Nizhny Novgorod Travel Guide

Nizhny Novgorod Travel Guide

photo of the city view in Nizhny Novgorod


Located at the confluence of the Oka and Volga rivers, Nizhny Novgorod is a mixture of provincial charm and a major cosmopolitan city. The fabulous merchants’ mansions, wooden houses and snow-white churches blend in with modern constructions and fancy restaurants.

Historical Overview

The history of Nizhny Novgorod begins in 1221. The city was founded at the confluence of the Volga and Oka Rivers by Prince Yuri Vsevolodovich in 1221 as a fortress for the defence of Russia’s borders from the Mordvins, Cheremis and Tatars. The city was called “Nizhny” (Lower in English) because it was located in the lower lands in relation to Veliky Novgorod. The first fortress occupied an extremely advantageous position, the mountain dominating the Oka and the Volga. The location of the city determined its future fate.
After the end of the Tatar Yoke, Nizhny Novgorod was constantly mentioned in the Russian chronicles, becoming a major political and economic centre of North-Eastern Russia. Nizhny became the capital of the Grand Duchy which lasted more than half a century. The stone Kremlin became an outstanding construction of Russian fortification art. Nizhny Novgorod became an administrative centre in the 18th century. During that time, industry, trade, education, medicine, culture and science developed significantly. At the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries, Nizhny Novgorod became a major scientific and cultural centre of the country. It became home for N.I.
Lobachevsky, a mathematician, Damaskin, a scientist of world reputation, N. Ilyinsky, a historian, and many others.
In the early 19th century, Nizhny Novgorod took an active part in the Patriotic War. The local militia participated in the overseas campaign of the Russian troops until complete victory was achieved over Napoleon.
Numerous public buildings and private trading houses were built in the 19th century. The city was known for its music college and the first art exhibition. A.O. Karelin and M.P. Dmitriev, the founders of national art and journalistic photography, lived and worked in Nizhny Novgorod. In 1896, the All-Russian Industrial and Art Exhibition became an important event for the city, which influenced its trade relations and industry. After the revolution, there was another stage of active industrial growth.

The Gorky Automobile Factory began operations on 1 January 1932. The country's roads were flooded with GAZ-AA, passenger GAZ-A and M-1 trucks. A number of other large industrial enterprises appeared at that time. After the Civil War, the Sormovo Factory, founded in 1849 as a shipbuilding facility, significantly expanded its production. In addition to locomotives and wagons, the factory began to produce river and sea vessels and powerful diesel engines.

Where to Stay

If you want to stay near the main attractions, opt for the following hotels located in the historical downtown: Hotel Peshkov, the luxury Sheraton Kremlin or the reasonable priced Nizhny Hostel. Some hotels like Guest House Litvich or Nikitin Hotel are right on the embankment of the Volga River. Other popular places for accommodation are Leninsky district and the Strelka, the confluence of the Volga and Oka River. The Strelka is in close proximity to the city centre. Have a look at Shinel Hotel or Marins Park Hotel. Leninsky district is more residential and contains lots of supermarkets and malls. Here you can book a spacious luxury apartment like Apartments 4U or those near the Nevsky Cathedral.

Bars and Restaurants

To try some local specialities, go straight to Rozhdestvenskaya Street or Pokrovka. Khachapuri is a Georgian restaurant and popular gastronomic location with homemade pickles, hearty servings and a nice selection of wines. Tubeteika, decorated with oriental ornaments and rugs, offers traditional Uzbek cuisine. Gavroche is a French brasserie where you can enjoy terrines, croissants and a cup of delicious coffee. For traditional cuisine, head for Lepi Teso, Pyatkin, Veselaya Kuma and Mitrich. At Veselaya Kuma, you can also try Ukrainian delicacies like gorilka, vareniki or salo.

What to See


  • Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin is the heart of the city and its main attraction. It’s the most magnificent medieval fortress in central Russia. Its construction began in 1500 and lasted for 15 years. The Kremlin consists of 13 towers, eight round and five square. The wall’s height is 12-22 metres. Here, you can see the main government offices, guardhouse, arbitrary court and museums.
  • The Pechersky Ascension Monastery was founded in 1328, but then the building was destroyed by a landslide, though its main shrine, the icon of the Mother of God of Pechersk, was saved. The Monastery is the cultural and spiritual centre of Novgorod. On the territory, you can see the functioning cathedral and the Museum of the History of the Nizhny Novgorod diocese. Today, about 20 monks live here.
  • Bolshaya Pokrovskaya Street (Pokrovka) is the main pedestrian street with numerous cafes, restaurants and remarkable historical buildings. Explore the House of Trade Unions built in the style of the French Baroque, and the former building of the Upper-Posad Chamber of Commerce, the puppet theatre and the Gorky drama theatre. You can buy handmade souvenirs at the salon of arts and crafts.
  • Blagoveschensky Monastery is the largest architectural complex of buildings built in the 17th-19th centuries. In 1919, it was closed, and reopened again only in 1993. The main cathedral is Blagoveshchensky, built in the pseudo-Russian style and typical of late north-eastern architecture. Have a look at its ancient iconostasis and fresco paintings.

Two other large churches are Alekseevskaya and Uspenskaya, which are harmoniously combined with the main cathedral.

  • Take an unhurried walk down the Upper River Volga embankment to relax and enjoy the picturesque landscapes.
  • To dive into the world of art, visit the top-ranking National Centre of Contemporary Art and State Art Museum.
  • Nizhegorodskaya jail was built in 1824. It became a place of detention for many famous politicians and whites like M. Gorky, A. Korolenko and F. Dzerzhinsky.
  • To enjoy the views over the city, head for Chkalovskaya Stair. It’s a huge staircase constructed in 1943 after the victory of the Soviet troops at Stalingrad. The Stair is part of Alexandrovsky Garden with its cosy paths and tall oaks, elms and poplars. There are several viewpoints over the Volga.
  • At the Museum of Samovars, you can see a large collection of samovars of various sizes and styles. A samovar is a Russian container for boiling water. It’s an indispensable part of the traditional tea ceremony.


The city can boast an extensive transport system at quite affordable fares. To get from one point to another, use the metro, taxis, buses and trolleybuses. The transport works from 5.00 am to midnight, making it quite convenient for tourists. To see the city centre, use trams No. 2 and 27 or a tourist tram on Rozhdestvenskaya Street. Don’t forget to take the cable car, a landmark attraction, to enjoy panoramic views over the city. From the railway station, you can get to other major cities like St Petersburg, Novosibirsk or Sochi.