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Home » Exploring Rostov-on-Don, Russia. Travel Guide

Exploring Rostov-on-Don, Russia. Travel Guide

From the Quiet Serenity of Levberdon at Dawn to the Mystique of a Secret Chinese Bar, the Lushness of a Garden Library, and the Timeless Echoes of an Old Armenian Cemetery

Rostov is a city with its own unique southern atmosphere: with criminal legends, street racers with ‘Ros-Angeles’ stickers on Teatralnaya, skaters at Grebnoy, barbecues in Levberdon, and colorful back alleys. Here, they know how to relax and cook deliciously – there are dozens of establishments that rival those in the capital. All the secrets and meeting places are in our extensive guide.

Rostov-on-Don is perhaps the most unconventional city for a vacation in southern Russia, yet it’s an ideal choice. Sometimes ‘summer’ here starts as early as April, and in December it can be sunny with temperatures up to ten degrees Celsius during the day. It’s great to stroll through the center adorned with pre-revolutionary mansions and legendary abandoned places, try fish and crayfish (and bring them back as souvenirs), dance in a secret bar recognized as the best in Russia, escape the heat in a super stylish library, and ride on a river tram. You can find yourself in an authentic Cossack setting and discover a teleport to Armenia. In our extensive guide, we tell you what to see and where to relax in Rostov-on-Don.

History

The history of the future southern capital began with Peter the Great, who, according to legend, stopped by a local stream to drink some water and was very pleased, naming the source ‘rich’. This story is preserved in the name of one of the alleys in the city center, Bogatyanovsky Spusk. Fifty years before Rostov was founded, Peter established Taganrog on the coast of the Sea of Azov, where he initially planned to place the new capital of Russia, before founding Saint Petersburg. Today, many locals call Rostov the ‘southern Petersburg.’

Rostov as a city began with the Temernitskaya customs house, founded by Peter’s daughter Elizabeth in 1749. Through the customs and port, they traded with Greece, Turkey, and other countries of the Black, Aegean, and Mediterranean seas. The port developed rapidly and soon became the largest in the south. In 1761, to protect the city from Turkish raids, they laid the foundation for the fortress of Metropolitan Dimitri of Rostov and Yaroslavl. Later, to distinguish it from Rostov Velikiy, it was named after the ‘Father Don’. In 1928, the Armenian city of Nakhichevan-on-Don, founded at the end of the 18th century by immigrants from Crimea, was incorporated into Rostov. Now it is one of the districts adjacent to Teatralnaya Square.

Bolshaya Sadovaya. Merchants’ revenue houses and the spirit of eclecticism — the main street of Rostov-on-Don

Bolshaya Sadovaya is a busy thoroughfare and the face of the city. It stretches from the lowlands, where the railway and bus stations are located, and runs almost dried-up Temernik river. At the very beginning of the street, near the building of the ‘Evening Rostov’ newspaper office, there is a monument to the Temernitskaya customs house (Bolshaya Sadovaya St., 4), the foundation of which marked the beginning of the city’s history.

Sadovaya divides the center into two parts. On the right side, towards the Don, there are low-rise buildings, and on the left – mostly high-rises. The old city in Rostov is very large — with colorful courtyards in the area of the descent to the Don and former revenue houses three to five stories high on Bolshaya Sadovaya — the city’s main street.

On Bolshaya Sadovaya, 47 there is a beautiful building of the City Duma. Before the 2018 FIFA World Cup, its facade was snow-white, and the roof was turquoise-green. Now the mansion has an orange-beige color. Photo: Pavljenko / Wikimedia.org
On Bolshaya Sadovaya, 47 there is a beautiful building of the City Duma. Before the 2018 FIFA World Cup, its facade was snow-white, and the roof was turquoise-green. Now the mansion has an orange-beige color. Photo: Pavljenko / Wikimedia.org

Up to the main city square, Teatralnaya, Sadovaya is filled with mansions housing administrative institutions, restaurants, and boutiques. The architecture here primarily reflects the city’s history: former revenue houses built by local merchants using Rostov, Moscow, and St. Petersburg craftsmen. Now all of them are restored and look very well-maintained, so it’s pleasant to stroll along Sadovaya and photograph its beautiful facades.

On Bolshaya Sadovaya, 45 is the main city park, Gorky Park. In the summer amphitheater, they hold dance master classes and concerts. There are also attractions, cafes, stalls with cotton candy and balloons – everything like in a classic park from childhood.

In the underpasses on Sadovaya, at the intersection with Budennovsky and Voroshilovsky Avenues, you can see the famous Rostov mosaic. These are scenes from Sholokhov’s ‘Quiet Don,’ sketches from the school life of pioneers and the leisure of Soviet youth, paintings of wartime featuring Cossacks, illustrations of traditional southern crafts. The mosaic panels in the Florentine technique were created in the 1970s from Czechoslovakian tiles. The underpass with the mosaic at the intersection of Budennovsky Avenue and Moskovskaya Street was recognized as an object of cultural heritage and is now protected by the state.

In the underground passages on Sadovaya, you can see the famous Rostov mosaic. These include scenes from the school life of pioneers and the leisure of Soviet youth, paintings of wartime with Cossacks, and illustrations of traditional southern crafts. Photo: Soviet Artefacts / Unsplash.com
In the underground passages on Sadovaya, you can see the famous Rostov mosaic. These include scenes from the school life of pioneers and the leisure of Soviet youth, paintings of wartime with Cossacks, and illustrations of traditional southern crafts. Photo: Soviet Artefacts / Unsplash.com

The small cozy Soborniy Lane with a view of the city’s main temple was one of the first streets of the city in the early 19th century — Donskoy Spusk. There are many cafes and shops here, and in the evenings, when the lights are illuminated over the lane, street musicians play and merry groups gather.

The small eclectic mansion of the actress Margarita Chernova (Bolshaya Sadovaya 27/47) was built in 1899. It is generously decorated with stucco: atlantes and medallions, vases, and plant ornaments. It is also known as the House with Caryatids.

The small eclectic mansion of actress Margarita Chernova is generously decorated with stucco: atlantes and medallions, vases, and plant ornaments. Photo: Valentina Dyptan, Rost.galis / Wikimedia.org
The small eclectic mansion of actress Margarita Chernova is generously decorated with stucco: atlantes and medallions, vases, and plant ornaments. Photo: Valentina Dyptan, Rost.galis / Wikimedia.org

The building of the former revenue house of merchant Yablokov (Bolshaya Sadovaya St., 42), built in 1901, now houses the conservatory. In its first half-century, it accommodated trading firms, shops, cafes, apartments, and the ‘Europe’ hotel. In the 1950s, a part was added to the original building from the side of Budennovsky Avenue, and the conservatory was placed there.

On Bolshaya Sadovaya, 47, there is the beautiful building of the City Duma. Before the 2018 FIFA World Cup, its facade was snow-white, and the roof was turquoise-green. Now the mansion has an orange-beige color. Thus, the architectural monument, constructed in 1899 according to the design of architect Alexander Pomerantsev (one of his most famous projects is the Moscow GUM), was restored to its historical appearance. Although many residents of Rostov did not like the change in the facade’s color, as the building lost its lightness and freshness.

The small cozy Soborniy Lane with a view of the city's main temple was one of the first streets of the city in the early 19th century — Donskoy Spusk. Photo: Fedor Shlyapnikov / Unsplash.com
The small cozy Soborniy Lane with a view of the city’s main temple was one of the first streets of the city in the early 19th century — Donskoy Spusk. Photo: Fedor Shlyapnikov / Unsplash.com

Behind the City Duma hides a small neat mansion (Semashko St., 51) from 1901. Previously, it housed the school of domestic science and culinary arts of the Rostov merchant Nikolai Tokarev. The modern history of the mansion is associated with the cult establishment ‘Park of Culture’. Since 2009 and for a decade, the restaurant was one of the main centers of Rostov’s nightlife — it was a venue for performances and a relaxation spot for stars of the Russian show business and world-famous DJs.

The modern history of the mansion is linked to the cult establishment 'Park of Culture'. Since 2009 and for a decade, the restaurant was one of the main centers of Rostov's nightlife. Photo: Elizabetth Valerievna / Wikimedia.org
The modern history of the mansion is linked to the cult establishment ‘Park of Culture’. Since 2009 and for a decade, the restaurant was one of the main centers of Rostov’s nightlife. Photo: Elizabetth Valerievna / Wikimedia.org

A notable mansion from 1880 is located diagonally opposite the City Duma. This is the Gench-Oglyuev Revenue House (Bolshaya Sadovaya St., 68) with elements of Baroque, Classicism, and Gothic. Over time, it has housed bank offices, shops, and the printing press of the ‘Priazovsky Krai’ newspaper. Next to the mansion, on Semashko Lane, illuminations are lit up in the evenings.

A notable mansion from 1880 is located diagonally across from the City Duma. It is the Gench-Oglyuev Revenue House, featuring elements of Baroque, Classicism, and Gothic. Photo: Anna Matetskaya, Rost.galis / Wikimedia.org
A notable mansion from 1880 is located diagonally across from the City Duma. It is the Gench-Oglyuev Revenue House, featuring elements of Baroque, Classicism, and Gothic. Photo: Anna Matetskaya, Rost.galis / Wikimedia.org

At the intersection of Sadovaya with another major street of the city — Voroshilovsky Avenue — stand two five-story mansions. There is a legend about the rivalry of their owners: at the end of the 19th century, two Rostov merchants, Chernov and Melkonov-Ezekov, planned to build revenue houses on Bolshoy Prospekt (as Voroshilovsky was then called). They also decided to settle who was richer by comparing the height of the buildings. Eventually, both merchants built five-story buildings, but Melkonov-Ezekov added a dome, thus winning the competition. Now the building of the winner houses the office of the Presidential Plenipotentiary (Bolshaya Sadovaya St., 73), and the building of the loser is one of the main universities in the region — Rostov State University of Economics (Bolshaya Sadovaya St., 79).

The first cinema in Rostov opened in the early 20th century in the trading house of the Yablokov merchants (Bolshaya Sadovaya St., 64). Initially, it was called the ‘Artistic’ cinematograph, and from 1917 — the ‘Olymp’ cinema. The building itself is notable for being one of the first examples of modernist style in Rostov. The Southern Federal University (SFU) (Bolshaya Sadovaya St., 105/42) — a remarkable majestic building with elements of modernism and neoclassicism — was formerly the revenue house of the merchant and timber industrialist Kistov. The Rostov Music Theatre (Bolshaya Sadovaya St., 134) is an original example of contemporary architecture, built in the shape of a grand piano.

Bolshaya Sadovaya divides the center into two parts. On the right side, in the direction of the Don, there are low-rise buildings, and on the left — mainly high-rise buildings. Photo: Vladimir Kubantsev / Unsplash.com
Bolshaya Sadovaya divides the center into two parts. On the right side, in the direction of the Don, there are low-rise buildings, and on the left — mainly high-rise buildings. Photo: Vladimir Kubantsev / Unsplash.com

The Main Square with the Tractor Theater and the Charm of Nakhichevan

On the main square of the city — Teatralnaya — there is a stela, a Ferris wheel, two parks, and a theater shaped like a tractor. Concerts, parades are held here, and it was the location of the fan zone for the 2018 World Cup. The ‘Liberators of Rostov’ stela looks like a 72-meter column with a golden figure of the goddess Nike (which was called Motherland during the USSR). Here is also the majestic building in the modern style, built in 1911–1913 for the management of the North Caucasus Railway. It is the first structure on the future Teatralnaya Square, on the border with the city of Nakhichevan — a former Armenian city that existed separately until the end of the 1920s.

On the main square of the city — Teatralnaya — there is a stela, a Ferris wheel, two parks, and a theater in the shape of a tractor. It also offers an excellent view of the left bank of the Don. Photo: Rost.galis / Wikimedia.org
On the main square of the city — Teatralnaya — there is a stela, a Ferris wheel, two parks, and a theater in the shape of a tractor. It also offers an excellent view of the left bank of the Don. Photo: Rost.galis / Wikimedia.org

Rostov-Eye — a 130-meter Ferris wheel with a panoramic view of the city. Ideally, one should ride it both during the day and in the evening, as the night view of Rostov’s lights is also very impressive.

The Gorky Drama Theater is a famous example of Soviet constructivism from the 1930s, even represented at the Russian stand in the London Museum of Architecture History. It is believed that the first Soviet caterpillar tractor ‘Communar’ was the prototype for the theater’s appearance, which is why it is colloquially known simply as ‘the tractor’.

It is believed that the first Soviet caterpillar tractor 'Communar' was the prototype for the appearance of the Gorky Drama Theater, which is why it is colloquially known simply as 'the tractor.' Photo: Pavljenko / Wikimedia.org
It is believed that the first Soviet caterpillar tractor ‘Communar’ was the prototype for the appearance of the Gorky Drama Theater, which is why it is colloquially known simply as ‘the tractor.’ Photo: Pavljenko / Wikimedia.org

Revolution Park is one of the most pleasant and well-maintained places for relaxation in the city. It features food carts, souvenir shops with Don ceramics, entertainment for children, a summer amphitheater, a winter skating rink, the ‘Yalla’ restaurant, as well as an aviary with peacocks and a pond with swans and flamingos.

Nakhichevan-on-Don was formerly a separate city founded by Armenians relocated from Crimea by decree of Catherine the Great. Since 1929, Nakhichevan has been part of Rostov-on-Don. The streets of this district, in the style of Petersburg, are named as ‘lines’: from the main local artery — Sovetskaya Street — even lines go upwards from the Don, odd ones towards the Don. Legend has it that to gain city status in 1811, the settlement was divided in half, thus doubling the number of streets on paper.

The historical past of the city is reflected in its architecture and Armenian churches. Here, a unique southern charm prevails, distinct from the rest of Rostov. The private sector with laundry hung in courtyards, a cult bazaar where fresh vegetables and fruits can be bought, and of course, the Armenian diaspora.

There is also an old Armenian cemetery from the 18th century (entrance from Chentsov Street, at the intersection with the 10th line). Spread over 14 hectares are alleys with ancient monuments, including works by the Italian sculptor Silvestro Antonio Tonitto and the 19th-century Church of Saint Karapet (Surb-Karapet).

Spread over 14 hectares, the Armenian cemetery features alleys with ancient monuments, including works by the Italian sculptor Silvestro Antonio Tonitto and the 19th-century Church of Saint Karapet. Photo: Sofiya357 / Wikimedia.org
Spread over 14 hectares, the Armenian cemetery features alleys with ancient monuments, including works by the Italian sculptor Silvestro Antonio Tonitto and the 19th-century Church of Saint Karapet. Photo: Sofiya357 / Wikimedia.org

Pushkinskaya — the Main Promenade Street with a Shady Alley and a Garden in the Library

Pushkinskaya Street is 3.5 kilometers of shady alley in the city center — the best place to hide from the heat and take great pictures. It is always cooler here than on Sadovaya due to the abundance of trees and the lack of heavy traffic.

The Don Public Library (Pushkinskaya St., 175a) is a true paradise for those who love greenery and freshness. Imagine a monumental building with a labyrinth of marble benches surrounded by an evergreen garden. The atrium’s roof is glass, so it’s always bright inside. You can read a book and imagine yourself in the jungle, while figurines of Buddha or Pushkin peek out from behind the bushes. To access the book storage, you need to get a library card. This can be done on-site (with a passport) or remotely. You can also get a one-time pass by showing your passport.

The Don Public Library is a monumental building with a labyrinth of marble benches surrounded by an evergreen garden. The roof in the atrium is glass, so it's always bright inside. Photo: Nikolai Vassiliev / Flickr.com
The Don Public Library is a monumental building with a labyrinth of marble benches surrounded by an evergreen garden. The roof in the atrium is glass, so it’s always bright inside. Photo: Nikolai Vassiliev / Flickr.com

The library in the neoclassical mansion (Pushkinskaya St., 148), formerly the building of the book publisher Nikolai Paramonov, has been recently restored. It is a popular spot for wedding photos, as it is located near the registry office.

At the beginning of the 20th century, a Greek Orthodox church was built on what is now University Lane, leading to the main building of the Southern Federal University (SFU). After its demolition, a Puppet Theater was built on its foundation and still stands there to this day. Although the Russian Orthodox Church claimed the building and there were talks about moving the theater to restore the church at its original site, it was eventually decided to build the church next to the public library.

The eclectic mansion of Apollon Petrov (Pushkinskaya St., 115) is one of the most beautiful buildings in Rostov. The lawyer Petrov received this building as a gift from the Vladikavkaz Railway for defending its interests in court. Since the 1950s, it has housed the Museum of Fine Arts with paintings by Dutch artists and Rubens, and is surrounded by a charming rose garden — one of Rostov’s main Insta-spots.

In the eclectic mansion of Apollon Petrov, since the 1950s, there has been a Museum of Fine Arts featuring paintings by Dutch artists and Rubens. Surrounding the building is a charming rose garden — one of the main Instagram spots in Rostov. Photo: Ksenofontov Alexander / Wikimedia.org
In the eclectic mansion of Apollon Petrov, since the 1950s, there has been a Museum of Fine Arts featuring paintings by Dutch artists and Rubens. Surrounding the building is a charming rose garden — one of the main Instagram spots in Rostov. Photo: Ksenofontov Alexander / Wikimedia.org

The House of Freud’s Student (Pushkinskaya St., 83). The Shpilrein family mansion was built at the end of the 19th century, where Sabina Spielrein, the future renowned researcher of psychoanalysis and a student of Freud, spent her childhood and youth. Now, the house operates as a museum named after her, featuring her portraits and those of her relatives, her books, graphic works, and items from the pre-revolutionary era.

The Circus (Budennovsky Ave., 45). A building from the 1950s, which is impossible to miss due to its bright yellow color, black sculptures, and columns. Its majesty inside is accentuated by artistic molding, gilding, ornaments, and crystal chandeliers. Near the entrance stands a monument to the famous artist Oleg Popov, who gave his last performances at the Rostov Circus before his death in 2016.

The Old Town with the central market and ruins of warehouses

The Old Town, with its picturesque slums, is an extensive area in a square from the Temernik River to Teatralnaya Square. Many buildings are in a deplorable state, and the part adjacent to Teatralnaya Square was completely burned down in a fire in 2017. Rumor has it that the fire was an arson, as the location was profitable and attracted major developers. Turning off Sadovaya into any alley towards the Don, you enter old quarters with cozy courtyards and houses one, two, and three stories high, some entwined with wild grapes. Ancient buildings are found at every turn, although there are also outright slums.

Turning off the bustling Sadovaya into any alley towards the Don, you enter the old quarters with cozy courtyards and houses of one, two, and three stories, some entwined with wild grapes. Photo: Vladimir Kubantsev / Unsplash.com
Turning off the bustling Sadovaya into any alley towards the Don, you enter the old quarters with cozy courtyards and houses of one, two, and three stories, some entwined with wild grapes. Photo: Vladimir Kubantsev / Unsplash.com

Sobornaya Square — the very center of the old town. The first wooden church on this site stood in 1781, and the current white-stone Cathedral was built in the mid-19th century in the image and likeness of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. The project was worked on by architect Konstantin Ton, the creator of the ‘Russian-Byzantine style’.

Central Market (Budennovsky Ave., 12). It was after its appearance that the historical center of Rostov began to expand, particularly due to the arrival of merchants. The first trading points began to appear in the mid-18th century. Now you can buy fresh local fruits, vegetables (especially nice to buy in season when prices are low), fish, and crayfish.

The Wrangel House (Gazetny Lane, 8) with rich decor was built in 1885, later bought by Russian entrepreneur, father of General Pyotr Wrangel, Baron Nikolai Wrangel. Here, the future leader of the White movement spent his childhood and youth. Some of the old stucco work has been partially preserved in the interior. The mansion has recently started to be restored.

Grekov Art School or ‘Grekovka’ (Serafimovicha St., 15). The neoclassical mansion was built in the 1880s by order of the Rostov merchant Semyon Velikanov for his daughter.

The neoclassical mansion was built in the 1880s by order of the Rostov merchant Semyon Velikanov for his daughter. Photo: Vlad2000Plus / Wikimedia.org
The neoclassical mansion was built in the 1880s by order of the Rostov merchant Semyon Velikanov for his daughter. Photo: Vlad2000Plus / Wikimedia.org

The Paramonov Warehouses or ‘Paramony’ are located on the banks of the Don between Sokolov Avenue and Universitetsky Lane (Beregovaya St., 47a). The oldest of the warehouses was built in the mid-19th century. Throughout their history, the premises had various owners, but they are famously named after the renowned grain merchant Elpidifor Paramonov. The warehouses are styled in Classicism with elements of Romanesque architecture. Interestingly, architects Yakunin and Shulman skillfully used local springs, creating channels that ran through the warehouses. As a result, the same temperature of about plus 18 degrees Celsius was maintained inside year-round, preventing the grain from spoiling. Wheat was loaded onto barges here and sent abroad. The Paramony withstood the war but suffered significant damage when left abandoned. There have been several fires, and in recent decades the warehouses have stood in ruins. Discussions are ongoing about restoration and possibly converting them into a museum, but so far, no progress has been made.

The Flooded Paramonov Warehouses — once a favorite spot for local boys to dive from the ruins into the water. Photos: TonxStar / Wikimedia.org, Eduard Teplinskiy / Unsplash.com
The Flooded Paramonov Warehouses — once a favorite spot for local boys to dive from the ruins into the water. Photos: TonxStar / Wikimedia.org, Eduard Teplinskiy / Unsplash.com

Well-kept Promenade and Levberdon

A two-kilometer modern promenade stretches across the Don, featuring pontoon restaurants, fountains, riverboats, and fishermen. In the morning, it’s almost deserted, except for runners. During the day, cafes open up, which become crowded in the evening. Board games, music, children, gatherings — it feels like ‘everything is mixed up in the house’, but it truly captures the atmosphere of a lively southern city. Despite the crowds, it’s always quite clean here, and after the renovations for the 2018 World Cup, the promenade was adorned with well-kept flower beds and trees — making it a really pleasant place to stroll.

Noteworthy features of the promenade include several monuments and installations — under the glass are beams of the former wooden promenade. Throughout the promenade, there are sculptures of a fisherman, a crayfish, an anchor — maintaining the river theme. There’s also Don-Batyushka, Grandfather Shukar, and Grigory with Aksinya in a boat from Sholokhov’s ‘Quiet Don’. But recently, an infamous character ‘settled’ on the Rostov promenade, specifically a composition that could only scare children. It’s ‘Mashenka and the Bear’ — a sculpture that has been dubbed ‘local Alenka’ — looks creepy but is memorable. And it’s great content for the ‘Medieval Suffering’ public.

In the promenade area, there are two spots with good panoramas of the Don and its left bank. The first is the lookout point on Sedova. From here, you can see the new ‘Rostov Arena’ stadium, with Green Island on the left and Voroshilovsky Bridge on the right. Below, you can see the Paramony and the promenade.

To get to the famous ‘left, left, left bank of the Don’, or simply Levberdon, one needs to walk or drive over the Voroshilovsky Bridge. From the bridge, you can see the width of the river and both banks. This is the perfect place to watch the sunrise or observe the sunset.

On Voroshilovsky Bridge, it's great to watch sunrises and sunsets. Photo: Anita Jankovic / Unsplash.com
On Voroshilovsky Bridge, it’s great to watch sunrises and sunsets. Photo: Anita Jankovic / Unsplash.com

Crossing the bridge, you immediately enter the new Levoberezhny Park, which has been laid out near the stadium. In summer, it can be quite hot here, as the trees have not yet grown tall, and the open space makes it windy. Otherwise, it’s a well-maintained place with restaurants, fast food, alleys, benches, and a sandy beach.

At the ‘Rostov Arena’ stadium, in addition to matches, concerts are held. It’s worth keeping an eye on the schedule, as you might catch performances by famous Rostov rappers — Basta or Kasta. Beyond the park lies the main leisure area of all Rostov — Levoberezhnaya Street, which consists of barbecue spots, recreation bases, and clubs.

Crossing the bridge, you immediately enter the new Levoberezhny Park, which has been laid out near the stadium. In summer, it can be quite hot here, as the trees have not yet grown tall, and the open space makes it windy. Photo: Alexander Roumega / Wikimedia.org
Crossing the bridge, you immediately enter the new Levoberezhny Park, which has been laid out near the stadium. In summer, it can be quite hot here, as the trees have not yet grown tall, and the open space makes it windy. Photo: Alexander Roumega / Wikimedia.org

Walking and Bike Tours

In the last five years, dozens of guides have emerged who lead unconventional tours around the city. For example, a walk through ‘Russian Chicago’ with visits to banks and hotels in the center of Rostov, where loud crimes and scams occurred at the beginning of the 20th century. This route allows you to delve into the criminal past of the city and understand why it was called ‘Rostov-papa’.

The ‘Merchant Rostov’ tour is dedicated to how people used to relax in Old Rostov. An evening stroll with guides takes place through pre-revolutionary leisure spots, the local ‘red-light street’ with intriguing stories about the adventures of Rostov and Nakhichevan merchants.

The ‘Mystical Rostov’ route is for those who like to hear about secrets and ghosts. It’s a walk along Pushkinskaya Street with its ancient mansions, accompanied by stories about mysterious events in the city’s history. Another similar option is a tour of the old Armenian cemetery from the 18th century.

Bike routes are collected in the ‘VeloGuide’ app, passing through iconic city objects, which are supplied with historical facts about the buildings and people in the form of an audio guide. You can rent a bike and ride around Rostov, listening to the story of the city.

Street Culture

Despite the fact that the works of Rostov street art are occasionally painted over, they continue to appear on the walls of buildings and in courtyards. You walk along Sadovaya, turn a corner, and suddenly there’s a Madonna or Dali. The streets of the city are home to characters from different universes — the Pink Panther and Winnie the Pooh, René Magritte’s ‘The Son of Man’, and reproductions of masterpieces of world painting.

In the city center, classical paintings on old buildings are encountered — the likeness of the Mother of God on Gazetny (Gazetny lane, 68), ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ on Pushkinskaya (Pushkinskaya St., 118), ‘Greek Woman’ on Kirovsky Avenue (on the facade of a partially destroyed private house between houses 53 and 55). Their author is the artist Lida Zheleznyak (Li Ande).

In the city center, classical paintings are found on old buildings. The author of these works is the artist Lida Zheleznjak (Li Ande). Photo: Elizabetth Valerievna / Wikimedia.org
In the city center, classical paintings are found on old buildings. The author of these works is the artist Lida Zheleznjak (Li Ande). Photo: Elizabetth Valerievna / Wikimedia.org

Artist Maria Khardikova’s paintings are large-scale, resembling ancient frescoes. Maria works very delicately with space, and her murals harmoniously complement the architecture of the building, rather than drawing attention to themselves with bright spots. They are located in the Old City: ‘Flow’ at the descent to the Paramonov Warehouses (corner of Chekhov and Sedova), ‘Giants’ behind the ‘Five Seas’ business center on the embankment (corner of Voroshilovsky and Sedova), ‘Procession of Strange Muses’ on the wall in the courtyard of the conservatory (Shaumyan Street, 29). The last one can only be seen if the conservatory’s gatekeeper allows you into the courtyard.

There are many writers in Rostov, and traditional graffiti can be found not only in the center but also in Nakhichevan — for example, the iconic image of Salvador Dali in glasses (16th line, 7a), Bart Simpson near the Public Library (Pushkinskaya St., 175a), or bold pop-art with Batman and Superman kissing on Suvorova (Suvorova St., 52).

One of the already iconic graffiti: Salvador Dali in 3D glasses. Photo: Anna Astakhova / Wikimedia.org
One of the already iconic graffiti: Salvador Dali in 3D glasses. Photo: Anna Astakhova / Wikimedia.org

Near the Palace of Children and Youth Creativity (Bolshaya Sadovaya St., 55) lies a landmark of street culture — the ‘Draft’ yard, where Basta used to hang out. It is believed that Rostov rap originated here. A couple of years ago, Basta himself mentioned that ‘Draft’ was the place where they used to arrange ‘meet-ups’, and he painted graffiti on the walls of this alleyway, which, by the way, have been preserved.

Museums and theaters

In the Museum of Fine Arts (115 Pushkinskaya Street and 60 Chekhov Street), paintings, graphics, sculpture, and decorative arts from the 17th to 20th centuries are displayed. The permanent exhibition includes a collection of works by Flemish and Dutch painters, Rubens, Preti, and other masters of Caravaggism and Baroque. There are halls dedicated to Russian art, as well as sculptures and applied arts objects from Japan and China.

The repertoire of the Rostov Music Theater (134 Bolshaya Sadovaya Street) includes classic ballets (‘Giselle,’ ‘La Bayadère,’ ‘Swan Lake,’ etc.), operettas (‘Rigoletto’ and others), and concerts, such as ‘Symphorock’ with interpretations of soundtracks from famous movies and TV shows – from ‘Harry Potter’ to ‘Game of Thrones’.

In the Rostov Drama Theater (1 Teatralnaya Street) – the one shaped like a tractor – monumental performances like Sholokhov’s ‘Quiet Don’ are shown, as well as classic comedies (‘The Marriage of Figaro,’ ‘The Dog in the Manger’), plays based on works by Gogol and Turgenev, satirical pieces, and melodramas.

The repertoire of the private chamber drama theater ‘Man in a Cube’ (66 Bolshaya Sadovaya Street) includes original productions – poetic plays, play-concerts, event plays.

Contemporary art by Rostov artists and performers is exhibited in the ‘Makaronka’ center in Nakhichevan (8 18th Line Street). This art space hosts exhibitions, performances, lectures, concerts, and parties in a former pasta factory. The interior is loft-style, minimalist – brick walls, rough whitewash.

Makaronka' is an art space with exhibitions, performances, lectures, concerts, and parties located in a former pasta factory. Photo: Plague
Makaronka’ is an art space with exhibitions, performances, lectures, concerts, and parties located in a former pasta factory. Photo: Plague

The new creative space ‘Around the Center’ (35 Chekhov Avenue) occupies an old mansion where bars, restaurants, coworking spaces, an event hall, and photo zones are located. In the courtyard, after the center opened in early 2021, guests were greeted by a talking banner ‘Fuck You 2020’. The interior of ‘Around the Center’ combines historical motifs and modern aesthetics – high ceilings, arches, crystal chandeliers, and ceiling moldings, bare brickwork in the inner courtyard, and a refined emerald shade of walls in the local event hall.

In the intimate youth space ‘Tsiferblat’ (46 Sokolov Avenue), literally every day something interesting is organized – poetic readings, stand-up improvisations, lectures, concerts, and workshops on painting, calligraphy, acting, and so on. The atmosphere of this place is similar to a student apartment party.

In the ‘Astor-Plaza’ gallery (49 Budennovsky Avenue), besides shops and restaurants, summer concerts are held on the roof – performances by Mumiy Troll, Dolphin, Manizha, Therr Maitz, ‘Mgzavrebi’, and other top artists.

Eat and drink

Rostov is not only a southern capital but also a gastronomic one. In the last ten years, the city’s gastro culture has reached a new level. Plus, many good coffee shops have appeared. Crayfish and fish are traditionally associated with the Don, although thematic establishments – crayfish and fish restaurants have only recently started to appear in Rostov. Rostov is also about kebabs, so there are many meat restaurants here – both in the center and on the left bank.

For breakfast, you can drop by ‘Gavrosh’ (36 Pushkinskaya Street) – a bistro from the creators of one of Rostov’s most popular establishments, ‘Onegin Dacha’. Pancakes, poached eggs, croissants with salmon, milk porridges – everything looks very appetizing and delicious. The place opens at 7 am – right after breakfast, you can take a walk along Pushkinskaya. Another place where locals come for breakfast is ‘Keks’ (57/48 Bolshaya Sadovaya Street and another 11 locations in the center, a total of 23 locations throughout the city). Here you can find good coffee, tasty croissants, and desserts.

'Keks' is one of the most popular cafes for breakfast. Here you can find good coffee, tasty croissants, and desserts. Photo: 'Keks'
‘Keks’ is one of the most popular cafes for breakfast. Here you can find good coffee, tasty croissants, and desserts. Photo: ‘Keks’

At Balik (58/30 Bolshaya Sadovaya Street), they prepare delicious porridges – a paradise for oatmeal lovers in the morning, as well as dumplings, pancakes, and poached eggs – all homemade and tasty.

Cafes and Restaurants

‘Onegin Dacha’ (45b Chekhov Street) is beautiful, delicious, and very Instagram-worthy. The interior is in a Russian style, ‘antique’ with lots of wood, and a toy train runs on the upper level, at the level of the chandeliers. The menu features Russian and European cuisine: pancakes, fritters, dumplings, meat dumplings, cutlets, pâtés, pike. Especially tasty at ‘Onegin’ are breakfasts, desserts, and Turkish coffee.

Le Bistro (113 Bolshaya Sadovaya Street) – old-timers remember how there used to be the iconic restaurant ‘New York’, but now it is equally high-quality with a stylish interior with loft elements and an exterior – ‘Le Bistro’. The menu includes European and French cuisine dishes, grill and wine, as well as gluten-free, sugar-free, and egg-free dishes.

'Le Bistro' is a high-level restaurant with a stylish interior featuring loft elements and exterior. Photo: Le Bistro
‘Le Bistro’ is a high-level restaurant with a stylish interior featuring loft elements and exterior. Photo: Le Bistro

‘Larisa Zharit’ (113 Semashko Alley) – the name speaks for itself: the focus here is on grilled and smoked dishes, accompanied by a good wine list. There’s a covered veranda on the street, and inside – a loft interior mixed with panels in the style of the Don steppe, modern art with Cossack motifs, and an open kitchen.

‘Niko’ (141 Pushkinskaya Street) – a Georgian restaurant with various retro elements in the interior – antique dishes, paintings, and candelabras. The menu features meat, khachapuri, khinkali, traditional appetizers and sweets – baklava, matsoni panna cotta, and Georgian wines.

‘Teplo’ (41 Gazetny Alley) – a pasta bar serving handmade pasta, pizza, tapas, and wine. The menu also includes other European dishes, classic desserts – cheesecakes, tiramisu, and tasty lemonades.

‘Hlebnaya Lavka’ (144a Pushkinskaya Street and four other locations in the city) – a cozy place in Provence style with fresh crispy pastries. Try their croissants – with almonds or salmon. For starters, you can order okroshka with beef tongue, soup in a bread bowl, or pumpkin cream soup. There are many delicious desserts: from tender lemon meringue to spicy salted caramel. In summer, they serve lemonades and in winter – sea buckthorn tea and mulled wine. There’s a summer veranda in the courtyard with a view of Pushkinskaya.

‘Yuzhny’ – a seasonal restaurant with live music on the Left Bank near the stadium (5d Levoberezhnaya Street). It is located on the embankment with a beautiful view of the Don. The menu includes Russian and European cuisine and grill: kebabs, pilaf, fish, pickles, burgers, Tom Yum, and even strawberry soup and gold steak. Grilled meat dishes and good steaks are also made at ‘Matador’ (90 Krasnoarmeyskaya Street) and Cow (84 Gazetny Alley), and burgers are served at Basta’s restaurant – Frank (84 Gazetny Alley).

‘Yalla’ (3 Teatralnaya Square) – first of all, it’s beautiful and cozy, secondly, the food is delicious, satisfying, and offers a view of the Ferris wheel. Other pleasant features include live music on weekends, a summer terrace with garlands, and a park around. The menu features many meat dishes of Uzbek cuisine, although there are also rolls, European salads, and pasta, and even a dessert in the shape of a Ferris wheel. By the way, there is a very cute replica of the Rostov-Eye at the entrance. The interior includes Armenian lavash and bundles of onions as decor elements, and in the washroom – a copper basin instead of a sink.

For Eastern cuisine, people go to ‘Osh Posh’ (168 Krasnoarmeyskaya Street) – here they cook delicious Uzbek pilaf, meat, and baked goods in a traditional tandoor oven. And for Asian cuisine – to ‘Sillu’ (92 Pushkinskaya Street and three other locations in the city) – here they serve Japanese and Korean dishes – noodles, soups, and traditional panchan appetizers.

In the small Vietnamese restaurant Mr Pho (28 Soborniy Avenue), with authentic design and pho-bo according to all the rules, as well as tasty spring rolls, pad thai, tom yum, wok, and Vietnamese coffee.

The ‘Pit Kofe’ chain (99 Lenin Avenue and another 13 locations in the city). The name is misleading; it’s not a coffee shop, but a cafe in the tasty and budget category with an extensive menu – from rolls to pizza, but their European direction is the tastiest – salads, soups, meat.

Seafood, fish, crayfish

Crayfish restaurant ‘Raki i Gady’ (57 Shaumyan Street). The establishment with a telling name, where crayfish are cooked very skillfully and according to different recipes. They are served in large portions and you’ll be advised on how to eat them properly. You’ll need to put on a ‘bib’ and gloves.

Crayfish and fish are traditionally associated with the Don, although themed establishments like crayfish boilers and fish restaurants have only recently started appearing in Rostov. Photo: Crayfish and Gadgets
Crayfish and fish are traditionally associated with the Don, although themed establishments like crayfish boilers and fish restaurants have only recently started appearing in Rostov. Photo: RakiGadi

Local (and not only) fish is cooked at ‘Shamaike House’ (95 Bolshaya Sadovaya Street), and they also offer a large selection of beer. At the sea bistro Moriki (30 Suvorov Street), they serve fish, mussels, shrimps, oysters, and wine. This is an atmospheric place with original design, cozy courtyard, and Instagram-worthy presentation of dishes.

Coffee and Desserts

Good coffee is made at Setters (181 Pushkinskaya Street) and Coffeelab (61 Soviet Street). In Nakhichevan, delicious coffee and pastries are served at Wise Coffee (4 2nd Line Street). And on the 13th line, there is Phi.Kofe – a small coffee shop with very good coffee, pastries, and desserts (39 Gazetny Alley).

Phi.Kofe - a small coffee shop with very good coffee, pastries, and desserts. Photo: Phi.Kofe
Phi.Kofe – a small coffee shop with very good coffee, pastries, and desserts. Photo: Phi.Kofe

‘Zolotoy Kolos’ (43/32 Bolshaya Sadovaya Street and five other locations in the center) – a classic of Rostov. The confectionery opened in the mid-20th century and is still popular among the people of Rostov. At ‘Kolos’, there is delicious baking (pies, poppy seed rolls, cabbage pastries, like at grandma’s in childhood), cakes, and desserts – eclairs, tubes, ‘kartoshka’ and carrot pastries, for example. You can pop in for something sweet and crispy and get a dose of nostalgia to go.

Hanging out

‘Siyanie. Vino i druz’ya’ (52 Gazetny Alley) – an atmospheric place with a loft aesthetic and a large selection of wines (about 300 varieties) – the neon sign In Wine We Trust speaks for itself. In good weather, it’s nice to sit outside in the courtyard with a glass of something red and dry. On weekends, parties are held at ‘Siyanie’, and you can also get a basic taste at the ‘Wine School’.

'Siyanie. Vino i druz'ya' (Shine. Wine and Friends) - an atmospheric place with a loft aesthetic and a large selection of wines, and on weekends, parties are held at 'Siyanie'. Photo: Siyanie
‘Siyanie. Vino i druz’ya’ (Shine. Wine and Friends) – an atmospheric place with a loft aesthetic and a large selection of wines, and on weekends, parties are held at ‘Siyanie’. Photo: Siyanie

Nearby is the intimate cider bar Mr. Fox (56 Gazetny Alley) with a cozy atmosphere, pleasant retro music on vinyl records, cheerful guys behind the bar, and of course, a good selection of cider. Specially for Instagram photos, there is a hammock, and for book lovers – a bookshelf.

In the old town, there is the ‘secret Chinese bar’ Shanghai 12 (17 Soborny Alley). A mysterious place with authentic design – a stone wall with raw edges, characteristic traditional lamps, unusual items – antique teapots, boxes, vases. By the way, ‘Shanghai’ has several prestigious awards from the magazines ‘Afisha’ and ‘Sobaka’, as well as the ‘Best Ethno Bar in Russia’ award – not in vain, as they serve tasty cocktails and snacks, although it can be too noisy and crowded.

Shanghai 12 - a mysterious place with an authentic design, holding several prestigious awards from the magazines 'Afisha' and 'Sobaka', as well as the title of 'Best Ethnobar in Russia'. Photo: Shanghai 12
Shanghai 12 – a mysterious place with an authentic design, holding several prestigious awards from the magazines ‘Afisha’ and ‘Sobaka’, as well as the title of ‘Best Ethnobar in Russia’. Photo: Shanghai 12

The beer bar ‘Golodranets’ (67 Shaumyan Street) – an intimate bar with a hipster atmosphere and a large selection of beers. There are few places, and it’s often packed in the evenings.

Surroundings: Cossack fun and a recreation park with a swimming pool

Three Stations

Between Taganrog and Rostov is Tanais – a large open-air museum on the site of an ancient Greek colony, where excavations are still ongoing. Nearby is Merzhanovo station – a very popular tourist spot, with a lighthouse and beautiful views of the bay. Next, at Morskaya station, a recreation park with a large swimming pool right on the bay shore has opened. In summer, people come here to relax, swim, and sunbathe on lounge chairs, and picnics with barbecues are arranged in the park area. You can travel between the three stations on the Rostov – Taganrog electric trains, which run every half hour to an hour, starting at eight in the morning until 10:30 pm.

Merzhanovo Station - a very popular tourist spot, with a lighthouse and beautiful views of the bay. Photo: Ari
Merzhanovo Station – a very popular tourist spot, with a lighthouse and beautiful views of the bay. Photo: Ari

Starocherkasskaya Stanitsa

35 kilometers from Rostov

A popular travel destination near Rostov. Starocherkassk was founded in 1570 and several ancient churches have been preserved here. One of the main attractions of the stanitsa is the museum-reserve, established on the initiative of the writer Mikhail Sholokhov. The territory includes several historical architectural monuments. In particular, the ‘Atamanskiy Podvorye’ complex with buildings from the mid-18th century, the Ataman’s Palace, and the Don Household Church. The Voskresenskiy Voiskovoy Temple, an early 18th-century Ukrainian Baroque style building, deserves special attention. It is the first stone temple in the south of Russia.

The Cathedral Church in the Starocherkassk Monastery. Photo: Alexxx Malev / Flickr.com
The Cathedral Church in the Starocherkassk Monastery. Photo: Alexxx Malev / Flickr.com

In some places in the stanitsa, Cossack ‘kurenya’ (traditional houses) have been preserved – two-story houses. There are also private museum-shops with authentic Cossack settings in small adobe houses-huts. Souvenirs with Cossack themes can be purchased here, including ceramics, decorated plates, wooden boxes, and dishes.

How to get there: From Karl Marx Square, bus №232 operates, with the journey taking about an hour.

Novocherkassk

45 kilometers from Rostov

A city with a picturesque main street-alley, the enormous Ascension Cathedral, and a museum of Don Cossacks.

The Ascension Voiskovoy Cathedral in Novocherkassk. Photo: Alexxx Malev / Flickr.com
The Ascension Voiskovoy Cathedral in Novocherkassk. Photo: Alexxx Malev / Flickr.com

How to get there: From Rostov, seven electric trains run daily, with the journey taking one and a half hours, and a ticket costs 130 rubles (1.36 euros). Buses depart from the main bus station (3 Sivers Avenue). They are faster than the electric trains – less than an hour on the road, and tickets cost between 80–160 rubles (0.84 – 1.68 euros).

Taganrog

80 kilometers from Rostov

Here you can explore Chekhovian sites, take a walk through the spacious Gorky Park and along the Taganrog Bay embankment. In the summer, you can swim and relax on the country beaches.

The Azov Sea in Taganrog. Photo: Alexxx Malev / Flickr.com
The Azov Sea in Taganrog. Photo: Alexxx Malev / Flickr.com

How to get there: The electric trains take one and a half to two hours, and a ticket costs 150 rubles (1.57 euros). There is an evening ‘Swallow’ service, which takes an hour. Buses take approximately the same amount of time, and tickets cost from 200 rubles (2.10 euros). However, buses can get stuck in traffic, and the journey can take up to three to four hours.

Loga Park in the village of Staraya Stanitsa

150 kilometers from Rostov

It spans 22 hectares with gardens, fountains, a ‘medieval’ stylized castle, and a zoo where peacocks, deer, and elks live. It’s best to come for the whole day – and even then, it’s not guaranteed that you’ll see everything. Nearby are guest houses and the USSR museum with vintage cars.

How to get there: The journey by car takes two to three hours, by bus – all four (a ticket costs about 500 rubles (5.24 euros)). There are also daytime electric trains, although with not very convenient schedules, the journey also takes about four hours. The cost is from 420 rubles (4.40 euros).

What to bring home: Cossack pop-art style souvenirs, Don hamon, and watermelon jam

Food

The first thing that comes to mind, of course, is fish – dried or cured shamaika, catfish balyk, bream. Some even manage to transport crayfish, packed with bottles of ice. In general, a cooler bag will be of help. From the edible souvenirs, tourists also take local sujuk – though not authentically a Rostov sausage, it’s very tasty here. Don hamon or salted meat has been prepared in the Don region for a long time, some even consider it a competitor to Spanish ham.

For sweets – jams from southern fruits and various types of honey – especially the unusual watermelon honey. Many walnut trees grow in the Rostov region, their season is in autumn, but they are sold any time of the year. In summer, it’s worth taking fruits – grapes, apricots, cherries, strawberries, and pink tomatoes, which can be as sweet as strawberries. All this is sold at the central market (Budenovsky Avenue, 12).

Good local cheeses are made at ‘Syrovarnya Vlasenko’ (Semashko Street, 51) or the cheese factory at Suvorova, 64 in Pokrovsky Square. Wines from autochthonous varieties, especially Tsimlyanskiye and Pukhlyakovskie, are sold in the ‘Tikhiy Don’ supermarket next to the embankment (Beregovaya Street, 10).

The 'Tikhiy Don' supermarket is located in the building of the former river terminal, constructed in the style of Soviet modernism. Photo: Vadim Anokhin / Wikipedia.org
The ‘Tikhiy Don’ supermarket is located in the building of the former river terminal, constructed in the style of Soviet modernism. Photo: Vadim Anokhin / Wikipedia.org

Souvenirs

Another option for an authentic souvenir from the Rostov region is Don ceramics, especially those from Semikarakorsk. Salt shakers, pepper shakers, teapots, plates with scenes from Cossack life, or hand-painted figurines are sold in the ‘Semikarakorskaya Keramika’ store (77/24 Bolshaya Sadovaya Street) and other points around the central market.

In the shops along the embankment and in the Revolution Park at Teatralnaya, you will find many souvenirs with symbols of Don fish and crayfish – figurines, dishes, panels. Near Gorky Park, local artists display their paintings – landscapes, still lifes, abstractions.

Clothing

Online, you can buy clothing, accessories, and souvenirs in the style of Cossack pop art – with bright images of ataman-superheroes by the artist Maxim Ilyinov, whose works were selected by FIFA as the official symbol of Rostov for the 2018 World Cup.

The founder of the Kravtsova Shop brand, Ksenia Kravtsova, combines folk art with modernity in clothing. Original designs with author’s drawings, capturing images of Russia and modern Russian beauties, convey the authentic spirit of the country. You can order at ‘Wildberries’.

In the Like Shop showroom (47b Gazetny Alley), Masha Alandarenko sells concise and stylish items from local designers. And in the ‘Gallery Bijou’ jewelry and accessories store (64 Serafimovicha Street), you can find original stone jewelry from Rostov masters.

Where to stay

There are many options – from the opulent gold-trimmed Radisson on the embankment to a dozen hostels in the old center. It’s best to stay within the square from the stations to Nakhichevan and from Krasnoarmeyskaya to the embankment. Most attractions and good restaurants are located in the center, so there is no point in staying in other districts.

The busiest streets are Sadovaya, Voroshilovsky, and Budennovsky – if your hotel room faces them, it will be noisy, even at night. Pushkinskaya can also be very lively on summer nights. Those who are light sleepers should choose a hotel on other streets.

The ‘Dvoryanskoe Gnezdo’ hotel (144 Pushkinskaya Street) is located in the city center but is hidden from the noisy streets. One downside – there is no private parking. Those who appreciate quietness will also like Home Suites (117 Gazetny Alley). It has small cozy rooms with high ceilings and very compact parking. The hotel is quiet despite its location, and there are several good establishments nearby in Tabachka.

There are also two stylish hotels on Gazetny: ‘Loft Nabokov’ (99 Gazetny Alley) and ‘Fabrika’ (151 Maxim Gorky Street). ‘Loft’ features brick walls, a spacious kitchen where you can cook yourself or order hearty breakfasts. Be prepared to carry your suitcase up to the third floor without an elevator – the hotel is in a pre-revolutionary building. ‘Fabrika’s interior has lots of greenery, wood, and bright stylish accents. It feels homely and cozy here. The administrators are not only super friendly but also cook delicious breakfasts, and a cat-concierge greets guests at the entrance.

The interior of the 'Fabrika' hotel features a lot of greenery, wood, and bright stylish accents. A cat-concierge greets guests at the entrance. Photo: Booking.com
The interior of the ‘Fabrika’ hotel features a lot of greenery, wood, and bright stylish accents. A cat-concierge greets guests at the entrance. Photo: Booking.com

‘Panfilov’ (125/3 Lenin Street) is not quite in the historical center, but it is quiet as the hotel is situated in courtyards, and the rooms have good sound insulation. The interior is in a succinct style, and good breakfasts are served in the mornings.

The ‘Ginza Project’ Arka hotel (114a Bolshaya Sadovaya Street) is beautiful both outside and inside. The room design is in an eco-minimalism style, yet looks expensive and elegant. Some rooms offer city views. Below, there is private parking and ‘Ginza’ restaurants – the Asian Ten June and Georgian Lilo.

For budget options in the center, there are plenty of good hostels and guest houses that opened for the 2018 World Cup. Now they are rarely full, so the likelihood that you will be alone in the room is very high. Hostels ‘Balkonsky’ (78 Bolshaya Sadovaya Street), ‘Stary Dvorik’ (84 Bolshaya Sadovaya Street), and ‘Baba Valya’ (36a Shaumyan Street) are clean and cozy, with kitchens.

Transport in the city

The impossibility of building a metro in Rostov could be the stuff of legends. The official version is that the city stands on underground lakes that hinder the laying of lines and threaten ground collapses. This story has been ongoing since the 1970s, but there’s no happy ending in sight.

Thus, the main transport in Rostov are buses and minibuses. Now, you can pay by card almost everywhere. The fare by card is 30 rubles, and in cash, it’s 32 rubles. Tram routes in the center are limited to just two lines: the first is closer to the embankment on Stanislavsky Street (from the stations through the Central Market to Nakhichevan) and on Gorky Street (parallel to Krasnoarmeyskaya).

There are car, bicycle, and electric scooter sharing and rental services.

The main transport in the million-strong city of Rostov are buses and marshrutkas (minibuses). Photo: Anita Jankovic / Unsplash.com
The main transport in the million-strong city of Rostov are buses and marshrutkas (minibuses). Photo: Anita Jankovic / Unsplash.com

How to get there

By plane. Rostov’s ‘Platov’ Airport has been closed since February 2022, which significantly complicates the journey — now it is necessary to travel to the city by land transport.

Plane + Train. You can fly from Moscow or St. Petersburg to the nearest open airports – Mineralnye Vody and Sochi. There is also an airport in Volgograd, but the journey from there is significantly longer. Tickets for direct flights from Moscow to Minvody and Sochi usually start from 3500 rubles (36.67 euros), but there are options during weekdays for 2000-3000 rubles (20.95 – 31.43 euros). From St. Petersburg, air tickets start from 4000 rubles (41.91 euros). You will need to travel from Minvody and Sochi by train or bus. The ‘Swallow’ train operates on the Minvody – Rostov route (almost six hours on the road, prices from 1600 rubles (16.76 euros)). The Swallow from Sochi takes eight hours and costs about 2000 rubles (20.95 euros). From Sochi, there are also express trains that take seven hours, but they are more expensive – from 2500-3000 rubles (26.19 – 31.43 euros).

The bus journey takes about the same time and cost, but the ‘Swallow’ and train, especially overnight, are more comfortable.

Train. The main railway station of Rostov is located in the center at the beginning of Bolshaya Sadovaya. From St. Petersburg and Moscow, you can reach Rostov on dozens of trains heading south – to Adler, Anapa, Novorossiysk, Minvody.

The fastest trains take 15 hours from Moscow. But due to the lack of air services, tickets for these trains are quickly sold out, and the trip must be planned in advance even in the off-season. The cheapest tickets in a platzkart (third-class sleeping car) cost 2200-2600 rubles (23.05 – 27.24 euros). However, generally, tickets in platzkart cost about 3500 rubles (36.67 euros), and there are a couple of trains where a side berth costs 5000 rubles (52.38 euros). The train journey from St. Petersburg to Rostov takes from 26 hours. Ticket prices start from 3500 rubles (36.67 euros).

Bus. Intercity buses arrive next to the station. Traveling to Rostov from Moscow by bus is tiring, as the journey takes about 16-18 hours. Although they have air conditioning, tickets start from 1800 rubles (18.86 euros) – cheaper than by train. From Voronezh, Volgograd, Samara, and other cities, you can also reach Rostov by bus.

When to Go

It’s best to visit Rostov in spring or autumn to avoid the summer heat – plus 30–40 degrees Celsius is the norm here. In April, May, and September it’s usually warm and sunny, and in October there’s often a real golden autumn. However, the atmosphere of Rostov is felt most fully in summer – especially in the evenings, when after the daytime ‘siesta’ the city comes to life, there are more people on the streets, and cars pass by with some lively music.

April, May, and September are usually warm and sunny, and in October there's a real golden autumn. Photo: Vladimir Kubantsev / Unsplash.com
April, May, and September are usually warm and sunny, and in October there’s a real golden autumn. Photo: Vladimir Kubantsev / Unsplash.com

Rostov’s changeable weather is similar to Saint Petersburg’s. In winter, due to the humidity and wind, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to experience the southern charm. Although there are often thaws, for example, around New Year’s it can be sunny and plus 10 degrees.

Checklist of Things to Do in Rostov

  • Go on a river cruise along the Don. The boats depart daily from the pier on the embankment near the descent from Semashko Alley (Beregovaya Street, 12) from nine in the morning until midnight. The cost of the cruise starts from 650 rubles (6.81 euros) per person. From the boat, you can see both banks: on the right, there’s the embankment and the port, the stele, and the wheel at Teatralnaya. On the left are endless rows of leisure bases with piers and yachts. The trip takes about an hour, turning around near Green Island. It’s especially picturesque at sunset and late in the evening. One potential downside is the specific selection of songs played through the speakers, in the style of ‘Music plays on the boat’. There are also one-day river excursions to Starocherkassk.
  • Ride the Ferris wheel at Teatralnaya to see Rostov’s panorama. Ideally, do it both during the day and in the evening. The cabins are enclosed – with air conditioning in summer and heating in winter.
  • Look at the city from the observation decks – on Sedova (Nizhnebulvarnaya Street, 4-14), above the bridge at Stachki (47.21314, 39.69271), or from Voroshilovsky Bridge.
  • Walk along the whole of Pushkinskaya from the station to Teatralnaya or vice versa. The atmosphere is particularly cool on summer evenings – with street musicians playing, a cool fountain at Publichka, and open terraces of restaurants on both sides of the alley.
  • Go biking – along Teatralnaya, Pushkinskaya, and over the Voroshilovsky Bridge to the Left Bank. Rental points in the center are located at Suvorova, 52a, Pushkinskaya, 215, and Voroshilovsky, 2.
  • Take a walk through the Botanical Garden and Kumzhenskaya Grove in the West: hiking enthusiasts will enjoy it here – lots of trails and the air is noticeably cleaner than in the city.
  • Engage in sports activities at the Rowing Canal: skateboarding, cycling, rollerblading, kayak yoga, surfing, wakeboarding.
  • Attend concerts on the roof of ‘Astor-Plaza’ or at ‘Rostov-Arena’ stadium.
  • Relax in the ‘H20’ water park – the main area is covered, there are summer pools outdoors, a sauna, and a spa.
  • In winter, go ice skating at ‘Ledograd’ under the canopy at Teatralnaya or at ‘Bolshoy’ under the open sky.

Useful Links

Billboard

  1. “Where to go in Rostov-on-Don”
  2. “Where to go in Rostov”
  3. Concert billboard on the roof of “Astor-Plaza”

Tours

  1. “City of Rostov Papa”
  2. Gennady Krolman
  3. Marina Natalyan
  4. Anna Pivovarova-Ushakova
  5. Alexey Pavlovsky
  6. Igor Narizhniy

Media

  1. “Sobaka”
  2. Enter

About Food

  1. “I Eat and Write”
  2. “Rostov Restaurant Reviews”

Parties

  1. “My Favorite Track”
  2. “I am Mercury”

Parties

  1. Denis Demkov – beautiful shots
  2. “My Facade” – preservation of historical heritage
  3. “Mayak” – lecture hall and excursions
  4. “Tsiferblat” – coworking and creative space
  5. “Vokrug Tsentr” – cultural and business space
  6. Makaronka – theater and exhibition center
  7. “Bardak” – offline market of local projects

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