Two days may not seem sufficient to explore Kazan‘s cultural wealth, but if you plan right, you can get a lot out of this incredible city. Over a hundred years older than Moscow, the capital of Tatarstan is a foodie haven, a barfly’s dream and a cultural connoisseur and history buff’s delight. Here’s our ultimate guide.
Starting early, get your bearings by wandering through the city and head up to the Kremlin – the only surviving Tatar fortress in Russia and UNESCO World Heritag-listed – and check out some of Kazan’s most spectacular sights. Here you can see the bronze statue of Musa Jalil, the imposing and impressive Kul Sharif Mosque and Syuymbike Tower, as well as the Khazine gallery, the Hermitage and a viewing platform where you can take in the impressive Kazan River. Compulsory sightseeing – done!
Take the metro (each of the ten stations are decorated with tatar folk mosaics, so don’t feel like you’re being lazy at the expense of culture) back down a couple of stops to Bauman Street, saying hello to Zilant, the city’s dragon mascot found in one of his many incarnations at the Kremlin metro station.
Grab a quick, cheap and hearty lunch at Dom Chaya, a Soviet-style canteen that’s no frills but all flavour. As it’s not really a place to linger, take a short stroll over to Gudini, an independent coffee shop, and rest your feel a while over a strong coffee.
Not far from there is Smena, Kazan’s premier modern and contemporary art precinct and perfect for those interested in Kazan’s current cultural scene.
Cap the day off with a pre-dinner tipple at Salt, a popular local hangout.
Don’t miss out on trying some delicious Tatar cuisine – head to Tatar foodie institution, Dom Tatarskoi Kulinarii, the House of Tatar Cooking, to try horse meat solyanka and other Tatar classics.
Then, finish your day off by taking it into to the early morning – bar hop along Ulitsa Baumana and the parallel Ulista Profsoyuznaya, discovering the little bars scattered along and between on the way. Favorite spots to get the night started include Cuba Libre, Rubai, Belgian Beer bar, Fomin Bar and Shop, and Rockstar Bar.
Shake off Saturday night’s cobwebs with a delicious Russian breakfast at Green Dog, a cosy little café that serves up favourites such as syrniki, a slightly sweet tvorg pancake, as well as kasha and buckwheat pancakes.
Amble up to the small and quirky Museum of Soviet Life to bask in kitsch cultural relics from behind the Iron Curtain. Head over to the nearby central market and watch all the hustle and bustle. If you’re still hungry, this is the perfect place to pick up some food, particularly Tatar, at super cheap prices.
From the central market, head back up to the Kremlin and into the Hermitage to marvel at its extensive collection of art. Alternatively take a bus, trolley bus or taxi over to the Temple of All Faiths and revel in its unique architecture and design. If you’re not tired of walking by now, check out the old Tatar Settlement and admire the old, traditional wooden houses.
Head over to The Woods Craft Beer to get a taste of the craft beer scene that is sweeping across Russia, and have a nibble on something if you’re feeling peckish.
Finish the weekend off with a meal at the wonderfully kitsch Indian restaurant Malabar. Walk it off with a stroll over to Mr Willard, one of Kazan’s newest and hippest additions to its nightlife scene for a nightcap, and let the evening linger for as long as you like.