What to visit in Veliky Novgorod? Actually, Veliky Novgorod is considered the oldest city in Russia! The first mentions of the city date from 859. Today, it is a city of nearly 200,000 inhabitants which has lost its influence, nevertheless it still retains traces of its glorious past. Veliky Novgorod Kremlin is a nice place to visit!
In this blog post, I will then talk about all the important topics to visit Veliky Novgorod (not to be confused with Nizhny Novgorod):
- Why visit Veliky Novgorod?
- How to get there? And how long to stay there?
- Where to stay in Veliky Novgorod?
- What to see in the city and around Veliky Novgorod?
Why visit Veliky Novgorod?
- Think outside the box and therefore see another Russia, different from the Russia of big cities, like Moscow or Saint Petersburg
- Discover the incredible history of the city: the Varangian trade route, medieval Russia … (photos below in the article)
- See the magnificent architecture of churches and cathedrals
- Live moments of calm and authentic fullness around the Volkhov river and the monasteries
My trips. I have visited Veliky Novgorod 3 times. The first was with my class (I was born in Saint Petersburg and had lived there until the age of 13). It was a beautiful trip that marked me. And then another time with my parents and the last – both with Florian.
Travel from from St Petersburg to Veliky Novgorod: 3 hours by train or by car
The city of Veliky Novgorod is located 200km south of Saint Petersburg. We can go:
- By car or bus: around 3 hours
- By train: 3 hours journey too
We chose the train. Train travel is quite nice in Russia, even if it can seem long enough …
Lastotchka train: tickets, Veliky Novgorod station
“Lastochka” trains link Saint Petersburg to nearby cities, such as Veliky Novgorod. This is the train to take for more comfort compared to elektritchka (suburban trains which are a little less comfortable). The destination is also called: Veliky na Volkhove.
Moskovsky vokzal. Departures are from Moscow Station (Moskovsky Vokzal) which is located in the center of Saint Petersburg, on Ploschad Vosstaniya Square.
Timetables. I advise you to look at the departure times in advance on the RZD official website, the Russian railway company.
Tickets. However, you don’t necessarily have to take the tickets in advance. You can buy them on the spot at the counters or at the automatic kiosks which are quite easy to use. The terminals are in English. There are always trains or otherwise elektritchka. Otherwise, go to the RZD site.
The “Lastotchka” trains are rather comfortable compared to the simple elektrichka. On the other hand, these trains do not run fast: there is plenty of time to see the landscape, it is a bit like an “Intercités” train.
Once at Veliky Novgorod station
The city of Veliky Novgorod is quite small. It is therefore quite easy to find your way. For example, if you leave the station and go straight (Street: Voskresenky Bulvar), you fall directly on the Kremlin! You then have the choice between taking the bus or walking. We walked to our hotel, it was not very long and rather pleasant after the trip.
Veliky Novgorod from Moscow
To get there from Moscow, the train remains the most practical and pleasant solution. In addition, to buy tickets, you can follow the same instructions.
How long to stay in Veliky Novgorod?
It is possible to visit the city in one day: for example, leave very early in the morning and return late. This is what is often offered by tourist agencies.
We chose to stay one night there, because we wanted to take our time to visit the surroundings of Veliky Novgorod and also avoid making 6 hours of train in the day! 🙂
Where to stay in Veliky Novgorod?
Little touristy. It is a destination that has not yet been taken over by tourists. As a result, accommodation is more accessible than in St. Petersburg. So we don’t feel like we are packed. On the other hand, the other side of the coin is tourism infrastructure. As in many places in Russia, they are not very well developed.
Selection of hotels in Veliky Novgorod
We use the booking.com platform to select our accommodation:
Geolocation advice. Stay close to the city center, stay close to the Kremlin and rather on this side of the Volkhov River which flows through the city.
Rent a flat. At Veliky Novgorod, we noticed that there were many homestays or apartment rentals by individuals.
We chose, I think, the most central hotel to visit Veliky Novgorod. The price was very affordable, perfect geolocation and good reviews. Breakfast was included. He was very good. The experience has been quite positive.
I think that next time we will try other, less “classic” accommodations. But this time it was very good.
What to visit in Veliky Novgorod and its surroundings?
The essential is, of course, the Kremlin! But there are still many other things to see. Our favorites are the Saint-Georges Monastery and Vitoslavlitsy! (below info and photos)
Veliky Novgorod Kremlin
The Veliky Novgorod Kremlin is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Entrance into the Kremlin is free.
What to see? The star of the Veliky Novgorod Kremlin is Saint Sophia Cathedral. It is the main monument to see inside the Kremlin. In the TOP to see, there is also the bell tower which is functional and the ramparts. It is possible to climb on the ramparts and on the bell tower. It is very pleasant to walk inside the Kremlin. It’s very tree-lined.
Audioguide in English. It’s convenient, because with the audio guide you really go around the Veliky Novgorod Kremlin. On the other hand, it is also a disadvantage, because everything is not very interesting to listen to. Audio guides are available at tourist kiosks inside the Veliky Novgorod Kremlin. It is necessary to leave 1000 rubles of deposit which is recovered later.
Kremlevsky Bridge and its view
Leaving the Kremlin on the side of the Volkhov river, you can then see an unobstructed view of the walls and this wide river. A large open space! It is possible to have something to eat or drink to take away (no restaurants or cafes inside the Kremlin). Like, for example, cooked corn sprinkled with salt! 🙂
Here we took a carriage ride! I’ve never done that in the most touristy places, but it made me want to. The tour cost us 1000 rubles.
You have to cross the bridge to visit the courtyard of Yaroslav and the churches which are located on the other side of the river (much quieter).
Yaroslav courtyard and old market
Veliky Novgorod was founded by the “Eastern Varangians”. The city was commercial: it was located on the route from the Varangues to the Middle East and the Mediterranean. A huge market was also set up on the banks of Volkhov to accommodate merchant ships. Today, however, we only see the white walls of the halls.
Audioguide in English. It can be taken inside one of the churches in the courtyard. It is necessary to leave 1000 rubles of deposit which is recovered later. We enjoyed the market and trade part of the time. We would have liked to have had more information. I think with a guide it would have been more interesting to visit the Veliky Novgorod courtyard and old market.
Monastery of St. George of Yuryev
We have kept a superb memory of this monastery. The place is so peaceful! There is very little noise. The nearby road is a 5-minute walk away, but it has very little traffic.
The monastery is located on the banks of the Volkhov River. Inside, we discovered mosaics similar to those of St. Savior’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg. A beautiful moment.
Vitoslavlitsy, or typical Russian wooden architecture
It is a museum of Russian architecture. It is a life-size reproduction of a typical Russian village. It’s true. My great grandmother lived in a village like that. Indeed, everything is made of wood. And without any nails! Entrance fee: about 200 rubles per person. If you stay there more than 1 day, that’s a nice place to visit in Veliky Novgorod, in addition to the Veliky Novgorod Kremlin.
You can go inside the houses and the bania. Several buildings are under construction as the project will further expand. Inside, everything is done to get the most out of it. It felt like going home to a mid-19th century Russian. The church bells were ringing by hand!
In addition, a small market of local artisan products is nearby.
Veliky Novgorod official website
The city’s official website is translated in English.
The city of Veliky Novgorod is not very well known and often forgotten, but it is full of treasures. Hope this post will make you want to discover them and to visit Veliky Novgorod! 🙂