12 Jun One day in Veliky Novgorod
Veliky Novgorod is a small town in Northwest Russia, a symbol of Russian democracy, inscribed on the World Heritage List. It is easy to reach by public transport from Saint Petersburg and Moscow, and it is a perfect destination for a short break. Check our recommendations to get the most of Veliki Novgorod on a one day trip.
Why should you go there?
Veliky Novgorod is one of the most ancient and the most interesting towns in Russia. Located in the northwestern part of the country along the Volkhov River, between Saint Petersburg and Moscow, is considered the home of Russian democratic traditions.
Novgorod is also recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Veliky Novgorod is a small and very picturesque town, worth paying a visit especially if you are interested in history and old Russian traditions.
How to get there?
Veliky Novgorod is situated on the road between Saint Petersburg and Moscow. If you take a train, it will take about 2,5 -3 hours (180km) to get to Veliki Novgorod from St. Petersburg (trains leave from Moskovskiy and Vitebskiy train stations) and about 7 hours (540km) from Moscow (from Leningradskiy train station).
What to see?
Veliky Novgorod is a small town, so you’ll manage to see the main sights in one day. All the main attractions are within a walking distance, but you can also take a bus to reach particular sights. The town is really pleasant to walk around, especially after its renovation in 2009.
When visiting Veliky Novgorod, definitely check the following places:
#1 Novgorod Kremlin (Detinets)
Kremlin is one of few European fortresses from the medieval ages, which is almost intact (9 out of 12 original towers have been preserved till these days). Entrance is free. Climb the viewing point to enjoy a panoramic view of the Kremlin, Yaroslav’s Courtyard, the Volkhov River, and St. George Monastery. Kremlin stands on the bank of the Volkhov River, so after a long walk around the city you can relax at the public beach, which can be accessed from the gate inside the Kremlin’s wall.
#2 Vitoslavitsy Museum of Folk Wooden Architecture
In this open air museum you will find great examples of the traditional Russian wooden architecture. Wooden village houses, chapels and churches form streets like those in old Russian villages. In the museum, you will be lead by a traditionally looking guide, and you’ll get a chance to buy handcrafted artworks. “Vitoslavitsy” is worth visiting the whole year round, because it hosts several events, including folk and trade festivals, Christmas fortune-telling and the International Bell Ringing Festival.
#3 St. Sophia Cathedral
The St Sophia’s Cathedral was built at the beginning of the 11th century, is one of the earliest stone structures of northern Russia and one the oldest church buildings in the country. It is 38 m high and has 5 impressive domes.
Its interiors are minimalist, but you will find beautiful ornaments and frescoes on the walls; there’s also a museum inside. Taking photos is forbidden. For the Novgorodians, St. Sophia Cathedral became a symbol of their town, democracy, and independence. Locals find there peace and harmony till these days.
What to do?
#1 Relax on a boat
Take a boat trip to see the town from the river’s perspective. Enjoy the views and don’t forget to take a picture of the beautiful Kremlin!
#2 Go biking and become a detective!
Rent a bike and search for the numerous modern sculptures placed all around Veliky Novgorod: the monument called “Tired tourist”, the sculptures “A bear on the bench” and “A bear with a balalaika”, Hanseatic fountain on Yaroslav’s Court, a “Wooden zoo” among many other!
Where to eat?
There are many cafes, bars and restaurants in Veliky Novgorod, so you won’t starve:). Check a long list of restaurants on the official website of Veliky Novgorod. We usually choose these two places:
Cafe Teplo (Meretskova-Volosova St. 7/1)
Italian restaurant with delicious pizza and home made pasta, always tasty, always fresh. Perfectly located, they have free wifi and accept cards. And get a 15% discount on weekdays between 11 and 15:00h.
Horoshie Ljudi /Nice People (Meretskova-Volosova 1/1)
This option is for those, who would like to taste some local Russian flavors. Expect a good choice of food, nice interiors and friendly, professional staff.
Discover Russian history and old traditions in Veliky Novgorod. Enjoy its cozy atmosphere, pretty streets and historical sights, rich in stories and legends. Take friends and travel to Veliky Novgorod on your own, or ask ExploRussia’s guides to arrange this tour for you!