Visit Kazan and take pleasure in its beauty and atmosphere. Situated at the crossroads between West and East, its Oriental exquisite opulence, along with the exuberance of the bazaar, is blended with the Russian hospitality and charm; all this set against the mighty flow of the Volga river.
Your Kazan trip is an amazing chance to acquaint yourself with Russian Central Asia. Uncover the amazing architecture, cuisine, and culture, all the while living in the best-value hotels, and travelling the easiest, cheapest and fastest way with ten top tips from the team of Pradiz travelling wizards.
How to get to Kazan
If you short on time when travelling to Kazan, plane is the best option. A flight from Moscow to Kazan takes 1 hour 25 minutes; whilst an air-travel from St. Petersburg will take 2 hours 20 minutes. But apart from flying you can travel to Kazan by train, bus or even ferry.
Of course, if having the time, the most memorable way to hit the Istanbul of the Steppes is to sail there on one of the ferries running between Moscow and the Caspian. Perks include scenic shoreline, old Russian and Tatar towns, locals dressed in colorful attires, and the picturesque landscape of the Russian heartland.
If going by ferry looks like to stretched out a journey, then train to Kazan, going 10-12 hours by train. Training at night will save the accommodation fee. Soon super-modern ultra-speed trains will be launched on Moscow-Kazan line and the distance will be covered in a shorter period of time, but it is just fewer hours, the train will do the distance in 3.5 hours, to enjoy the breath-taking beauteous setting. Bus can take a long time and are, along with trains and ferries, perfect for short-distance intra-regional travels. While Moscow is the main transport hub for travelling in Russia, flights and trains from St. Petersburg and other major cities are also available.
Accommodation in Kazan
Kazan offers a wide variety of lodgings. For the most jaded of travellers are available top-rated five-star hotels, with Kazan Palace, Mirage Hotel, SPA Complex Luciano, Hotel Korston Royal Kazan, which are ranked among the best. A hotel connoisseur will no doubt be impressed with the service and comfort of the 4-star counterparts such as Double Tree by Hilton, Courtyard by Marriot, Ramada Kazan City Center, and Raymond Hotel, providing pleasant ambiance, comfort and cooperative staff.
The city also boasts a number of good quality 3 star as well as two star options.
As other places to put up, Kazan has many nice Airbnb and Couchsurfing hosts. For those travelling on the shoestring these two options, and many of the city’s friendly and homely hostels, such Capsule Hostel Capslock, Geography Hostel, Backpack Hostel, Kupe Hostel and Wings Hostel, may be of particular interest. The options with this kind of accommodation get scarcer as you leave the city; and even more so as you hit the Tatarstan hinterland. There apart from putting up in the locals’ residence or mini-hotels, you can try camping, but it is advisable to camp out in special areas which are few and far between.
Note that you always can contact Russian Tour Operator Pradiz for advice on and assistance in booking accommodation in Kazan and Tatarstan.
Enjoy nightlife in Kazan
Kazan is known as the Volga nightlife capital. With the Russian and the Tatar complementing each other, Kazan at night is one of the most beautiful and magical cities of the world. Its youthful vibe is exuded from the city’s luring night locales of which there are a great many, and every bar is a tempting mystery with a frenetic rhythm submerging you in ecstasy. Some of the best discos and clubs are Bash and the Legend.
Bar culture is represented by Coyotte Ugly, Kommunalka Bar, Cuba Libre, with first-class mojitos and a Latin atmosphere, Belfast, an Irish pub, frequented by expats and the city’s beer lovers, in general; and many other nightlife establishments. Few things can rival outdoor foam parties thrown in Kazan each summer, to energizing techno bits and other outdoor activities taking place on the riverside, with Europe’s longest ice rink in winter and outdoor sports in summer.
Eat delicious food in Kazan
Kazan’s very name stands for the cooking pot known in Turkic languages as “Qazan”. Hence, the potpourri of cultures and styles on the city’s streets. Nevertheless, the etymology also instills an anticipation of a gastronomical idyll, which Kazan certainly is.
Among the best things to do in Kazan is eating. Few will doubt the significant presence of Pan-asian, Italian, Uzbek and Georgian eateries ubiquitous in Russia. But, here, apart from ambrosial Russian national food restos, exist more exotic Tatar establishment, alike to the Central Asian Uzbek and Kazakh cuisines, but with its own distinct characteristics and musts, such as Chak Chak, Pilaw, Sherbet, Xalva.
To try Russian cuisine head to up-scale Utka v Kotlete, or cheaper but not less delicious options Dobraya Stolovaya or Pelmenya; to taste Tatar cuisine make it to Chak-Chak, a cheap but tasty establishment, or to Tatarskaya Usadba, or Dom Tatarskoy Kulinarii.
Buy Kazan souvenirs
Buying souvenirs is one of the things to do in Kazan. One of the lesser-known locales is a flea market on Tinchurin Square, Тинчурин Сквер, where on sale can be all kinds of things. Can be found there Kalashnikov machine guns, all kinds of soviet paraphernalia, objects dating back to a period of acute Tatar nationalism and state-building, such as registration plates with Tatarstan flag and generally all kinds of old stuff. Apart from that there are a number of other places to buy good souvenirs in Kazan.
To buy authentic clothes, accessories, and furniture, by local designers, or even home plants, make it to Priroda Concept Store, at 7 Burkhana Shahidi Street, housed by the contemporary art space “Smena”.
To buy renowned local herbal tea and other Tatar eco-friendly objects head to Baylar at 14 Minulina Street. To get good chak-chak, famous Tatar delicacy, make your way to Chak Chak store. Here the prices are lower and quality is said to be higher than at the majority of outdoor street vendors aimed at tourists.
Interesting places near Kazan
Head out of town to the beautiful settlements such as Bolgar, Yelabuga and Sviyazhsk, and many other attractions such as the republic’ national parks, for example Nizhnya Kama National Park near Elabuga, and many of the Volga and Kama pristine beaches. The visits to the places can be arranged by Russian Tour Operator, Pradiz, renowned for arranging some of the best multiday tours in Russia.
During all visits to Tatarstan landmarks arranged by Pradiz you can be accompanied by an expert Tatarstan and Kazan tourist guide.
If Bolgar is believed to be the kernel of Tatar civilization on the Volga, then Sviyazhsk is the nucleus of the Russian one. Here Russian tsar Ivan the Terrible built a fortress for him to launch attacks on Kazan, then capital of the independent Kazan Khanate. Ancient cathedrals, monasteries and many other sites attest to the scale and “monumentality” of the Russian expansionist effort and its aftermath.
Visiting Sviyazhsk you sense the spirit of intrepid Russian first settlers traceable in exquisite structures built by Pskovian architects; but also the fierce power of the surrounding nature. It is visible in the vast expanses of the steppes extending far beyond the horizon and the ferocious roiling currents of the Volga always flowing past.
You can visit Sviyazhsk by boat during the navigation season. Check out an exclusive speedy-boat tour offered by Russian Tour Operator Pradiz.
One of the most interesting places is Bolgar, named after the ancient tribe Bulgars, the progenitors of the Tatars, from whose name, the name of Russian Volga River allegedly is derived. This people were the ancestors of Tatars, so for the latter a visit to Bulgar is a quest for their national and statehood roots. For the others it may be more of an Eastern fairytale. Succumb to the beauty of the scenic landscape around, the beauteous mosque with snow-white façade, and puny houses and narrow alleys of the smallest town in the entire republic. You can’t resist the temptation of imagining yourself being a Khan, Tatar beauty, or at least a well-healed merchant.
On the outskirts are the vestiges of the ancient Bulgar civilization, the remnants of Great Bulgar settlement, the capital of what was once one of East Europe’s strongest states.
In late May-September hydrofoils run between Kazan and Bulgar, departing from Kazan at 8 and returning at 3. Other means of communications are buses and taxis. The jetty is in front of the town’s historical-architectural museum where there is a lot to give you insight into the past of Bulgar.
Located next to a wonderful national park, one of the best examples of the republic’s flora and fauna, Elabuga is an ancient town founded in 10th century by a Bolgar strongman.
Whilst the remnants of what has come to be referred to as Shaytan Castle still stand there, the Russian settlement that appeared later is complete with eye-pleasing places of worship and residential areas. Elabuga is a unique town blending the Oriental romance and architecture with the Russian provincial homeliness. To get there hop on a bus from Kazan or Naberezhnie Tchelny, located nearby, or use “Rocket” running between Elabuga and Chistopol and Kazan, the important thing to remember is it is seasonal.
Seeing the Tatar architectural and cultural heritage
Apart from visits to Bolgar, Sviyazhsk, and Elabuga to understand the architectural past of the region, you can stay in Kazan and uncover the Old Tatar building techniques seeing Kazan Russia points of interest. For that purpose, head to Old Tatar Quarter located within Kazan. Other musts include the famous Kremlin cross-breading the Eastern and the Western, featuring Tatar Khans’s burial ground, and some of the city’s most famous places of worship. Or set out for Bauman Street, one of the most characteristic streets of Kazan, which with it surroundings constitutes the city’s downtown.
The most out-of-oridinary site in Kazan is the Russian Temple of All Religions, if still unfinished it is nevertheless an impressive sight to behold. Both visits to Old Tatar Quarter, Kazan Kremlin, and Bauman Street, are possible with Russian Tour Operator, Pradiz, with you being accompanied by an expert Kazan tour guide.
When to visit Kazan
Kazan is an amazing place to visit throughout the year. But every season is truly unique. Winter is snowy, cold and is best time to go skiing and snowboarding at the republic’s famous ski-resorts such Ski Complex Yan, Ski Complex Kazan and Sviyaga Hills. Best time to ski is thought to be February. Other winter pastimes include fishing through ice, ice-skating, Kazan has Europe’s longest ice rink and driving snowmobiles, an activity beloved by Tatarstani people of all ages.
Spring is when the nature reawakens and when famous all-beloved Nowruz comes. Celebrating Nowruz, or the Central Asian New Year in Kazan is an unforgettable experience. It is also when the navigation seasons starts and you can go to nearby Tatarstan and Kazan points of interest by water, so in May you can travel to towns like Bolgar, Elabuga and Sviyazhsk on a boat.
Summer is the hottest time when swimming in rivers and basking on the beach is the favorite way of passing weekends. If sometimes hot, the cities are one never-ending feast with music drifting from the bars and people dancing outside at night. Some play chess, while other do water-sports and other outdoor sporting activities. The place where you can engage in outdoor sports is Kremlin Embankment, a scenic prom along the Kazanka.
In short, summer is best for those who want to visit Tatarstani landmarks on water in a season when boat-rides are warm.
Autumn is the best time for a quiet visit to contemplate the yellowing landscape and do hiking in the Russian countryside. If the second part of the season may see snowfalls, from light to heavy, and precipitation, the first part is still a nice time to hang out outdoors, and do things like cycling and fishing.
Kazan is an amazing place to visit. To get the utmost from your visit, follow the expert advice by Russian Tour Operator Pradiz. Do the unique Tatar architecture landmarks, head out of town for a glance at historical sites that determined the future of the land, such as Sviyazhsk and Bolgar, don’t miss out on the mouth-watering Kazan cuisine and herbal teas, and immerse into the tempting after sun-set Kazan.
If willing to know the most important bits of the region’s history and have assistance in transportation and planning the trip around Kazan and rest of Russia contact Russian Tour Operator Pradiz.