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My favorite 14 Things to Do in Novosibirsk, Russia – Understand
Novosibirsk is an industrial city in Western Siberia (eastern Russia). It’s a rather modern and efficient city. However, don’t expect much hospitality or tourist infrastructure. Locals probably won’t believe that you are a tourist, as they tend to think that nobody would ever go to Novosibirsk for reasons of their own.
My favorite 14 Things to Do in Novosibirsk, Russia – Get Around
Spoken English is a rare exception in Novosibirsk and while there are friendly people in town, you will be hit with attitude mostly and the words, “I do not want to speak English – I am Russian”.
Taxis in the city are cheap (especially if you manage to find a local who can call one for you from one of the many taxi call centers) and traffic in the city is efficient.
Uber is in town as well and albeit a bit mire expensive makes hailing a car very easy. The metro does not have an extensive network but is quick for distances around 4-5 miles.
Food – Things to do in Novosibirsk
Akamedia Coffee has by far the best coffee, tea creations and food in town. It’s also cheap and the service is friendly though Russian only.
The Tom Yum bar stays true to its name and makes a delicious Tom Yum soup. I wasn’t so happy about the other dishes though.
Blackwood is nee to the town and is a bit outside the city center. It serves great coffee and the vibe is more laid back and less busy than at Akademia Coffee.
Kardamon is a quirky coffee shop with lots of organic dishes, just a block away from Akademia. The food is quirky as well and things are cheap. There is a great outdoor terrace for a warm summer day.
The aptly-named restaurant ‘Mexico’ serves acceptable Mexican food. This type of cuisine still has to make its way into Siberia properly and so what you get here is as close as it gets. It’s not great and not cheap, but it’s better than nothing.
This is one of many coffee chains in town, but offers a better atmosphere and good food, as well as alcohol. Despite the name, don’t really go there for coffee – go more for food or a cocktail.
Finding a Georgian restaurant is usually a secret weapon in places like Moscow or Kiev, as they serve cheap but delicious food. The best value is the ‘business lunch’ and allows you to try many different dishes for just $1.50-$2.00.
This huge brewery/restaurant in a cellar has the atmosphere of a German beer hall. It serves delicious beer and pretty good food too.
Sightseeing – Things to do Novosibirsk
Lenin Square IS the city center (and frankly the best place in town). It houses the Opera and Ballet Theater, the ubiquitous Lenin statue and most of the town’s restaurants and bars.
The river walk at Naberezhnaya is a really pretty respite from the grim realities of Novosibirsk. You can rent a bike and do a couple of loops (it’s less than half a mile along the walking path). The view towards the bridges crossing the Ob River is very photogenic. Unfortunately, there is nothing else to do here.
Every Russian town comes complete with a fair and so does Novosibirsk, with this park in the city center. You won’t really get excited by the rides, but it’s an interesting way to see how the locals spend their time.
This tiny little park next to Lenin Square is another great way to see how the locals spend a weekend afternoon. It’s also close to all the other food and drink options, so you will just keep seeing it.
Day Trips – Things to do Novosibirsk
This suburb is dubbed the Stanford of Russia. It’s a satellite town, with university buildings and dorms in a park-like forest. Now the birches are nice enough, but the buildings are rather destitute and compete for the title of the most grey and boring human installations on the planet. There is not much to see here, but hey, at least you get out of the city and see a Stanford in Russia (I swear it will only make you like Stanford more).
This jewel of an outdoor museum features dozens of trains and carriages from the Siberian railways. So if you choose to get to Novosibirsk by plane (you should, since the railways will take forever), then this is the way to see the carriages on the inside and outside. They are mostly freshly-painted and in great condition. The museum is well-kept.
Note that the museum is closed on Mondays and taxi drivers may have trouble finding it. Pinpoint the location on your GPS and prepare for some walking (this can be very cold in winter!) It’s also all outdoors and without much shelter, so take an extra layer of clothing with you.
Novosibirsk is more modern than I expected. It provides a great insight into Russian culture and is much more of a laid-back town than Moscow.
However, it’s not easy for tourists here – basic Russian is required, as well as the ability to not be bothered by the exceptionally rude locals (with some very friendly exceptions thrown in).