explore Russia

The Golden Ring of Russia

Explore the Golden Ring of Russia which is a collection of historic Russian cities, northeast of Moscow and southeast of Saint Petersburg. They are close enough to each other that most could be reached from any other in 24 hours (by horse). Their architecture and traditional crafts make them popular for tourism.

There is some debate as to which cities constitute the Golden Circle. Soviet officials were not inclined to tolerate such ambiguity, and therefore created an official list: Ivanovo, Kostroma, Pereslavl Zalessky, Rostov Veliky, Sergiev Posad, Suzdal, Vladimir, and Yaroslavl.

Other important stops on the route, however, include Alexandrov, Gus-Khrustalny, Murom, Rybinsk, and Uglich, as well as numerous other small towns and villages.

Troitse-Sergiyeva Monastery, is the spiritual center of the Russian Orthodox Church

Since the cities have similar architecture, it is seldom worth visiting them all. Most visitors only make four–six stops. The most fascinating is Suzdal (near Vladimir) and so these two are worth a combined trip. Sergiev Posad is also worthwhile (and easily accessible from Moscow). For those with more time, Yaroslavl may also be worth a visit (perhaps combined with a trip to Sergiev Posad). None of this is to say that any of the destinations included below are not worth seeing—quite the contrary! But it is worth picking and choosing the ones that interest you most.

The vast majority of international visitors arrive via Moscow and its big international airports. But you can get to the individual destinations on the circuit with relative ease from any nearby part of Russia—Russia’s intercity rail network is extensive and fairly efficient, supplanted by a more confusing and less efficient bus/marshrutka network. For those interested in hitting the path less (far less) beaten, the other possible international point of entry is the airport in Nizhny Novgorod to the east. Another possibility is to book from Moscow a private guided tour to one of the destinations of the Golden Ring you are most interested in or take the tour along a number of cities of the Golden Ring.

What to see. Best top attractions in the Golden Ring, Russia.

Vladimir’s Assumption Cathedral

Moscow Oblast

  • Sergiev Posad – There is only one major Golden Ring destination in Moscow Oblast, but it is a major one that probably should not be left out of anyone’s Golden Ring tour. Sergiev Posad is the centre of the Russian Orthodox Church, centered in the incredible Sergiev Posad Monastery. It is known for its hot cross buns and its coffee.

Vladimir Oblast

  • Alexandrov
  • Gus-Khrustalny
  • Murom
  • Suzdal
  • Vladimir

Yaroslavl Oblast

  • Pereslavl Zalessky
  • Rostov Veliky
  • Rybinsk
  • Uglich
  • Yaroslavl

Ivanovo Oblast

  • Ivanovo
  • Plyos
  • Palekh – A very artistic town, Palekh is the origin of the prominent 19th century Palekh school of icon and mural painting, exhibited prominently at the Church of the Exaltation of the Cross.

Kostroma Oblast

  • Kostroma – the capital is an old (12th century) Russian city and a treasure trove of Russian art, architecture, and history, especially for its Ipatiev Monastery.

Tver Oblast

  • Kalyazin – a small town east of Kashin, which, along with the Troitse-Makaryev Monastery, was submerged underwater by the construction of the Uglich Reservoir; a lone church bell tower rising out of the water off the relocated town’s shore marks the spot of the former location.