Where to go and what to see in Veliky Novgorod.
Lifehacker’s guide to the city with a very old history, which has much more to offer tourists than excursions to famous temples.
Table of contents
Where to stay
There are several hostels in Veliky Novgorod. Sleep&Go and “Yaroslav” hostels offer beds at a price from 480 rubles. You can also get a family room for 1 500 rubles.
The average price for an apartment with a stylish interior on Airbnb – right in front of the Kremlin or 200 meters from it – is about 2 500-3 000 rubles. In the historic center, you can find simpler options – for 1,500-2,000 rubles.
The standard price for a single or double room in Novgorod hotels is 2 000-2 500 rubles. Such prices are offered by hotels “Rossiya”, “Intourist”, “Sadko”, “Volkhov” built during the Soviet era, but with modern interiors. For those who like to travel in comfort and not very tight on money, are designer hotels “Truvor” and “Rakhmaninov”, four-star “Park Inn” and new apart-hotel “Sofiya” with a view of the Novgorod Kremlin. Rooms in these hotels cost on average 4 000-5 000 rubles.
What sights to visit in Veliky Novgorod
The main and most famous historical attraction of the city. The Kremlin is also sometimes called Detinets, but the inhabitants of Novgorod rarely use this word.
The Kremlin was built Novgorod Kremlin – Dytynets in XI century and at first was wooden. It was the residence of Novgorod bishop, while the prince lived on the other side of the river Volkhov. The fortress acquired its present appearance in the 15th century. After Novgorod became part of the Moscow state, Ivan III thoroughly rebuilt Dytynets’.
Inside you can visit the Children’s Museum Center – a two-story building in the southern part of the Kremlin (Judge’s Town, 3), where the reserve museum organizes exhibitions, lectures and informative thematic games for children.
The Kremlin is also interesting as a center of viewpoints. You can buy tickets to St. Sophia Belfry, from which you can easily admire Yaroslav’s Court on the Trade Side, the “battle course” of the Kremlin and the highest tower of Kokuy, where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the city. By the way, the view from the Kokuy Tower is depicted on the five-ruble banknote of 1997.
Several attractions located on the territory of the Kremlin are worthy of separate attention.
St. Sophia Cathedral
This is the oldest in Russia Orthodox stone cathedral – 1045-1055 years of construction. It houses the Cathedral of St. Sophia (Novgorod) – Wikipedia The icon of the Sign of the Blessed Virgin Mary, considered miraculous, and the relics of several saints, including St. Anne, wife of Yaroslav the Wise, is especially revered by Orthodox believers. In front of the altar, pay attention to the cross with a dove. According to legend, the pigeon was petrified by the horrors of the oprichniks of Ivan IV the Terrible.
Faceted (or Vladychnaya) Chamber
One of the oldest surviving civil constructions in Russia. The building in Gothic style was built in the XV century with the participation of German craftsmen. Inside it are vaulted halls and underground galleries. In them the Novgorod lord (archbishop) received guests, organized secular events and held trials.
Admission for adults costs 250 rubles, but in the summer of 2020 Faceted Chamber is closed for repairs, so you can only admire it from the outside or using the virtual tour.
Large building in the classical style, built for the state authorities of the Russian empire at the end of the XVIII century. Nowadays in it several big expositions of Novgorod Museum-Reserve are situated. With their help you can learn about the history of Novgorod, archaeological research, traditions of Russian icon painting and medieval carved crafts.
Monument to the Millennium of Russia
The main Russian monument dedicated to the history of Russia since the call of Rurik in 862 to the reign of Emperor Alexander II. It was unveiled in 1862 by the Millennium of Russia – Wikipedia in the presence of the emperor.
The authors were sculptors Mikhail Mikeshin and Ivan Schroeder, the architect was Viktor Gartman. The monument is in the form of a power ball and a bell, around which 128 historical figures, who played the greatest role in the history of the Russian State, are placed in three tiers. Among them are educators, statesmen and military leaders, writers, poets, artists and composers. Around the monument you can take a long and leisurely stroll, looking at and recognizing the historical figures.
Address: The space between Bolshaya Moskovskaya, Nikolskaya and Ivanskaya streets and the Volkhov River.
Photo: Marina Zezelina / Shutterstock
The territory opposite the Kremlin, on the other side of the Volkhov River, in ancient times was used by Yaroslav’s Court for trade, including international trade. That’s why it is now called Torgovaya (opposite area – Sofiyskaya). Here were located Gothic and German court, and in the church of John on Opoki – the Chamber of weights and measures.
Many churches survived on the court, money for the construction of which were donated by rich merchants, and on the site of the Nicolo-Dvorishchensky Cathedral, probably, was the residence of Yaroslav the Wise. Later in the period of the Novgorod Republic at Yaroslav’s Court Veche, the body of municipal self-government, was formed. The arcade on the bank of the Volkhov River is the remnants of the Gostiny Dvor, which stood here before the Great Patriotic War.
Now Yaroslav’s Court is one of the best places in Veliky Novgorod for quiet walks away from noisy bars and fussy amusement parks.
Gostiny Dvor Gate Tower
A civil structure of the XVII century served as an entrance to the Gostiny Dvor, and now it houses a museum of Christian art metal of the XI-XIX centuries. Here you can see hand-washing vessels, censers, lamps, icons, crosses and many other religious objects. From the upper tier there is a picturesque view of the buildings of Yaroslav’s Court.
What sights to visit near Veliky Novgorod
Ryurik ancient settlement
To the south-east of the city there is the ancient settlement, which is usually called Rurik’s hillfort since the XIX century. It is considered Rurik’s fortress the residence of the first Novgorod princes, including Rurik, who was called in 862 to end internecine strife in Russia. Archaeologists have found the remains of an early medieval settlement and more ancient evidence that people lived here since the Iron Age.
Now the settlement is just a hill from which you can enjoy beautiful views of the city and Yuryev monastery. The ruins of the Church of the Annunciation (XII century), preserved by archeologists and with Glagolitic inscriptions found on its walls, are situated on the hill itself.
Yuryev Monastery and Museum of Wooden Architecture “Vitoslavlitsy
In the village of Yuryevo there is one of the oldest Orthodox monasteries in Russia, which in Novgorod was considered Yuryev Monastery – “Wikipedia” the spiritual center and served as the burial vault of noble citizens. In 1119 the stone St. George’s Cathedral was laid out here.
The monastery is active, and not all of its territory is open to visitors. Near the monastery there is a beach, where in the summer bathing is officially allowed. The beach offers a view of the source of the Volkhov River and Lake Ilmen.
Not far from the monastery is a large museum of wooden architecture “Vitoslavlitsy”. On its territory, village houses and farm buildings of the XIX-XX centuries are collected, as well as older churches and chapels. In the houses there are exhibitions devoted to rural life. The museum also hosts celebrations for Christmas, Christmas Eve, Shrovetide, Easter and other Orthodox holidays. The museum is currently under restoration and some sites are closed to the public.
Church of the Transfiguration on Nereditsa
Church of the Transfiguration on Nereditsa known for frescos from the end of XII century. XII century in 1941 and restored as one of the first. Archaeologists are still searching for fragments of frescoes, which are carefully returned to the walls of the temple.
Because of the danger of damaging the frescoes, the entrance to the temple is carried out alone or in a family of up to five people. And only in good weather: a special microclimate is preserved inside, and snow or rain can break it.
Varlaamo-Khutyn Spaso-Preobrazhensky Monastery and the grave of Gavriil Derzhavin
In the village of Khutyn, 9 km from Veliky Novgorod, is one of the first monasteries founded by St. Varlaam of Khutyn. The Khutyn Monastery appeared in 1192 and was one of the richest in the Northwest. Here, in the Cathedral of the Transfiguration, the poet and statesman Gavriil Derzhavin is buried.
The monastery is interesting not only as a shrine, but also as a garden and park area, where roses of all kinds of shades bloom in summer.
The buildings of the monastery in the village of Vyazhishchi, founded in 1411, look quite unusual for the Novgorod region and look more like churches of the Volga region. The large churches of Nicholas the Wonderworker and John the Theologian are decorated with colorful tiles, in the design a lot of green. The monastery is female, working.
Where else to go in Veliky Novgorod
Center for musical antiquities named after VI Povetkin.
Address: ul. Ilyin, 9B.
The small wooden building is located in the courtyards of the so-called Old Town on the Market Side, not far from Yaroslav’s Court. This center of musical reconstruction is the only one in Russia.
Novgorod archaeologists regularly find the remains of musical instruments: hooters, dumplings, psaltery, even bagpipes. And thanks to the reconstructors we now know how they all sounded. Unfortunately, it is not known exactly what music was played on them in the Middle Ages. But on the basis of hymns, collected by researchers in Russian villages in the 19th and 20th centuries, you can imagine, at least approximately, what music was played before the invention of music notation. The center offers lectures and concerts for organized groups.
F. M. Dostoevsky Academic Drama Theater
Address: 14 Velikaya Street.
Photo: Marina Zezelina / Shutterstock
The theater is interesting not so much for its productions (the repertoire is quite standard for a provincial theater) as for its unusual appearance. This futuristic building was built in 1987. Andrey Makarevich, who was an architect at the time of its design, was involved in its creation by the Novgorod Drama Theatre named after F.M. Dostoevsky. However, the musician’s role is often exaggerated: the real creator of the theater is the architect Vladimir Somov.
The area around the theater has long been neglected, but in 2021 there will be a new park, designed by KB Strelka and the architectural studio “8 Lines”.
Maly Theater for Children and Youth
Address: 32A, Mira Avenue.
“Maly”, located in the sleeping Western district, is rather the antipode of the drama theater. In an inconspicuous building put strong chamber performances, such as “A novel in the letters of Maria Tsvetaeva and Rainer Maria Rilke. And every two years in the spring there is an international festival “Tsar-Tale”, a well-known event in the theater world.
Now the theater troupe is preparing for the opening of the new season, the playbill is not yet published.
Valery Rubtsov Film Museum
Address: Rogatica Street, 16/21.
Photo: page of the Film Museum of Valery Rubtsov in social networking site “VKontakte
Valery Rubtsov is a Novgorod collector of cinema equipment of the XX century. He turned his collection into a private museum. It exhibits dozens of movie cameras, projectors, editing equipment and related items. A separate exposition is devoted to amateur video equipment.
The museum organizes lectures on cinema art and the history of cinematography, acoustic concerts of Novgorod bands and film screenings, including retrospectives of Soviet and world cinema.
Novgorod Centre for Contemporary Art
Address: 37/9 Bolshaya Moskovskaya Street.
The Center for Contemporary Art is located in the cultural center “Dialogue”. It’s not hard to find the entrance: there are a lot of art objects, graffiti, benches with images of Malevich and Kandinsky around it. A new exhibition wave opens every month in the center. In addition to the works of Novgorod artists, photographers and craftsmen, it hosts traveling exhibitions from other cities and countries.
Address: Between the streets Nutnaya, Pankratova, Fedorovsky brook and Bolshaya Moskovskaya.
Photo: Marina Zezelina / Shutterstock
Historically the Old City is the Slavensky end on the Trade Side, one of the settlements that made up ancient Novgorod. Now it’s an area with two or three-story 19th- and 20th-century buildings and private sector – a quiet and atmospheric place to walk around and see unusual houses and old courtyards.
In the outskirts of Old Town there is a cafe called Kolobok (28 Bolshaya Moskovskaya St.) which is a small canteen-like place where you can have some delicious fish soup, soup with red fish and inexpensive and tasty pies.
Cafes and bars
Next to “Kolobok”, in a renovated historic building, there is a restaurant of merchant cuisine “Berg’s House”. There is a more democratic bistro. In 10 minutes on foot on Fedorovsky Ruchey, 9/17, near the bridge of Alexander Nevsky there is a cozy shop of craft beer Samovar – a hundred kinds of bottled beer and cider, 14 taps, homemade furniture and vinyl records. The assortment of the bar is constantly changing, and its regulars are Novgorod’s creative intelligentsia, trendy young people, and an aging punk crowd.
If you walk along Bolshaya Moskovskaya to the building 31/7, you can visit the wine cafe “Time Ch”. The author of the project has chosen a relatively inexpensive and interesting wine cellar and offers visitors European cuisine typical of wine regions.
Sofia side, in turn, abounds with thematic bars. Rock club Papa Bar (4 Chudovskaya St.) offers live concerts from Thursday to Sunday and wild night parties at weekends. There is also Greensleeves Irish pub (23A, Musa Dzhalil St.), British pub Mycroft (13/6 Predtechenskaya St.), a 5 minute walk from the Kremlin, and Telegraph café (2 Ludogoschaya St.) overlooking the main city square. And on the territory of the country-wide famous liquor distillery “Alkon” there is a bar called ZAVOD. It is interesting with a huge selection of homemade berry and herbal infusions on vodka and gin and dishes from the Russian oven.
What to bring from Veliky Novgorod
Novgorod traditionally has a lot of fish in its cuisine, so even the city’s coat of arms, right below the bears, has a picture of whitefish. A well-known Novgorod snack is snetok, which is a small dried fish from Lake Ilmen. Also Novgorodians eat pike and pike perch. You can find them in the fish store at the Central Market (Prusskaya Street, 15).
In the building where the bar ZAVOD is located, there is a shop of alcoholic souvenirs. For lovers we recommend Novgorod gin, vodka “Sadko”, balsam “Old Russian” or sweet liquor with prunes and blueberries “Spotykach”. There are also several kinds of willow-tea, honey and pine cone jam for sale.
More tasty souvenirs can be purchased at the tourism office “Red Hut” at Sennaya Square, 5. 5 or on the website. Among other things, in “Krasnaya izba” you can buy linen porridge for 100 rubles – the traditional Novgorod culture. And you can buy a face mask based on sapropelic mud from one of the glacial lakes of the Novgorod region for 350 rubles.
As for the beautiful trinkets, which will remind of the trip, their large number can be found in the souvenir shops on the Sennaya Square near the Kremlin Park. Especially recommend to look at products from birch bark – baskets, breadbaskets or children’s toys – because thanks to it we know so much about the history of Novgorod.
Novgorod is a city of the Veche Republic, and the symbol of Veche is a bell. In Veliky Novgorod and now produce small brass bells, which you can buy in any souvenir shop.
In the Kremlin Park between Sennaya Square and the Kremlin is an art gallery, where you can buy paintings by local artists. And at Yaroslav’s Court, in the “Gallery at the Torg” (Ilyin Str., 2), you can buy cute magnets and postcards with watercolor drawings.
Items with rumpus stitching
Cross stitch is a traditional technique of embroidery on linen goods: clothing and scarves, table cloths and tablecloths, art panels. In 1929 a factory was opened in the village of Kresttsy, after which Krestetsky stitch became one of the symbols of Russian folk textiles and ended up in gift sets, which Soviet leaders presented to the leaders of other countries.
The factory still sews clothing and home textiles to order. In the “Red Hut” and souvenir shop “Live Novgorod Land” (Prusskaya Street, 1) you can buy small scarves, napkins or souvenir embroidery. And in the store at the factory in Kresttsy (Novokholovskaya st. 6) you can buy clothes – dresses and shirts, for example.
What to see in Veliky Novgorod in 1-2 days
The ancient Russian city has preserved a unique heritage of different eras. Let’s share our routes around Veliky Novgorod: the main sights you can see in 1 and 2 days on your own.
Any trip brings maximum pleasure if it is well planned. The city, which many centuries ago was the first republic on the territory of Russia, has preserved churches of the pre-Mongol period, medieval temples, fortifications and monasteries. You can see all this in Veliky Novgorod on your own in one or two days.
Look for interesting excursions on Sputnik and Tripster sites. Individual and group, without crowds of tourists and in Russian.
What to see in Veliky Novgorod in 1 day
If you have only one day to see the city, do not be upset. Even in such a short time you can learn many interesting things and form an impression of Veliky Novgorod. Choose the most interesting sights out of the ones listed below!
Map of Veliky Novgorod with sights
Novgorod Detinets (Kremlin)
On the left bank of the Volkhov River, in the center of the city, is the site of one of the most ancient monuments of defensive architecture of our country – the Novgorod Kremlin. This is the main attraction of Veliky Novgorod, which must be seen. Just imagine: the wooden fortress was built by Prince Vladimir, son of Yaroslav the Wise, and the first stone fortifications on the hill appeared in the 1430s!
The fortress has the shape of an oval. The length of its walls is about 1.5 km. Along the perimeter there are 9 towers with a great view of the historic buildings and the valley of the Volkhov. In the territory of the Kremlin there are several attractions.
The most popular tours:
(Photo: a.gaverdovsky / flickr.com / CC BY 2.0 license)
St. Sophia Cathedral is located in the center of the Kremlin. The orthodox cathedral is one of the oldest in the city. It was erected in the middle of the XI century. Inside the cathedral there are fragments of frescoes of XII century, three iconostases with icons of XI-XIX centuries, relics of saints and the bronze Magdeburg Gates.
In the south-eastern part of the Kremlin there is a small temple of St. Andrew Stratilat with paintings of the XVI-XVII centuries. Take a walk around the citadel, walk along the ancient wall and take a photo from the Kremlin’s Battle Path. In the center of the fortification is the famous monument of the 1000th anniversary of Russia, and in the Faceted Chamber are jewelry treasures brought from different parts of the world.
(Photo: a.gaverdovsky / flickr.com / CC BY 2.0 license)
If you come to Veliky Novgorod with kids, check out the Children’s Museum Center in the Kremlin. It offers workshops, games and family excursions to the Falconer’s Court.
Opening hours and tickets. The Kremlin is open any day from 6:00 to 00:00. Museum exhibitions – from 10:00 to 18:00, except Mondays. In Detinets allowed free of charge.
Entrance to exhibitions devoted to the history of Novgorod, Russian icons and ancient Russian carvings costs 170 rubles. Tickets for activities and tours in the Children’s Museum Center – 100 rubles for adults and 50 rubles for children. You can enter the Novgorod Detinets from the Sophia embankment or from Victory Square (Sofia).
(Photo: a.gaverdovsky / flickr.com / CC BY 2.0 license)
In Veliky Novgorod you can also see active excavations. To the south of the Novgorod Kremlin, near the Trinity Church, there is an open area of more than 800 square meters – the Trinity Excavation. Here archaeologists and historians have found many ancient birch-bark writings, pottery, horse harness, weapons and jewelry.
Hours of operation and tickets. The excavation is located near the intersection of Telegina-Redyatina and Troitskaya Streets and is open to tourists from 9:30 to 19:00. The price for an adult – 50 rubles, and for child – 30 rubles.
In the summer there are half-hour excursions: tourists walk along the bridge of the beginning of the XIV century and on the observation deck where you can see the entire area of archaeological research.
If you walk across the pedestrian Kremlin bridge to the right bank of the Volkhov River, you will find yourself near the ancient Veche Square and Yaroslav’s Court. In the Middle Ages, in the place where now there is a green park with avenues of birches and lindens, there was the Great Torg, where stood a rich princely court. This is another important attraction of Veliky Novgorod – you can see it on your own in 1 day.
On the territory of Yaroslav’s Court there is a picturesque Hanseatic fountain, the arcade of the Gostiny Dvor and several ancient churches. The oldest of them is Nikolsky Cathedral of the XII century, where the meetings of the Novgorod people’s republic took place. Inside there are preserved fragments of paintings of XII century and wall frescoes of XIX century. A circular multimedia panorama, which reproduces the center of medieval Novgorod, is shown in the cathedral.
Nearby, on Moskovskaya Street, there is the Church of St. George on the Torg, built in the middle of the 14th century. Inside, there is an exhibition that tells about the ancient frescoes of Novgorod temples, destroyed during the Great Patriotic War.
The best view of the former bazaar opens from the observation deck of the Gostiny Dvor Gate Tower, built in the XVII century. There is an exhibition of artistic metal of XI-XIX centuries. An ethnographic exposition of Novgorod crafts is open in the Church of the Women of Myrh-bearers.
Opening hours and tickets. Churches of Yaroslav’s Court are available for tourists from Wednesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 18:00. A single ticket to see Nikolsky Cathedral and the multimedia panorama costs 170 rubles. Tickets for other temples cost 100 rubles for adults and 50 rubles for children.
(Photo: a.gaverdovsky / flickr.com / CC BY 2.0 license)
The Church of the Transfiguration
Do you want to see ancient Russian paintings in Veliky Novgorod? Then visit the ancient Church of the Transfiguration.
The temple, which was built in the second half of the 14th century, has frescoes by the Byzantine isographer Theophanes the Greek. Although only 1/10th of the original paintings have survived, the images created by the famous artist make a very strong impression.
Opening hours and tickets. The church is located on the right bank of the Volkhov River, at 28 Ilyin Street. The temple is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 17:00. The ticket costs 120 rubles.
Church of the Transfiguration on Ilyin.
To see the colorful scenes of the Last Judgement and other ancient paintings of a liturgical nature, look into the majestic Znamensky Cathedral. Its murals were painted in the early 18th century by talented icon painters from the Russian Embassy Embassy Embassy Embassy.
Working hours and tickets. The cathedral is located between Ilyinka Street and Znamensky Lane. For tourists the doors of the temple are open from Thursday to Monday from 10:00 to 17:00. The entrance for adults costs 100 rubles and for children 50 rubles.
The monuments of Veliky Novgorod and its environs (from the list of UNESCO)
What a tourist can see in Veliky Novgorod in 2 days
What else can I see in Veliky Novgorod by myself? On the second day we advise to visit sights that are outside the city center.
4 km to the south of Novgorod citadel, on the southern shore of the lake Myachino, there is a museum of wooden architecture. “Vitoslavlitsy” began to be created in the mid-1960s. Nowadays the area of 33.4 ha is occupied by the samples of the old wooden buildings. Under the open sky you can see peasant farmsteads, wooden churches, chapel, smithy, granary and stables. The museum offers guided tours, workshops on traditional Novgorod crafts, folk games and folklore festivals.
Opening hours and tickets. From October to March it is open from 10:00 to 17:00, in April and September – from 10:00 to 18:00, and from May to August – from 10:00 to 20:00. The entrance costs 170 rubles.
Folk festival dedicated to the Holy Trinity in the Museum of Wooden Architecture “Vitoslavitsy”. Photo: larisa.voyageur.gmail.com / Depositphotos.com.
St. George’s Monastery
On day 2, tourists are advised to see the ancient Christian monastery in Veliky Novgorod – St. George’s Monastery. According to legend, it was founded by Prince Yaroslav the Wise. The first orthodox monastery played a great role in the history of Novgorod lands. Nowadays the monastery is active. On its territory there are St. George, Savior and Cross-erection cathedrals, four-tiered bell tower 52 m high and several ancient churches.
Opening hours and tickets. For pilgrims and tourists it’s open every day from 8:00 to 20:00. Entrance is free.
How to get there. The monastery stands on the left bank of the Volkhov River, on the Yuriev highway, 10 – not far from the museum “Vitoslavlitsy”. You can get there by bus number 7, which runs from the city train station.
Spaso-Georgievsky Cathedral in St. George’s Monastery. Photo: APHONUA / Depositphotos.com.