Stroll down the longest straight avenue, get inside a real dollhouse, and try the traditional Siberian cuisine. Spend every evening enjoying an opera or a ballet. Finally, find out why Novosibirsk is often called the new bar capital of Russia.
As any city avenue, Krasny Prospect (Red Avenue) is long and straight. In fact, it is longer than any other, stretching for seven kilometers and crossing the entire city, from the airport to the Ob River embankment. This means that whatever your itinerary may be, you will find yourself there at some point.
It is best to start your promenade along with Krasny Prospect first thing in the morning, together with the throngs of locals. This way, you can experience the city as it wakes up and hurries to start the day. You will see Surikov and Molchanov merchants' houses preserved since the early 20th century, as well as the local Stalin-style buildings and the largest opera house in Russia. By the way, you may want to get a ticket for the evening's performance while you are there.
Nearly all of the city's landmarks are concentrated around Krasny Prospect. They include the Museum of Local History, the Art Museum, the famous 100-Flat Building, and the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral at the spot where the settling of Novosibirsk began. Numerous restaurants and bars, the legacy of the most recent years, ensure that the central avenue stays up long into the night.
As one would expect from a central avenue, Krasny Prospect is rich in terms of gastronomy, but do not rush through the very first door: there will be plenty of opportunities to try sushi and pizza. Instead, take a detour – turn to a narrow lane leading to Pervomayskiy Skver (May Day Park) and start your day at the lovely cafe with tall windows.
A lingering case of jetlag will not be a problem since Park Café serves breakfast from early morning to dinnertime. The menu is full of international favorites: here, you can get anything from an Italian frittata omelet and a French quiche to Belgian waffles and an Israeli shakshuka. Dinner offerings include Pad Thai and Tom Yum, a tribute to local residents' favorite vacation destination. The dining area resembles a spacious Scandinavian living room, with the interior decorated in natural colors and basking in the light from the panoramic windows. The opposite wall is lined with shelves holding books from every corner of the world. These international details and the snow-covered fir trees outside the windows combine to create ultimate confusion – as you are sitting inside Park Café, the idea that you are in the middle of a Siberian megalopolis might be the furthest thing from your mind.
Average check: 700–1500 rubles
A 300-ruble business lunch is served between 12:00 and 16:00
Even though bridges in Novosibirsk do not draw, they still have a special place in the local culture. Since the city spans both banks of Ob, the residents have to cross it quite often, and that involves spending time in traffic. Bugrinsky Bridge, built in 2014, was supposed to solve this problem, but so far it just serves as a popular backdrop for selfies and almost made it onto the Russian banknotes.
However, since travelers can take their time, it's a good idea to examine the bridge from every angle. From a distance, the structure resembles the arch of a red bow, as if copied from Novosibirsk's coat of arms. Come closer and you will see that the arched supports are connected with a web of cables, which ensures that the structure that weighs 27 thousand tons looks airy and appears immune to aging.
When Novosibirsk natives look at Moscow's Bolshoi (Big) Theater, they proudly declare, "We've seen bigger." And they are right —Novosibirsk State Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet is the grandest theater building in the country. The large hall accommodates an audience of 1774, exceeding the capacity of the world famous Sydney Opera House!
The ballet repertoire consists mostly of the classics: Giselle, The Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, La Bayadère, The Nutcracker. The same goes for the opera repertoire, which includes Carmen, The Queen of Spades, Eugene Onegin, Boris Godunov, etc. Contemporary productions are introduced with caution, considering the conservative tastes of the audience.
The local community of theater lovers is keeping a keen eye on the theater's fate and its repertoire policy. There have been quite a few scandals about the theater; one of them was caused by a controversial production of Tannhäuser, others had to do with the relentless turnover of the theater's directors. Yet, none of this has affected the popularity and the clout that the Opera House enjoys among Novosibirsk's intellectual elites. While for residents of other cities, a trip to see a ballet or an opera performance might be something akin to a solemn ritual, it is nothing out of the ordinary for the natives of Novosibirsk, a city where even schoolchildren know the difference between a prima ballerina and a coryphée.
Novosibirsk is open to experiments in architecture. Contemporary structures are popping up next to merchants' houses and buildings in the style of Soviet Constructivism. One of such contemporary structures can be found on the Engineer Nikitin Square. It is a huge glass sphere in the style of London's St. Mary Axe Tower (designed by Sir Norman Foster). Unlike the London structure, which has forty stories, the Novosibirsk one has only four but, taking into account the relative sizes of the two cities, the appearance of this structure is no less important to Novosibirsk than is the construction of the "The Gherkin" to the City of London.
This project was spearheaded by an entrepreneur named Denis Gerasimov, who popularized the load-bearing structure technology in Novosibirsk back in 2007. In fact, the glass surface of the four-storied sphere is what supports the building, without any additional support structures. The sphere, along with similarly futuristic buildings of the Kokon (Cocoon) Business Center and the Buton (Flower Bud) Mall, adds a fresh touch to the city's architectural mix.
PuppenHaus is a gastronomy project by Vladimir and Angelika Burkovsky, or, in the owners' own words, a gastronomy theater. The props, including rare paintings, antiques, and a collection of 500 dolls, some of which are over two hundred years old, have been brought from all over Europe.
On the outside, the dollhouse looks exactly like the Hundertwasser House in Vienna. Inside, it has the atmosphere of a chamber theater where the playfully depends on the food you order. We will try to avoid spoilers, but the rumor has it that the menu selections that make the biggest entrance are the Roman Emperors' Salad and the French pot-au-feu.
The menu features two major sections: the European and the Siberian cuisine. The former is represented by French and Italian dishes, while the latter builds on Siberian culinary traditions. PuppenHaus is one of the few places in Novosibirsk where you can try the chef's versions of bear meat, venison, and wild boar. The game comes from local hunting preserves, and fish, caught in the northern rivers, is smoked on premises. The entire "theater kitchen" is run by Georgy Belyankin, who has earned the restaurant a Palme d'Or at an international contest in Switzerland in 2011.
Getting inside the dollhouse is not easy – the doors are locked by default. Call to be let in.
Average check: 1200–2000 rubles.
A 400-ruble business lunch is served between 12:00 and 16:00
Akademgorodok deserves its own story and its own weekend itinerary, but if you have limited time, at least try to make it to the Central Siberian Botanic Garden, where you can get some fresh air and enjoy Siberia's flora and fauna. On a square about twice the size of Moscow's Sokolniki Park, you will see chipmunks, hares, foxes, and even roe deer. If these animals are shy at the time of your visit, you can at least feed the squirrels, which is fun, too.
Actually, the Botanic Garden is first and foremost a research center where scientists are actively studying Siberia's plant world and developing ideas for conservation projects, so the greenhouses, arboretum, and flower beds are much more than a beautiful backdrop for wedding photo shoots.
If you don't want to wander aimlessly in the park, write down a few pointers: Bonsai, Rocky Hill,, Garden of Constant Blossom. If you leave out geotags, your Instagram followers will have a hard time guessing where you found these beautiful exhibits.
Admission prices: admission to the lower level and the Arboretum – 30 rubles, drive-in admission (in summer) – 250 rubles.
Greenhouse tours: 150 rubles for adults, 100 rubles for children. Tours of the grounds: 170 rubles for adults, 150 rubles for children.
Imagine the perfect world where there are no brawls and where beer unites people. This is how Igor Kokourov, an entrepreneur from Irkutsk, describes his pub chain, which has now become an international one. Starting in 2009, these establishments began popping up all over Siberia, and today they continue their expansion into Europe and America. Just in the last couple of years, Harat's pubs opened in Croatia, Italy, Slovenia, and Miami.
The recipe for success is simple: Guinness, accompanied by 50 more lager, ale, and stout varieties, hearty food, and an atmosphere of unbridled revelry. The beer varieties are updated annually, and the only things that remain unchanged are the classic Irish stout and... dancing. Yes, this pub is just the king of the Novosibirsk party scene! There is more than enough floor space for dancing, but, just in case, the tables and the windowsills are made of sturdy wood, too. The establishment’s principal concept is "We are all friends here." There are no waiters, and bartenders treat each guest like an old friend. Even in other cities and countries, Siberians love to get together over a beer at Harat's.
Average check: 700–1000 rubles per person
This is the second most popular iconic place after Friends, in terms of the Novosibirsk bar culture.
By the way, its owner, Vyacheslav Yakovlev, was involved in both bars, so his name has become something like a hallmark of quality among the local bar crowd. Opening this classic British bar took some solid preparation work, which went as far as a trip to London, where the operators learned how to make the cocktails and collected ideas for the menu and for the interior design.
The result is one of the most stylish bars in Novosibirsk, located at an old two-storied mansion on Potanina Street. Its two ground floor rooms are named after the districts of the city that inspired the idea: Notting Hill, equipped with soft armchairs and a fireplace for a leisurely dining experience, and Soho, designed for lively parties and concerts. The second floor is taken up by an exclusive gentlemen's club that serves aged whiskey, and the basement houses a cozy pub.
The cuisine at Twiggy is mostly European, but there are a few Asian options as well – otherwise, the menu wouldn't be complete. Regulars recommend ordering pasta with seafood and cuttlefish ink, duck leg confit and cured beef tartare. It is also recommended that you try all the cocktails. Indeed, is there a better way to spend an evening in the emerging bar capital of Russia?
Average check: 700–1200 rubles per person. Business lunch is 350 rubles.
This is an atmospheric space located in the heart of the city. You can always count on it for a cozy atmosphere, tasty food, and lots of smoke (the nice kind, of course). If you would like to spend an evening relaxing after the office grind or after a day of exploring the must-see sites of Novosibirsk, this is the place to visit.
The upscale, stylish interior of the lounge on Komsomolsky Prospect looks like a loft with opulent chandeliers, vintage leather chairs, and high ceilings. There are private rooms for large parties and a wide selection of board games.