8 days and 7 nights
Moscow (2 nights) - day train – Vladimir - Suzdal (1 night) - night train – Saint-Petersburg (3 nights)
The Golden Ring is a group of medieval towns and cities that form a ring to the northeast of Moscow. These towns played a significant role in early Russian history and in the formation of the Russian Orthodox Church. The towns are full of ancient Russian architecture from the Middle Ages including kremlins (walled fortresses), monasteries, cathedrals and churches. Visiting the Golden Ring will give you a chance to go back in time and imagine a Russia that used to be. The cities are associated with Russian Princes and knights, early Tsars such as Ivan the Terrible, the Mongol invasions and many other historical figures and events. Listening to the history and legends told by your experienced guide will evoke memories of storybooks and fairy tales. The towns of the Golden Ring are all in the Russian countryside which is beautiful – full of forests and fields and rivers and lakes. Your visit will be a great break from the bustle of Moscow or St. Petersburg. Walk along ancient Kremlin walls and see the onion domes rising up from cathedrals in which time has stopped or follow paths along old riverbanks – travel back in time during our Golden Ring tours. An unforgettable adventure awaits.
Founded in the 11th and 12th centuries, the towns of Vladimir and Suzdal played a significant role in Russia’s early history. Vladimir, founded as a fortress by Prince Vladimir Monomakh, later became capital of the Grand Principality.
On the tour you will also have the opportunity to visit both Moscow and St. Petersburg. The greatest museums, monuments and other highlights are located in these two cities. Start discovering Russia in vibrant and expressive Moscow and end your trip with a visit to St. Petersburg, the splendid “Northern Venice” considered by many to be the most beautiful city in Europe. Saint Petersburg was the Tsarist capital of the Russian empire for more than two hundred years, until the capital was moved back to Moscow in 1918. Explore the difference between both of these beautiful and exciting cities and contrast them with peace and tranquility of the Golden Ring.
Most of the towns along the Golden Ring are accessible from Moscow and only however it is better to spend a few days to make a journey around the entire Ring. The main route starts from Moscow and goes through Vladimir, Suzdal, Ivanovo, Kostroma, Yaroslavl, Rostov the Great, Pereslavl-Zalessky, Alexandrov, Sergiev Posad. The full list includes 10 more smaller towns located around the larger ones. Ten extra points of visit are Bogolubovo, Gorohovets, Murom, Gus Khrustalny, Shuya, Palekh, Kholui, Ples, Uglich, Myshkin (see the map).
Arrival in Moscow, our representative will meet you at the airport, accommodation at the hotel
Moscow is the capital and the largest city in Russia as well as the largest metropolitan area in Europe with a population well over 10 million. This amazing city has served as the capital of the Soviet Union, the Russian Empire and the Grand Duchy of Moscow. Moscow has had a tumultuous history dating back to medieval times when it was founded by Prince Yuri Dolgoruki (Yuri of the Long Arms, known for the length of his arms!) in the early 12th century. It has seen numerous invasions and sieges from the Mongols to the Poles and Lithuanians to the Crimean Tatars to Napoleon and finally the Nazi's but it has persevered and today is a thriving metropolis. The city is filled with unique architecture from the Kremlin and Red Square to giant Stalin skyscrapers to new office blocks built during the economic boom of recent years and it contains a strikingly beautiful metro system. The city is the center of political as well as economic power in Russia and visitors can feel the energy in the streets. There is always something going on in Moscow and there is so much to see.
09:30 guide will wait at the hotel's reception desk. Out-of-city limits excursion to Gorki Leninskie, lunch included. Three-hour City Sightseeing tour with photo stops, no entrances included. Return to hotel by 18:00 hours.
Gorky Leninskiye is an architectural and park ensemble dating back to the 18th-19th centuries. The estate changed several owners before it was 'nationalized' in 1918, after the revolution. At that time the neoclassical mansion - the heart of the ensemble - was turned into a sanatorium for the higher echelons of the Bolshevik Party. The estate became especially famous due to the fact that Lenin spent the last ten months of his life here with his wife and siblings. After his death, the estate was turned into a museum and it was extremely popular with Soviet citizens until the fall of the Soviet Union.
Day 3, Moscow: 09:00 check out of hotel with luggage.10:00 tour of Kremlin Grounds and Armoury. 14:30 transfer to railway station. Departure to Vladimir by day train (16:45-18:30 hrs). Transfer to Suzdal and accommodation at hotel. Dinner at hotel.
The Kremlin is truly a fascinating structure, at the same time it is an ancient tower, the city's former military fortification, a palace, an armory, the sovereign treasury and the workplace of the Russian President. The Kremlinis the center of Russia's political life and State power and has been home to Tsars, General Secretaries of the Soviet Union and Russian Presidents. Red Square is beneath the Kremlin's walls. The most impressive cathedrals on the territory of the Kremlin are the Annunciation Cathedral, the Archangel's Cathedral and the Assumption Cathedral.
09:00 city tour of Suzdal including Kremlin grounds, Cross-vaulted Chamber, Cathedral of Nativity, Spaso-Efimievsky Monastery with bell ringing. Museum of Wooden Architecture in summer and Gold Room in winter. Lunch. City tour of Vladimir with visits to Assumption or St Demetrius Cathedral, Museum of Lacquer Miniature. Bogolubovo. Dinner. Departure to St. Petersburg by night train (23:00- 09:45), 1st class, 2-berth compartments.
Vladimir is the former capital of the Vladimir-Suzdal Principality founded in the 12th century, located 179 kilometers to the east of Moscow. There are many interesting sights, old churches, monasteries and museums in the city. A little information on Vladimir. There is a dispute about the founding date of the city, either 990 or 1108 but regardless, the city's most significant events occurred during the 12 century. Under Yuri Dolgoruky´s son, Andrei Bogolyubsky (1157-1175), Vladimir prospered becoming the center of the Vladimir-Suzdal Principality. The city's Golden Age is considered to be from the early 12th century until the Mongol invasion in 1237 during which the Golden Gates and the Cathedral of the Assumption were constructed. The architecture of Vladimir's white stone cathedrals, towers, and palaces is unique and unlike other buildings in Russia, their exterior was elaborately carved with high relief stone sculptures. The decline of Vladimir began when it was attacked and overrun by the Mongol-Tatars in 1238. A great fire destroyed 32 limestone buildings on the first day alone, while the grand prince and all his family perished in a church where they sought refuge from the fire. The bishop of Vladimir managed to escape. Vladimir never fully recovered but from 1299 to 1325, the city was seat of the metropolitans of Kiev and All Rus until the see was moved to Moscow.
Suzdal dates back to 1024. In its early history it was the capital of several principalities and later on became a important religious center. The town is full of churches and at one point in its history had 40 churches for approximately 400 families. Today the town only has a population of around 10,000 and has retained its country village feel with many of the roads remaining unpaved and livestock roaming the streets. The atmosphere is extremely pleasant due to its rustic, country feel combined with its medieval monuments. In short, Suzdal is an extremely special place and we are certain that you will enjoy your time there.
Bogolyubovo is a small settlement located 10 km north-east of Vladimir. Bogolyubovo was the residence of Prince Andrei Bogolyubsky built between 1158 and 1165 at the mouth of the Nerl River. Andrei spent 17 years of his reign here until his murder in 1174. Russian Orthodox Christians believe that Bogolyubovo was founded on the spot where Andrei Bogolyubsky saw a vision of the Virgin Mary who appeared to him in a dream-like vision holding a scroll in Her right hand, and commanded him to build a church and monastery on the place of the vision. On this spot the Church of the Intercession of Neri was constructed. Today the church is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
10:00 meet guide at railway station.Three-hour city sightseeing tour with photo stops, no entrances included. In the afternoon visit to Peter and Paul Fortress (1,5 hours), check into hotel.
St. Petersburg is the former capital of Imperial Russia, home of the Tsars and one of the world's most beautiful and romantic cities. St. Petersburg was founded by Tsar Peter the Great in 1703 on the banks of the Neva River and the Gulf of Finland. The city has seen its share of historical events including the Decembrist revolt, the palace coup and murder of Tsar Pavel, the intrigues of Catherine the Great, the assassination Tsar Alexander II, the influence of Rasputin on the Russian royal family, the Revolution of 1905 and the October Revolution of 1917 which brought the communists to power. During WWII, the city then known as Leningrad, went through a harrowing two and a half year blockade and siege by the Nazi invaders resulting in the deaths of over 1 million of its citizens. Today, St. Petersburg is Russia's second largest city with a population of over 5 million. It is also known as the center of Russian art, culture and literature - former citizens included Pushkin and Dostoevsky just to name a few. The entire city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is full of beautiful palaces and monuments including the Winter Palace. The city is also known as the Venice of the North because of its location on various islands in the Neva River and its many canals and bridges. St. Petersburg is home to the world famous Hermitage Museum.
09:30 meet guide for Hermitage visit (10:30-13:00)
The Winter Palace, one of the Hermitage Museum buildings, is one of the most wonderful palaces in North Eastern Europe and today is one the world's finest museums. The museum consists of five historical buildings including the Winter Palace - the residence of the Russian Tsars. The museum contains over 3 million pieces of art with dates ranging from high antiquity to the present day. Among the Hermitage's treasures are artworks by Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Titian, Rembrandt, Rubens and a large collection of impressionists and post impressionists including Matisse and Picasso as well as many others. We will spend 3 hours at the museum, however, to view the collection in its entirety would take almost 15 years, spending 8 hours a day in the museum and taking one minute to examine each exhibit.
09:00 meet your guide for visit to Pushkin, Catherine Palace.
The Palace and Park of Tsarskoye Selo is a former country residence of the Russian emperors. It is a fascinating monument of the world's architectural and gardening arts of the XVIII-XIX centuries. Its 3 parks occupy an area of 600 hectares on which are located over 100 architectural monuments: from magnificent palaces and grand monuments to intimate pavilions and park sculptures designed by masters of the Venetian school such as P. Baratta, A. Tarsia and D. Bonazza. The center of Tsarskoye Selo is Catherine Palace, containing exquisite decorative objects, furniture, Russian and Western-European paintings, unique collections of porcelain, amber, arms and decorative bronze sculptures. The Palace also contains the Amber Room - a truly unique work of craftsmanship - a room made entirely of amber. The room was looted by the Nazis during WWII but luckily most of its pieces were recovered. The room was fully rebuilt in 2003. Tsarskoye Selo was also the main residence of the last Tsar Nicolas II and his family.
Departure transfer (no guide).
ATTENTION! The order of sighseeing visits may change depending on museums availability and public events.
- hotel accommodation: Moscow - Novotel Moscow Centre Hotel (standard room), Suzdal - Pushkarskaya Sloboda (standard room in a wooden house), St. Petersburg - Sokos Palace Bridge Hotel (standard room)*,
- tickets to all museums,
- transportation to museums and for excursions,
- transfers on arrival and departure in Moscow and St. Petersburg,
- train tickets for 2nd class seat train Moscow - Vladimir and 1st class train 2-berth compartments Vladimir - St Petersburg,
- English-speaking guide service,
- breakfast at hotels,
- full board on Golden Ring itinerary ,
- visa invitation - the document necessary for obtaining a Russian visa when applying for one at the local Russian Consulate in your country.
* Might be substituted with an alternative.
Prices do not include:
- Optional services
- Theater tickets
- Visa processing costs. For US, UK and Canadian citizens, our company offers Full Visa Support. This is where you send us your passport and other documentation and we obtain the Russian visa for you. To learn more about this option, please visit the Full Visa Support page
- International airfare. Our Russian tours are offered as land only where you arrange your own airfare and we meet you at the airport and handle everything else. You can easily book the discount tickets yourself through our own discount internet ticket office.
- Travel insurance.
To book a tour, 30% deposit is required at the moment of booking. The trip must be fully paid 21 days before departure.
35 days before the tour starting date and more: 10% of the tour price per person
20 days and less before the tour starting date: 50% of the tour price per person
10 days and less before the tour starting date: 75% of the tour price per person
2 days before the tour starting date or no-show: 100% of the tour price per person
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