This section gives advice on unguided city breaks to certain tourist attractions outside Moscow. In most cases, it would be more comfortable to join an organised tour, but we know that some of you value independence over comfort.
As a major transport hub in Russia, Moscow is a good starting point for short trips to many cities offering unique tourist attractions beyond the capital. Mind that public transport in some cities may be not as good as it is in Moscow. On the bright side of it, prices there are usually lower.
For train tickets booking, visit the Russian Railways website. You will need your passport to book tickets and board a long-distance train.
See also our Arrivals & Departures section for directions to train stations in Moscow.
Russia’s northern capital with its spectacular architectural monuments, world-famous museums and theatres and vibrant night life deserves more than a one-day tour. Still, several hours in the city will give you a general impression of the city, but it may be unforgettable.
Take one of high-speed Sapsan trains from Leningradsky Station departing from 5.45 to 7.00 a.m. In about four hours you will find yourself at Moskovsky Station in St. Petersburg. The station faces Nevsky Prospect, the city’s main street.
Cross the square cornerwise to Stockman department store and take a City Sightseeing double-decker bus. If the weather is fine, take their boat tour too. These combined tours cover most of the city’s major tourist attractions and will take two to four hours, depending on how often you hop off.
Stop at Dvortsovaya Naberezhnaya (Palace Embankment) to visit the Hermitage, a museum which holds the largest collection of paintings in the world along with many other artefacts of cultural and historical value. Only a small part of the collection is on display, but be ready to spend about three hours at the museum. Open daily except Mondays,1 January and 9 May.
After dinner, see a ballet at Mariinsky Theatre and take an overnight train to Moscow, or skip the theatre and catch the latest Sapsan train at 9.00 p.m.
The strategic location at the junction of the Volga and the Oka Rivers determined the city’s role as a major commercial hub and a home of wealthy merchants. Nizhny’s architecture and spectacular views of the Volga, Europe’s largest river in terms of length, discharge and watershed, may be of interest for tourists.
Take the high-speed train from Kursky Station departing at 6.35 a.m. and you will be in Nizhny at 10.10 a.m.
From Moskovsky Station in Nizhny, take metro to Gorkovskaya Staion (red line) and find yourself on Bolshaya Pokrovskaya Street. This two-kilometre pedestrian street leads to the Kremlin, the city’s main tourist attraction and a residence of the local government.
After visiting the Kremlin, descend to Nizhnevolzhskaya Embankment by impressive Chkalov Stairs. (Valery Chkalov born in Nizhny Novgorod region was a test pilot who in 1930s took part in several record-setting flights, including a flight from Moscow to Vancouver via the North Pole.)
Turn right from the stairs. Soon you will see the mosque which is the nearest reference point to the cable car station. This 3666-meter long ropeway crosses the Volga River offering good views of its both banks.
The culinary landscape of Nizhny Novgorod bears a touch of Tatar influence, but basically local cuisine does not differ much from that of Moscow or another European city.
After dinner, catch a late high-speed train 6.58, 7.19 or 9.11 p.m. and you will be in Moacow before midnight.
Visiting these cities may be of interest to those who wish to see Russian medieval architecture and to know more about its history and culture of that time.
Take the high-speed train to Vladimir from Kursky Station departing at 6.35 a.m., the travel time is less than two hours.
Most tourist attractions of the city, many of which date from the 12th century and are UNESCO World heritage sites, are located in walking distance from the train station and are close to each other.
The Golden Gate, a fortification and a ceremonial structure built in 1164, houses a museum focused on the Mongol invasion of Russia.
The Assumption Cathedral is one of very few places where you may see frescoes by Andrey Rublev, the most famous Russian icon painter of the early 15th century.
Another architectural jewel of the city is the Cathedral of Saint Demetrius. It was built in 1197 by an international team of architects and stonemasons from Russia, Byzantium, Germany and Georgia.
After seeing the sights in Vladimir, go to the bus station which is across the street from the train station and take a bus to Suzdal. Buses start about every 30 minutes, travel time is 40-50 minutes. If the buses are too packed opt for a taxi which will take you to Suzdal for RUR 500 or so.
Suzdal is a small city with a good tourist infrastructure featuring several UNESCO World Heritage sites including the Kremlin and the Saviour Monastery of St Euthymius founded in the 14th century. Do not miss the open-air museum of timber architecture and try their signature medovukha, a kind of mead.
Late Moscow-bound trains depart from Vladimir at 08.03, 09.58 and at 10.17 p.m.
Historically, Tula is known as a Russia’s weapons and samovars manufacturing centre.
Take a train from Kursky Station departing at 6.57 a.m. or 8.34 a.m. The trains arrive at 09.08 a.m. and 10.49 a.m. respectively.
A walk from the station to the local Kremlin along Krasnoarmeysky Prospekt - one of the city’s main streets - will take about half an hour while taking a bus will not save you much time.
The Museum of Weapons on the Kremlin grounds holds a rich collection of firearms and blade weapons. The museum’s new venue on Oktyabrskaya Street also hosts larger exhibits like artillery pieces and rocket launchers, as well as an airsoft shooting range where you may test mockups of AK-47 assault rifle and other boom sticks. The museum is open daily except the last Monday of each month. A walk to the new building of the Weapons Museum takes about 20 minutes, just cross the Upa River and head towards the helmet-like building.
Before leaving the Kremlin, visit the Museum of Samovars also located on its grounds. The museum is open daily except every Monday and the last Wednesday of each month.
See also the Tulsky Pryanik (Tula Gingerbread) Museum located a few blocks away from the new Weapons Museum building, also on Oktyabrskaya Street. In fact, this museum is not much more than a bakery’s showroom, but your impression of Tula will not be complete without their famous teatime treat.
Moscow-bound trains depart at 08.43 and 09.48 p.m.
Rostov Veliky (Rostov Yaroslavsky or Rostov the Great) is much smaller than Rostov-on-Don, a regional centre in the South of the European part of Russia. Nevertheless, in terms of tourist attractions it leaves its namesake city far behind.
The only suitable train starts to Rostov from Moscow’s Yaroslavsky terminal at 7.35 a.m. The travel time is roughly two and half hours.
The train station is a stone’s throw from the local Kremlin, four monasteries and other places of interest, of which the Assumption Cathedral erected in the mid-16th century seems to be most impressive.
The Kremlin also hosts the Enamel Miniature Museum and several other exhibitions.
To see the whole city and the Nero Lake, climb the water tower.
Take a walk in the park on the lake shore before leaving for Moscow at 08.26 p.m.
Sergiev Posad, a city near Moscow, is famous for its Trinity Lavra, one of the most important and one of the largest monasteries in Russia established in the 14th century. The Lavra is believed to be the spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Take one of several regional and suburban trains to Sergiev Posad from Moscow’s Yaroslavsky terminal. The travel time is roughly one hour or one and half hours.
Besides the monastery with its impressive churches, which is very close to the station, see also the Museum of Toys. The museum is closed on every Monday and Tuesday and on the last Friday of each month.
Try blini (pancakes) at Russki Dvorik (Russian Yard) restaurant and by a souvenir soap bar at their shop.