What to visit in Kazan in 1 day, 2 days or more? Here are all the main places to see in Kazan, as well as the good places to eat and to stay in Kazan, and other practical tips. Kazan is a city worth visiting if you take the Trans-Siberian Railway, and a Moscow Kazan train.
History and local people of Kazan
Welcome to Kazan, capital of Tatarstan and 6th city of Russia in population! Kazan is therefore an important metropolis in Russia
In short. Kazan was founded in 1005 by former Turkish-speaking Bulgarians. Then, from 1223 to 1236, the city was attacked several times by the Mongols led by the famous Genghis Khan. Kazan was then part of the Golden Horde which went from the Black Sea to present-day Mongolia. However, Ivan the Terrible will eventually conquer Kazan in 1552.
Tatars. Certain historians announce that 80% of the local populations would have been then killed by the Mongol invasions. At the present time, these people descended from the Golden Horde, form an ethnic group called the Tatars. There are Tatars in Kazan, but also in Crimea (all over the Golden Horde territory). Kazan’s ethnic makeup is 48.6% Russian (ethnicity, not nationality) and 47.6% Tatar. In addition, the Tatars have a strong identity and community. For example, it’s a bit like Breton or Corsican in France. Finally, the Tatars are predominantly Muslim.
Where is Kazan located Russia? Kazan is the capital of Tatarstan, a republic of the Russian Federation. It is located 800km from Moscow, due east. The Volga sinks to Kazan.
When to visit Kazan?
Kazan is far from the seas and oceans. So it’s a continental climate: cold in winter, hot in summer. In June and July it is hotter in Kazan than in Nice. In winter, it’s -11 ° C on average. The cold record is still at -46.9 ° C!
I went there for the first time in May: it was great. And a second time, this time with Florian, we visited Kazan at the end of February: very good too, because there was still snow! 🙂
How to go to Kazan? Moscow Kazan train? By plane, by car?
In Russia, the train is very popular. It’s cheap, reliable and punctual. The distances are great and the fast line for a Moscow Kazan train is not yet finished – it is scheduled for 2021.
Moscow Kazan train. From Moscow, it is very easy and affordable to reach Kazan by train. Currently, it is therefore necessary to plan 12 hours by train to reach Kazan from Moscow. The ticket starts at € 13, but it’s a seat on a night train. The price of a berth is from € 34. The best option is to buy tickets for a Moscow Kazan train from the official website.
New double-decker trains. The last time, to go to Kazan, we took a new double-decker train. It was very comfortable!
You can also take the plane: 1h30 and 50 €. For this kind of distance, the plane is the fastest, because the journey time is only 1h30. Even if we add 1.5 hours before departure and on arrival, the time to reach the hotel, it remains the fastest way. For example, the national company Aeroflot and the low-cost S7 operate the connection several times a day for € 50. And by car, allow at least 11 hours of driving.
By car. Plan at least 11 hours on the road.
Note also that there is a direct train from Saint Petersburg.
Visit in Kazan in 1 day
If you want to visit Kazan in 1 day, here is the list of the main places to see (more info on each place below):
- Kazan Kremlin
- Palace of Agriculture
- Cathedral of Saint Peter and Saint Paul
- Bauman pedestrian street
- Kremlevskaya Street
Visit Kazan in 2 days
If you want to visit Kazan in 2 days, you can then:
- Or visit the island village Sviajsk (outside the city);
- Either see the Family Center, the Temple of All Religions, or the old Tatar district.
What to visit in Kazan?
Here are the most interesting places to visit in Kazan, more in details.
Kazan Kremlin, must-see in Kazan
The Kremlin, like in Moscow, is the heart of the city, the president’s place of residence (here Tatarstan). The Kazan Kremlin was built in the 16th century. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Besides, it is an ideal place to admire the panorama of the Volga! 🙂
Kremlin means fortress in Russia. Inside the fortress are several interesting monuments:
- Kul Sharif Mosque
- Söyembikä Tower
- Annunciation Cathedral
- Cathedral of Saint Peter and Saint Paul
- There is also the Hazine Art Gallery and the Tatarstan State History Museum. We visited it, but there was very little information in English.
Kul Sharif Mosque
The 3rd largest mosque in Europe, after Istanbul and Moscow. In addition, the Quolsharif Mosque is an active place of worship, built in 1996 and 2005, which can accommodate up to 6,000 people.
The Söyembikä Tower is special because it leans. Not as much as the Tower of Pisa, but enough for it to be seen with the naked eye. The tower is 58m high and there are 7 levels. Several legends circulate on the construction of this tower like, for example, that which tells that Ivan Le Terrible had it built in 7 days to imprison the tsarina Sumbiket who ended up jumping from the top of the tower.
The Kazan Annunciation Cathedral dates from 1561-1562. The architects are the same as those of the Basilica of the Blessed Basil of Moscow.
Cathedral of Saint Peter and Saint Paul
The famous writer Alexandre Dumas, known in Russia, already came here in 1858, during his trip to Russia which he would later describe in “Voyage en Russie” and “Le Caucase”. The cathedral is special and has a great oriental influence.
The Minister of Agriculture, one of the most beautiful buildings to visit in Kazan
It is a very nice building that we can see from the ramparts of the Kremlin. However, you can’t go inside.
It’s a very nice street. Rather calm and pleasant. Many universities, and therefore many young people.
National Museum of Tatarstan. It is a museum equipped with the latest technologies in order to project itself more easily into different eras. We mainly see objects found on the Ananyinskii archaeological site: for example, scrolls and manuscripts, pieces dating from the Stone Age. However, guided tours are available in English, Russian and Tatar.
Bauman Street, visit the main pedestrian street of Kazan
It’s a must see pedestrian street in Kazan. You will certainly even come back to it, as it is a nice and pleasant street. Many shops, cafes and restaurants are located there.
You can take a virtual tour of Bauman Street with our YouTube video: here is our YouTube video filmed in 2020.
The Kazan Family Center is a building with original architecture, shaped like a bowl. But above all, you can climb on the roof and have a panoramic view of the city, including the Kremlin located on the other bank.
Temple of all religions in Kazan
This temple is original because it brings together 16 major religions of humanity. Each dome represents one of them. Note: the temple is still under construction. Although the exterior is finished, the interior can be disappointing. Besides, the temple is located outside the center of Kazan. You have to take a city bus to get there.
Sviajsk Village Island
Sviajsk was used as an outpost by Ivan Le Terrible to conquer the Khanate of Kazan. It is an island that was at the crossroads of the Silk and Volga routes. There is only one road that leads to Sviajsk. You feel completely isolated from the world. On the other hand, Sviajsk is located outside the city of Kazan, and is not easily accessible.
Old tatar district
It was also Alsou who recommended us to visit this district. We can still see some houses of old architecture: lots of colors! This district is located not far from the lake quays. Very pleasant for a stroll.
Where to stay in Kazan?
Here are two addresses of hotels in Kazan that I know:
We spent 6 nights in the Park Hotel. It was really good, nothing to say. There was also a washing machine upstairs, so we were able to wash our things for free. As Kazan was on our Trans-Siberian itinerary, it was very convenient to be able to wash clothes. In addition, the Park Hotel is located not far from the lake quays, but also from the pedestrian street. So it was a good location for visiting the city. Breakfast was included. Of course, it was a bit repetitive, but it was fine.
We also hesitated with these two hotels: Ostrovsky Hotel and Hotel Imereti. They are both well located: not too far from the train station, but at the same time close to the main attractions of the city.
Where to eat in Kazan?
You will find quite a few restaurants and cafes in the pedestrianized Bauman street (indicated in the list above). We ate really well in Kazan. Besides, the prices are lower than in Moscow, and at the same time the food seemed better. It’s the big city / smaller city effect.
Our good addresses of restaurants in Kazan
Visit Kazan and eat well! Here are the addresses we tested (and approved).
- Khanuma canteen at 68 rue Bauman. Good places to eat well. There is a choice, the price / quality ratio is very good! However, this cafeteria is located in a courtyard, the entrance is a little hidden, you can’t see it from the street. The decor is quite nice, and does not canteen at all.
- “Dobraya Stolovaya” canteen at 21 rue Bauman. Inexpensive (less than 3 euros for a meal) and good!
- Café Skazka at 58 rue Bauman. A nice little cafe where you can eat well. Price quite correct.
- Halal and Tatar Tubetey coffee chain. It’s kind of the Tatar response to McDonald’s. There are soups, but also classics of Tatar cuisine revisited and modernized. It was good, and very practical. The negative point: some plastic waste like forks, for example.
- “Rubai” oriental restaurant at 23 Profsoyuznaya Street. Good food, vegetarian dishes.
We also tried more expensive restaurants (not only canteens), but we were a little disappointed. As we were on a long trip, we no longer wanted to eat rather simple food. It is for this reason that we had a preference for cafes or canteens.
What to taste to visit Kazan through the kitchen? Tatar specialties!
Some tatar specialities to taste:
- Tchak-tchak. You can buy them everywhere (in a food store too). It’s a honey dessert. Besides, the other pastries are also very good, always with an oriental note.
- Oetchpotchmak. These are small triangular turnovers stuffed with potatoes and ground beef. For example, you can taste them at Tubetey.
- Tea! Tatars love tea, especially with thyme, but also with mint.
Which transport to use to visit Kazan?
To get around, you will have the choice between public transport (Bus, Trolleybus, Metro) and taxi, although the vast majority of trips to visit Kazan can be done on foot.
There is a metro line running through the Kremlin (Kremlyovskaya). The trip costs 30 rubles. The metro is new and very clean.
Taxi in Kazan
Like everywhere in Russia, Yandex Taxi is present in Kazan. It is a chauffeur-driven car service, like Uber or Chauffeur Privé.
There are of course also old-fashioned taxis, with which you have to negotiate the price of the ride before riding.
Red buses in Kazan: a solution to visit Kazan when you are short on time
There are of course the red buses to visit the city, as in many cities. The red buses are bus lines where you can get on and off when you want. There is also an audioguide of the city available in French. In Kazan, there is only one line that passes through the main monuments of the city.
- The official portal of Tatarstan (in English, Spanish, German, Chinese, Finnish… but not in French)
In summary, we really loved visiting Kazan! I came here in 2013, but the city has changed a lot since then. The history of Kazan, but also this mixture of cultures is very interesting. If you take the Trans-Siberian Railway, Kazan is clearly one of the cities to visit!