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Home » Yekaterinburg: A Comprehensive Guide to the Ever-Young and Protest-Ridden City

Yekaterinburg: A Comprehensive Guide to the Ever-Young and Protest-Ridden City

Yekaterinburg has a unique spirit – it does not seek to emulate Moscow or St. Petersburg and forms its own, distinctive identity. We tried to convey the Yekaterinburg vibe through its unique cultural codes: industrialism and constructivist architecture, street art and the Yeltsin Center, bar hopping, parties, and of course, the Ural Mountains.

Industrial cities are often depicted with smoking chimneys and grey depressing panels. But in Yekaterinburg, the city’s industrial nature becomes a source of cultural inspiration. Exhibitions and performances at factories are commonplace. Yekaterinburg is proud of its constructivist-style buildings that actively appeared in the city during the industrialization period. The Chekists’ town, the White Tower at Uralmash, the “Dynamo” sports complex – any guide would recommend checking out these structures from the 1920s-1930s.

Modern Yekaterinburg consists of people who love and appreciate art, advocate for gastro-authenticity and bold experiments, for architecture and city improvements. And they are not afraid to stand up for their right to a comfortable life in the city. People who return from Moscow and St. Petersburg to make Yekaterinburg better. One example is the protests against the construction of a cathedral in the square near the Drama Theater. The story made the federal news, and Yekaterinburg, suggested by journalist Vladimir Solovyov, began to be called the “City of Demons” (the city even got a gastrobar named “Demons”). After a three-day standoff with slogans, the song “Changes” by Tsoi, mass arrests, and polls “for” or “against”, they decided not to build the temple in the square. It’s a pleasant place for picnics, meeting friends, or lounging on the grass reading a book.

Architecture – mansions with legends and the unique constructivist “NKVD town”

There’s a stereotype that Yekaterinburg is primarily a city of Soviet heritage. However, that’s not the case – the architecture here is quite diverse. Yekaterinburg is dotted with pre-revolutionary estates and mansions with legends (sometimes even mystical ones), temples, constructivism, Stalin-era buildings, and new constructions. The city’s landmarks are connected by a marking on the pavement – a 6-kilometer-long red line that stretches across the entire city. You can follow the route on your own or book a guided tour. There’s also an option to take a walk with an audio guide in the IziTravel mobile app. The walking tour takes 2.5 hours.

Constructivism

Yekaterinburg (from 1924 to 1991 – Sverdlovsk) is a haven of constructivism. This architectural style is based on standardization and simplification of forms (it is also called avant-garde). The city was actively being developed in the 1920s-1930s, during the peak of constructivism, which coincided in Yekaterinburg with the beginning of industrialization. One of the main avant-garde styled sites is the “NKVD town” (Lenina – Lunacharskogo – Pervomayskaya – Kuznechnaya). The residential complex for NKVD employees was built between 1929 and 1936. It consists of 14 buildings interconnected by underground passages. It is also home to one of the city’s architectural symbols that adorns various souvenirs – the “Iset” hotel (Lenina Ave, 69/1) shaped like a semi-cylinder. In the 1930s, this building housed a dormitory for singles, small families, and those on business trips. Until 2013, a hotel operated there, which was closed for renovations. In 2015, residents and tourists were able to enter thanks to the biennial event. Before that, the site was vacant, and the exhibition organizers wanted to attract investors’ attention to utilize its potential. Local companies continually vied for the right to restore the monument. According to recent data, the Sverdlovsk government agreed to transfer the “Iset” building to the “Business House on Arkhiereyskaya” investment company (owned by a businessman from Tyumen), which plans to convert the hotel into a boutique hotel.

One of the architectural symbols of Yekaterinburg, which adorns various souvenirs, is the "Iset" hotel in the shape of a semi-cylinder
One of the architectural symbols of Yekaterinburg, which adorns various souvenirs, is the “Iset” hotel in the shape of a semi-cylinder. Photo: Ludvig14 / Wikimedia.org

Previously, from the hotel, one could walk through a passageway to the adjacent building – the Dzerzhinsky Club (Lenin Ave, 69/10). In the 1930s, it housed an assembly hall, a dining room, a military store, circles for security officers and their families. Now, this building is part of the Sverdlovsk Regional Local History Museum, where the world’s oldest wooden sculpture, the Shigir Idol, which is 12,100 years old, is stored. The unique spiral staircase from the constructivist era seems to have been specially designed for atmospheric photos.

The head of one of the idols in the Shigir collection
The head of one of the idols in the Shigir collection. Photo: Vyacheslav Bukharov / Wikimedia.org

Opposite the “Chekists’ town”, on the other side of Lenin Avenue, is the inconspicuous shopping house “City-Center” (Lenin Ave, 50), another example of Soviet avant-garde. This used to be the Builders’ Club, which was reconstructed in 1943 for the Sverdlovsk Film Studio building.

The Press House (Lenin Ave, 49) was built in 1929-1930 for the editorial office and printing house of “Ural Worker”. Part of the premises was also occupied by a book publishing house and the regional branch of the USSR Writers’ Union, headed by the author of Ural tales, Pavel Bazhov. Now, on the first floor, there is a restaurant courtyard, and inside stands a full-length statue of Lenin.

On the first floor of the Press House, there is a restaurant courtyard, and inside stands a full-length statue of Lenin. Photo: Ludvig14 / Wikimedia.org
On the first floor of the Press House, there is a restaurant courtyard, and inside stands a full-length statue of Lenin. Photo: Ludvig14 / Wikimedia.org

The Main Post Office (Lenin Ave, 39) and the “Dynamo” stadium (Yeremina St, 12) are two more striking Constructivist monuments. Previously, the Main Post Office building housed the post office, telegraph, and telephone under one roof, as well as club facilities for employees: a nursery, gym, circles, and workshops, radio studios. The shape of the “Dynamo” stadium, which is clearly visible from the promenade, is compared to a ship. The blue and white sports complex consists of a stadium with stands and a physical culture house. Next to the stadium is a pleasant square for walks.

The Main Post Office is another iconic example of Yekaterinburg constructivism. Photo: Svetlov Artem / Wikimedia.org
The Main Post Office is another iconic example of Yekaterinburg constructivism. Photo: Svetlov Artem / Wikimedia.org

The White Tower (Bakinsky Commissars Street, 2a) is another symbol of Yekaterinburg’s constructivism. It is located outside the city center, in the Uralmash area. This used to be a water tower, which has now been transformed into a cultural venue. The pristine white tower was unused for a long time and gradually deteriorated, but it was taken under the patronage of the architectural group Podelniki, which refurbished the tower, conducted repairs, and is raising funds for its restoration. During tours (none are regularly scheduled during the cold season, but there are weekend and individual tours), visitors are allowed to ascend to the observation deck, view the water tank, and learn about the history of the place. Festivals and performances are occasionally organized here.

The White Tower - a former water tower that has now been transformed into a cultural venue. Photo: Vyacheslav Bukharov / Wikimedia.org
The White Tower – a former water tower that has now been transformed into a cultural venue. Photo: Vyacheslav Bukharov / Wikimedia.org

If you find yourself in Uralmash, be sure to visit the First Five-Year Plan Square. Several significant architectural sites are located around this small area. The first one is the “Madrid” hotel at Mashinostroiteley, 4a — an example of Soviet neoclassicism. It was built between 1933 and 1937 with the participation of Bela Shefler — a graduate of the German architectural school “Bauhaus”. According to history, they wanted to turn the building into a hotel for the “Uralmash” factory. However, later, according to one version, the idea emerged to offer the building as housing for refugees from Madrid, who were fleeing the war in Spain. Thus, journalists dubbed the future hotel the “Madrid” hotel, but unfortunately, it never opened its doors. Initially, the building served as a dormitory for workers, then as a hospital during the Great Patriotic War, and subsequently changed tenants until it closed down entirely. Today, it’s one of the city’s abandoned places, but even graffiti on the walls and broken windows haven’t destroyed the building’s beauty.

The "Madrid" hotel — an example of Soviet neoclassicism. It was built between 1933 and 1937 with the participation of Bela Shefler — a graduate of the German architectural school "Bauhaus". Photo: Vyacheslav Bukharov / Wikimedia.org
The “Madrid” hotel — an example of Soviet neoclassicism. It was built between 1933 and 1937 with the participation of Bela Shefler — a graduate of the German architectural school “Bauhaus”. Photo: Vyacheslav Bukharov / Wikimedia.org

Next to the hotel is a block of the social city, which local residents nicknamed the “Noble Nest”. It housed the leaders of the “Uralmash” plant, chief designers, and engineers. By the way, descendants of those very factory “tops” can still be found here. The main attraction of the courtyard is a fountain in the style of Stalinist Baroque, which has long been transformed into a flowerbed and a hangout spot for strong drink enthusiasts.

The essentials

Sevastyanov’s House (Lenin Ave, 35) of turquoise color is one of the most striking buildings in Yekaterinburg, as the city is mostly gray. Now, part of the residence of the governor of the Sverdlovsk region is located here. There are many urban legends about the house. For example, it is said that Collegiate Assessor Nikolai Sevastyanov wanted to decorate the roof of the rotunda with gold, which was only used to cover the domes of temples. For his audacious wish, he was allegedly sentenced to walk every morning to the nearest church in iron galoshes.

Sevastyanov's House in turquoise color is one of the brightest buildings in Yekaterinburg. Currently, part of the residence of the governor of the Sverdlovsk region is located here. Photo: Serge Larin / Wikimedia.org
Sevastyanov’s House in turquoise color is one of the brightest buildings in Yekaterinburg. Currently, part of the residence of the governor of the Sverdlovsk region is located here. Photo: Serge Larin / Wikimedia.org

On Lenin, 51, one of the buildings of the Ural Federal University named after Yeltsin is located. Here, journalism students, art historians, and philologists study. The majestic building in the Empire style began construction in 1951. In the same style, the city administration building, which is located in the very center, on the 1905 square, was built. The gray-orange building is decorated with a spire, a clock chime, and sculptures of workers.

Interior of the Ural Federal University named after Yeltsin, built in the Empire style. Photo: Prokhor Minin / Unsplash.com
Interior of the Ural Federal University named after Yeltsin, built in the Empire style. Photo: Prokhor Minin / Unsplash.com

On Voznesenskaya Hill, there is an architectural ensemble of several buildings of the Rastorguev-Kharitonov estate. It’s a typical example of city estates from the first half of the 19th century in the neoclassical style. They are situated between the Voznesenskaya Church and the Church on the Blood, built on the site of the Ipatiev House, where Nicholas II and the entire royal family were executed. In the summer, between the two churches, loud gatherings with hookahs in trunks are organized. Behind the estate lies the Kharitonov Garden, where athletes like to run.

Rastorguev-Kharitonov Estate. Photo: Sergey Mikhaylovich Prokudin-Gorsky — a pioneer of color photography in Russia.
Rastorguev-Kharitonov Estate. Photo: Sergey Mikhaylovich Prokudin-Gorsky — a pioneer of color photography in Russia

On the pedestrian Weiner Street, there isn’t much noteworthy, though it is always recommended for tourists. However, it has recently become a bit better — thanks to the ban on audio advertising, it has finally become less noisy. But dubious fairs, touts in life-sized horse dolls, and drunken companies have not gone anywhere.

Famous Skyscrapers

Often tourists in Yekaterinburg use the “Vysotsky” skyscraper as a reference point. It’s a 50-story building in the city center with a hotel, a museum named after Vysotsky, restaurants, and an observation deck, and recently, it also features Russia’s only rooftop swimming pool, the Sky Infinity Pool. Once, it was considered the tallest building in Yekaterinburg and beyond, excluding Moscow. But now the main skyscraper of the city is the residential complex “Iset Tower” with 52 floors. Nearby stands the 24-story building of the regional government, or White House. Before the collapse of the USSR, it was the tallest building of a regional committee of the CPSU in the Union. The modernist-style building attracts with its strict lines, straightforwardness, and monumentality.

"Vysotsky" - a 50-story building in the city center with a hotel, a museum named after Vysotsky, restaurants, and an observation deck, and recently with Russia's only rooftop swimming pool. Photo: Rost.galis / Wikimedia.org
“Vysotsky” – a 50-story building in the city center with a hotel, a museum named after Vysotsky, restaurants, and an observation deck, and recently with Russia’s only rooftop swimming pool. Photo: Rost.galis / Wikimedia.org

Quays and Park – hookahs in a glass, the pineapple tower, and Christmas celebrations

On summer evenings, the whole city strolls along the Iset embankment. Here they ride on boats and there’s a paddleboard rental service. The demand is high, so it’s better to book a paddleboard in advance on social networks. However, there’s a downside – the city river is very dirty, and falling into the water might not be very pleasant.

On summer evenings, the whole city strolls along the Iset embankment. Here they ride on boats and paddleboard rental operates
On summer evenings, the whole city strolls along the Iset embankment. Here they ride on boats and paddleboard rental operates

In recent years, the embankment near the Plotinka (part of the Iset embankment) and many other places in the center increasingly began to resemble resorts due to numerous vendors – glowing balloons, temporary tattoos, cotton candy, and hookahs in a glass (oh yes!). The city’s mayor announced that the Plotinka would be cleared, and for a while, they even managed to drive away street entrepreneurs. However, soon the evening shows and trade resumed.

Near the embankment, there’s a building (at Gorky Street, 57) that’s called “the pineapple.” It’s the headquarters of a local industrial giant – “Russian Copper Company”, designed by the Norman Foster studio. A great example of modern architecture.

The building of the "Russian Copper Company" designed by the Norman Foster studio. Photo: Vyacheslav Bukharov / Wikimedia.org
The building of the “Russian Copper Company” designed by the Norman Foster studio. Photo: Vyacheslav Bukharov / Wikimedia.org

Around it, a district of mansions is concentrated. Nearby, at the “Crooked House” (the merchant Chuvildin’s house), there’s a mini-garden, which was set up by a local photographer using her own funds, for which she received an award in the UK. Also, there’s a bridge across the river from where one can get a view of the futuristic building of the Yekaterinburg Circus.

The embankment from Malysheva to Kuibyshev was recently improved, a joint project of the “Strelka” institute and the local architectural bureau “Osa.” Now there are convenient paths, swings, and good lighting – it’s comfortable to stroll in the evening. On the other side of Lenin Avenue, another district has been revived – the Olympic Embankment. Around the old Simanovskaya mill, stylish venues have opened, and the “Makarovsky Bridge” has been renovated and now lights up in the dark, offering the best view of “Yekaterinburg-City”.

Along the Olympic Embankment, stylish venues have opened, the "Makarovsky Bridge" has been renovated and now shines in the dark, offering the best view of "Yekaterinburg-City". Photo: Vyacheslav Bukharov / Wikimedia.org
Along the Olympic Embankment, stylish venues have opened, the “Makarovsky Bridge” has been renovated and now shines in the dark, offering the best view of “Yekaterinburg-City”. Photo: Vyacheslav Bukharov / Wikimedia.org

The main city park – Mayakovsky – has noticeably transformed in recent years. Unnecessary attractions and trampolines have been removed, a community garden was created, and a food court “Tasty Street” was launched, featuring mini-versions of famous Yekaterinburg establishments. They serve burgers, waffles, gyros, hot dogs, and falafel. The park hosts concerts and festivals – for instance, street cinema or electronic music events. In winter, the park becomes a place from European Christmas cards – a stylish tree is set up and a beautiful skating rink is flooded with a giant glowing whale.

Capital of Russian Street Art

From the embankment of the Iset, you can see the art object “Who are we, where are we from, where are we going?” by street artist Timofey Radi on the roof of a defunct instrument-making factory, where one of the biennales of contemporary art took place. They promise to demolish the building along with the philosophical question. Yekaterinburg is considered one of the Russian centers of street art. The city hosts three street art festivals and has accumulated an impressive art heritage – even though some works don’t even last a day.

In 2010, the international festival “Stenography” was launched. Over 13 years, artists from a dozen countries have created more than 500 objects – murals decorate high-rises, graffiti adorns “Rospechat” kiosks, and even a painted taxi drives around the city. All the objects from the festival are collected on Yandex.Maps – you can immerse yourself in exploring the city through street art.

Works by ZEBU and antonialev made during "Stenography" in the summer of 2021. Photo: alenushta3
Works by ZEBU and antonialev made during “Stenography” in the summer of 2021. Photo: alenushta3

Among the latest art novelties is a mural by Serbian artist Wuper Kec. It depicts a man cleaning an apple against the background of a Soviet carpet. There is also a ten-meter graffiti of The Beatles on Gorky Street (from the embankment side, near the monument to the “beatles”), created not as part of the festival by the British artist Jimmy C. It is a gift for the city’s anniversary, prepared with the support of the British consulate.

There have been scandals in the festival’s history – the suprematist cross by the famous calligrapher Pokras Lampas was not liked by Orthodox activists, and they demanded its destruction. The massive artwork in the First Five-Year Plan Square in Uralmash was considered offensive because the symbol of faith is on the ground, meaning people would walk over it. The author argued that it’s just a geometric figure, not a cross. The organizers were ready to make concessions, and in the end, the work was slightly modified. Notably, the peculiarity of “Stenography” is that all sketches are pre-agreed with the city administration. The same cannot be said for the guerrilla festival “Carte Blanche”.

Graffiti "City of Demons" by zukclub and tima_radya within the "Carte Blanche" festival, summer 2021. Photo: alenushta3
Graffiti “City of Demons” by zukclub and tima_radya within the “Carte Blanche” festival, summer 2021. Photo: alenushta3

The organizers of the festival follow the natural nature of street art and do not ask anyone for permission for their creativity. Its ideological inspirers are Slava PTRK and Ilya Mozgi. Usually, before the start, the exact dates of which are never announced, the guys organize an auction of works. Their statements are more provocative, sarcastic, and touch on relevant topics, often political. For example, artworks dedicated to the protests in Belarus, scattered graffiti throughout the city with scattered paper clips, as if ringing loudly like a bell, or the inscription “At least to Hurghada this year.” Recently, the “Carte Blanche” organizers created a map with the festival’s works.

One of the works by the artist N888K, made within the framework of the illegal guerrilla street art festival "Carte Blanche," 2019. Photo: Maks Sveshnikov
One of the works by the artist N888K, made within the framework of the illegal guerrilla street art festival “Carte Blanche,” 2019. Photo: Maks Sveshnikov

In 2020, the city introduced the public art festival “CHO” with an emphasis on enlightenment. As part of it, lectures and public talks dedicated to art and urbanism are held. Among the works is a huge black-and-white bear Grisha by Andrey Bartenyev. The five-meter figure stands near the former “Salute” cinema (Tolmacheva Street, 12).

Once every two years, the Ural Industrial Biennale of Contemporary Art takes place — an undeniable brand of the city and the region. The event, originating from Yekaterinburg, covers the entire territory of the Greater Ural. In the summer of 2023, artistic and educational projects will be held in the city of Kyshtym and the village of Sokol in the neighboring Chelyabinsk region.

Culture – four contemporary art galleries, opera and ballet where rap is performed, and of course, the Yeltsin Center

A musical festival known not only in Russia but also abroad, “Night of Music”, is another highlight of Yekaterinburg. It has been held since 2015, with a hiatus during the COVID years. By 2022, Ural Music Night returned and set a record: 3,000 musicians performed on 103 stages and attracted 360,000 guests. Admission to all venues is free. Over the years, the festival’s headliners have included: the band “Bravo”, Emir Kusturica, MakSim, Tatyana Ovsienko, Naik Borzov, Arabesque, LSP, The Hatters, “Bread”, “Otava Yo” and Yolka.

From the author, Yana Kraeva: The most insane party of my life is associated with the “Night of Music”. Once, I found myself on a tram with filmmakers from the Red Pepper Film agency, who were celebrating the start of the Unknown Film festival. At some point, Noize MC (recognized as a foreign agent) appeared on the tram with a microphone. The tram vibrated from songs and jumps, and those driving and walking by (the tram got stuck on the main street since traffic was blocked) looked inside in surprise and pushed their phones through the windows, asking to record what was happening. One such curious onlooker tried to climb in and broke the glass. All of this made its way into Noize’s (recognized as a foreign agent) music video for the song “Iz okna”.

In the summer of 2021, the “Hermitage-Ural” museum was opened in Yekaterinburg (located at Vaynera Street, 11). On the first floor, there is a hall for temporary exhibitions from the Hermitage, while the second floor houses a permanent exhibition of Western European art. The third floor is dedicated to a memorial area, commemorating the evacuation of exhibits. During the Great Patriotic War, Sverdlovsk took in a portion of the Hermitage collection. The museum has a modern look and is conducive to spending time there — it features a souvenir shop, a café, and a lecture space.

The “Hermitage-Ural” is the younger sibling of the Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts (located at Voevodina Street, 5). It houses a unique collection of Ural cast iron — a folk-art craft made from cast iron, with its main exhibit being the famous Kasli Pavilion. This pavilion is considered the gold standard of Kasli cast iron and is still produced at a factory in the town of Kasli in the Chelyabinsk region. The Museum of Fine Arts also showcases Russian art from the 18th to the early 20th centuries, Western European art from the 14th to 19th centuries, and Ural decorative and applied arts.

Image caption: The Kasli cast-iron pavilion in the Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts. Photo by Vyacheslav Bukharov / Wikimedia.org
Image caption: The Kasli cast-iron pavilion in the Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts. Photo by Vyacheslav Bukharov / Wikimedia.org

For contemporary art, head to the Ural Vision Gallery (10 Sheinkmana Street), whose artists regularly participate in the prestigious Cosmoscow fair. Also, visit the National Center for Contemporary Art (19a Dobrolioubova Street), which has become part of the Pushkin Museum. Other notable galleries include “Sinara Art” (15/4 Verkh-Isetsky Boulevard) and “Glavny Prospekt” (8 Lenin Avenue), where works from private collections by artists such as Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali, and Nikas Safronov have been displayed. Photography enthusiasts will appreciate the “Mart” exhibition center (1, 8th of March Street), showcasing works from the “Pirelli” calendars and winners of “National Geographic” competitions.

Works by Osip Toff as part of the personal project "The Capital's Epic" at the Ural Vision Gallery. Photo: alenushta3
Works by Osip Toff as part of the personal project “The Capital’s Epic” at the Ural Vision Gallery. Photo: alenushta3

On April 28, 2022, the Underground Museum in Ekaterinburg was inaugurated, based on the private collection of Pavel Neganov. The permanent exhibit features over 1,000 art pieces from Soviet underground artists from cities like Sverdlovsk, Moscow, Leningrad, and Odessa. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions, lectures, performances, film screenings, and live shows. Upcoming plans include the launch of an “underground” bar situated within a brick-vaulted tunnel surrounded by art pieces. The museum also has a shop where artworks are available for purchase, ranging from 5,000 to 210,000 rubles (53.54–8,840.88 euros) per piece.

The Underground Museum was created based on the private collection of Pavel Neganov. The permanent exhibition features over 1000 artistic works by masters of Soviet underground art from Sverdlovsk, Moscow, Leningrad, and Odessa. Photo: Underground Museum
The Underground Museum was created based on the private collection of Pavel Neganov. The permanent exhibition features over 1000 artistic works by masters of Soviet underground art from Sverdlovsk, Moscow, Leningrad, and Odessa. Photo: Underground Museum

Theater enthusiasts will appreciate the “Ural Opera Ballet” (Lenin Ave, 46a), which likes to experiment with productions. For instance, in the ballet “The Humpbacked Horse,” giant matryoshka dolls appear on stage, and performers rap. Foreign directors often work on the productions, and local designers create the costumes. The opera has caught the attention of critics: the theater regularly becomes a laureate of the “Golden Mask”, and the troupe is warmly welcomed both in Russia and abroad.

Leadership in terms of experiments is firmly established with the “Kolyada-Theater” (Lenin Ave, 97), founded by the famous playwright and director Nikolai Kolyada, and the Center for Contemporary Drama (Malyshova St, 145a, lit. F), created by his students. These are bold, sharp, Ural-tough performances with the truths of life and its bitterness, everyday life, or, conversely, imbued with surrealism and the spirit of a mad carnival. In the summer, they host the “Kolyada-plays” festival, where theaters from various cities and countries showcase their work non-stop.

The Nevyansk Icon Museum is formed from the private collection of the former mayor of Yekaterinburg, Evgeny Roizman (recognized as a foreign agent). It showcases more than 700 Nevyansk icons — Old Believer iconographic school of the 18th–20th centuries from Nevyansk — a city 90 kilometers from Yekaterinburg. By the way, the Museum of Naive Art is also opened based on Roizman’s collection (recognized as a foreign agent). The exhibits are housed in a mansion built in 1884, within whose walls the legendary rock bands “Chaif” and “Nautilus Pompilius” recorded their albums in the post-Soviet years. Here there are both permanent exhibitions of works by Ural artists and temporary ones.

"Naïve art" is a conditional term denoting painting and graphics, and less frequently, applied art by self-taught artists, a kind of contemporary folk creation. Photo: Museum of Naïve Art
“Naïve art” is a conditional term denoting painting and graphics, and less frequently, applied art by self-taught artists, a kind of contemporary folk creation. Photo: Museum of Naïve Art

Yeltsin Center

The Yeltsin Center (Boris Yeltsin Street, 3) is a place where something is always happening: concerts, meetings with directors and writers, movie premieres, balls, tastings, public talks about the urban environment. Here, the whole city sang along to Pugacheva’s hits in the “Gogol Center” performance “Our Alla”, Gosha Rubchinskiy gathered the elite for a private screening, and the group Shortparis staged a performance in the elevators.

The Yeltsin Center is a place where something is always happening: concerts, meetings with directors and writers, film premieres, balls, tastings, public talks about the urban environment. Photo: Vladislav Counterfeiter / Wikimedia.org
The Yeltsin Center is a place where something is always happening: concerts, meetings with directors and writers, film premieres, balls, tastings, public talks about the urban environment. Photo: Vladislav Counterfeiter / Wikimedia.org

In the museum about the life of Russia’s first president, Boris Yeltsin, you immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the 1990s thanks to the setting: photographs, documents, and other artifacts. There’s also an art gallery here, which became nationally famous for a scandalous story about drawn-on eyes. Damage from the creative impulse of a Yeltsin Center guard, who “edited” “Three Figures” by Kazimir Malevich’s student Anna Leporskaya, was estimated at 250,000 rubles (2,676.96 euros). This painting from the State Tretyakov Gallery collection has already been restored and sent to a new exhibition.

The trendy “Piotrovsky” bookstore is also located here, where lectures are periodically held, the modern Russian cuisine restaurant “Barboris” and the cafe “1991” overlooking the promenade, where the menu features dishes based on the recipes of Naina Iosifovna, the Center Club with concerts, a cinema hall where movies are shown in English, clothing corners, for example from the popular second-hand “Shuvakish”, and the Papa Carlo cafe with a huge glowing moon in the interior. You can easily spend a whole day at the Yeltsin Center.

Exhibition of Erik Bulatov in the art gallery of the Yeltsin Center
Exhibition of Erik Bulatov in the art gallery of the Yeltsin Center

The Yeltsin Center also has several of its own cool festivals. For example, “Words and Music of Freedom,” where the topic of rights and freedoms is raised with speakers like Sergey Minaev, Mikhail Kozyrev, Ekaterina Shulman (recognized as a foreign agent), and Dmitry Bykov (recognized as a foreign agent). Headliners over different years have included “Time Machine,” “Beasts,” “Alliance,” and “Bravo.” Before the pandemic, the festival was held in November, but in 2021 it took place in June.

Surroundings – SUP tours, snowboarding in the Ural Mountains, and a creative cluster at an 18th-century mountain factory

SUP tours

The nature of the Urals is magnificent and can quite compete with the landscapes of the Caucasus. In the vicinity of Yekaterinburg, there are mountains and forests, but alas, there is no sea, although this does not bother the Ural surfers. In Yekaterinburg, the trend for SUP tours has been preserved for two years, so there are several teams that organize them – Ural Surf and the Friends club. In spring and summer, you can go rafting in the “Deer Streams” natural park with views of the Ural Mountains or walk through the park (you can choose trails of 6, 16, or 22 kilometers) – it will be beautiful in any direction. There are also routes for SUPs along the Chusovaya, Us’va, and Rezh rivers with picturesque views of the Manturov stone.

In spring and summer, you can go on a SUP rafting trip in the "Deer Streams" natural park with views of the Ural Mountains
In spring and summer, you can go on a SUP rafting trip in the “Deer Streams” natural park with views of the Ural Mountains

Ski Resorts

Within the city limits, there is the “Uktus” ski complex with various types of slopes suitable for both beginners and professionals. There are four lifts available, equipment is available for rent, and instructors are on hand to help beginners learn. The drive from the city center to “Uktus” takes 15–20 minutes. The season can start as early as mid-November.

If you’re looking for more picturesque views and more challenging slopes, you should head out of the city. Located 40 kilometers from Yekaterinburg, within the city limits of Pervouralsk, surrounded by forests, is Mount Pilnaya. It will appeal to those who enjoy skiing from high slopes. There are five ski slopes with varying levels of difficulty, and for the most experienced, there are forest tracks for freeriding. Buses and trains go to Pervouralsk.

90 kilometers from Yekaterinburg, six kilometers west of the city of Kirovgrad, is Mount Yezhovaya. Here, there are five slopes of varying difficulty, hotels, a children’s amusement park, and after skiing, you can take a sauna.

Berezovsky Sands

15 km from Yekaterinburg

The Berezovsky Sands are often referred to as the “Ural Sahara”. This location was formed due to gold mining. During the summer, many visit this place to capture atmospheric photos as if taken in a desert. The city of Berezovsky, near which the sands are located, is the first center of ore gold in Russia. There are signs indicating that this is a secured area, but this doesn’t deter travelers—workers on dump trucks and bulldozers don’t chase anyone away.

How to get there: If you are in a group, the easiest way to get there is by taxi, which will cost around 500 rubles (5.35 euros). Buses to Berezovsky depart every half hour from the Northern Bus Station; a ticket costs 99 rubles (1.06 euros) and the journey takes about half an hour.

Upper Pyshma

20 km from Yekaterinburg

Young residents of Yekaterinburg visit Upper Pyshma to attend lectures at the new bookstore “Books, Coffee, and Other Dimensions” (Uspensky Avenue, 99). Here, you’ll find a vast assortment of Russian and English publications. The lectures discuss topics ranging from working in a zoo to psychology and cinema. You can also visit the Military Equipment Museum.

In February 2023, the Theatrum, a private universal theater, opened its doors in the UGMK museum complex in Upper Pyshma. This theater is renowned for its experimental performances and can rival the artistic venues of Yekaterinburg. Its main attractions include a transformer hall, a bar, and a Fazioli piano, which ranks among the ten most expensive in the world. The theater’s program features tours from Moscow theaters and performances by star-studded artists.

How to get there: Buses 108, 103, 104E, and 111 run from the “Uralmash” station. Recently, modern “Lion Cub” trams (route №333) started operating to Upper Pyshma. Inside the tram, there are sockets for charging mobile phones, and validators for payment are installed near the entrance doors. Such trams had never been seen in Yekaterinburg before. Thus, riding on it is an entertainment and excursion in itself. It travels from the Tram Ring of Frenzied in Yekaterinburg to the ring in Upper Pyshma. The cost of one ride ranges from 22 to 38.5 rubles (0.24–16.21 euros), depending on the number of stops.

Creative Cluster “Summer at the Factory”

45 km from Yekaterinburg

The creative cluster (Bykova Street, 51) in Sysert was established on the territory of an 18th-century mining plant. “Summer at the Factory” offers tours, performances, workshops, markets, plays, and other activities that are held from Friday to Sunday. The cluster begins operating in early summer and ends in mid-September. They also organize a creative camp for adults, where artists, designers, marketers, and architects from all over Russia gather.The creative cluster in Sysert was established on the territory of an 18th-century mining plant. "Summer at the Factory" offers tours, performances, workshops, markets, plays, and other activities that are held from Friday to Sunday. Photo: Summer at the Factory

The creative cluster in Sysert was established on the territory of an 18th-century mining plant. "Summer at the Factory" offers tours, performances, workshops, markets, plays, and other activities that are held from Friday to Sunday. Photo: Summer at the Factory
The creative cluster in Sysert was established on the territory of an 18th-century mining plant. “Summer at the Factory” offers tours, performances, workshops, markets, plays, and other activities that are held from Friday to Sunday. Photo: Summer at the Factory

Another attraction in Sysert is the largest Ural skating rink, which was launched in the winter of 2023 on the city pond. Skaters have two track options — three and seven kilometers.

How to get there: Buses to Sysert depart from the Southern Bus Station from 7 am to 10 pm every half hour to an hour, with tickets priced between 121 to 129 rubles (1.30–5.43 euros).

Visim Nature Reserve

100 km from Yekaterinburg

In the Visim Nature Reserve, you can take a walk on an eco-trail that is 1.3 kilometers long, which extends to an observation deck with a view of the surroundings. Here, you’ll find plants from the Red Book (endangered species), as well as wild boars, wolves, deer, foxes, lynxes, and bears. Routes for tourists are constructed in such a way as to harm neither the animals nor the people. Those who wish to stay longer can rent a two-story bright house with a panoramic view of the Ural Mountains. It contains several large beds, a bathroom, shower cabins, while the kitchen is located in a separate building. A day’s stay costs 9,000 rubles (96.37 euros). In winter, the guest houses are not rented out.

In the Visim Nature Reserve, there are wild boars, wolves, deer, foxes, lynxes, and bears. Photo: Ekaterina Vasyagina / Wikimedia.org
In the Visim Nature Reserve, there are wild boars, wolves, deer, foxes, lynxes, and bears. Photo: Ekaterina Vasyagina / Wikimedia.org

To enter the reserve, one needs to send an application for a visit. The website has several forms depending on the purpose: to visit the reserve or the museum. In different cases, you must provide your full name, date of birth, contact number, vehicle brand and number, purpose, and dates of visit. You can also book a tour, reserve the visitor center or guest house by phone: +7 (34357) 33 656.

How to get there: The reserve is located near Kirovgrad. Eight buses depart daily from the northern bus station, taking two hours in transit, with tickets costing around 370 rubles (3.96 euros). Another option is to take a commuter train to Nevyansk, and then travel 16 kilometers to Kirovgrad by local bus or taxi. This route might take a bit longer, but it allows for a sightseeing stop at the leaning tower in Nevyansk, which is often compared to the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Ural Mars

110 km from Yekaterinburg

The Ural Mars quarry was designed for picturesque photoshoots – sandy landscapes with hills and fissures surrounded by bodies of water with red water. In reality, the otherworldly atmosphere has a natural explanation: this is the Troitsko-Baynovskoye deposit of refractory clays, hence the water has a red color.

Aerial view of the abandoned quarries of the Troitsko-Baynovskoye refractory clay deposit. Photo: Vyacheslav Bukharov / Wikimedia.org
Aerial view of the abandoned quarries of the Troitsko-Baynovskoye refractory clay deposit. Photo: Vyacheslav Bukharov / Wikimedia.org

How to get there: The quarry is located 110 kilometers from Yekaterinburg and 20 kilometers from the town of Bogdanovich. From Bogdanovich, you need to get to the village of Poldnevoy through the village of Troitskoye. From Yekaterinburg, you will need to make at least one transfer – first, take a bus (from the Southern bus station) or a commuter train to Bogdanovich, and from there take a taxi to the village of Poldnevoy. It’s better to go by car; the trip without traffic will take about an hour and a half, or take a bus tour. The cost is around 3,000 rubles (3.96 euros) per person.

“Deer Streams” Natural Park

120 km from Yekaterinburg

The park features caves, rocks, trees that are three hundred years old, and simply beautiful landscapes. There are five walking routes developed in the park, ranging from four to 18 kilometers in length. On the territory, there are several accommodation options – from rooms in hotels to cabins in the forest or campgrounds where you can stay in your own tent. It is sufficient to download the app (App Store / Google Play) in advance, which has an interactive map of the park that works offline, and get useful information about the routes and points that are a must-visit. A ticket allowing the use of the equipped routes costs 423 rubles and is valid for three days.

How to get there: Buses that go from Yekaterinburg to Mikhaylovsk, Arti, Bazhukovo, stop at the turn to the “Deer Streams” park. From there, it’s a couple of kilometers walk to the entrance. There are more than ten buses daily; the journey takes about two hours, and the ticket costs 450 rubles (4.82 euros).

Visim Zoo Farm

190 km from Yekaterinburg

An hour’s drive from the Visim Nature Reserve is the Visim Zoo Farm, home to rabbits, ostriches, alpacas, huskies, deer, and other animals that you can pet and feed with food you bring yourself. It’s best to find out what to feed the animals by phone or through the zoo farm’s social networks. You can visit the animals from 10:00 to 16:00, and the ticket costs 100 rubles (1.07 euros).

An hour's drive from the Visim Nature Reserve is the Visim Zoo Farm with rabbits, ostriches, alpacas, huskies, deer, and other animals that you can pet and feed. Photo: Ksenia Artemochkina / Wikimedia.org
An hour’s drive from the Visim Nature Reserve is the Visim Zoo Farm with rabbits, ostriches, alpacas, huskies, deer, and other animals that you can pet and feed. Photo: Ksenia Artemochkina / Wikimedia.org

How to get there: The farm is located in the vicinity of the Visim village. You can only get there with a transfer in Nizhny Tagil. However, transportation options from there are limited – only five buses a day. Therefore, it’s more convenient by car. You can also take a tour bus, with prices starting from 2,000 rubles (21.42 euros) per person.

Eat and Drink

Yekaterinburg is rich in active restaurateurs who are building their small but recognizable empires here. The chefs create a close-knit community and often tour not only the cafes in Yekaterinburg but also other cities. They diligently work on popularizing the region’s cuisine and have organized the “Authentic Ural Cuisine” festival, where they serve Ural dishes: radishes and lamb, fermented cabbage, and roasted crucian carp, as well as various berries.

Breakfasts

Yekaterinburg residents have already gotten used to having breakfast outside, so in the morning you might not find a free table in popular establishments. In the “Gorozhane” bistro (Dobrolyubova Street, 6), there can be a queue at any time of the day, so it’s better to reserve a table in advance. Here they prepare various egg dishes, porridges (for example, buckwheat porridge with chicken and parmesan mousse), pancakes, cheesecakes, sandwiches, and desserts. The owners also have another project – the Muru coffee shop (Rosa Luxemburg Street, 27), where they cook dishes from seasonal vegetables, mushrooms, and berries. Try the “puff burger” or a sandwich with fresh tomatoes and hummus. Also, make sure to choose something from the huge dessert display — it’s impossible to resist the “Pavlova” dessert with mango-passionfruit cream, raspberry tartlets, and poppy seed eclairs.

Dessert 'Pavlova' with mango-passionfruit cream and figs at the Muru cafe.
Dessert ‘Pavlova’ with mango-passionfruit cream and figs at the Muru cafe. Photo: muru_coffee

Breakfast Unit (Bankovskiy Lane, 8, Lenin Avenue, 48) is a place specifically created for breakfasts, where in addition to classic morning dishes there are also soups and pasta. Plus, there’s a huge selection of colorful pancakes with melon, wild strawberry, and raspberry toppings. In Breadway (Boris Yeltsin Street, 6; Tatischev Street, 20/2), residents come for bohemian breakfasts (as the creators of the establishments themselves say), craft bread, and signature dips. At Gege (Chemists Lane, 3), guests are attracted by the interior – vintage decor and a lot of greenery, as well as, of course, national breakfasts: Israeli, Georgian, Turkish, French, or British, with a mandatory bonus from the establishment – a glass of sparkling wine.

Engels Coffee (Malysheva Street, 21/4; 8 March Street, 169; Lenin Avenue, 46) are the main go-to for waffles, offering both sweet ones with fruits, berries, and Nutella, and hearty ones (personal recommendation – with turkey and coleslaw). Students have taken a liking to the local chain cafe, Simple Coffee (11 locations in the center). The food selection is small — cheesecakes, porridges, sandwiches, but it’s inexpensive. For chilly Ural evenings, they offer banana cocoa. The place resembles a co-working space — there’s always someone working on a laptop, writing coursework, or conducting English lessons.

Dinners

Dining with a view of the city is doubly delightful. The title of the premier establishment for beautiful sunsets belongs to the Kitchen restaurant (Tkachey Street, 23) on the 23rd floor. It’s not located in the center, but that doesn’t deter food enthusiasts. Apart from the romance, people come here for the delicious cuisine. The restaurant offers signature dried meat, scallops with herbs, cold soup with crab, and other high-end dishes.

The bistro “Neizvestny” (Chernyshevsky, 8) is located in a mansion where the family of sculptor Ernst Neizvestny lived. The second floor is in high demand during winter. Guests love to warm up by the fireplace and listen to vinyl records. In summer, the establishment opens its Instagram-worthy courtyard, which you can’t pass by without stopping for a glass of chilled sparkling wine.

For rolls and sushi, one must try “Soyka” (8th of March Street, 6), MOMO (Karl Liebknecht Street, 38a), and “Gadakh, Krabakh and Wine” (Khokhryakova Street, 23), and the gastrobar OVO — izakaya (Lenin Ave, 25, Europa Mall). The interior landmark of the latter is a golden egg, suspended at the entrance. And the main highlight of the establishment is the robot “Wall-E-san”, purchased at an auction in Tokyo. It assists the chef in creating memorable sushi. One can be sure that everything here is always fresh and incomparable in quality to the typical home-delivered Japanese dishes.

For the freshest fish, oysters, octopuses, and mussels, head to “Gady, Kraby and Vino” (Khokhryakova Street, 23). Magadan smoked shrimp is served at the bistro “Morskaya/10” (Bankovsky Lane, 10), and sea urchins at “RybaLove” (8th of March Street, 46, Greenwich Mall, 3rd floor). Discover unexpected flavor combinations, such as veal cheeks and African catfish, at the fish bistro Scuba (Sacco and Vanzetti Street, 99), whose creators call themselves pioneers of the fast casual food format in Yekaterinburg.

The interior of the Japanese cuisine restaurant "Soyka" Photo: Soyka
The interior of the Japanese cuisine restaurant “Soyka” Photo: Soyka

Italian food in Yekaterinburg is popular, as is Georgian food. The restaurant “Italians” (Malysheva Street, 56a) offers a great view of the promenade, and its dessert display window is captivating even from the street. Next door is the pizzeria “Papa Rimsky”, which is more oriented for takeaway, as there’s limited seating. Prices are low, and pizzas are served straight from the oven. For Italian cuisine enthusiasts, there are restaurants like Carbonara (Lenin Ave, 25), “Maccheroni” (Lenin Ave, 40), Si (Lenin Ave, 69/1) or “Duo Pizza and Wine” (Sacco and Vanzetti Street, 61). At the small restaurant “Leonardo, give pizza” (Khokhryakova Street, 48), they not only surprise with flavors but also with art boxes if you order a takeaway pizza.

For fans of Georgian culture, the courtyard of “Khachapuri for Pushkin” (Pushkin Street, 4) will be a delight. Its atmosphere reminds visitors of the establishments in Tbilisi, tucked away in cozy and secluded spots. The menu doesn’t offer major surprises—it’s all about khachapuri, khinkali, and other classic Georgian dishes like pkhali, adjapsandali, chakhokhbili, and wine. However, there are unusual fillings, such as khachapuri with salmon and spinach or khinkali with chicken and cheese. Georgian traditions are also promoted at the Pumpula restaurant (Tolmacheva Street, 12), which is suitable for business lunches. The “small but proud” “Givi to me” (Malysheva Street, 19; Tkachey Street, 17) excellently conveys the Georgian ambiance through its interior. One can enjoy Pan-Caucasian dishes from Georgian, Armenian, and Azerbaijani cuisines at the “Shavi-Lomi” restaurant (Lenin Ave, 25, TRC “Europa”). The largest Georgian restaurant in the city, aptly named “Big Georgian” (Olimpiyskaya Embankment, 7), is located in the historic Simanovsky mill building from 1884. Through a passage, the establishment connects with the “Big Georgian Garden” – another restaurant-greenhouse where guests dine surrounded by dozens of plants and flowers. Only Georgian masters work in the kitchen, and the interior boasts century-old carpets and authentic antiques brought from the Caucasus. From the windows and the summer veranda, there’s an impressive view of “Yekaterinburg-City”.

In Yekaterinburg, there are many options for lovers of Asian cuisine. At Vietmon” (Gagarin St., 35; Lenin Ave., 41; Malysheva St., 36), people go for generous portions of pho-bo, tofu in various combinations, crispy nem, and, of course, noodles and rice. The founder is a young Vietnamese who was one of the first to introduce Yekaterinburg to Pan-Asian cuisine. Chinese dishes are served at “Jang Su” (Tolmacheva St., 16) and “Jackie” (Malysheva St., 24), while Thai, Japanese, and Chinese are available at the Dong Po” bistro (March 8th St., 8B). “Fugu” (Lenin Ave., 41) specializes in Japanese cuisine, and for Korean street food, you should head to “Chicko” (Theatrical lane, 5a).

In Yekaterinburg, there are several establishments with Israeli cuisine. For hummus with falafel and pitas, people visit the “MeyerStreet” bistro (Malysheva St., 27). The restaurant “Pashtet” (Tolmacheva St., 23) with nearly a decade-long history is loved for its family atmosphere, hearty meals, signature pâtés, and a Scottish cat named Pasha who has lived in the establishment since its founding. She can often be seen on the window, where she hides from visitors among flower pots.

The restaurant "Pashtet" with nearly a decade-long history is loved for its family atmosphere, hearty lunches, signature pâtés, and a Scottish cat named Pasha who has lived in the establishment since its inception. Photo: "Pashtet"
The restaurant “Pashtet” with nearly a decade-long history is loved for its family atmosphere, hearty lunches, signature pâtés, and a Scottish cat named Pasha who has lived in the establishment since its inception. Photo: “Pashtet”

“Estory” (March 8th St., 46) is a food court where dozens of restaurants are gathered under one roof. Here, you can find mini-versions of local restaurants as well as those from Moscow, for example, the famous burger place Farsh by Arkadiy Novikov. However, the price point in the food court is quite high and it can be noisy, as it is located within a shopping center.

Wine

Wine enthusiasts head to “Bio Shmio” bar (Malysheva St., 61) where they are informed, served, and fed. Or you can visit the city’s most famous sommelier at “Vinoteka Solovyova” (Belinsky St., 32; Radishchev St., 24). If you’re into something aristocratic and mysterious, you should check out the bar named “Sekta” with an intriguing emblem of a keyhole and an eye (Verkh-Isetsky Blvd., 15).

The wine bistro Quarta” (Malysheva St., 23) offers not only a constantly updated wine list, popular mezze snacks, and an experimental menu (where else can you try a colored cauliflower steak?), but also juicy interior details – paintings by St. Petersburg artists and various vintage trinkets.

Innocent People” (Radishchev St., 24) is a combination of a store and a cozy bar with democratic prices, despite being located in the city’s most elite district. The limited seating doesn’t prevent the place from hosting “innocent” tastings and musical gatherings. Max Yudin, a participant of the “Voice” show and a jazz singer, seems to have become a bar resident.

For those who appreciate the aristocratic and mysterious, it's worth checking out the bar named Sekta, characterized by its evocative name and a mysterious symbol resembling a keyhole and an eye. Photo: Sekta_owb
For those who appreciate the aristocratic and mysterious, it’s worth checking out the bar named Sekta, characterized by its evocative name and a mysterious symbol resembling a keyhole and an eye. Photo: Sekta_owb

Cheap meals and fast food

Good business lunches are served at the “Paul Bakery” chain (multiple locations in the city) — a salad, soup, and main dish will cost you 220 rubles (2.36 euros). Aside from lunches, they have excellent pasta and signature pastries. At “Ratatouille” and “Our Company” (various city locations), lunch will set you back 400-450 rubles (4.28–18.94 euros). At the bistro “Two Grandfathers”, a hearty lunch consisting of three dishes will be around 550 rubles (5.89 euros). The average bill won’t exceed 450-500 rubles (4.28–18.94 euros). At the “Cosmos” deli, you can have a meal for 200-300 rubles (2.14–12.63 euros). The cheapest option? Student cafeterias. At the Ural Federal University cafeteria, meals are available for 100-150 rubles (1.07–6.31 euros).

For the legendary shawarma, you’ll have to travel to the outskirts, to Uralmash or the Southwest. At “Mangalyche” on 40th Anniversary of October Street, 75, queues form at all hours. People come from even neighboring districts, despite the wait, which can last from half an hour to an hour. The owners attribute their success to prioritizing quality over profit and not skimping on ingredients. Due to high demand, shawarma prices have gone up — it’s now 280 rubles (3.00 euros). A second location opened at the end of 2022 near the “Granate” eco-mall. For a quick bite, try the local burger chain “Where are you?“.

Coffee

Papa Carlo (Tolmacheva St. 17; Malysheva St. 47a; Boris Yeltsin St. 3, Rosa Luxemburg St. 56a) – stylish coffee shops where it’s nice to set up friendly or business meetings, work on a laptop, and flip through old magazines like the 2010 Esquire. The location on Malysheva even has a cozy quiet courtyard, great for sitting during warm weather. Here they offer quality regular coffee, cappuccino, flat white, and raf with oat and coconut milk. You can have breakfast with porridge and cheese pancakes, purchase soup, bowl, or sandwich. Vegan options are available. This is the oldest coffee shop in Yekaterinburg.

Papa Carlo - stylish coffee shops where it's pleasant to schedule friendly or business meetings, work on a laptop, and look through old magazines like Esquire from 2010. Photo: Papa Carlo, coffee and food
Papa Carlo – stylish coffee shops where it’s pleasant to schedule friendly or business meetings, work on a laptop, and look through old magazines like Esquire from 2010. Photo: Papa Carlo, coffee and food

In the tiny Tesla Coffee (Chernyshevsky St. 1), both black and specialty coffees are good. Try the stunning latte with lemon and fennel or the “Kenya Cherry” coffee, somewhat reminiscent of a bamblo variation. They also have tea, for instance, with cherry, mango, and barberry, and cocoa. And a dozen different desserts – carrot, poppy, or lemon cakes, apple rolls, or brownies. Among hearty dishes, they have waffles, brioche, cream soups, and salads.

Espresso Season (Gorky St. 29) impresses not with the length of its menu but with its quality. There are only four coffee items here – espresso, cappuccino, flat, and filter. You can try intriguing desserts like a kouign-amann with orange or a brioche with cinnamon.

The team at Brodsky coffee shop (Pervomayskaya St. 90; Gorky St. 36; March 8th St. 46) passionately loves coffee and everything related to it. The guys organize coffee educational events in the form of cupping clubs and are rapidly expanding their network. Here you can drink filter coffee, cappuccino, latte, flat white, cocoa with marshmallows, and tea.

The team at Brodsky coffee shop organizes coffee educational events in the form of cupping clubs and is rapidly expanding its network. Photo: Brodsky Coffee
The team at Brodsky coffee shop organizes coffee educational events in the form of cupping clubs and is rapidly expanding its network. Photo: Brodsky Coffee

It’s pleasant to work over a cup of coffee at the “French Baker” café (many locations in the city, but the one on Lenin Ave., 36 opened recently after renovation). Here, there are spacious, bright halls with windows overlooking the main city street. You can have a hearty meal, such as udon, or enjoy a dessert—they offer cookies, buns, croissants, and eclairs.

Products In Yekaterinburg, there is a local chain of stores called “Zhiznmart”, distinct from typical supermarkets. Firstly, there are no cashiers here, and customers scan the products themselves. If there’s an issue, the sellers, responsible for the product’s packaging and availability, will assist. Secondly, food here is presented in limited quantities. The main idea is that the owners select two or three high-quality product types and only sell those, saving the customer from choosing among dozens of pasta brands. They also offer farm produce, such as hand-made dumplings or fish.

Products

In Yekaterinburg, there is a local chain of stores called “Zhiznmart”, distinct from typical supermarkets. Firstly, there are no cashiers here, and customers scan the products themselves. If there’s an issue, the sellers, responsible for the product’s packaging and availability, will assist. Secondly, food here is presented in limited quantities. The main idea is that the owners select two or three high-quality product types and only sell those, saving the customer from choosing among dozens of pasta brands. They also offer farm produce, such as hand-made dumplings or fish.

The golden ring of Yekaterinburg bar-hopping

The Yekaterinburg party scene revolves around several routes, migrating from bar to bar, forming the “Golden Ring” of the night city. Let’s start with its farther half — the shot bar “Melody” (Pervomayskaya St., 36) with signature infusions and liquors (just right for the Ural winter) for 100-190 rubles (1.07–8.00 euros). The bar menu includes raspberry with rooibos, Asian tomato, and gooseberry-aloe. You can buy a bottle and bring it as a souvenir for friends or father. The creators love to experiment and often change the menu. So if you’ve drunk here a year or two ago, come again. The establishment opened next to the former eponymous music store, its Soviet signboard is reflected in the bar’s interior, which also constantly changes — from Soviet carpets on the walls to mosaics.

"Melodiya" was opened next to a former music store of the same name; the bar owners restored its Soviet-era sign, which now adorns one of the establishment's walls. Photo: "Melodiya" bar
“Melody” was opened next to a former music store of the same name; the bar owners restored its Soviet-era sign, which now adorns one of the establishment’s walls. Photo: “Melody” bar

Next on the bar-hopping trail is the “Opyt” bar (Pervomayskaya Street, 11v) with the slogan “Have experience drinking” (with or without punctuation, however you like). It’s a gathering place for craft beer enthusiasts. Spanning two floors with a cool courtyard where concerts are sometimes held. Inside, there are paintings on display, and they serve sandwiches, hot dogs, and salads.

"The work and love teacher, Sergey Alexandrovich, offers to make a difficult choice." Photo: "Opyt" bar
“The work and love teacher, Sergey Alexandrovich, offers to make a difficult choice”. Photo: “Opyt” bar

People head to the family-friendly tavern “Stavnikov”, recently opened in the historic mansion of the stonecutter Trapeznikov (Rosa Luxemburg Street, 14), for dancing till dawn, snacks (bruschettas and roasted pork on hay with golden potatoes have already become hits), and, of course, for unique infusions you won’t find elsewhere. During the opening, they announced the largest shot menu in the city – up to 50 items, but currently, the bar has around 15 (200 rubles (2.14 euros) per shot ). The infusions are all unusual – “Bon Pari,” “Salty Caramel,” “Hubba Bubba,” and even “Coca-Cola.” The interior features an old Russian stove, a piano, a sewing machine table, and crowd favorites – lampshades. Music caters to all tastes, but the loudest parties are held with the participation of “Igloterapiya” – a vinyl project of musician and actor Oleg Yagodin (“Kurara”) and Vasily Kotov (“Meteoritmy”), as well as with guys from BEAT/ovka – a creative musical group of Yekaterinburg.

The next major dance spot is “Shalom Shanghai” (8th March Street, 4) – a cocktail bar in a small and cramped basement where everyone dances on the carpet. It’s reminiscent of ruin-pubs in Budapest. They host nostalgic pop parties with hits from Britney Spears as well as live jazz evenings, which have become the establishment’s hallmark. The well-known city duo of musicians – Max Yudin and Flora, who sometimes performs with Manizha, are responsible for them.

Further on the route is “Kollektiv” (8th March Street, 8g), which is positioned as a secret bar, but finding a free spot here is always very challenging. The place is stylishly understated and is famous for its cocktails. If you want something with foam, tanginess, and in that beautiful glass – the bartenders will cater to your wishes. You can snack and play a console game right at the bar counter.

In 2020, a bar opened in Yekaterinburg that brightened the COVID lockdown days for partygoers and continues to do so. The bar with a Ural identity, “Samotsvet” (Malysheva Street, 29a) was launched by popular city party and concert organizers, so everyone was confident in its success. On the first floor is an area for meeting and friendly conversations, and the second floor is for dancing. The drink menu offers both classic beverages and authentic ones — lemonades with sorrel and tarragon (an absolute hit), vodka with garlic, “Ekaterina” balm, and strong distillates. The food menu features hot dogs, sandwiches, and the famous pastries (seven kinds). The place screens films, sells merchandise, brings in musicians and DJs, organizes literary evenings, and hosts a quiz club in the style of “What? Where? When?”. It’s the very place where you can bump into Felix Bondarev from the RSAC band, rapper Gon Fludd chatting with poet Naum Blik, and sneaky members of “Krovostok”, who dropped by for an afterparty following a concert.

On the first floor of "Samotsvet" is an area for meetings and friendly chats, and the second floor is for dancing. Photo: "Samotsvet" bar
On the first floor of “Samotsvet” is an area for meetings and friendly chats, and the second floor is for dancing. Photo: “Samotsvet” bar

“Zdorovye” Bar (Malysheva, 19) is another shot bar on the city’s drinking map. Although it was opened by Tyumen residents (and Yekaterinburg isn’t particularly welcoming to culinary outsiders), the project took off. On weekends, people come here to dance under a disco ball, belt out songs from the 90s and 2000s, drink shots named “Krasny Oktyabr”, “Komsomolka”, “Taiga-bliss”, or “Anyutiny Eyes” (180 rubles) and munch on sandwiches with sprats or marinated eggs. The positive and chatty bartenders invite everyone to get “vitaminized” and boost their health.

Lovers of true underground will enjoy the “Kub” club (8th March Street, 13), often referred to as the shapeshifter or transformer club. Its creators intended it to be a place not only for parties but also for exhibitions and performances. Under the neon lights, the ceiling is adorned with toys and lingerie, and there’s also a greenhouse with pink lighting – a secluded space with plants. It’s advisable to inquire in-depth about the assortment with the bartenders and experiment cautiously. Once, I opted for a beer with carrot, but the bartender failed to mention it was Korean with garlic.

A short walk away is the legendary “Misanthrop” (Voeyvodina Street, 6), known as the “nasty basement”. True to its name, they are wary of outsiders. Previously, getting inside was an adventure – they could refuse entry to anyone without any given reason. Due to COVID, the establishment underwent a forced relocation and inevitable transformation. The once-beloved room with a screen for music videos and non-stop cinema is now gone (though it exists for close friends) and the eternal labyrinth-like atmosphere has dissipated. However, they’ve expanded their drink menu, introducing, for example, a condensed milk shot. The “Russian Music” parties are particularly fun, where anything goes, from DDT to “Poshlaya Molly”.

What to bring home

Ural brands are praised by “Forbes” and are valued by local socialites. For jewelry, visit Avgvst boutique (Malysheva St, 21/4), whose lollipop-shaped pendants were precisely copied by the federal brand Sunlight. For clothing, head to Ushatava (Khokhryakova St, 41), 12storeez (Sakko and Vanzetti St, 74) and Siamm Siamm (Mamina-Sibiryaka St, 126). For lingerie, Belle You (Khokhryakova St, 48; 8th March St, 46; Malysheva St, 5), and for cosmetics, visit “Golden Apple” (Malysheva St, 71; Vaynera St, 9), which, by the way, was founded in Yekaterinburg.

Rugged Ural concrete magnets from the "Spruce" gift shop. Photo: Spruce. Merch about Ural and Gifts
Rugged Ural concrete magnets from the “Spruce” gift shop. Photo: Spruce. Merch about Ural and Gifts

Unique souvenirs are sold at the “Spruce” store in the Yeltsin Center (Boris Yeltsin St, 3). They have everything with the word “Ural” – from hats to postcards. Interesting gifts can be found in the Museum of History of Yekaterinburg (Karl Liebknecht St, 26). They sell umbrellas depicting city districts, modern guidebooks, pins in the form of main attractions, and stickers. Also, you can visit the “Non-museum of garbage” (Anton Valek St, 12), which sells eco-souvenirs, including natural sweets, and educates about waste sorting and recycling.

Where to Stay

Most of Yekaterinburg’s attractions are concentrated in the center. Therefore, it’s best to stay on streets like Karl Liebknecht, Mamina-Sibiryaka, Pervomayskaya, Lunacharskogo, Malysheva, Kuibysheva, 8th March, Radishcheva, and Lenin Avenue.

“Dom Sovetov” is a hotel with Soviet aesthetics, furnished like a grandmother’s apartment – with a radio, landline phone, and portraits of Lenin on the walls. Boris Yeltsin once lived here. A room for one night costs 50-60 euros.

"House of Councils" - a hotel with Soviet aesthetics, furnished like a grandmother's apartment - with a radio, landline phone, and portraits of Lenin on the walls. Photo: "House of Councils"
“House of Councils” – a hotel with Soviet aesthetics, furnished like a grandmother’s apartment – with a radio, landline phone, and portraits of Lenin on the walls. Photo: “Dom Sovetov”

An affordable option is the “Bolshoy Ural” hotel (Krasnoarmeyskaya St, 1) located near the main attractions. A day in a double “Standard” room will cost 30 euros, “Economy” – 20 euros without breakfast. The hotel building, built in the style of constructivism, was constructed in the early 1930s. Famous figures like Nixon, Khrushchev, Pasternak, and others have stayed here. However, don’t expect grandeur from it now – the interior and furnishings are simple and not very modern. Another option is to sleep in a capsule. A night in the “Orion” capsule hotel (Sverdlova St, 27) will cost 15 euros.

The 4-star “Hyatt” (Repina St, 1/2) impresses with its interior and prices. The design, which has a local touch, was developed by a studio with international merit. They considered the city’s avant-garde heritage and the hotel’s proximity to the “Yekaterinburg Arena” – posters with sports slogans are hung everywhere. A night in a regular room will cost 90-100 euros. In the Four Elements Ekaterinburg hotel (Lenin Ave, 9a), a business-class room costs 60-70 euros without breakfast.

You can rent an apartment in one of the famous buildings nicknamed “combs” because, when viewed from above, the outlines of the buildings resemble a comb. The houses are closely packed together, forming inner courtyards, making a walk feel like navigating a labyrinth. It is very quiet and cozy here. Nearby are the Sverdlovsk film studio and the “Iset” hotel. At Lenin Street, 52, building 3a, several apartments are available for rent in a 1937 building. The spirit of the avant-garde is reflected in the interior, and a night will cost from 17 euros.

Alternatively, one can stay in an Empire-style building constructed in 1958 (Lunacharskogo Street, 130). As typical for Stalinist architecture, the living space is vast with high ceilings. It’s located centrally, just a short walk from the opera theater, “Vysotsky,” tram, and bus stops, from where it’s easy to head to the 1905 square and Mayakovsky park.

Public Transportation in the City

Yekaterinburg has a subway with nine stations, but the construction of a second line is an ongoing joke because it’s perpetually postponed. The existing route is somewhat limited, and it’s not very convenient to reach many places even in the city center by metro. Therefore, you might need to use buses, minibuses, trolleybuses, and trams. You can track the transport schedule through the online service “Where’s the tram and trolleybus” or the “Yandex Go” app.

The Czech tram "Tatra" is the primary model in Yekaterinburg. Photo: denis vasiliev / Unsplash.com
The Czech tram “Tatra” is the primary model in Yekaterinburg. Photo: denis vasiliev / Unsplash.com

A ride on public transportation costs 33 rubles (0.35 euros). Taxi rides within the city center range from 130 to 200 rubles (1.39–8.42 euros), assuming no traffic jams or weather anomalies.

Yekaterinburg residents actively use various modes of transport, from bicycles to cars. The city features three brands of electric scooters. However, there are ongoing disputes concerning them, and currently, legislation is being discussed to establish rules that take pedestrians’ interests into account.

How to Get There

A plane ticket from Moscow and St. Petersburg to Yekaterinburg costs from 3500 and 5500 rubles (37.48–231.55 euros) one-way, respectively, with a travel time of two hours. The small “Koltsovo” airport is located 16 kilometers from the city center. You can reach the city by taxi in 30-40 minutes, costing between 500-600 rubles (5.35–25.26 euros). From the Central Railway Station, bus No. 65 goes to the airport, and from the “Botanicheskaya” metro station, bus No. 01 departs. Without traffic, the first takes about an hour, while the latter takes about 30 minutes. There’s also a commuter train that runs four times a day, taking half an hour.

A train ticket from Moscow to Yekaterinburg will cost from 3600 rubles (38.55 euros), with a journey time of around 25 hours. From St. Petersburg, the travel will be about one and a half days, with tickets starting from 3800 rubles (40.69 euros). It’s also easy to reach Yekaterinburg from almost any point in Russia, as the Trans-Siberian Railway passes through the city.

When buying tickets for intercity buses (an option for neighboring cities like Perm and Tyumen), be careful. Yekaterinburg has two bus stations – North and South. The North one is located across the road from the railway station.

When to Go

It’s convenient to visit Yekaterinburg while combining city walks with major events such as the “Night of Music”, the Ural Biennale (usually in the fall), or the international industrial exhibition “Innoprom” (usually in July).

The most comfortable weather in Yekaterinburg is from the end of May to the end of September. The winter of 2020 turned out to be the warmest in history. The average temperature from December to February was minus 6 degrees Celsius. However, in general, minus 25-30 degrees and frequent snowfalls in January and February are typical for the Urals. Snow is good news for skiers and snowboarders. In recent years, summers in Yekaterinburg have been very hot — plus 35 degrees Celsius and above. Bearing such weather in the city is difficult: the only somewhat suitable bodies of water for swimming are located outside its limits. Local media like to tease citizens who sunbathe in swimwear in parks and near shopping centers – compilations of such photos are a main seasonal topic. The region is also known for its unpredictable weather changes – be prepared to walk in shorts for a few days, suffering from the heat, and then bundle up in a sweater.

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Guide author: Yana Kraeva, update by: Tatyana Ryabova
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