Those who live in or around Moscow or St. Petersburg are lucky to have a lot of weekend trip options. There are many beautiful old towns nearby that have preserved the spirit of the old times and seem to breath history.
Located in the Tverskaya Region, in a 3-hour drive from Moscow, Torzhok is one of the oldest Russian towns, founded on the verge of the 10th and 11th centuries. Apart from many beautiful old churches and monasteries, Torzhok boasts a remarkable goldwork embroidery museum while its ‘visiting card’ is the charming Tveretskaya embankment lined with recently renovated 19th century buildings.
The small town of Kolomna in Moscow Region was founded in the 12th century. Its main landmark is the gorgeous red-brick Kremlin offering great views on the Oka river. Other highlights of the town include the museums of pastila and kolaches where you can try the old Russian dainties cooked according to authentic recipes, as well as learn about their history.
With population over half a million, Yaroslavl is the largest of the three towns. Once you are there, head straight to the triangular-shaped ‘old town’ to see the UNESCO-guarded Church of Prophet Elijah, the Assumption Cathedral and enjoy the gorgeous panorama of the Volga and Kotorosl rivers’ junction. Note that it may take up to 5 hours to get to Yaroslavl from Moscow.
Sergiev Posad which is about 5 times smaller than Yaroslavl, is much closer to the capital — in only a 1.5-hour drive. It is actually the only ‘Golden Ring’ town in the Moscow Region. A must see there is the Trinity Lavra which is also a UNESCO heritage site.
Suzdal's population is only about 10 thousand people. Still it boasts a Kremlin, two monasteries, a cathedral and a wooden architecture museum. It’ll take around 4 hours to get to Suzdal from Moscow, but the trip is well worth it. The small town has a unique charm: time seems to stand still there.
Located in a 2.5-hour ride from Moscow, the city of Tula with a population of around half a million people offers a number of quite interesting sights. In the Samovar museum you’ll be introduced to the history of this traditional Russian tea-making facility and see all sorts of samovars imaginable. The Gingerbread (Pryanik) museum boasts the greatest variety of gingerbread ever. And if you are into arms, make sure you visit the Weapons museum housing an absolutely gorgeous collection of arms. Do not miss the old Kremlin with its beautiful towers and cathedrals, too.
Pskov is a beautiful town in the west of Russia which is more than 1,000 years old. A sight not to be missed there is the Kremlin (Krom) built on the intersection of two rivers — the Velikaya and the Pskova. The beautiful medieval buildings make you feel like you are travelling in time. Note the gorgeous operating Troitsky cathedral with a unique iconostasis.
Other greatest highlights of the city include the Chambers of the Merchant Pogankin housing a great collection of silver items and icon paintings and the 12th-century Mirozhsky monastery that has preserved its original appearance to this day.
Founded by the Swedish marshal Torkel Knutsson, this old small town on the border with Finland has well preserved its medieval charm. In its more than a thousand-years’ history, it has changed hands quite a number of times before finally being recognized as part of the Soviet Union in 1944.
Vyborg differs from other Russian towns by its European spirit. The most striking monument here is no doubt the old Vyborg Castle. Climb on the top to see the beautiful panorama of the surroundings, shoot an arrow from a bow or try on a medieval outfit — you will love the experience!
With a population of around 1.3 million people, Nizhny Novgorod is one of Russia’s largest cities. Located on the Volga River, in the western part of Russia, it is considered the ‘number three’ city after Moscow and Saint Petersburg.
A must-visit in Nizhny Novgorod is the 16th-century Kremlin offering a spectacular view on the intersection of the Volga and Oka rivers and housing unique archeological findings.
Some other highlights of the city include the Maxim Gorky House Museum that looks like the famous writer will walk into the room at any moment and the State Art Museum housing a great collection of Russian and European art.
If you want to feel the heartbeat of the city, take a walk along the Bolshaya Pokrovskaya pedestrian street with its beautiful historical buildings, nice cafes and souvenir stalls.
Naturally, a big city like NN has a lot more to offer. Come and see for yourself, you will not regret it, tourists love it!
Separated from the rest of Russia by a number of East-European countries, the enclave city of Kaliningrad is another popular holiday destination for Russian tourists. The former German city (named Königsberg at the time) has still preserved some of its original character, now peculiarly blended with the Soviet/Russian spirit.
The most prominent landmark of Kaliningrad is definitely the Kant Island where, in the beautiful Königsberg Cathedral, the outstanding German philosopher is buried.
You should also see the Fishing Village, the Amber Museum and the Dancing Forest. At least!
Russian tourists love the place for its unique character and for the beautiful Baltic Sea resorts located nearby.