If you choose to travel to Yaroslavl from Moscow by train, make a stop during the three-hour journey in Rostov, which is also known as Rostov Veliky, or Rostov the Great, to distinguish it from the southern city of Rostov-on-Don. This town is worth visiting since it’s one of the oldest in Russia, dating back to 862. The town’s Kremlin should be the first place you visit. The Rostov Kremlin was added to the UNSECO heritage site list in 1998 and unlike other ones, this one was not originally meant to be a defensive structure when it was built. The Rostov Kremlin is probably best known for its role in one of the key scenes of the Soviet-era comedy “Ivan Vasilievich Changes His Profession.”
Tourists flock to Rostov for its many museums and churches. Make sure to stop in at the Enamel Museum, which boasts an impressive and unique collection.
The Kremlin overlooks the picturesque Lake Nero. The best photos are taken from the fort’s walls just before sunset. Lake Nero dates back to Russia’s pre-glacial period and is estimated to be around 500,000 years old.
Expect to spend at least two days walking through the capital of the Yaroslavl region, but if you really want to experience the city in all its glory and examine all its historic nooks and crannies, you might as well stay here for a week. The local museums alone should be a separate item on the itinerary. For example, the Valentina Tereshkova Centre has its own planetarium and a collection worth checking out in person.
Another must-see destination, especially for those who travel with kids, is the private museum Music and Time, which boasts an impressive collection of working clocks and peculiar musical instruments. There are tours during which visitors are told about these instruments and the guides even play simple melodies on them.
You should spend the bulk of your time in Yaroslavl walking around and gazing at the domes of ancient churches, exploring the secluded courtyards of old buildings and taking in the scenery.
A sunny spring day is best spent strolling through the Governor's Garden, which was founded in 1821. Tsars Alexander I and Nicholas II both visited the garden during their reigns and it was transformed into a children’s park during the Soviet era. The park became the property of the Yaroslavl Museum of Fine Arts in 1989. The park now has sculptures and monuments scattered across it, so make sure to stop and examine them on your walk.
Tolchkovskaya Sloboda, a settlement just across the Kotorosl River, was once the residence of local leatherworkers who cured leather with tree bark, giving the process its name dubleniye, which is derived from the Russian word for oak. Tolchkovo has since become part of Yaroslavl and is now home to one of the most fascinating churches in the city, the Church of St. John the Baptist. Built in 1687, its 45-metre-tall bell tower was completed in 1690.
You absolutely must walk the spit between the Kotorosl and Volga rivers or go bar hopping on Kirov Street. You can also pop in to the Eliseevskiy Store on Nakhimsona Street and take in the sights.
The Vvedenskiy Tolga Convent is one of the most beautiful and unusual convents in Central Russia. Founded in 1314, it has been visited by such personalities as Ivan the Terrible, Catherine II and Nicholas II. Tour buses now regularly visit the convent while the nuns ride around its grounds on electric carts.
There’s an odd Russian saying that translates roughly as “Roll all the way down to Spasskaya Street like a sausage.” Among those who have heard of it, the majority doesn’t know that its origin is a merchant known as the “sausage king” whose store and factory were located on that very Spasskaya Street. His sausages won him a silver medal at the World’s Fair in Paris in 1897.
People visit Uglich these days not for the sausages but for the history. You can’t go wrong checking out the promenade in the historic centre and along the Volga River. While you’re at it, make sure to visit some of the city’s 12 museums. We recommend the Hydropower Museum in particular, where you can learn how hydroelectric power plants work and about their history in Russia, such as how prisoners from the Volga Corrections Camp built the Uglich and Rybinsk hydroelectric plants.
The city of Myshkin hosted the Mysh-96 festival (mysh is the Russian word for mouse) in 1996. Ever since then, the city has been using the rodent as a mascot to attract tourists. It’s no coincidence then that the city is home to the world’s only Mouse Museum and Mice Palace. If you’re not into mice, don’t worry: there are plenty of other things to do here.
If you continue travelling along the Volga River past Uglich and Myshkin, you’ll reach Rybinsk, a city located on the banks of the eponymous reservoir. Muscovites frequent the place in summer, bathing under the watchful eye of Mother Volga, a giant statue that is the embodiment of one of Russia’s most important rivers.
Rybinsk, just like other towns in the region, is rich in historic architecture. Landmarks include the Bread Exchange building on the local Red Square, the wooden Mikhalkov Estate, a catholic church and a peculiar fire lookout tower.
Another local attraction is Russia’s most beautiful village. Over the years, it has gone through a large-scale renovation to become a tourist attraction. Vyatskoye now has several museums, hotels and restaurants, and, of course, the regular village houses that once belonged to local peasants.
The Yaroslavl region is known for its respect for all things ancient. Just take the Karabikha Estate situated 15 kilometres away from the regional capital. It was once home of the famous Russian poet Nikolay Nekrasov. The main house, several wings, its upper and lower parks, ponds and maintenance buildings have all survived to the present day.
Velikoye is another mandatory stop. It is home to the Velikoselskiy Kremlin, a mansion built in the 18th century, the Lokalov Estate, the Irodov House and the Church of the Nativity ensemble. The Lokalov Estate still has its 19th-century interiors and although it is currently an active foster home, it’s open for guided tours. Another interesting destination in this village is the recently opened Potato Riot Museum.
Pereslavl-Zalessky is located right on the border of the Moscow region. It’s the perfect place to either start or end a tour through the Yaroslavl region. Both kids and adults will enjoy the Railroad Museum, where you can take a ride along an authentic old railroad and experience the vibrant history of rail transportation.
Veskovo, home to several summer camps, is also notable for its Peter the Great-themed museum, which has the Fortuna, a toy ship built by Peter for the purpose of simulating naval combat on Lake Pleshcheyevo. The museum was founded in 1803 and a monument to Peter The Great as well as a triumphal arch were both added to the museum 50 years later. It was also around this time that the White Palace was founded, which currently houses the bulk of the exhibits.
Pereslavl-Zalessky is best visited in summer. You can spend days bathing in Lake Pleshcheyevo and watching hot air balloons and kites. As the sun sets, you should head to one of the museums, such as the Museum of Russian Cleverness or the Hot Iron Museum, and afterwards drink tea from a samovar with biscuits at one of the cafes.
The Yaroslavl region has no lack of landmarks. Some are ancient wonders that are many centuries old, while others are more recent additions that have already secured their place among the country’s top tourist destinations. Yaroslavl is one of the few regions in Russia that’s been successfully developing tourism. Some landmarks, such as the museums of Pereyaslavl, the Myshkin Mouse and Vyatskoe, which is known as Russia’s most beautiful village, have already become their own tourist brands. Lenta.ru continues its “Discovering Russia” series with an old favourite that you simply cannot visit just once.