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Samara‘s role in Russian space aviation, as well as its architectural relics, political history and buzzing nightlife, make any visit to this port town rammed with fun. Filled with quirks and idiosyncrasies, as well as plenty of cafés, bars and restaurants to try out, it’s a great spot for a weekend away – here’s our ultimate guide.
Get acquainted with the city by meandering from sight to sight. Start off at the Samara Space Museum and get your head around Samara’s involvement in Soviet space exploration – or at the very least, make sure you see the real life Vostok rocket erected just outside. Meander across to Stalin’s Bunker and marvel at the architectural feat of it, not to mention the paranoia that inspired it.
The Modern Museum is a short stroll away – housed in an old merchant’s mansion, it is a celebration of Russian Art Nouveau, which was popular at the turn of the 20th century.
Take a well deserved break at Café Puri, one of Samara’s most loved cafés, and get stuck into their famously delicious Georgian dishes and baked goods.
Well-fed, make your way to the Volga observation deck, stopping off on the way to see Konstantin Golovkin’s cottage – an impressive Art Deco relic adorned with life-sized statues of elephants, despite being in disrepair.
The observation deck is in the neighbouring village of Upravlenchesky, and a former helicopter pad. It also offers an unparalleled view of the Volga and there is a small café there where you can relax, take a break and soak up the view.
Head back into town and make your way to Parburg, Samara’s first burger bar, to try one of the many burgers they have on offer. Turkey, salmon, beef tongue and vegetarian options are all on their extensive menu of indulgent burgers. From here, the night is yours for the taking. Stay at Parburg a while and enjoy the casual atmosphere, or head over to Jaw Pike, a craft beer bar and get amongst the beer aficionados. Van Goh’s is a cocktail bar/club that stays open until the early hours, but for those who really want to get their party on, head over to Harat’s, the Shamrock or Maximilian’s and try to keep up with Samara’s party people.
Get straight down to Coffee Cake and feast on a strong coffee, kasha, syrniki, waffles or pancakes. Then head just across the road for a swim.
Set up camp for the morning at Samara beach and laze, doze, sun bake and swim with the locals. It is the perfect remedy for a hangover, and is a morning well spent even if you are feeling fresh.
Once you start to feel hungry again, head over to the Shannon, for a late English roast and a pint. Once you are sufficiently stuffed, stroll (or roll) along the embankment, up to Zhiguli brewery, home to the legendary Soviet beer, Zhigulevskoye, and try one out for yourself with a bowl of vobla (dried fish) – the ultimate beer snack. Don’t forget to bring a bottle so you can get a takeaway straight from the keg.
Meander back along the embankment until you find Tel Aviv, a food truck that whips up falafel and other yummy Israeli street food – ideal for a light meal. Find a spot with a view and enjoy a Volga-side sunset with your food and drink.