Novosibirsk – a city of millions and the heart of the Siberian Federal District, has long ago acquired the unofficial title of the “third capital” of Russia. It is located in the southeast of the West Siberian Plain, in the valley of Ob River. This is a huge, rapidly growing business, commercial and cultural center. According to the rate of growth, Novosibirsk has even overtaken New York, Chicago and Tokyo, for which it was included in the Guinness Book of Records.
Novosibirsk is a cosmopolitan: representatives of more than 80 nationalities peacefully coexist on its territories. This is also a city of science and culture: the magnitude of the constructed Akademgorodok strikes one’s imagination, and the local Opera theater – is the largest in Russia. Getting to know the beautiful churches and intriguing museums, the extraordinary monuments and a multitude of other attractions, will transform even an ordinary business trip into a fascinating journey.
Tolmachevo Airport, (IATA: OVB), +7 383 216-98-41, also known as Novosibirsk International Airport, is 16km from the city centre. The airport serves over 4 million passengers per year. There are regular to flights to many major Russian cities including Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Khabarovsk, Vladivostok, Krasnodar, Omsk, Ulan-Ude, Samara, Ufa, and Yekaterinburg as well as international flights to Dushanbe, Istanbul, Baku, Prague, Yerevan, Beijing, Almaty, Osh, Bishkek, and Dubai.
To travel between the airport and the city:
- Bus #111 (RUB35) operates between the airport and the main train station “Novosibirsk-Glavny” (Новосибирск-Главный) and Avtovokzal (Автовокзал), the bus terminal (30 minutes).
- Minibus #312 operates between the airport and the main train station.
- Bus #112 (RUB30) operates between the airport and shopping mall “Mega” (IKEA).
- A taxi takes around 30 minutes and should cost 500 RUB (~5.5€) if negotiated in advance.
See also: Trans-Siberian Railway
Novosibirsk Vokzal-Glavny station (Вокзал-Главный) is very close to the Garina Mikhailovskogo (Гарина Михайловского) metro station.
There are also regional trains to most nearby cities.
Timetables and fares can be searched for on the RZD website.
Districts of Novosibirsk
Novosibirsk has 10 administrative centers with separate residential areas, micro-districts and urban-type settlements. The main attractions are concentrated in the Central district, on the right bank of Ob River. It is here that the famous theaters are located (including Opera), museums and other cultural institutions. The heart of the district is Lenin street, with well-preserved historical buildings. In close vicinity there are many cozy parks and squares.
The Soviet area in the southern part of the city has a special microclimate: the mixed and pine forests and numerous ponds make it a great place for relaxing and health recovery. Interesting tourists’ sites are – Museum of the Sun and Museum of railway equipment. Akademgorodok is also located here – a city within a city of academic institutions, residential buildings and well developed infrastructure.
Leninski district is famous for its memorial complex: The Eternal Flame is here, the Monument of Glory and other monuments dedicated to the heroism of Siberians in the war years. Even though the railroad area is mainly occupied by administrative buildings and private sectors, there are some attractions worth seeing, such as: Museum of USSR and the “Siberian Birch Bark” Museum (see website).
In Novosibirsk are operating trams, trolleybuses, buses, route taxis (marshrutkas) and cabs. Local drivers are, in the opinion of the residents, very impatient and likely to violate the traffic rules. So, you need to be careful when on the roads.
Buses, trolleybuses, trams
The bus fare is – 19 RUB (~0.28€), in the trolleybuses and trams – 18 RUB (~0.28€) and in the subway – 20 RUB (~0.29€). In order to save some money, you can use the integrated transport card. Tickets can be bought at bus stops or directly from the drivers. The route schedule is available on the carrier’s website (russian only).
The local Metro is the only one in Siberia. For that reason, it is the busiest Metro in Russia. It annually transports more than 70 million people.13 stations are open here. Novosibirsk Metro is not as big and noisy as the one in the capital, each station though will make you forget for a moment about the purpose of your trip.
A masterpiece of modern architecture is the station “Siberian”, subtly studded with unique mosaic panels of natural stone. The paintings on the walls tell the stories of life of the indigenous Siberian inhabitants. The station “Rechnoy Vokzal” is unique for its abundance in gorgeous stained glass, each of which is addressed to the Siberian cities: Barnaul, Tomsk, Biysk, Novokuznetsk, Tobolsk, Tyumen, Surgut, Omsk and Mangazeya.
Route taxis (called in Russia: marshrutka)
In the suburbs and the center of Novosibirsk, as well as between the main subway stations, route taxis are scurrying. A one-way trip will cost about 20-35 RUB (~0.33€), depending on the distance and direction.
Taxis can be ordered by telephone, via internet or catch in the street. Available cars usually stand close to the public transport stops and subway stations. A cab ride around the city will start at 150 RUB (~2€).
There are many bike rental points in the city. In Central Park a bicycle of a popular brand can be rented for 100 RUB (~1.4€) per hour or 400 RUB (~6€) per day, and for an additional fee, anti-theft locks and onboard computers can be provided. Rental points with analogue quotations are almost in all areas of Novosibirsk.
The Siberian roads are a good chance to try yourself as an extremal. They don’t look at their best, and one repair follows another one. Citizens hope for the best, drivers just bear with it.
The prices for rental services depend directly on the class of car and the rental period. So an economy-class car (Lada Granta, Renault Logan, Hyundai Solaris) can be rented for about 1600 RUB (~23€) a day, as for a luxury car, such as Chevrolet Camaro the cost will be more than 10.000 RUB (~140€) for a day. The price of petrol is 34-38 RUB (~0.5€) per 1 liter.
The fines for speeding are the following: from 100 RUB (~1.4€) (in excess of 10-20 km / h) to 2500 RUB(~36€) (in excess of 60 km / h or more). A person driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) may be charged with the suspension of the driver’s license for a period of 1.5-2 years.
Traffic jams are usually between 8:00 AM – 10:00 AM and 6:00 PM – 10:00 PM. During these times it is literally impossible to pass through the bridges, which connect the shores of the river Ob, and through the streets leading to Akademgorodok. There are many parking lots in Novosibirsk but most of them are packed. In the center, the problem is particularly acute: finding an available parking spot is a very difficult task.
The average parking cost on a paid car park will be 100 RUB (~1.4€) per day.
What to bring
Nobosibirsk abounds in shops, shopping centers and markets, where anything can be found: from essentials to interesting souvenirs. Speaking of which: The Siberian will definitely impress the fans of authentic shopping. One ought to buy Russian valenki, felt boots – original, warm and fashionable. Noteworthy are the products from birch and Siberian pine, as well as statuettes of the outlandish beast, the leager – the pride of Novosibirsk Zoo.
Famous local delicacies – natural chewing gum from larch resin and the salty wild garlic with spicy aroma – they are not sold in souvenir shops but rather by babushkas (elderly women in Russia) in the markets or right in the streets. You can also buy here dried mushrooms, which are preserved better in birch-bark containers.
Shops selling trinkets for tourists are concentrated in the historic city center. The largest flea market in Siberia is located on Gusinobrodskoye highway. There are other shopping champions in Novosibirsk like: “Aura” Shopping and entertainment center, which is the largest one in the Urals (website), as for the “Royal Park”, it was named the best Shopping Center in Russia, as of 2008 (website).
What to taste
Best of all, find places where to indulge the Siberian cuisine, because it is something that everyone should try! So first, taste the ravioli with three different kinds of meat, then pies with fish, meat, mushrooms, vegetables, cheese and fowl.
Fish dishes are the trump card of the Siberians. Fish is served in any form: boiled, steamed, stuffed, jellied, baked stew in sour cream, dried, sun-dried.
In the western part of the region fish was eaten in frozen form as well.
The Japanese with their little sushi cannot be even compared with the Siberians, which were literally crunching on iced fish.
Cafes and restaurants of Novosibirsk
Novosibirsk abounds in various cafes, restaurants, canteens and bar where you can eat. The most interesting places offer traditional Kalmyk dishes, but we suggest do not dwell on the Siberian ethnics only, because the city has restaurants with cuisines of many different nationalities of the world: from A to Z, from Australian to Japanese. Pizzerias and cafes, Grill Bars, dumpling and pubs will delight you with their pleasant interiors and the diverse menu. For tourists on a budget we recommend eating in Soviet style diners: the locals enjoy eating their delicious and complex lunches in these canteens. Snacking on fast-food is possible in several fast-food chains or street kiosks.
The closer to the center the higher the prices. An average check in a cafeteria or canteen will cost 300-350 RUB (~6.8€) per person. Lunch in a café – 500 – 1000 RUB (~10€) per person, dinner for two in a restaurant will cost 3000-5000 RUB (~60€).
Entertainment and attractions in Novosibirsk
Novosibirsk has a lot of attractions: streets with interesting houses, theaters, temples and monuments. On the Alley of bards lay the stars of Yuri Vizbor, Bulat Okudzhava, Alexander Galich, and crowns all of it, the monument of Vladimir Vysotsky. In fact, there are 110 amazing houses here: luxury apartments, built in the 1930s for officials and representatives of the cultural elite.
An uninitiated tourist is unlikely to pay attention to the grey 8-storey building (there are millions like this today), but history will make us take another look at many things!
The Ascension Cathedral with golden domes, and the Chapel of St. Nicholas, built in the traditions of North Russian Church are the most beautiful temples of Novosibirsk.
The most unusual sculpture in the city is the Monument to the traffic lights. It appeared on the site of the first traffic light, winking carefully to the pedestrians in the ‘40s of the 20th century. The Monument to Laboratory Mice was installed in honor of the rodents, which play an important role in the development of science and medicine. The names of the war heroes are immortalized on five 10-meter pylons of the Monument of Glory, shaded by the Eternal Flame and protecting the Sorrowful Mother. Here are also located the Alley of Weapons, the Chapel of St. George and the Monument to the Unity of the Front and Rear, surrounded by hundreds of pine trees planted in honor of the heroes of Novosibirsk.
Novosibirsk State academic theater of Opera and Ballet is one of the local attractions, which all cultural Russia knows. It is the largest opera house in the country, on the productions of which are working many well-known directors. The performances have a lot of success in Russia and abroad. Tickets can be ordered by phone: 8 (383) 227-15-37, 8 (383) 222-37-90.
Theater «Globus» is the first Regional Theater for Young People. The stone-steel ship sailboat rush through the waves of creativity and delights audiences with original performances. Also are worth mentioning the drama theater “Red Torch”, the Theater of Musical Comedy, the Puppet Theater.
4 things you need to do in Novosibirsk
1. Celebrate the holiday of Ivan Kupala on 7th of July. According to the tradition the townspeople pour water over each other.
2. Walk along the Avenue — it is the longest avenue in the world. It cannot be compared to Nevsky or Tver though, it has its own peculiarities.
3. Go to a hockey or football game — people in the city love sports. The two clubs with the same name «Siberia», play in the KHL and the FNL, the first football division.
4. Take a walk along the river Ob — from the surface of the water opens up a beautiful view of the city. A slightly detached view allows to evaluate the scope of Novosibirsk.
Novosibirsk for children
One of the best places to walk with children is the Novosibirsk Zoo with its amazing collection of cat of marten. Here you can admire the world’s rarest animals: Caucasian leopards, Siberian spruce grouse, takins, snow leopards, ligers – half lions, half tigers.
If you want to get acquainted with all Zoo inhabitants, we suggest you to book a sightseeing tour with a guide.
In Novosibirsk Zoo, animals not only live comfortably, but also reproduce actively, which actually very rarely happens when in captivity.
A great way to have fun and learn a lot, is a family trip to the planetarium. There are two in the city: Small planetarium, opened over 60 years ago, and «Big» planetarium, equipped according to the latest technology. A great place for observing the stars is the famous tower of Foucault with the famous pendulum, sundial, Science and Technology Museum – the territory of the new complex has lots of interesting things for the most inquisitive.
The spirit of discovery reigns in Akademgorodok too — on the autonomous territory with dozens of research institutes and universities and hundreds of homes. A walk through the local streets can turn into a fascinating journey into the soviet scientific and technological past, ruled by an inexhaustible passion for knowledge and the development of the world.
Kids will like the Siberian tale house with birch bark crafts, depicting fairy-tale characters (website). Another place on family programs should be the children’s railway. Everything is real in here: 3 narrow-gauges, locomotives, tidy cabins, open mobile platform of personal design, aprons and a train station. The high school students work on the railway, passing a special training at the local training center.
The climate of Novosibirsk is continental; it is much more severe though than in the European regions of Russia. Winters here are long and cold, with strong gusty winds and steady snow cover. Thaws occur for a very short period and not even every year. Springs and winters are cold and rainy, with frosts and sharp temperature fluctuations. Summers are short but warm and sunny. This is the perfect time to travel to Novosibirsk, with no need of hiding under the umbrella or wrapped in the coat collar.
The city hosts some 30 festivals annually. Some of them are quite original. For example, the festival «White spot» is dedicated to literary fiction. The Snow Sculpture Festival gathers sculptors and artists from Russia and neighboring countries for another huge performance of ice and snow. These sculptures stand for a few weeks and attract the attention of tens of thousands of citizens.
Novosibirsk lives large, builds on a large scale and gathers people of the same type — with big soul. Be it Akademgorodok — then it should be the largest in the world, be it theater – it’ll have a huge scene, if a prospect, then it will be so long that everyone would envy.
For advertisers in Novosibirsk, every year takes place the festival «Idea» – one of the most authoritative in the Russian advertising world.
Hotels in Novosibirsk
Novosibirsk has a very good choice of hotels – from small hotels to 3-4* institutions. Some of them are somewhat similar to resorts: staying here will offer quiet seclusion in the heart of the nature, away from the noise of the city. They are usually located on the bank of “Ob Sea” – an artificial reservoir. If you wish, you can choose easily a decent housing closer to downtown and the major transportation hubs: in the historic central district, close to the Airport or the Railway Station.
The hotels have all accommodations for traveling businessmen and idle holidaymakers. There are more than 10 hostels in the city, where Russian and foreign tourists stay. Most of them delight with their original concept and affordable prices: from 250 RUB (~3.5€) per bed in a dormitory. If you prefer comfort – choose any of the three-star hotels with rooms at costs from 1300 RUB (~20€) per night. There are in Novosibirsk some 4* star hotels too: the prices are similar to the institutions of previous class (you can find options for 800 RUB (~12€), but the average cost would be – 2500-3500 RUB (~40€)), as for the level of service – it is much higher.