda pavilions. Continue to the Transfiguration of Our Saviour Monastery, which is now the Yaroslavl Museum-Reserve. This monastery used to be one of Yaroslavl’s most powerful defensive structures and its main cultural and scientific centre. A copy of the ancient manuscript of The Tale of Igor’s Campaign, an epic Slavic poem, was found here (but was unfortunately later destroyed in a fire). Walk around the reserve to learn about the monastery’s history and admire its architecture. If you wish, you may see the monastery’s belfry or exhibitions of icons and old books (optional, at additional cost). Then visit the Yaroslavl Art Museum, with its collection of 18th to early 20th century Russian paintings. End the day at the Music and Time Museum created by the magician John Mostoslavsky. From childhood, Mostoslavsky collected old bells and clocks; later, he expanded his collection to include musical instruments and other household items. All exhibits in this unique museum are in working order and you can hear old clocks chiming and musical instruments playing. Free time. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 5-6 hours

During your free time, we offer the following optional activities (at additional cost):
Visit to the Show-Maket Golden Ring (a fascinating, animated model of the Golden Ring towns);
Pottery master class;
Blacksmithing master class;
Leatherwork master class;
River boat cruise (May-September).

Day 7: Yaroslavl – Myshkin – Uglich – Yaroslavl
 
Breakfast, then drive to Myshkin (100 km) via a ferry crossing across the Volga River. Myshkin, the name of which comes from the Russian word for mouse, is famous for its museums and 19th century Russian architecture. Start your sightseeing tour with a walk along the town’s Upper Boulevard, where you’ll have the opportunity to photograph panoramic views of the Volga and Yukhoti rivers. Continue to the historical merchant houses, memorial to the 60th anniversary of victory in the Second World War, and “Red Square”. End the walk on Nizhny Boulevard, with visits to the Assumption and Nikolsky Cathedrals. Afterwards, explore the estate of the rich merchant, Chistov, where you’ll see a mill and visit three museums that give fascinating insights into local culture. At the Russian Valenki Museum you’ll see an exhibition of traditional Russian felt boots and learn how such boots are made. The Flax Museum explains how flax is grown, turned into fibre, and then woven into linen and made into clothes. The exhibition “My little doll friend” displays old dolls and explains how they were made and used. Finally, take a walk through the Myshkin Chambers tourist complex. Continue to Uglich (38 km), another small town on the Golden Ring, which got its name from its location on a steep bend (or ‘ugol’, which means ‘corner’ in Russian) of the Volga River. Highlights of the town include the complex of the Uglich Kremlin; Alekseevsky Monastery, founded in 1371 on the site of a pagan temple; the Princely Chambers, the former residence of Tsarevich Dimitri, preserved since 1482; the Epiphany Winter Cathedral; and the building of the Duma (popularly called the Mayor’s House). You’ll also visit the monumental Transfiguration Cathedral, Uglich’s main cathedral. This was built in 1706 and has an openwork bell tower. On the way, see the beautiful red and white church of Dmitry on the Blood, which was built on the site where Ivan the Terrible’s last heir died. Return to Yaroslavl (110 km). Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing: 5-6 hours
Day 8: Yaroslavl – Kostroma
 
After breakfast, check out of the hotel and transfer to another Golden Ring city, Kostroma (83 km from Yaroslavl), which is rich in traditions. Visit the Church of the Resurrection on Debra, which is decorated with 12 domes and stone carvings in the image of mythological creatures. See the Kostroma Trading Rows, the old merchant centre of the city (Kostroma was once considered the capital of commerce of the Volga region). The rows, which were typically named after specific products, include the Flour (Small and Large), Gingerbread, Tobacco, Butter, and Red rows. Then take a walk through the central part of Kostroma, Susaninskaya Square, with its impressive fire tower and former guardhouse built in the elegant Empire style. In the Epiphany-St. Anastasia Convent, see the famous Feodorovskaya Icon of the Mother of God, the Romanov family’s patron icon. Continue to the Ipatiev Monastery, Kostroma’s most famous sight, which was considered a holy place for the Romanov Dynasty. The first of the dynasty of future tsars, Mikhail Fedorovich Romanov, was crowned here in 1613. The day’s sightseeing ends at the Museum of the History of Jewellery Art, which presents beautiful gold, silver, and cupronickel pieces made using traditional techniques. As part of the city tour, you may also visit the Cheese Museum and taste local cheeses (optional, at additional cost). Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 4-5 hours
Day 9: Kostroma – Plyos – Suzdal
 
After breakfast, check out of the hotel and transfer to Plyos (73 km from Kostroma), a small town that has retained its unique heritage. During the Plyos sightseeing tour, climb up the famous Cathedral Hill, visit the Assumption Cathedral, see the onion domes of the ancient churches, and admire the beautiful views of the Volga River. Then visit the Memorial House-Museum of Isaac Levitan, where you’ll have the opportunity to see many of the famous landscape artist’s original works (23 paintings and about 200 sketches). Today’s excursion also includes a boat trip along the great Volga River, giving you the chance to admire the picturesque river scenery and views of Plyos. In bad weather, the boat trip will not operate, and you can instead see the exhibitions on local history and ancient jewellery at the Museum of Public Places or enjoy free time in Plyos. After the tour, transfer to the Golden Ring city of Suzdal. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 4-5 hours
Day 10: Suzdal
 
After breakfast, take a guided tour of Suzdal, a UNESCO World Heritage city that boasts unique examples of ancient stone architecture. See the Suzdal Kremlin with the Nativity Cathedral (1222), the famous Bishops’ Chambers, and the wooden St. Nicholas Church. Continue to the Museum of Wooden Architecture, a large open-air complex with examples of traditional 18th-19th century wooden buildings. The tour also includes several other Orthodox architectural monuments including the Spaso-Yevfimiev Monastery (where you may get to hear the famous bells ring), the Spaso-Preobrazhensky Cathedral, and several churches. End the day at the Pokrovsky Monastery. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing: 4-5 hours
Day 11: Suzdal – Kideksha – Suzdal
 
Breakfast followed by an excursion to Kideksha, a village 6 km east of Suzdal. Before Kideksha was destroyed in 1238 during the Tatar-Mongol invasion, it was a strategic outpost and the de facto capital of the Vladimir-Suzdal principality. Today, the village, which is in a picturesque location at the confluence of two rivers, has just 130-150 inhabitants. Nevertheless, Kideksha boasts an impressive sight for tourists: the first white-stone church built in Old Rus in the 12th century. This church, dedicated to St. Boris and St. Gleb, is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the “White Monuments of Vladimir and Suzdal”. It is also possible to see remnants of the ancient defensive walls that symbolise Kideksha’s earlier greatness. Return to Suzdal. Free time. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing: 3-4 hours

During your free time, we offer the following optional activities (at additional cost):
Carriage ride around Suzdal;
Master class on painting matryoshka (traditional Russian nested dolls);
Visit to the “Suzdal Ceramics” workshop with a pottery master class;
Visit to a Russian banya;
Mead tasting and visit to a bee farm to taste honey.

Day 12: Suzdal – Vladimir – St. Petersburg
 
After breakfast, check out of the hotel and transfer to the Golden Ring city of Vladimir (38 km). This city boasts several monuments that are part of the same UNESCO World Heritage Site as the church in Kideksha. Your sightseeing tour encompasses Cathedral Square, the heart of the city; the Golden Gate, the famous triumphal arch that became the historical symbol of the city and the entire Golden Ring; and the Assumption and Dmitrievsky Cathedrals, beautiful examples of 12th century Russian white stone carved architecture. You’ll also visit two museums: the Museum of Crystal, Miniature Lacquer Painting, and Embroidery and the “Old Vladimir” Museum, with its displays on the city’s history and impressive views from its observation deck. Free time before driving to the train station to take the night train from Vladimir to St. Petersburg (11 hours, dinner available on the train or beforehand). Overnight on the train.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 4-5 hours

During your free time, we offer the following optional activities (at additional cost):
Visit to a working blacksmith’s forge with master class;
Visit to the Spoon Museum;
Master classes on making patchwork or amulet dolls.

Day 13: St. Petersburg – Arrival
 
Breakfast on the train (optional, not included in the tour price). Arrive in St. Petersburg in the morning, meet your guide, and transfer to the hotel. Your guided tour of the city then starts at Nevsky Prospekt, St. Petersburg’s central artery and the main place for Petersburgers to meet each other and take walks. As you follow this famous thoroughfare, you’ll come across numerous historical attractions including the Anichkov Bridge over the Fontanka River (one of the symbols of the city), Catherine’s Garden, Gostiny Dvor, Griboedov Canal, the Admiralty, the Field of Mars, Palace Square (the location of the stunning Winter Palace), and Senate Square (the site of the “Bronze Horseman”, the impressive statue of the city’s founder). Continue to the famous religious monuments of St. Isaac’s Cathedral (the world’s fourth largest Christian church), the colourful Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood (which is decorated with beautiful Byzantine mosaics), and Kazan Cathedral (the city’s main church, where the main icon of the Kazan Mother of God is kept). Explore the Holy Trinity Alexander Nevsky Lavra, the city’s first and largest monastery, before walking past the legendary revolutionary naval cruiser, Aurora, which played a key role in the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. End the day with a tour of the Peter and Paul Fortress, a fascinating monument of military history and architecture. In addition to the St. Peter and Paul Cathedral, where all Russian emperors are buried, see the Triumphal Gate of the fortress, the Petrovsky Gate, the fortress bastions that became Russia’s political prison in the 19th century, the Mint, and the Commandant’s pier. Return to the city. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 6-7 hours

During your free time, we offer the following optional excursions and activities (at additional cost):
Boat tour along the rivers and canals;
Night city tour, which includes watching bridges open;
Tickets to performances at the Mariinsky Theatre.

Day 14: St. Petersburg – Peterhof – Kronstadt – St. Petersburg
 
After breakfast, drive out of the city to Peterhof (40 km), learning about the history of the old Peterhof road on the way. Visit the Great Peterhof Palace, the former summer imperial residence and the centre of social life in the 18th century. Admire the stunning gardens and fountains and see many of the more than 1,500 rare exhibits of furniture, paintings, fabric, and porcelain. Continue to the old port city of Kronstadt (33 km) on the island of Kotlin, via the tunnel under the Sea Canal that connects the mainland to the island. Explore this former centre of maritime trade and defence, including the defensive and hydraulic structures, the monument to Admiral Makarov, the Petrovsky Marina, the Italian Palace, and the Arsenal building. End the tour of Kotlin Island with a visit to the Naval Cathedral, the main church of the Russian Navy and a monument to the country’s dead sailors. Return to St. Petersburg. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 6-7 hours
Day 15: St. Petersburg – Departure
 
Breakfast and hotel check-out (by 12:00). Free time until your transfer to St. Petersburg International Airport. Departure. End of the tour.

 

  • All transfers (1-2 pax by sedan type car, 3-7 pax by minivan, 8-13 pax by 30 seat bus, 14+ pax by 40-50 seat bus);
  • Accommodation based on double/twin room sharing, breakfasts included;
  • Sightseeing tour programme in each city with local, English-speaking guides;
  • Entrance tickets to sights as per itinerary;
  • Tickets for trains from Moscow – Sergiev Posad and Vladimir – St. Petersburg;
  • Visa support for Russian tourist visa;
  • In groups of 11 or more travellers, 1 person travels free of charge and is accommodated in a single room.
  • Tour leader to accompany the travellers for the whole period of the tour;
  • Full board (lunches and dinners);
  • Hotel charges for additional services;
  • Consular fees for Russia tourist visa;
  • International flight tickets before and after the tour;
  • Personal travel insurance;
  • Tips/gratuities for guides and drivers (although these would be appreciated).

Accommodation:

Economy Option
Comfort Option
Moscow - 2 nights
Veliy Hotel Mokhovaya Moscow, Sverchkov 8 Hotel, Starosadskiy Hotel, Holiday Inn Express Hotel Moscow - BaumanskayaGodunov Hotel, Arbat House Hotel, Pushkin Hotel, Brick Design Hotel
Pereslavl-Zalessky - 1 night
Victoriya Plaza, PereslavlAZIMUT Pereslavl
Rostov Veliky - 1 night
Selivanov Hotel-RestaurantSelivanov Hotel-Restaurant
Yaroslavl - 3 nights
Alesha Popovitch Dvor, Kuptsov Dom Mini-Hotel, Parade Hotel YaroslavlAZIMUT Hotel Yaroslavl, Park Inn by Radisson, Ring Premier
Kostroma - 1 night
Azimut Kostroma, Moskovskaya ZastavaGolden Ring Kostroma, Ekaterina Kostroma
Suzdal - 3 nights
Sokol Hotel, Eco-Hotel Suzdal Inn, Kremlin HotelPushkarskaya Sloboda Hotel, Art-Hotel Nikolaevsky Posad
St. Petersburg - 2 nights
Ibis St. Petersburg Centre, Station Hotel L1, Hotel Bristol, Mini-hotel CentreSolo Sokos Hotel Vasilievsky, Original Sokos Olympia Garden, Vedensky Hotel, Park Inn by Radisson Nevsky

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