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Outside Moscow

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If you would like to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a day, there are many interesting places that you could visit around Moscow. These are some ideas for interesting day trips. The Abramtsevo Museum Estate is only an hour’s journey from Moscow, and is ideal for walking, and for soaking up the nature, culture and art of the former ‘artist’s colony’. The original owner of the estate, Sergei Asakov, regularly entertained writers such as Gogol, Tolstoy and Turgenev. You can look around the manor house and walk around the extensive grounds.
The New Jerusalem Monastery is also a great destination for a day out. The monastery is just over an hour away from the city, and there is a lot to see. It was founded in 1656 by Patriarch Nikon, and features unique architecture. It has been undergoing restorations since 2009, but it is still worth the visit to see something a little out of the ordinary.
Another idea is Peredelkino, which is only half an hour from Moscow. It is a little village of pretty dachas, famous for being the countryside retreat of Boris Pasternak, the author of Dr Zhivago, as well as the summer residence of the late Patriarch Alexei II. Here you will be able to visit the museum home of Boris Pasternak, which is said to resemble the prow of a ship, and the museum house of the children’s author Chukovsky, which shows his creativeness and imagination.
Each of these day trips give you a breath of fresh air away from the busy Moscow streets.

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Sergiev Posad


One of the holiest places in all of Russia the stunning Holy Trinity St. Sergius Lavra and the surrounding town of Sergiev Posad has been a place of pilgrimage for Russian Orthodox believers for centuries. Just one and a half hours by train from Moscow it makes a perfect day trip. If you want to make a weekend of it and soak in more of the provincial lifestyle and fresh air, there are plenty of accommodation options.

The cradle of Russian Orthodox Christianity and one of the most beautiful towns in the Russian nation, the city of Sergiev Posad was founded by the venerable Sergey Radonezhsky in 1337. This year is special because it marks the 700th birthday of the city’s founding father. A reformer of monarchism in Russia, and a religious and political figure, St. Sergius of Radonezh, as he is also known, is highly honored by the Russian Orthodox Church and is considered the patron saint of Russia.
From childhood he seemed destined for holiness and as a young man Sergius set off to live his life as an ascetic monk in the forests outside Moscow. He was soon joined by others inspired by his pious lifestyle and eventually a monastery began to grow around the small wooden church that Sergius had built. This small church is now one of the holiest places in all of Russia - the stunning Holy Trinity St. Sergius Lavra – around which the town of Sergiev Posad grew and became a city in its own right.
Sergiev Posad’s greatest sight is its stunning monastery, although there are also one or two other worthwhile museums dotted around which show off the region’s strong artistic history and especially the legacy of toy making of folk crafts.

Getting there

Local trains (elektrichki) to Sergiev Posad leave regularly (every 20 - 45 minutes) from Yaroslavsky train station. The journey takes about 1 hour 20 minutes, or around 1 hour if you take an express train. Alternatively there are regular buses (no. 388) which leave from metro station VDNKh. We recommend travelling by train to avoid traffic jams.
To get to the Lavra from the train (and bus) station: exit the train station cross over onto Kooperativnaya ul. Walk along this street until you see a big Matryoshka and at this set of traffic lights turn right onto Prospekt Krasnoy Army. Continue along this road for around 20 minutes and you will find the Lavra ahead of you on your left. Alternatively, there are one or two left turns off this road earlier on, taking you on a greener, more beautiful path to the Lavra, but be wary sign posts may only be written in Russian. There is also another way: from the station exit turn left and go straight on along Sergievskaya ul., leading to an observation platform which is a great place for photos with a beautiful backdrop of the monastery.
The places near Sergiev Posad, however, are better accessible by car or taxi.

Holy Trinity St.Sergius lavra

Considered to be the most important monastery in Russia and the spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church, the St. Sergius Lavra is often nicknamed the ‘Russian Vatican’. Busloads of Russian pilgrims arrive here every day to visit the relics of its founder the revered 14th Century Saint Sergius of Radonezh, to drink water from the holy spring and to admire the medieval icons and exquisite beauty of the monastery’s many colourful churches and ecclesiastic buildings.
As it is considered to be a particularly holy place visitors are asked to respect the sanctity of the area. Men should wear trousers and remove their hats, while preferable clothing for women is a conservative skirt or dress and a headscarf.
Entrance to the monastery is free. You should only pay if you would like to make a video or take photographs. Entrance to the Sacristy Museum costs extra.

Hotels in Sergiev Posad

Aside from the upmarket Russky Dvorik, the rest of the town's hotels are a mixture of mid-range business style hotels, large mini-hotels our austere, yet cheap and clean pilgrims hotels.

Museums and places of interest

​Sergiev Posad's greatest sight is its stunning monastery, although there are also one or two other worthwhile museums dotted around which show off the region's strong artistic history and especially the legacy of toy making of folk crafts.

Shopping

The first Russian dolls were made in the Sergiev Posad and to this day the town still has a factory which produced high quality matrioshki. For certified quality try the Khudozhestvine izdeliya i igrushki shop at Pr. Krasny Armii 136 (also known just as the Martioshka shop). They sell great quality Russian dolls in traditional designs, as well wooden figures, dolls and wooden items for the home hand-painted in traditional designs for very reasonable prices. In the back of the store with the artist’s paints, papers and brushes you can find plain wooden dolls that you can paint yourself. Other souvenirs and dolls can be found in the market on the main square outside the monastery and over the road in the Vernissage market near the Russky Dvorik hotel. In the monastery’s bell tower you can also buy local souvenirs. For those looking for icons and other religious goods, this monastery might one of the best places in the whole country.

Suburbs

Apart from the Holy Trinity St. Sergius Lavra there are many other fascinating places in and around Sergiev Posad.

Where to eat

Sergiev Posad is most popular with religious pilgrims and in and around the monastery are numerous trapeznaya (canteens or refectories) catering to Orthodox tastes. Generally you can get a simple meal in these places for less than 300Rbl. Elsewhere there are restaurants catering for the tourist trade, almost all of which serve Russian cuisine and one or two slightly trendier restaurants and cafes aimed at the town’s younger less pious generation.

Kolomna

After exploring Moscow’s main sites, it’s always tempting to get beyond the hectic life of the city and explore somewhere a bit different. Quiet Kolomna might lack the fame of the Golden Ring, but that’s not to say there’s nothing here to see. Your guide book might only mention Vladimir, Suzdal and Yaroslavl, and you’ll struggle to find much about the town in English on the Internet, but don’t let that put you off. It’s not because Kolomna isn’t worth visiting, quite the opposite; the key reason is that during communist times, the Kolomna region hosted factories that were involved in the production of military equipment, and was off-limits even to ordinary Soviet citizens, so the chance of curious foreigners being allowed in was somewhere between nil and zilch! Soviet paranoia has diminished somewhat in recent years so Kolomna is open to all, although very few foreigners make the trip simply because they aren’t aware of it.
The town’s most unique attraction, in fact, is a factory of sorts. But far from military technology, the Kolomna Pastilla museum (www.kolomnapastila.ru/en/) on Posadskaya Ulitsa is all about confectionary made from the fruits of the region’s orchards. A guided tour shows how the candies were made and gives visitors the chance to try a few tasty treats for themselves, while the attached shop offers the perfect souvenir for friends back home.
The Pastilla business reached its peak in the 19th century, when it even got the Royal seal of approval after a visit from the Tsar, but the town dates way back to 1177. You’ll do well to find anything that old nowadays but the 16th-century Kremlin is still a big draw. It was re- built in stone between 1525 and 1531 during the reign of Tsar Vasily III (initially it had been made from wood). West European Russia used to have hundreds of Kremlins, varying in size although few survive intact today and the Kolomna Kremlin stands as an example of one of the better preserved. In fact this particular Kremlin formed part of the Great Abatis Line (‘Bolshaya Zasechnayacherta’ in Russian) which was a chain of fortifications created by the Grand Duchy of Moscow, and later the Tsardom of Russia to protect it initially from raids by Crimean Tatars but also served as a border between the Muscovy state and the steppe nomads to the south. In total it stretched for several hundred miles.
Situated on the confluence of the Moskva and Oka rivers, the Kolomna Kremlin once had 17 towers, four of which had gates, with the main gates being located at the northern and southern end of the complex. Only seven towers and two parts of the wall have survived. However, on its territoryare numerous churches and monasteries which are open to the public (except the female-only convent!), the key ones being the Uspensky Cathedral, the Voskresensky Chruch and the Spassky Monastery. There are plenty of souvenir stalls selling the standard touristy kitsch to prove that you’ve actually been to Kolomna.
There are several restaurants bunched together at the entrance to the old part of Kolomna, all serving up a combination of Russian and European-style food, plus beer brewed in nearby Ryazan. Despite the ‘tourist trap’ potential location, prices are reasonable (i.e., considerably lower than what you’d pay for similar fare in Moscow)! It’s hardly Michelin star but several steps up from stolovaya standard!

Day Trips - Moscow region

Suzdal

Steeped in medieval history, but with little more than 10,000 residents, Suzdal is a little village living in a golden time warp. Star-sprinkled onion domes pepper the meandering rural landscape and black robed monks and nuns can be seen dashing around the town's squares on their way to services.

Dating back to 990 AD, Suzdal is one of the oldest towns in Russia and the 'jewel' of Russia's famous Golden Ring of ancient villages. In its heyday, Suzdal's Kremlin and monasteries held untold riches and its leaders fought with the princes of Moscow to make Suzdal the most important principality in Ancient Rus.

Following a devastating attack by a marauding Tatar army in the 14th Century, Suzdal's astonishing growth slowed and by the 16th Century, Suzdal had already become a political backwater, known mostly for the wealth of its monasteries and purity of its landscape.

Nowadays the town is filled with busy churches and monasteries and its streets are lined by colourful traditional wooden houses. Having survived the blight of Soviet town-planning, Suzdal looks much as it did centuries ago and is one of the most popular tourist sights in Russia. Fortunately the locals have taken the rise of their town into a tourist hot spot in their stride and life still rolls along at a gentle pace, free from Disney-esque folk shows and filled with rich local traditions.

Eating and drinking

Getting there

GETTING TO SUZDAL

From Moscow's Kursky vokzal (station) express trains "Lastochka" leave at 11:00, 14:15 and 16:45 to Vladimir, the price of a ticket is around 500Rbl and the tickets can be purchased from the machines at the right side of the station where local (prigorodnie) trains leave from. The journey to Vladimir takes about 2 hours.

At Vladimir you need to cross over to the bus station and buy a ticket (approx 65Rbl) for the bus to Suzdal (journey time is around 50 minutes), which leaves every half an hour from 06:30 until 21:40. The bus will take you to the bus station at the edge of Suzdal and there you can take another bus or a taxi that will take you into the centre (the centre of Suzdal is approximately a 40 minute walk from the bus station).

Alternatively you can get to Vladimir by one of the buses that leave from the Moscow Central bus station (metro Shchelkovskaya). The price for the bus is about 250Rbl and the buses tend to leave every hour or so, depending on when the driver has decided that the bus is full enough to set off. Be sure to check that your bus is heading to Vladimir as there are many buses here that also head off to completely different Russian cities too. The bus usually makes one toilet stop on route and the journey can take about between 3 and 4 hours depending on traffic.

GETTING AROUND SUZDAL
As Suzdal is a very small town of only around 10,000 people, it is a place that is very easily navigated on foot.

In bad weather (especially rainy weather) you should bear in mind that many of Suzdal's streets are not paved and so can become very muddy, so bring appropriate footwear with you. Similarly in winter, the town is usually blanketed in pristine white snow, under which is almost always a precarious layer of ice, so sturdy boots are a must.

For getting to the bus station to catch a bus back to Vladimir, you can choose to walk for 40 minutes or pay one of the local taxi drivers 100Rbl to drive you there. The buses heading to Suzdal bus station from the main square leave very sporadically.

Hotels in Suzdal

Having a very well established tourist industry, there is no lack of places to stay in Suzdal. Whether you are looking to hire out you own izba (cottage) for the weekend, would like to stay with a local, enjoy the pleasures of a Russian resort or are a backpacker looking for something on a budget, Suzdal has something for everyone. Local out for signs for 'gostevoy dom' which are usually rooms in cottages rented out by locals to visiting tourists.

Shopping

The most popular souvenirs to pick up in Suzdal are bottles of the local honey mead medovukha as well as the usual local Russian crafts such as birch wood items, Russian dolls and Russian winter felt boots called valenki. Small souvenir markets can be found in front of every tourist sight in the town.

Down at the market square at weekends you can also find lots of babushkas selling their own local produce such as pickled vegetables, jams, pies, honey and medovukha depending on the season.

If you would like to pick up something extra special head to the shop in the Dmitry Pozharsky arch inside the Monastery of St. Euthymius. They sell hand-quilted items made by local women and you can pick up anything from cute oven gloves to absolutely stunning full quilts with intricate designs that have taken months to make.

Sightseeing in Suzdal

A full day in Suzdal would be enough to cover all of the town's main sights, although two days gives more time to do it at a leisurely pace. The biggest must sees are the Kremlin and the two largest monasteries; the Saviour monastery of St. Euthymius which contains several churches and museums in its ample grounds and the Pokrovsky Convent which is a well-restored fully working convent. A visit to the museum of wooden architecture is also worthwhile, whilst a walk around the Kamenka river will bring you past numerous other religious buildings in various states of decay and countless fairytale Russian wooden cottages or izba all set against the background of a beautifully pristine rural Russian landscape.

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