Kazan, Republic of Tatarstan, Russia
From the airport
I’ve only arrived in Kazan by train, which is conveniently located in the centre of town, so I can’t be 100% sure of the airport arrival information I’m about to give you.
Kazan International Airport (KZN) is 30km to the southeast of the city centre. There are flights to Kazan from Moscow and St Petersburg, and from other cities outside of Russia. There are reports that there are less waiting times at passport control compared to Moscow, so it could be a good point of arrival into Russia just for that reason alone.
You can take a taxi from the airport – it’s about 25 minutes to the city centre. Prices vary, especially since the World Cup Football championships in 2018, but they should start at around 500 roubles. It’s recommended to order a taxi by phone, or use an app (Yandex, Gett etc). Or there’s a Tourist Information Office near the domestic flight arrival zone – they can order a taxi for you.
There is a train, Aeroexpress, which you can take from the airport to the train station in the centre of town, however it only goes every 2 hours. But it’s only about 40 roubles, and takes only 30 minutes, so if you can wait, or you’re there when it’s leaving, I suggest you get on it!
There are hotels to suit all budgets in Kazan – from hostels to the luxurious Mirage Hotel, which is just across from the Kremlin. Whatever your budget and needs, you’ll find something. We stayed at Ibis, which is pretty much the same in any city in the world – standard, basic accommodation.
You’ll be able to walk almost everywhere in Kazan. It’s quite flat and the footpaths are good. There are buses, but without knowledge of the Russian language it might be a little difficult to negotiate where you want to go/get off. There’s also a metro system underground, which is quite simple to use and signs are also in English. Take a ride and get out somewhere random for a look around!
A large selection of cafes and restaurants are in and around Bauman Street. You’ll find all varieties of cuisine and price. Don’t be afraid to try something which seems unusual to you, it will almost certainly be delicious. One restaurant chain (they have 3 locations) comes highly recommended – Bilyar, where you can try traditional Tartar food, or if you prefer there’s a selection of western dishes. Make sure you try the traditional Tartar dessert called chak chak. Chak chak is a dough which is deep fried and then soaked in a honey based syrup. Very tasty!
Traditional horse meat sausages are also a specialty here, called ‘kazylyk’ (in Russian – Казылык). Another traditional dish is the soup ‘solyanka’ (in Russia – солянка), which is a soup made with spices, meat, cucumbers, pickles, onions and various herbs. The Kazan style of solyanka is known to contain horse meat, so if you want to avoid eating horse then don’t order solyanka (but I do recommend you try it, it’s delicious!). Read some more about Tartar food in this article.
If you’re looking for shopping, there are several big shopping malls for you to choose from. Including Tsum, Yuzhny Mall, Suvar Plaza and more. You’ll find all the usual brands here, pretty much like any big city mall. Tsum and Suvar are luxury malls and the prices reflect that. If you want something a little cheaper, you could go to MEGA Kazan shopping mall, which caters for all budgets.
For souvenirs, you can go to the Kazan Tourist Information Centre on Bauman Street, or small shops inside and around the Kremlin.
Well, let’s start with the Kremlin. Part of the Kremlin dates back to the 10th century, and is UNESCO listed. It’s truly beautiful and is a wonderful example of 2 religions living in harmony together – Christianity and Islam. You’ll see the beautiful church, ‘Cathedral of the Annunciation’, and the ‘Kul Sharif Mosque’. They’re every bit as beautiful in real life as you see in photos – even more so. The Kremlin is quite small, so you won’t need to spend a lot of time there unless you’re there for worship and/or reflection.
Another must visit is Bauman Street, which is a pedestrian zone which starts at the Kremlin and ends at Tukay Square metro station. Alongside the cafés and restaurants, you’ll find the beautiful Chapel of the Church of the Epiphany, and behind it the Church of the Epiphany.
Also on this street is the Carriage of Catherine II, and the Zero Kilometre of Kazan, showing the precise geographical centre of Kazan.
Other places of interest in Kazan include the Old Tartar Quarter, the Kazan State University, and the old and seemingly falling apart Mergasovsky’s House, also known as Writers’ House, in reference to the famous Tatar writers Kavi Najmi and Abdulla Alish, who lived there in the middle of the 20th Century.
The quirkiest thing in Kazan is definitely the wax museum. It’s really small, and when we were there in 2014 there were only about 25 figures in the museum. It’s off the pedestrian zone, behind MacDonalds in a strange little yard (if it hasn’t moved since we were there in 2014). The address is Bauman St, 70, Kazan. I can’t find a website for it, but here’s the link to Trip Advisor. It’s quite expensive to get in, 250 roubles, however you can take photos – and you’ll want to because you’ll definitely want some photographic evidence of this rather quirky museum. It’s all a bit of fun, don’t expect the quality of a Madame Tussaud’s museum, and don’t expect to spend more than 10-15 minutes there!
Kazan is a great place to visit for most people, young and old, couples, families. Might not be interesting for really young children.
Spend some time just walking around the town, looking at buildings from different eras, and look up – you’ll see some lovely architecture and sculptures on some of the buildings.
For a more intensive look at Kazan – the town’s website.
Do you have any plans to visit Kazan? Or maybe you’ve already been there. Tell us all about it in the comment section below!