You’re Going to Love Novosibirsk
Siberia’s increasingly mobile capital city, Novosibirsk boasts lovely wooden architecture, some exceptional museums and a warm, welcoming atmosphere that makes the desolation of the tundra seem thousands of miles away.
What to do in Novosibirsk
1. Animal Wonders And A Reputation For Welfare
Novosibirsk Zoo may come as a surprise to some visitors due to its sheer size. In total, this massive animal park has more than 11,000 inhabitants and over 700 species are represented. And they aren’t just native Siberian fauna either (although there are a few polar bears and Siberian tigers to get to know). From mandrills and yellow mongooses, to lions and cheetahs, the city zoo is crammed with charismatic critters, and has a reputation for being one of the most responsible zoos in the world, as well.
2. Endless Visual Delights From Russian History
Opened under Soviet rule in 1958, the State Art Museum is a visual delight. Well, from the outside it might seem a little dour, but when you get inside, you’ll be in art heaven. The 10,000 paintings and sculptures provide a unique panorama of Russian art, from 16th century Orthodox icons to 19th century realists and modern masters, too. The large collection of dreamy mountain landscapes by Nikolai Rerikh is a highlight, but there’s lots for art fans to feast on here.
3. Stunning Sacred Architecture
Although it was built relatively recently during Novosibirsk’s late 19th century boom, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral looks and feels much older. Perhaps that’s because the builders adopted a stunning Byzantine arrangement, with ornate cupolas that are crowned with golden gilding, and jaw-dropping murals inside the church. Inspiring, majestic, and very much a living religious center, the cathedral is one of the city’s focal points, and not to be missed.
4. A Fun-Packed Communist Curio
What with the prosperity of modern Novosibirsk, and the fresh, creative atmosphere of the city, it’s sometimes hard to remember that the city spent more than 70 years under Soviet rule. Well, you can refresh your historical memory at the USSR Museum, which presents a fascinating array of communist-era memorabilia. Even better, it’s a really hands-on place, where you can try on Soviet costumes (and take some unique photos). Fun, engaging and full of curiosities, it’s a quirky historical highlight.
5. Culture And Communist Kitsch At The City’s Heart
Modern Novosibirsk grew up around Lenina Square, which functions as the city’s civic heart. If you eat out or spend the evening in Novosibirsk, there’s almost no way to avoid Lenina – which is a good thing, as it’s full of appeal. For one thing, the square is lined with cultural institutions like the Philharmonic Orchestra and State Concert Hall – where shows are cheap and of an astounding quality. But there’s also a hulking statue of Lenin (hence the name) – a reminder that locals aren’t exactly ashamed of their Soviet heritage. And with restaurants and parks aplenty, the area is a place that always repays time spent there.
How to Get to Novosibirsk
Tolmachevo Airport has plenty of domestic and international connections. Bus 111 runs into the city center and costs RUB35. Expect taxis to charge around RUB500.
Novosibirsk is about 50 hours from Moscow by train and is a stop on the Trans-Siberian Express. Tickets cost around RUB5,000-10,000.
From Tomsk, take the P-255 straight to Novosibirsk or take the P-254 from Omsk; both journeys are about 8 hours.
Where to Stay in Novosibirsk
The city’s leading luxury hotels are as good as any in Russia. Highlights include the DoubleTree by Hilton, the Radisson Novosibirsk and the Marins Park Hotel.
Popular Neighborhoods in Novosibirsk
Krasny Prospekt – The most important street in town, Krasny Prospect is home to the Opera and a huge array of stores and restaurants.
Akademgorodok – Built by the Soviets as an academic city, Akademgorodok has some extraordinary architecture and beautiful tree-lined boulevards. It’s a great place to explore.
Oktyabrskiy Rayon – A sprawling neighborhood in the southeast of the city, with a beautiful riverfront and excellent bars like Beerman; it’s the ideal place to round of a busy day of activities.
Most booked hotels in Novosibirsk
Novosibirsk Marriott Hotel$89+ Excellent (9.1, 1,022 reviews)
Metelitsa Hotel$31+ Excellent (9.1, 945 reviews)
Park Inn by Radisson Novosibirsk$38+ Excellent (9, 2,069 reviews)
Hostel Obskoi$8+ Excellent (8.8, 164 reviews)
Marins Park Hotel Novosibirsk$32+ Excellent (8.4, 4,716 reviews)
Hostel Homeliness$23+ Excellent (8.5, 95 reviews)
How to Get Around Novosibirsk
Novosibirsk has a small Metro system, which serves most central areas and costs RUB35 per ride.
If you need a taxi in the city, expect to pay around RUB100 for the meter drop, then about RUB20 per mile.
If you want to visit Tomsk or see the Ob valley, you can rent a car from companies like Eurazcar, Europcar and Hertz for around RUB700 per day.