If you travel to Russia, plan enough time to visit the world’s largest country. This formula includes Moscow and Saint Petersburg as well as a full tour of the Golden Ring.
Particular attention is paid to the towns on the Volga: Yaroslavl, Kostroma and Plyos. In Russia, the famous singer Lyudmila Zykina had a famous song: "And so flows the Volga”. She is talking of a Russian woman who returns to her country of birth at different times of her life and thinks about her past on the banks of this iconic river. This song shows the importance of the Volga, not only as a waterway but as a metaphor of the sheer vastness of Russia.
Visiting the small town of Plyos is a particularly memorable part of the trip. It is further from the main road and tourist groups never venture that far. Furthermore, in Plyos, there are no large hotels. This town is a historic destination for writers and artists, who travelled here to capture the peace of its isolated scenery. The high banks of the Volga are home to many chalets, or dachas. This is where our visitors stay. You can relax on the veranda and enjoy homemade zakuski while gazing out over the Volga.
The silence and calm of Plyos create the perfect atmosphere to reflect on Zykina’s song, “And so flows the Volga”, which refers specifically to this little town. The song is an invitation to approach the river and dip your fingertips in its cool waters. You should try it too!
Arrive in Moscow. You will be received by your driver in the arrivals lounge of the airport with a red sign “Artel Troika”. Transfer to the hotel in a private vehicle. Get settled in.
Meet your guide in the hotel reception and start your journey by a walk around the city to see the Red Square and the main historical landmarks. After lunch, visit the Kremlin and its Cathedrals. At the end of the day, you will walk by the Christ the Saviour Cathedral where you will get a panoramic view of the Kremlin and the Moskva River from the Bridge of Patriarchs.
Located on the grounds of the Kremlin, the Armory Palace is usually visited before or after the rest of the royal ensemble. The riches inside are treasures accumulated by princes and tsars throughout the centuries, like weapons, armor, crowns, carriages, thrones and furniture as well as a stunning collection of Fabergé eggs.
The Bolshoi is one of the world’s most famous theatres and a leading symbol of Moscow thanks to dancers like Galina Ulanova, Maya Plisetskaya et Yuri Grigorovich who made it an international reference for ballet.
The nuclear fallout bunker of Taganka is an underground structure on the edge of the historical centre. Built at the beginning of the Cold War, it remained a secret until the fall of the Soviet Union.
Travellers that are passionate about Russian literature, but who don’t have the time to make a trip to the author’s domain in Yasnaya Polyana, can visit his house in Moscow. It was here, in the 16-bedroom home, that the Tolstoy family spent 19 winters.
Sputnik, Vostok, Belka and Strelka, Baikonur and Mir Space Station – these words are famous around the world. Russia was the first space power and, still to this day, is the country that has sent the most people and satellites into orbit.
Meet your guide in the hotel reception. Visit the Tretyakov Gallery and the Zamoskvorechye district. After lunch, visit one of the most beautiful metro stations in Moscow, followed by another historical quarter with some of the most stunning architecture: Novodevichy Convent and its cemetery. You can also view orthodox mass in the convent and listen to some hymns (if you visit on Sunday).
After breakfast, meet your guide in the hotel reception. Transfer to Sergiev Posad (70 km, 1h30). Visit the Trinity Lavra of Saint Sergius, the refectory, the Cathedrals of Dormition and the Holy Trinity (1h). Move on to another town of the Golden Ring: Pereslavl-Zalessky. This ancient settlement is located on Lake Plescheevo. Visit of the Monastery of Goritsy and the historical centre (2h). Transfer to Rostov Veliki (70 km, 1h). Settle in at the hotel.
After breakfast, meet your guide in the hotel lobby for a visit of the Rostov Kremlin, the Monastery of Saint Jacob and the wooden church of Bogoslov (4h in summer). After lunch, transfer by chauffeur-driven car to Yaroslav (60 km, 1h). Settle in at the hotel. Free time to explore without your guide.
After breakfast, meet your guide at the hotel reception and visit the historical centre of Yaroslavl and its Monastery of the Transfiguration of the Saviour and the Church of the Prophet Eli (3h30). Then continue your journey through the Golden Ring to Kostroma (60 km – 1h). In Kostroma, visit the Ipatiev Monastery with a local guide, followed by the historical centre and the market (3h). Continue your journey to Plyos (70 km, 1h20). Settle in at the guest house.
After breakfast with views over the Volga, meet your guide in the guest house for a walk around Plyos and visit the house-museum of Isaac Levitan (2h). Lunch at Plyos and transfer to Suzdal (150 km – 2h30) in a chauffeur-driven car. Settle in at the hotel. Free time to explore Suzdal without your guide.
After breakfast, meet your guide in the hotel reception for a visit of Suzdal on foot, including the Cathedral of the Nativity, Museum of Wooden Architecture and the Monastery of Saint Euthymius (4h). After lunch, free time to explore Suzdal without your guide. Alternatively, you can choose a thematic tour with your guide or meet a local family.
After breakfast, meet your guide to travel to Kideksha village in a private vehicle, where you will visit the Church of Saints Boris and Gleb (1h – 3 km from Suzdal). Transfer to the village of Bogolyubovo to visit the famous Church of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin on the Nerl and the Monastery of Bogolyubovo (1h30). You will finish your Golden Ring journey in the town of Vladimir, an ancient Russian settlement. You will visit the Golden Gate and the Cathedral of the Dormition with its famous frescoes by Andrei Rublev (2h30). Free time to explore Vladimir without a guide and for dinner. At the end of the day, you will be driven to the station and your driver will accompany you to the night train.
23h00 Departure for Saint Petersburg.
Arrival in Saint Petersburg. You will be greeted by your guide at the train with a red sign “Artel Troika”. Tour of Saint Petersburg in your private vehicle with the driver. Visit of the Peter-and-Paul Fortress and the Cathedral where the remains of the Romanovs are buried. Free time to discover the city.
After breakfast at the hotel, meet your guide in the hotel reception. You will spend the day at the stunning Palace of Peterhof. To get there from the centre, you travel by airboat. Visit of the famous Palace and the magnificent Inferior Park and fountains. Return to Saint Petersburg via airboat.
After breakfast, meet your guide in the hotel lobby. Visit the Hermitage and the Yusupov Palace where there is an exhibition about Grigory Rasputin. Near the Palace is the Cathedral Saint Isaac and its towering colonnade that has incredible views over the whole city. After lunch, you have free time to explore Saint Petersburg without your guide.
Make your tour of the Hermitage complete with a visit of the Gold and Diamond Treasuries. You need a separate ticket and must be accompanied by a museum-approved guide (as well as your personal guide). These visits are organised according to a schedule.
Breakfast at the hotel. Meet your chauffeur in the hotel reception. Transfer to the airport.
Small log-cabin hotel with 11 rooms on two floors in a remote part of Suzdal. 1 km from the centre and away from the road.
The largest hotel complex in Suzdal with traditional wooden isbas and classic rooms. 155 bedrooms in total.
The Surikov family guest house is in a quiet street just 200 metres from the Convent of the Intercession that dates back to the XIV century.
So interesting to see the countryside and these smaller cities. Suzdal and Yaroslavl were lovely places to see and walk around. A highlight at Suzdal was a small group of monks who sang a psalm at one of the churches. Magic!