True Siberia — interesting routes in Novosibirsk

True Siberia

Novosibirsk, Russia

8 places
True Siberia

Ирина Мацанова

Get a taste of the real Siberia, try local delicacies, pay a visit to deer herders, and have a cup of tea in a Buryat yurt. Take part in an improvised walrus hunt and lose your voice cheering at a hockey game. Explore the history and culture of Siberia but don't forget to put on some warm clothes.

"Everything I know about Siberia" is how one could describe the concept of this restaurant, located on the ground floor of the Azimut hotel. Some may say, however, that the owners have gone overboard with the decor – here you can see it all: valenki (felt boots), a stuffed deer, and light fixtures shaped as pinecones. On the other hand, newcomers to the region might appreciate the local touch. The experience is complemented by a special vodka room. If your Siberian to-do list includes trying some vodka, you are in the right place. The menu features 50 different offerings, in addition to taiga berry infusions and polugars. In fact, the latter is good to start with if you are new to vodka. The restaurant's menu is a meditation on the culinary traditions of Siberia. Without focusing on any particular period, #SibirSibir has collected the best dishes of all times. There is an impressive selection of game and northern delicacies, such as sugudai (a raw fish dish), meat in aspic, ukha (fish soup), and stroganina (raw meat shavings). And of course, there are Siberian pelmeni (dumplings) with all kinds of fillings: pike, deer, venison, and veal. Don't forget to buy some pine cone jam to take with you: it is a tasty and healthy Siberian souvenir. Average check: 1000 rubles per person.

In today's Siberia, a zoo is just about the only place where you can encounter a bear. High-rise buildings have replaced yurts, and fast cars, rather than reindeer, are used for travel. So, if you would like to see the way the locals used to live in this part of the world centuries ago, visit the Siberia Territory Ethnopark, where dwellings of the native people of Siberia have been accurately recreated, with some structures even having been brought from research expeditions. Here, you can see, touch, and get inside Buryats' and Tuvinians' felt yurts, Evenks' chums, and deer herders’ camps. You can even enjoy some taiga tea and try on traditional dresses. The atmosphere of the ethnopark and its attractions may seem rather exotic, especially to those who are visiting Russia for the first time. To truly appreciate the special culture of Siberia's ethnic minorities, try shooting a harpoon. However, be warned: this sport requires a strong vestibular apparatus, as the improvised walrus hunt takes place in a rocking boat. Imagine that you are part of a hunting party sailing down a river. This is unlikely to help you keep your balance, but it will surely add to the fun. Admission price: 350 rubles

An inhabitant of a large city may find Novosibirsk difficult to adjust to: instead of a concrete jungle, this city is full of greenery. There are lots of parks, and even a genuine coniferous forest, a huge expanse of woodland with relict pines, mighty oaks, and picturesque maples, situated in the northwestern part of the city. The locals love getting away from the bustle of the industrial city by going to Zaeltsovsky Park. Indeed, it is perfectly suited for recreation at any time of the year. For winter fun, it has a skating rink, cross-country ski trails, and a fairytale town of snow sculptures. For summer, there are bicycle and rollerblade rentals, an amusement park, and a high-rope course. And if you are in the mood for relaxing, you can catch a movie at the open-air theater or simply stroll along winding trails, breathing the pristine air. For travelers with children, Zaeltsovsky Park is truly a godsend. For the bold and nimble, there is a rope park named Slabo (Dare). Younger kids can take a ride on the children's railroad, which will take them directly to another magnet for families, the Zoo.

You can continue exploring local history and culture at the Museum of Local History, where experts will share everything they know (or believe that they know) about the life here before Siberia became a part of Russia. For now, the impressive collection and the local lore are housed in seven buildings. The exhibits in the main building tell the story of Novonikolaevsk and allow you to see cult objects used by the indigenous people who lived here. The Nature Museum on Vokzal'naya Magistral' is home to a reconstruction of a female mammoth skeleton. At 33 Sovetskaya Street, you can see a Morse telephone and KVN-49, the first Russian television set. If time permits, take a trip to Suzun, a settlement 180 kilometers (two or three hours) away, where you can see the mints that were used in the 18th and 19th centuries to produce "special" Siberian coins. They are still operational despite being a couple of centuries old. By the way, the museum's main building itself is also a historical and architectural monument. Constructed in 1916 as the City Trade building, it is reported to have been the place where the news of the establishment of the Soviet rule was announced on December 14, 1917. Admission price: 200 rubles for adults, 100 rubles for students and seniors. You can find the hours of operation and admission price for the museum's other locations on its official website, http://youmuseum.ru

There can be no Siberia without hockey, and there can be no hockey without Sibir (Siberia). If you happen to arrive in season, be sure to get a ticket to a game and watch the Sibir team play in the eponymous ice arena. Be prepared to yell "Shaibu!" ("Score!") and try to avoid scheduling important meetings for the following day, so your vocal cords can get back to normal. If you don't mind trying skating yourself, come here when the place is open to the public. It is much warmer than outdoor rinks, and the ice is reportedly superb. There are one-hour open skates on weekends. It is best to call for the up-to-day schedule. In addition to hockey matches and public skates, the ice arena hosts concerts by famous performers. Be sure to check the schedule – your favorite band may be playing during your visit.

"I was in Siberia and survived." According to the legend, everyone who visits Siberia must bring back a T-shirt or a cell phone case with these words. If you have not brought it, you have not really been there. These souvenirs and other cool gifts are available in the I’m Siberian gift shop. Its owners call their homeland the wildest and coldest place in the world. Of course, they say it jokingly but there is some truth to it. If you want to see it for yourself, visit during the winter. If you want to survive, be sure to put on some warm clothes. Scarves, hats, mittens, warm hoodies — the shop has it all, so you can stock up yourself and bring gifts for your friends. And in case it is so cold that you don't feel like venturing outside, the shop has a delivery service.

Encounter the aesthetics of the American Wild West in the heart of Siberia. The Chops offers a new kind of dining experience, which its owners affectionately call "a meatery." It is not hard to guess that the place serves meat every possible way: barbeque, burgers, steaks, oxtail soup and tacos on Tuesdays. For party animals, there is a special offer: weekend "dirty breakfasts" for just 390 rubles and a Bloody Mary is included. This is sure to help you recover after a Friday night bar crawl. The bar menu features bourbons and a few variations on the Bloody Mary: tequila-based with jalapenos, gin-based with capers, and bourbon-based with smoked bacon. And of course, there is an impressive beer menu: the taps at The Chops have served 200 different varieties. Every Monday, there is a new craft beer, and every Thursday, a new bottled selection. A memorable element of the decor is a row of hooks over the long bar, the very same ones that butchers use for hanging carcasses. It is hard to imagine now that the owner used to be a vegetarian until recently. Average check: 700–1500 rubles per person

Venedikt Yerofeev implored us to "drink more, eat less," and Ernest Hemingway lamented that "an intelligent man is sometimes forced to be drunk to spend time with his fools." The owners of Otkroi Rot can recall many more alcohol-related quotes, and this is not surprising as their establishment brings together under one roof writers' two timeless values: books and vodka. The rich bar menu boasts sixty kinds of traditional spirit imported from all around the world. For more timid customers, there are berry and fruit infusions with lower alcohol content. The menu also features a vodka fountain, which will set you back 6 to 14 thousand rubles, depending on the content, but you can also try to wait until the special hour, or rather, the special minute, during which drinking from the fountain is free. The specific time of this incredible feat of generosity is impossible to predict as it changes every night. The bar's affordable food menu is developed around simple snacks. A grayling sugudai, Siberian ukha, or Siberian stag pelmeni will go perfectly with any drink. This unusual bar is situated in the basement of an Irish pub named "Saint Patrick's Corner" and is accessed via a narrow winding staircase, so please do not overdo it with the drinks. To avoid colliding with other guests on the stairs, make sure that the semaphore light is off, then press the button. Average check: up to 700 rubles

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