Welcome to Novosibirsk, Russia!
Novosibirsk Oblast is a very unique place that many people visiting Russia don’t consider, but as a worldwide local, these off-the-beaten-path places are the ones you should be heading to. Novosibirsk calls itself the “capital of Siberia,” and with a population of over 1.5 million people, the city is anything but boring.
The city is relatively young, having only been founded in 1893 and during the Soviet era, it was a major center of heavy industry. In 1962 the city was the first to grow to a million people. After only being around for 70 years, by the fall of the Soviet Union, it was Russia’s third-largest city. Novosibirsk embraces the fact that it is far away from other Russian cities and presents itself with a laid-back approach to life. There’s great nightlife, history, museums, the lovely Novosibirsk Lake, and plenty of interesting monuments for the worldwide local to check out in Novosibirsk. This insider’s guide will allow you to uncover the hidden treasures this destination has to offer.
Worldwide Local Tip: The best time to visit Novosibirsk is probably (unsurprisingly) the summer months. During the day it gets pretty warm, but the nights can cool down. The Novosibirsk weather, in winter, can see very extreme cold temperatures (-22 F), and the city is perpetually dark and cloudy. During the spring and Autumn the area gets muddy and rainy, so visiting during July or June is the optimal time.
Start at the City Center
In Novosibirsk, times have changed a lot in recent years. During the Soviet era, the city was not accessible to foreign visitors, but since then the city has drastically opened up and became a center of culture and life of Siberia. The center of the cultural hub of Siberia is Lenina Square. The square is the center of local life, where visitors and locals alike come to hang out. The square is also a sort of exhibition center and is lined with beautiful architecture and bustling atmosphere of people shopping, dining and going about their day. It’s the center of town where many important places are near, such as the State Concert Hall and the city hall.
Worldwide Local Tip: One of the most iconic parts of Lenina Square is an interesting remnant from the old Soviet Union. The large statue of Vladimir Lenin and the founder of the Soviet Union can still be found here standing proudly. It’s definitely worth checking out, as the statue is massive and a cultural blast from the past.
Novosibirsk Arts and Culture
Just off the side of Lenina Square is an iconic and cultural institution of Novosibirsk. The Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theater was built in 1945 (during WWII) and the building is not only famous in the city, but is famous in all of Russia and even throughout the world. If you’re not interested in watching opera or ballet a visit to the building is worth a trip in itself, as the grand and opulent building is even larger than Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater. The three halls can fit up to 2,000 people and is known as the “Siberian Coliseum.” Bring a camera and wander the halls.
Worldwide Local Tip: If going to the ballet or the opera is not your thing, then if you’re looking for a dose of culture head to the Novosibirsk Zoo. One of the largest zoos in Russia, Novosibirsk Zoo is home to over 10,000 exotic animals including a hugely rare Liger--that’s a lion and a tiger mixed.
Eat Like a Local
Because of Novosibirsk’s position in Siberia, the landscape and distance from many other major cities have impacted Novosibirsk’s cuisine to an interesting degree. As a worldwide local you’ll want to get a taste of what the locals eat and the traditional Russian cuisine of Siberia should not be missed. Siberian pelmeni is popular and is a dumpling-like food filled with various types of meat and vegetables like cabbage. Of course, most people have heard of caviar, which is available here and the freshest you’ll ever have.
Worldwide Local Tip: If you’re hungry and looking to dine on a budget, check out Vilka-Lozhka. The restaurant serves hunks of meat at bargain prices, in a self-serve canteen reminiscent of the Soviet-era. Funky tunes are played throughout the sound system and despite the Soviet vibes, this restaurant has become one of the hippest and coolest spots to eat in the city.
Enjoy Your Stay!
You might not think that visiting Siberia is a great idea, but you’d be wrong--and Novosibirsk is proof of that. The city is rich with culture and history and is the home of everything cool and hip in the region. Novosibirsk is full of everything a worldwide local loves, it’s just a little off the beaten path.