The Volga flows lazily past the 18th-century neoclassical architecture of this modest-sized city, the northernmost on the Golden Ring circuit and one that played a crucial role in the advent of the Romanov dynasty that ruled Russia for over 300 years. Founded by Yury Dolgoruky in 1152, Kostroma developed as an important regional market town thanks to its location on the river; its former commercial glory is evidenced by the enormous Trading Arcades on Susaninskaya pl, the equally huge main square.
Its major sight, the Monastery of St Ipaty, is across the Kostroma River to the west. A number of museums can be found in the area around Susaninskaya pl, the parks south of which are perfect for a riverside ramble. If you have an extra day, take a trip out to the countryside to see one of Russia's few elk farms.