5 travel tips for football fans in Russia: Getting around Nizhny Novgorod

News Page 15th June 2018

Our well-travelled Lecturer in Hospitality & Tourism Management, Nick Naumov, gives his top tips for getting the most out of your time in the picturesque city of Nizhny Novgorod, the setting for six games during the 2018 World Cup, including England vs Panama, a Round-of-16 tie and a quarter-final …

Image - Nick Naumov

Nick Naumov- Lecturer in Hospitality & Tourism Management at the University of Northampton



So, the World Cup 2018 has finally arrived and we are all looking forward to witnessing a few weeks of – hopefully – world class football. If you are among those lucky fans heading to Russia, you have probably secured your tickets, booked your days off and packed your suitcase – or maybe you’ve just landed!

Supporting your team (and drinking merrily) is not the only thing you could do in the largest country in the world…

If you are heading to watch England vs Panama on 24 June, for example, you are going to visit the city of Nizhny Novgorod. Located around 270 miles from Moscow, Nizhny is a developing economic and cultural centre. With a population of around 1.3 million, it is the fifth largest city in the country, but it is commonly referred to as the third most important after Moscow and St Petersburg. Named after the Russian writer Maxim Gorky during the Soviet era, Nizhny has changed a lot and it is no longer known as a ‘closed to foreigners city’.

Image - Nizhny 1

Instead, it is vibrant and spacious, sits on two rivers (Volga and Oka), has many tourist sites and a good selection of local craft beers. What more to ask if you are a football fan…! So, here are my top five favourite things to do there:

Commute like a local

Russians tend to have a different understanding of commuting. In addition to a network of buses, taxis and trams, you can also use the…cable car! Yes, it is a very touristy thing but you will find that locals fly around just like they get on the bus. Completed in 2012, the cable car actually links Nizhny to the town of Bor and offers an eagle’s eye view of the city stretching for 3,660m, including a panoramic 900 metres over Volga River and the stunning landscape.

Visit a local church

Russia is an orthodox Christian state and is famous for its remarkable religious architecture. Nizhny is not an exception to that. You would not miss the Virgin’s Nativity Church in the city centre – a beautiful piece of architecture overlooking Volga river. Other places of interest also include the Transfiguration Cathedral and Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. If you want to go a bit further beyond, you could also visit the Pechersky Ascension Museum. Built in 1632, it is arguably the most remarkable site if its kind in Nizhny with its five-domed cathedral and two churches that date back to 1640’s.

Eat and drink like a local

I didn’t mean that literally! Drinking in Russia is a national sport of its own so be careful when you want to compete with the locals. And be aware that a ‘small shot’ is 50ml and the big one is 100ml! No tour of Nizhny is completed without paying a visit to a local bar to taste the craft beers. The vibrant centrally-located bars are around Bolshaya Pokrovskaya Street, the main pedestrian area of the city, but some hidden gems can also be found around Alekseyevskaya Street. A very popular place is Pyatkin (Restoratsia Pyatkin) – a traditional Russian cuisine restaurant with distinctive fish meals and craft beers. If you stick to traditional Western food, you can visit Franky (American) or the English Embassy (British) for some nice burgers. And don’t forget to try the kvass – a local drink quite popular in Russia and the Baltic states, made of rye bread. Ideally, you should buy it from the local street merchants for a real authentic taste and combine it with Gorobets ginger bread.

Learn about history

Even if you are not a typical museum-goer, Nizhny will definitely spark your interest in history with more than 600 architectural and cultural monuments. You can visit the Kremlin, an impressive example of defence architecture, you could visit the city’s huge art gallery (with over 12,000 objects) or spend some time in the Military Technology Museums (also located in the Kremlin). However, my advice would go for the so-called ‘apartment museums’, particularly the house of Maxim Gorky or the museum of Andrey Sakharov, known as the father of the hydrogen bomb.

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Insider’s tip

Go to Minina Square (Ploshtad Minina) and walk up the Chkalov stairs. Breathtaking views over the banks of the Volga River and a good exercise, too. Just like a local, try to count the 1,500 stairs as you are climbing them…

So, off you go! Enjoy your time, drink responsibly and keep us updated with your stories!

For more information on International Hospitality Management, please visit the course page.

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