Yekaterinburg is the capital of the Urals and one of the most inhabited cities in Russia.
Established in 1723 by the historian V.N. Tatishchev on Iset River, the city is still called Sverdlovsk. The historical name was reclaimed not that long ago, in 1991.
Yekaterinburg is still one of the most rapidly developing cities in the country, an industrial center and a place of attraction for tourists from all over Russia and other countries in the world.
Koltsovo Airport, (IATA: SVX), +7 800 100-03-33, is 18km southeast of the city centre and serves 4.3 million passengers per year. The airport is the base of operations for Ural Airlines. There are direct flights to most major cities in Russia and there are international flights to Minsk, Rome, Sofia, Frankfurt, Munich, Prague, Barcelona, Vienna, Dubai, Tel Aviv, Istanbul, Tashkent, Bishkek, Osh, and Helsinki.
Bus #1 operates between the airport and Yekaterinburg-Sverdlovsk Railway Station through the city centre every 15 minutes, the journey takes 50 minutes and costs RUB26. There also small (unlike big #1 buses) express buses from airport and Yekaterinburg-Sverdlovsk Railway Station, which have no additional stops, the journey takes 30-40 minutes and costs RUB100. A taxi to/from the city centre should cost no more than RUB500 for the 25-minute journey, but airport taxis will ask more, so better consider using taxi services like Uber or any local services.
All Trans-Siberian trains stop at Yekaterinburg-Sverdlovsk Railway Station. It’s located almost in the city center and you can reach the center in 30 minutes on foot or in 5 minutes using the underground.
There is also an extensive network of local trains serving the Sverdlovsk Oblast.
Tourist information and maps
You should either buy a street map from one of the many newsstands and shops in the train stations, print out a street map of Yekaterinburg, or pick up a free detailed street map from the Ekaterinburg Tourist Information Service at 8 Marta St. #21, office #2, located in the city center.
Districts of Yekaterinburg
Modern Yekaterinburg is divided into 7 administrative districts: Leninsky, Kirovsky, Oktyabrsky, Chkalovsky, Zheleznodorozhny, Upper Iset and Ordzhonikidze. They are all in constant development and expansion. Among the mirrored skyscrapers and modern office buildings can still be found islets of the old city.
The atmosphere of the pre-revolutionary Yekaterinburg maintains the historic residential neighborhood of the streets of February and October revolutions. The wooden buildings, gardens and entire estates standing on these streets have more than two centuries.
The residential neighborhood of the «revolutionary» streets miraculously survived by itself, meanwhile the granite slab paved streets, wooden houses and the carved railings of the Literary neighborhood had to be restored. Today this part of the old city is the favorite recreational place for residents and visitors of Yekaterinburg.
Most of the parks, gardens and historical places are located in the central districts, Lenin and Kirov. There is also Arbat, the pedestrian area of Vainer street and the preserved section of
the old merchant city of Yekaterinburg — the Chapaev street, former Arkhiyereyskaya street.
The main street of Yekaterinburg, Lenin Avenue, relates directly to the 4 administrative districts of the city: Kirov, Upper Iset, Leninsky and Oktyabrsky.
The historical square on the Leninski district is considered to be the place where Yekaterinburg started. It was here that by the order of Peter the Great the construction of ironworks started in 1973.
Another historical site – the Voznesenskaya hill, was named after the Voznesenskaya Church. On the left of the church, the north side of Voznesenskaya hill, stays the Manor Rastorguevo- Kharitonov. The old Kharitonov’s garden adjoins the Manor.
Basically every district of Yekaterinburg has something to be proud of. Yakov Sverdlov Street, belonging to the railway area, is considered the « front gate of the city». It is included in the list of cultural heritage sites.
Chkalovsky district, the oldest area of the city, arose about three centuries ago.
This is the place where the first church and the first school of Yekaterinburg appeared. Oktyabrsky is the «longest» district of the city, whereas Ordzhonikidze – the most inhabited.
Three of the nine subways of Yekaterinburg are located here.
Yekaterinburg has an excellent public transportation system. First buses appeared back in 1913, in the 20s of the last century regular bus and tram connections were established and in 1943 trolley bus routes were launched. Nowadays the trolleybus-tram network of the capital of Urals is considered one of the largest ones in Russia (following Moscow and St. Petersburg).
There are in the city about 34 tram routes and 20 trolley buses. The residents of Yekaterinburg take pride in their underground railway. The Yekaterinburg Metro opened in 1991 and consisted at that time of 1 line and 3 stations. Today the local Metro includes a total of 9 stations. The fare in public transportation is 26 RUB. It is more convenient though to purchase a travel pass, called «E-Karta» . The travel pass can operate as an «electronic wallet» or to serve as a full monthly pass. The price depends on how often one travels and the preferred type of transport. You can buy an unlimited monthly pass or one for 20, 40, or 70 rides with a validity of 60 days. Prices are listed for March 2015.
The perfect option for tourists on the weekends is the «E-card», valid for 3 days on all types of transport and unlimited rides. The 3-Day pass fare starts at 350 RUB. The card for 20 trips costs 465 RUB.
Another form of transport is the city’s electric train. It leaves the train station, crosses the city and arrives in Sysert town . The ticket fare is 55 RUB. The second line of the city’s electric railway links Yekaterinburg and Koltsovo. The train takes passengers from the airport to the city center.
The capital of Ural could definitely not have gone without cabs. The network of minibuses (marhrutkas) covers the entire city and has more than 70 routes. The ticket fare is 23-26 RUB.
Metro runs from 5:30 a.m till 12:00 a.m. The city buses run form 6:00 a.m., trams and trolley buses from 5:30 a.m. Traffic after 11:00 a.m. is very slow. Fares for the land transportation will be paid directly in the cabin (tickets are sold by the conductors).
Car Rentals in Yekaterinburg
There are about 80 rental car agencies in Yekaterinburg. Cars of any types can be rented for 24 hours or more, with or without a designated driver. The rent of a Russian car starts at 800 RUB per day, a foreign economy class car’s rental starts at 1.000 RUB. The city’s public transportation system is well developed, thus it only makes sense to ride a car only if planning to visit the countryside attractions. Within the city there is always the risk of getting stuck in traffic, no wonder Yekaterinburg is considered one of the densest cities in Russia. The peak traffic in the center of the Ural’s capital occurs mostly in the morning and the evening time.
It is rather difficult to find any parking in the tourists’ areas. Some of the main streets have particularly paid parking spaces. Prices start at 30 RUB per hour.
Yekaterinburg guest card
At the end of 2015 the Tourist Information Center of Sverdlovsk oblast’ released a guest card for tourists of Yekaterinburg. It offers discounts at restaurants, hotels, shops and most tourist destinations in the region – from museums and entertainment centers to suburban health centers.
The card is unlimited and can be activated within a year after its purchase. The e-wallet option can be linked to the card and used for public transport. The price of the guest card is 1500-1800 RUB and can be purchased at one of the distribution points, or on-line at ITC of Sverdlovsk region.
What to bring back
First and foremost, of course you should find the famous Ural gems, the malachite jewelery box and the Mistress of the copper mountain (depicted as a golden lizard with a crown). Jeweleries made of jasper, rock crystal, lazurite and other stones are sold on the patch, not far from the USUE, the subway station “Geologicheskaya”. There can also be found items made of malachite. By the way, it is important to mention that the large-scale mining of this mineral in the Urals ended 50 years ago. Basically most of the jewelry and jewelry boxes sold in Yekaterinburg are made of African malachite.
But Ural is not famous only for its gems. The Lower Tavolgi, for instance is well known for its production of clay products. Porcelain figurines and tableware are manufactured in Sysert town, located at 50 km from Yekaterinburg. Nizhny Tagil is known for painting trays, whereas the factory specializing in artistic cast iron work is located in Kasli. In the Urals’ Capital can also be found, if desired, the Tavolgi ceramics, Sysert’ porcelain and exclusive iron horse.
The lovers of unique collections can look for «Bazhov Tales» with illustrations made by the local artists or the «Forgotten Temple of Ural» almanacs, with photos of churches, which will never be restored.
Let’s move on to the food souvenirs: visitors bring back from Yekaterinburg the «Sverdlovsk» cake, «Bazhov Tales» spice cakes (pryaniki), and candies like «Vivat, Russia! Catherine I» and «Vivat, Russia! Peter I» and local mayonnaise.
Yekaterinburg is listed in the World Guinness Book as the city with the highest consumption of mayo per capita. According to the collection of records, one resident of Yekaterinburg consumes about 560 ml. of mayonnaise.
The drinks in highest demand are “Isetskoe” and “Tagilskoye” beer and liqueurs like “Ural foothills”, “Ural ashberry” and “Old Ural”.
Cafés and restaurants of Yekaterinburg
There are no issues with food in Yekaterinburg. Essentially every district have places where to dine in.
These are the regular café & dining, restaurants of world food chains and of course gourmet restaurants. The best coffee shops are concentrated in the city center. The popular local fast food is represented by burgers, pizza and oriental pastries like: kutaby, pide, khachapuri. Equally, locals love Ossetian pies and Japanese rolls.
A hearty snack in a fast food café will cost about 200-300 RUB. Lunch in a café will come up to 500 RUB. An average bill in a restaurant will range between 800 and 1000 RUB. There are in Yekaterinburg posh restaurants as well. Restaurant “Troyekurov”, for instance, is a place where visitors go like to a museum or theater, looking for impressions. The dishes here, are like works of art and prices, accordingly. Dinner for a person will start at 2000 RUB.
Yekaterinburg and its surroundings are rich in historical, archaeological, geological and natural monuments and landmarks. The Stone Tent Shartashskaya, a place of prehistoric metallurgy is located right within the city. It is also considered a place of pagan sacrifices. The rocks have more than 300 millions years. The monument is located in the Forest Park.
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is the main cathedral of the Novo-Tikhvin women’s monastery. Erected in the honor of the Patriotic war of 1812, the cathedral has retained, in the soviet years, its beauty on the inside but changed beyond recognition on the outside. For many years it housed the department of nature of the history museum of Sverdlovsk.
In the 18th century in the place of the Novo-Tikhvin women’s monastery the church of Assumption of the Virgin laid. A hospice was built by the church. Only later it became a female monastic community. Today, the building and the territory of the monastery, that in Soviet times housed the hospital of Urals Military District, has been transferred to the Yekaterinburg eparchy.
The white water tower is an architectural monument built in the beginning of the 20th century. The tower represents an original composition of two crashed geometrical shapes crashed into each other, cylindrical tank on high poles and the box having a vertical direction. A unique pattern of industrial buildings in the Russian constructivism style. The manor of A. A. Zheleznova is a red brick building, built in 1895, in « à la russe» style, with variations of modern on the theme of Old Russian architecture, which is unique in the architectural environment of Yekaterinburg. A neglected garden with remains of a marble fountain adjoins the Manor. Before the revolution, the house belonged to the businessman Zheleznov. Today the building houses the Institute of History and Archeology.
Plotinka is considered the main place of meeting. This is the place where students walk, newly weds take photographs and lovers set dates.
Museums of Yekaterinburg
There are many museums in Yekaterinburg and each of them is attractive in its own way. You can see there unique archaeological and historical monuments, geological curiosities, local crafts (famous cast iron, hammered copper, painted metal trays) and paintings made by Ural and Russian painters.
The Famous Literary quarter is a whole collection of museums dedicated to the Ural’s writers. When strolling trough the local streets, keep in mind that there once walked such personalities as Pavel Bazhov and Dmitry Mamin-Sibiryak. The house of the latter by the way, has remained the same as it was in its original state: same furniture in the residential area, old outbuilding on the outside and apple trees in the garden, planted by the writer himself.
To find out how the malachite jewelry boxes from «Ural Tales» were made, just visit the Museum of History of stone-cutting and jewelry. The Art lovers will appreciate the exposition of the Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts where such canvases as Shishkin, K. Malevich, A. Savrasov and Kandinsky are displayed.
There are 600 thousand exhibits in the Sverdlovsk Regional Museum of Local Lore and among them, the unique Shigir Idol with the 5m height is displayed. One of the Regional Museum branches, the Merchant life Museum, is located in an old log house. This monument of wooden architecture was built in the late 19th century. The interior of the house has been recreated as a typical merchant’s home: rooms, bedrooms, offices and children’s rooms. There is even a home cinema with a primitive video equipment.
Yekaterinburg for children
Yekaterinburg has a large water park, “Limpopo” with water slides complexes, pools and fountains. There are in the city dozens of children’s entertainment centers. Gorky Park Mayakovsky is the largest amusement park. It is open all year around and is divided into several parts: the “Literary Alley”, the “Retro Alley”, the sport playground and others. One of the most popular recreation areas is the petting zoo with camels, ostriches, raccoons and even deer. In the wintertime, Mayakovsky Park is famous by its snow town with a 12-meter slide, the skating rink and ski lodge. During the summertime amusements and extreme rides are opened for families and children.
Another popular spot for a holiday with children is the Wonderland Park “Galileo”. This is an interactive project with labyrinths and illusion-rooms. Newton Park and Newton Bio are both, museums of science and park of scientific entertainment. Here you can enjoy experimenting in laboratories, action quests and dozens of interactive exhibits.
The Yekaterinburg zoo has more than 80 years. Today nearly 1.200 animals live there. Among them there are even rare animals that are listed in the Russian Red Book: Siberian Tiger, Asian elephant, Amur leopard and Snow leopard. The zoo is located right in the heart of the city
The place which will definitely be favored by children is “ Wonderland”, the Yekaterinburg museum of dolls and children’s books. It is located in the same house, where in the 19th century, the family of Dmitry Mamin-Sibiryak rented a room for three years.
All set of postcards with views of the city have the Yekaterinburg circus illustrated on them. The circus has a lattice steel dome. A similar circus can be seen only in Brazil. Every year the Festival of clowns takes place here and guest performers regularly come on tours. From time to time, the Yekaterinburg circus puts on its own shows, and by the way, they are pretty successful.
6 things to do in Yekaterinburg
- Ride the subway.
- Jump on the concrete QWERTY keys of the Keyboard monument
- Walk from the keyboard to The Beatles monument, in fact the only one in the country. Make sure to take a photo there.
- See the Obelisk “Europe-Asia”, just you will be in two parts of the world at the same time..
- Climb up the observation deck of the “Vysotsky” skyscraper.
- Go around the 35 attractions folllowing the «Red Line» painted on the asphalt. A detailed map with descriptions of all sights can be found here.
Yekaterinburg and its surroundings features a humid continental climate, with long winters and relatively hot summers. Sudden temperature fluctuations and formation of weather anomalies are characteristic for the city: in the winter – from harsh frost to thaw, whereas in the summer – from hot weather to cold and rain.
May and June frosts at – 3 °C can occur and snowfalls are also possible.
Today Yekaterinburg has more than 60 hotels of different categories. On the bank of the river Iset, in the «Government quarter» rises the beautiful 20-story Hyatt. A night in this posh hotel costs a minimum of 14000 RUB. There are in the city other 5-stars hotels which are simpler and with prices starting at 5500 RUB.
You can easily find an average hotel in the city center and the airport. A night in a classic 3-stars hotel will cost from 1500 RUB.
Besides the traditional hotels, the city has a lot of hostels and relatively inexpensive mini-hotels. Most of them have access to Wi-Fi. The price per room in a hostel starts at 400 RUB, in a mini-hotel from 1400 RUB.