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© Sergei Afanasev/Shutterstock

The Best Things to See and Do in Yekaterinburg

Picture of Zita Whalley
Updated: 12 August 2017

Russia’s fourth biggest city is packed with architecture, sculptures, restaurants and cultural happenings. Home to important historical sites and buildings, as well as vibrant nightlife scene, Yekaterinburg is overflowing with things to see and do. Here are our top picks.

Explore the city on a Red Line Walking Tour

Thanks to several passionate residents of Yekaterinburg, the Red Line Walking Tour is a self-guided route that takes you past 35 of the city’s top attractions. At your own pace, get acquainted with Yekaterinburg along a 6.5 km (4 mile) loop that highlights some of the best views, historical sites and quirky touches the city has to offer. After starting at the Square of 1905, stroll along the Rabochaya Molodyozh embankment and make your way past the State Opera and Ballet Theatre to discover two unique public sculptures, the Keyboard Monument and the Beatles Band Monument. The map is available here.

Enjoy Yekaterinburg’s skyline from the Vysotky Viewing Platform

Boasting panoramic views of Yekaterinburg’s skyline, there is little excuse not to head up to the 52nd floor of the Vysotky Business Centre to its viewing platform to gaze across Yekaterinburg’s sprawl. Named after the Soviet poet, musician and artist Vladimir Vysotsky, it is also a play on the Russian word for tall, vysoky. At 188 metres (617 feet) and 54 floors, the Vysotsky building was the tallest skyscraper outside of Moscow until the Iset Tower, also in Yekaterinburg, was built in 2016. The viewing platform is open daily between 10am-11pm and entry is on the hour.

52nd Floor Vysotsky Business Centre, ul. Malysheva 51, Yekaterinburg,  Russia, +7 343 378 45 45

Dine overlooking a sensational cityscape

Another play on words is Vertikal, an up-market restaurant also housed in the Vysotsky tower. Just below the viewing platform on the 51st floor, it offers live music, Russian, European and Asian cuisine for both lunch and dinner and is open for just coffees and drinks as well. It is one of the best spots in town to enjoy a luxurious sun-downer or cocktail and savour the view in style. Festooned with chandeliers and an interior scheme that exudes luxury, dressing up and booking ahead for dinner is advised.

Vertikal, Vysotsky Business Centre, ul. Malysheva 51, Yekaterinburg,  Russia, +7 343 200 51 51

Contemplate the ending of an empire at Church upon the Blood

On the night of July 16, 1918 the Bolsheviks executed Tsar Nicholas II, his wife and five children during the Bolshevik Revolution in the basement of a local engineer’s house, ending Russian imperial bloodlines and solidifying Lenin’s power. The house was demolished in 1977 and what stands there now is the resplendent Church upon the Blood, a fully operational chapel, museum and a memorial to the fallen family. An impressive example of Byzantine style architecture, the church is embellished with gold-topped domes and is rumoured to contain the most expensive religious icon commissioned in Russia.

ul. Tolmacheva 34, Yekaterinburg, Russia, +7 343 371 61 68

Relax in Victory Park

Close to the city centre is Victory Park, a forest-filled oasis from the goings-on of the city. Scattered throughout the park are little gazebos which can be hired for barbecues, picnics and to generally while away an afternoon at your leisure, in semi-privacy. There is also a licensed café that serves classic Russian meals, while you can horse-ride, hire bikes and walk through the trees in the Rope Park. There is even paint ball facilities and trampolines for the children.

Ulitsa Kirovgradskaya 101, Yekaterinburg, Russia, +7 902 501 80 56

Celebrate technology at the Keyboard Monument

Along the Iset River embankment is a piece of public art that pays tribute to technology and the computer. Created in October 2005 by artist Anatoly Vyatkin, the Keyboard Monument consists of around 100 stone blocks, each weighing up to 80 kg (176 pounds) each, positioned to look like an oversized QWERTY keyboard. Designed on a 30:1 scale, the sculpture stretches across 16 metres (53 feet). The locals say if you want to reboot your life step on Ctrl, Alt, Del.

ul. Gorkogo, Yekaterinburg, Russia

Cook like a local at the Pelmeni Club

The Pelmeni Club is a cheap and cheerful experience in Russian cuisine. The small and cozy restaurant offers a wide range of sweet and savoury Russian style dumplings using local ingredients and flavours, as well as giving its customers the opportunity to make their own food. Depending on your interest level you can either bind your dumpling portion yourself, or stuff dough to make your own. There are also children’s workshops available. The restaurant has been so popular it has opened a second restaurant on ul., Lunacharsky. English menus are available.

Ulitsa Krasnoarmeyskaya 2, Yekaterinburg, Russia, +7 343 271 33 30

Ulitsa Lunacharskogo 82, Yekaterinburg, Russia, +7 343 271 33 30

Acquaint yourself with the Russian Federation’s first President

A key figure in recent Russian political history and a native to the Yekaterinburg area, Boris Yeltsin aimed to turn Russia into a capitalist economy post perestroika, the period of economic transition that marked the end of the Soviet Union. While his terms were sullied with corruption and social inequity, the expansive Boris Yeltsin Presidential Centre was established in 2015 to celebrate his work and contemporary Russian political history. The museum has a recreation of Yeltsin’s Kremlin office, complete with original furniture, as well as housing the infamous briefcase which had a button inside to authorise the use of nuclear weapons.

ul. Borisa Eltsina 3, Yekaterinburg, Russia, +7 343 312 43 43

See a show at Yekaterinburg State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre

Keeping in line with Russia’s appreciation for Classicism, the Yekaterinburg State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre is one of the oldest and most opulent opera theatres in Russia. It has been staging operas and ballets since the late 1800s, making it one of the oldest buildings in the city. Many of Russia’s greats have graced the stage here including Sergei Lemesheve, Irana Aekhipoiva and Boris Shtokolov in their early days, earning it a reputation as a key regional theatre. Its current repertoire comprises of well-known ballets and operas such as La Bohème and Swan Lake.

Lenin Avenue 46А, Yekaterinburg, Russia, +7 343 350 80 57

Get your petrol head on at the Military Technology Museum

Located on the outskirts of Yekaterinburg, the indoor/outdoor Military Technology Museum’s range of military of tanks, helicopters and automobiles is huge. It is one of the largest collections of military and armoured vehicles in the world, and it is still growing. The collection has vintage vehicles from France, USA, UK as well as Russia and the USSR, many of which are regularly used in Victory Parades and celebrations. The museum also focuses on contextualising the Soviet Army’s Ural Divisions efforts in the great Patriotic War, otherwise known as World War II.

ul. Aleksandra Kozitsyna 2, Verkhnyaya Pyshma Russia, +7 343 684 67 84