Novosibirsk is the third most populated city in Russia and Siberia’s largest metropolis, making Novosibirsk the unofficial capital of Siberia. The city was founded in 1893 and was built for the purpose of developing the famous Trans-Siberian Railway Bridge over the River OB.
Although the city is very proud of the fact, Novosibirsk is famous for more than just the Trans-Siberian; it is one of three leading scientific centres in Russia, after Moscow and St Petersburg of course. Novosibirsk is also known for being one of Russia’s fastest growing centres of culture with many thriving art galleries, a world famous Opera and Ballet House, and the renowned University of Novosibirsk.
When I was given the task to update our current catalogues with new destinations, Novosibirsk seemed an obvious decision to make mainly for its Trans-Siberian heritage, and for the purpose of covering the Trans-Siberian, Trans-Mongolian, and Trans-Manchurian route. In all honesty, I was equally sold on the idea of having authentic experiences with real locals, and I imagine that this is an experience which many of you will find very appealing.
So what is there to do in Novosibirsk, you ask?
I encourage you to not let the fact that it’s a new city fool you into believing that Novosibirsk has nothing to offer.
Novosibirsk is a Trans-Siberian traveller’s paradise with history at every turn; the culture is vibrant and the locals are very proud of their heritage. The list of activities is endless, a city tour offers innumerable opportunities to get to know Siberia’s new Chicago, and a tour around Akademogorodoc will allow you to immerse yourself in everything that the city stands for, including its Trans-Siberian legacy.
To begin a tour of Novosibirsk, I would venture off into the city with a local guide to explore the all the main sites, starting in Main Square at the Lenin monument, then on marvel at the State Opera and Ballet Theatre.
Following on from the theatre, I would travel to the oldest part of the city, Gorkovo Street, before finishing with a trip to the Ascension Cathedral, St Nicholas Chapel, and the OB River embankment to admire the stunning views as it stretches into the distance.
The last leg of my city tour would include a visit to the old Siberian farmers market, to sample some delicious Siberian delicacies like smoked omul. If you’ve read my food blog ‘A Taste of Russia’, then you’ve already become acquainted with my attempts to make Russian food, so for the purpose of tasting authentic Russian food done right, my trip to the Siberian farmers market would also involve sampling a few Russian dishes.I imagine at the farmers market I would engage with the local traders, learn a few new Russian words, and maybe purchase a Matryoshka doll to take home with me.
When in Russia, do what Russian’s do… or is that Rome?
Vodka, food, and great company is what I call a good time.
My idea of the perfect cultural experience would be to spend an afternoon sat around a dinner table with a local family, and feel as though I’m part of the Russian family by experiencing hospitality, which I’ve been told, is unlike anywhere else in the world. Being able to engage with the locals in the setting of their own home, learning more about their heritage, and briefly immersing myself in their traditions is what I would call an authentic experience.
In my quest to immerse myself in the Novosibirsk culture, I would consider a culinary masterclass and learn the secret to preparing authentic Russian and Siberian cuisine, including pelmeni (which I’ve successfully made before), borsch and shchi. I would quite happily end my cultural adventure here, but I know I would be missing out on the opportunity to become a true ‘Novosibirsker’. With that said, I would spend a day with a local and venture through the lesser known sites to see all the city’s hidden treasures, before trying some of the city’s delicious street food.
All good things must come to an end!
For a city that is only a century old, Novosibirsk has many of interesting and historical sights and stories to tell you. If you’re more of a history enthusiast, I recommend ending your trip in the town of Akademorodok, one of the only scientific towns in Russia, which was the home to over 60,000 scientist during the period of the USSR.
While in Akademogorodok, I would take a tour of the town then proceed to the Open Air Train Museum to see all the magnificent vintage trains, and learn more about the history of the great Trans-Siberian Railway, before continuing down to the embankment of Novosibirskoye Reservoir.
Last but certainly not least, as an animal lover it seems only logical to end my journey by visiting the Novosibirsk zoo to catch a glimpse of some of its endangered wildlife, including the Siberian tiger.
Until next time, do svidaniya (Goodbye)!
Now that I’ve introduced you to the incredible city that is Novosibirsk, feel free to browse through our excursions catalogue, or choose from one of the listed destinations. Remember to keep an eye open for more excursions that will be added over the next few months.
My aim is to expand our collection of activities in Russia and its neighbouring countries, and bring you even more exciting excursions that will enable you to have a truly authentic experience, wherever you decide to go.
If you’re still unsure of what you can do to enhance your experience in Russia, Mongolia and China, you might get a few ideas if you read the previous instalment in ‘Let the adventures begin’.
Have you been to Novosibirsk? If you have, what were the main highlights of your trip?
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Firstly there are classical sites and museums that you might expect from any Russian town, plus natural heritage sites, and activity centres to cater to people of all ages, with a variety of interests.
At Stalin’s summer residence, the public are encouraged to wander the halls and the rooms, including a banquet room, billiard room, swimming pool, and of course the study of the leader, plus the courtyard with a large Chess set, which presents both Stalin’s professional and social approach to life. There are even suspicions of the ghost of Stalin wandering the halls, so this not just for an average lover of history!
The Sochi Art Museum is an iconic building with four pillars holding up the centre of this broad neo-classic-esque architecture. The exhibitions rotate frequently, ranging from displays of technical modern art to fine art. We would recommend to check what will be exhibiting whilst you are visiting Sochi, so that you won’t miss out!
Sochi also has fun activities geared for all the family: Sochi Discovery World Aquarium presents a range of sea life to observe and enjoy; Open-Air Animal Complex Laura has hundreds of species of wildlife to walk amongst; and the Singing Fountains, located at the corner of Navaginskaya and Kurortny Prospekt streets, bring life to the town. These activities will be enjoyed as much by adults and parents, as children!
Then to rest from all the excitement and to explore Sochi further, we recommend to visit the beautiful Natural parks: Khostinsky Tisosamshitovaya Grove, Dendrary Botanical Garden, and Krasnaya Polyana Mountain cluster. Not to forget, the Waterfalls and rivers near to Sochi: Agura and Orekhovsky and the Mzymta River are also worth a visit!
Sochi has a wide variety of restaurants and bars, ranging from traditional to modern, so whether you are a family looking for a comfortable place to eat, or a group of friends looking for nightlife, Sochi can accommodate both and will ensure that everyone has a great time!
If you would like more information about the visa options, during the Sochi Winter Olympics, take a look at our full Sochi Winter Olympics page, devoted to providing up to date visa advice for spectators to the Games.
If you have any enquiries, feel free to contact our visa, travel or tours specialists for further information on arranging visas, train tickets, or excursions for this event, or speak to one of our advisors via our live chat web feature.