It’s hard to find a stretch of parkland in Moscow that isn’t “developed.” I love Gorky Park and Sokolniki, both gleaming after their respective refurbishments, but they function more as fairgrounds than relaxing nature preserves. Suzdal, around 3.5 hours away from Moscow, fills the need for greenery. Furthermore, after Moscow the atmosphere feels refreshingly simple–no factories, no train station, and an economy that runs on tourism and medovukho production.
Suzdal is only one city in the “golden ring” around Moscow (other famous cities include Vladimir, Yaroslavl, and Sergeev Posad). I haven’t been to the others, but Suzdal is said to be among the nicest; it was spared a lot of industrialization during Soviet days, unlike, say, Vladimir.
To wrap your head around Suzdal’s geography, most of the major sites run along one street: ulitsa Lenina. At the bottom of the street are the Kremlin and the Museum of Wooden Architecture, and at the top are the Convent of the Intercession and the Euthimiev Monastery, as shown above. The street probably runs a total of 1.5 kilometres, but you can check this map for more information.
Logistically, I’d recommend taking the 3-hour train or elektrichka (commuter train) to Vladimir, then the 50-minute bus to Suzdal. You can even get on the super-fast Sapsan train to Nizhny Novgorod, which also makes a stop in Vladimir. If it’s a holiday weekend, you may want to reconsider going by car; my friends went to Suzdal the Saturday of the May long weekend, and the trip back to Moscow took nearly seven hours. Consider yourselves warned. There are loads of tours that will take you around the golden ring, but if you speak some Russian, and have the time to stay overnight, you can keep a relaxed pace and really enjoy your city break.