Vladimir and Suzdal tour: Travel the Golden Ring of Russia

Maybe you don’t know that there is a great difference between Moscow, St. Petersburg, and all other Russia. It is not easy to understand life here in Moscow when you are stuck in the traffic jam on your way to the Kremlin with a coffee in your hand!

Visiting Russian provinces is a great opportunity to explore the real Russia and to see the common life of its ordinary people.

The best choice if you have only one or two available days is visiting Vladimir and Suzdal within the Golden Ring Tour. These cities are among the most visited sites within the popular Golden Ring of Russia because of the preservation of several of the picturesque white-stone medieval structures and architecture, along with later buildings from the 16th–20th centuries.

 

Highlights

Day tour from Moscow to Suzdal

White-stone medieval architecture of 12th century

Churches, Monasteries, Chapels and the infamous Suzdal Kremlin

Museum of wooden architecture

Delicious local food (and drinks)

Typical Russian countryside

 

Transportation: VW Multivan or CrazyBu military van

Price for 15-hours trip: from 5 800 RUB / person (see below)


 

About Vladimir  and Suzdal towns

Vladimir the Great

Vladimir is a midsized city located 200 km to the east of Moscow. Vladimir is famous worldwide because of its great history and picturesque architecture with numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites of the 12th century.

Officially, the city was founded in 1108. At that period, the city was rapidly developing and soon became the capital of North-Eastern Russia. Assumption Cathedral and the Golden Gates, one of Russia's greatest architectural monuments, were built at that time.

Assumption Cathedral was a Mother Church of Medieval Russia in the 13th and 14th centuries. It remained the largest of Russian churches for the next 300 or 400 years. The exterior walls of the church are covered with elaborate carvings. The interior was painted by Andrei Rublev, one of the greatest medieval Russian painters of Orthodox icons and frescos. Later, the paintings and carvings became a model for the Assumption Cathedral in the Suzdal Kremlin.

The city's period of greatest importance was in 12-13th centuries at the end of the Mongol invasion... In 1238, Vladimir was besieged and taken by the Mongol hordes under Batu Khan. Unfortunately, the city never recovered fully. Though it remained the principality’s capital for a century, Vladimir gradually lost its political and cultural significance to Moscow.

The transfer of the capital was completed in 15th century, but Vladimir continued to be a provincial capital.

More information you can find here: Wikipedia, Wikitravel

Bogolyubovo

Bogolyubovo is a small town only 13 km from Vladimir the Great which features a gorgeous little church by the water in the middle of a field. This is the Church of the Intercession on the Nerl river that is a popular tourist attraction.

Why it is beautiful?

This is probably the most harmonious and complete church in Russian architecture. The Church is the most recognizable among Russians - every student saw it million of times in their textbooks and postcards! The shape, the exterior decoration, and the location are all perfect.

There is a kilometer long path that pilgrims and tourists need to walk through the field, and as the church gets closer the view becomes more dramatic. It’s unique to gaze upon an architectural delight in the middle of nowhere.

More information you can find here:  Wikitravel

Suzdal

Suzdal is a gorgeous little town in the Russian provinces or just the "middle of nowhere". It has only 10 thousands of people and no railways, but still it is a major tourist attraction. Suzdal is located 30 km north of Vladimir and it’s famous for the Suzdal Kremlin and the beautiful churches and monasteries. Several of its monuments are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The town's history dates back to 1024 and in 1125 it was made the capital of the principality. Suzdal began to function as a capital at the time when Moscow was still a cluster of cowsheds! Later the capital was moved to Vladimir, but Suzdal remained an important trade centre, even after Mongol-led invasions, because of the fertile wheat-growing area and good location.

After a decline in political importance, the town rose in prominence as a religious center. Suzdal reached a remarkable ratio of churches to citizens: at one point, forty churches for four hundred families! In the 19th century, local merchants failed to coerce the government into building the Trans-Siberian Railway through their town. As a result, Suzdal was bypassed not only by trains, but by the 20th century dark moments altogether.

Why it is beautiful?

The place remains largely the same as ages ago – it’s cute wooden cottages mingling with golden cupolas that reflect in the river Kamenka, which meanders sleepily through gentle hills and flower-filled meadows... Although having just under ten thousand residents, Suzdal still retains a rural look with streams and meadows everywhere and chicken and livestock a common sight on the streets, some of which remain unpaved.

This juxtaposition of stunning medieval architecture with its pastoral setting lends Suzdal a picturesque charm, and in the summer artists and easels are a common sight. Visitors can also climb the ancient walls of the Suzdal Kremlin, to enjoy panoramic views of the city and its architectural wonders.

That is why the place remains largely the same as ages ago – it’s cute wooden cottages mingling with golden cupolas that reflect in the river Kamenka, which meanders sleepily through gentle hills and flower-filled meadows... Although having just under ten thousand residents, Suzdal still retains a rural look with streams and meadows everywhere and chicken and livestock a common sight on the streets, some of which remain unpaved.

This juxtaposition of stunning medieval architecture with its pastoral setting lends Suzdal a picturesque charm, and in the summer artists and easels are a common sight. Visitors can also climb the ancient walls of the Suzdal Kremlin, to enjoy panoramic views of the city and its architectural wonders.

More information you can find here: Wikipedia, Wikitravel

Travel real Russian provinces
Vladimir the Great, Golden Ring of Russia tour
Suzdal Kremlin and goats
 

Day Trip to Suzdal and Vladimir from Moscow

Vladimir and Suzdal are the most worth visiting cities in the Golden Ring.

Day trip to Vladimir and Suzdal is perfect for those who want to admire abundant medieval churches and other UNESCO sites as well as a rural look of typical Russian provinces. You can find an impression from our tour in Tom Rooney's blog.

We recommend a one-day tour only for people who have stamina and have limited time. For others we recommend 2-days trip. It is much easier! You have enough time to relax and enjoy the atmosphere of the place.


We have several optional itineraries for every kind of tourist. This is one of them:

1st day: early morning we will pick you up at the hostel and go to Vladimir. On our way there, we will have a break at the small old town, Yuryev-Polsky, which was founded in the 12th century. In Vladimir the Great we will visit its major attractions... The Golden Gates, the magnificent five-domed Assumption Cathedral and the warrior-like Cathedral of Saint Demetrius. In the afternoon, we will have a traditional Russian lunch in a cafe (borsht, bread and kvas). Afterwards, we will visit one of the most beautiful churches in Russia which is located near Bogolyubovo monastery, only 10 km from Vladimir to enjoy 1 hour of  walking through gentle hills and green meadows. Remember, to visit Vladimir and Suzdal in one day you need at least 12 hours.

2nd day: in the morning, we will go to Suzdal, a religious center of previous eras with almost forty churches for four hundred families now! We will visit the Suzdal Kremlin to enjoy the panoramic views of the city and it’s architectural wonders. Then we will wander around traditional wooden houses and buildings inside the open-air museum of wooden architecture. You will return to your hostel after the Golden Ring tour, late in the evening.


Duration: 12-16 hours

Transportation: VW Multivan or CrazyBu military van (better for a 2-day trip)

Larger groups are upon request!

Price includes: only small-group tour (up tp 6 people), pick-up and drop-off from the hotel, English-speaking guide and his expenses, transportation in a minivan
 
Golden Ring itinerary for 1-2 days

Most interesting sites on the way

Private Museum

It's the amazing museum where you can touch everything! Medieval papers, clothes, guns and so on… It's possible to stay there for the night and have a banya (Russian Sauna).

Aleksandrov & Yuryev-Polsky

Small Golden Ring towns that are perfect to make a 1-hour stop to have a break. Russia as it is... Five-block houses combined with wooden houses and some medieval architecture.

Church on the Nerl River

One of the most beautiful churches in Russia. It's a must-see place near Vladimir. To see the church, you need to walk by nice road for 2 kilometers. The place is beautiful! True inspiration.

 
Updated: 9 September 2018
By Ira Terentieva