Novosibirsk may be younger than the Trans-Siberian Railway itself but this city, situated half-way between the Urals and Lake Baikal, has grown rapidly to become the biggest in Siberia and is well worth a stopover.
While Novosibirsk doesn’t offer much by way of historical sights, it is nonetheless a fascinating place and a testament to Soviet progress with its vast squares, imposing edifices and grand Communist monuments. The third most populous city in Russia behind Moscow and St Petersburg, Novosibirsk is a thriving city with plenty to see and do on a short stopover.
Lenin Square and its extravagant Opera and Ballet Theatre are undoubted highlights while Central Park with its horse-drawn carts and cafés is a pleasant distraction from the hustle and bustle of the city’s busy streets. Make sure to visit the Museum of Local Studies which provides a fascinating insight into the city’s short yet intriguing history as well as housing displays dedicated to the natural history of the area, including the skeleton of a mammoth.
From Novosibirsk it is possible to visit the town of Academgorodok, located some 25 kilometres to the south of Novosibirsk. Officially it is called Novosibirsk Scientific Centre, but people call it simply Academy Town (Academgorodok). The Soviet Government during the 1950s established the Siberian Branch of Academy of Sciences and 1957 the town was founded. Nowadays it is a pleasant leafy town to wander around. En route from Novosibirsk to Academgorodok you can visit the massive Novosibirsk Railway Museum, which has a large collection of steam and diesel locomotives - a must for any train enthusiast!
If a couple of days on the Trans-Siberian have made you miss the comforts of home cooking, Novosibirsk offers an excellent selection of restaurants serving hearty international cuisine. Head to the Beer Mug for some juicy steak and a pint of Guinness or to Café Mexico for tasty authentic Mexican dishes served by waiters in bolo ties.
To commemorate the 1980 Moscow Olympics, city designers in Novosibirsk set to work on building an area in the shape of the five Olympic rings. Sadly, only one and a half rings were ever completed but can nevertheless still be clearly seen by satellite to the south of the city centre, just west of the River Ob.