Top Things To Do And See In Novosibirsk, Russia

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Marianna Hunt

After the world-famous St Petersburg and Moscow, Novosibirsk is Russia‘s third most important city. Off limits to foreigners during Soviet times, this beautifully historic town is only just being discovered by outsiders and its unspoiled nature makes Novosibirsk the ideal place to gain a true and authentic taste of Russia.

The State Art Museum

Novosibirsk’s Art Museum is one of the most extensive art galleries in the whole of Siberia. This cultural capital of the Siberian region houses everything from sculpture, to ancient local crafts, to fine paintings, to exquisite Russian Orthodox icons, to the most cutting edge of Russia’s modern art, and with over 10,000 exhibits, there’ll be no end of masterpieces to explore. The immense, grey art deco building is one of the city’s most striking sights and a must-visit for any art buffs travelling the Siberian region.

The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

Completed in 1898, this historic cathedral was one of the first buildings in Novosibirsk to be made of stone. The immense domes, sweeping arches, and superb brickwork are characteristic of the Neo-Byzantine style of Russian architecture at the time and the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is one of the finest examples of this style. The gleaming gold dome still retains all the glory of its past and the peaceful interior of the cathedral itself acts as a wonderfully tranquil hideaway from the hustle and bustle of Novosibirsk’s main streets.

The Lenina Square

The beating heart of Novosibirsk: this square is a center of activity, culture, and local life. Lenina Square is home to many of the city’s most important buildings and also acts as an exhibition of some of the city’s most spectacular architecture. The square is a perfect place to soak up the unique architecture, bustling atmosphere, and fabulous culture of Novosibirsk. The Novosibirsk Philharmonic Orchestra, the State Concert Hall, the city hall, and the humongous Opera and Ballet Theatre, are all to be found here, radiating out from the square’s focal point: an enormous statue of leader of the Russian Revolution and Russia’s most infamous socialist, Vladimir Lenin. Many lush green parks are located just a stone’s throw from Lenina Square.

Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre

Inaugurated in 1945, the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre is famous both across Russia and the world for hosting world-class performances of opera and ballet. The repetoire is chock-a-block with masterpieces and the building itself is a sight to behold. The theater is famed for being the largest in Russia, larger even than Moscow‘s celebrated Bolshoi Theatre. With its three halls, the largest seating around 2,000 people, the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre has a simply huge capacity. Due to its size and grandeur, many have dubbed it the ‘Siberian Coliseum’.

Novosibirsk Zoo

This world-famous zoo is home to over 10,000 different exotic animals, around 150 of these from the World Red Book of Threatened Species. Its idyllic pine forest setting makes it a wonderfully natural getaway from the city center, but at only a 10 minute bus ride from Novosibirsk’s centre, the zoo remains a very accessible attraction. The Novosibirsk zoological gardens play a vital role in protecting wildlife across the world and saving endangered species from extinction. Almost 40 different captive breeding programs here ensure that exotic species are preserved and allowed to thrive in as natural an environment as possible. In 2012 the zoo was the site of the birth of a hugely rare liger cub, with a male lion and female liger (half lion, half tiger) for parents.

Try Siberian cuisine

A natural haven, the wildlife of the Siberian region is some of the rarest and most iconic on earth. This has hugely impacted the Siberian cuisine which is one of the most interesting in the world. The fabulous restaurants here offer unparalleled opportunities for trying rare meats and fish. Siberian pelmeni (traditional dumplings) are a delicacy across Russia and certainly worth a try. The freshness of the produce in this city makes Novosibirsk one of the best places to try traditional Russian delicacies such as caviar. Novosibirsk’s food scene is one of the best and most varied in Russia.

The USSR Museum

This fascinating museum prioritizes interactivity to draw visitors right into the world of the Soviet Union. Crossing the entrance way, you’ll feel as though you’ve been transported back in time to a world of Socialism, monumental architecture, and 20th century culture. The space is designed to resemble a typical family home during the Communist period and gives visitors an intriguing snapshot of Russia’s Soviet past. Rumor has it that the building itself was a former headquarters for the KGB. The USSR Museum is a true treasure trove of vintage clothes, busts of Soviet leaders, historic toys, and other curiosities that are sure to keep you entertained for hours on end.

The Museum of Regional Studies

This museum is home to numerous exhibits on local history and nature and is one of Siberia’s most important museums. With around 200,000 artifacts and exhibits spanning around 150,000 years of Siberia’s history, the collection here is simply staggering. Discover the fascinating facts and enthralling details of the native people and local cultural of this world-famous region. Siberia’s inhospitable climate caused the local population to evolve its own, very distinctive culture and way of life which makes the area feel almost like a nation of its own, far removed from modern, European St Petersburg and Moscow.

The N. K. Rerikh Museum

Nicholas Rerikh, also known as Roerich, was one of Russia’s most influential painters as well as being a writer, philosopher, and archaeologist. The N. K. Rerikh Museum is dedicated to the life and work of this fascinating man who was, on numerous occasions, nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Many of the artist’s stunning paintings are displayed alongside artifacts from his life and details about the man himself. His five-year trek around the Himalayas and Central Asia is often featured in Rerikh’s landscapes – famed for their breathtaking beauty and striking colors. Free classical concerts are held here on the third Saturday of every month.

The Novosibirsk Planetarium

Only unveiled in 2012, this new addition to Novosibirsk’s excellent array of attractions has already earned itself a fine reputation across the entire country. This planetarium, the fourth largest in Russia, was named in 2015 the best social infrastructure in the country. You won’t need to be an astronomy buff to appreciate the beauty and scale of the solar system through Novosibirsk Planetarium’s observatory and star hall. The center is stunningly located overlooking a natural plateau and surrounded by an astronomically themed park. The park’s lush green alleys are dotted with representations of the sun, planets, and many comets. Observations often coincide with important astronomic events and the center is also home to a café and Foucault tower with a pendulum that demonstrates the earth’s rotation.

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