Have you ever heard of Krasnodar? So far I have visited Krasnodar twice and so I thought it might be nice to share some information about it. Not many non-Russians will be familiar with this off the beaten track destination. With a population of around 1 million inhabitants, Krasnodar is the 16th city of Russia, located in the southwest. The district is called Krasnodar Krai, which borders with Georgia on the south side, at the Black Sea. It’s still Europe! So what’s to do in Krasnodar?
Kuban State Agrarian University in Krasnodar, Russia
History of Krasnodar
The Kuban River flows through Krasnodar, the city that used to be known as Yekaterinodar. The city was renamed Krasnodar after the October Revolution in 1920. ‘Kras’ means beautiful and ‘dar’ means gift in Russian language.
Krasnodar has a history of starting off as a military camp at the end of the 18th century. Especially the Cosaks ruled over Krasnodar and its surrounding area for longer periods of time, but also the Ottomans came here. And later, in 1942, the German Nazis arrived in Krasnodar. Tough times. Nowadays Krasnodar is a modernized Russian city with parks, statues, etc. The 16th city of Russia by population (app. 1 million).
Sightseeing in Krasnodar
To be honest, Krasnodar does not include many super spectacular sights. It is a city to visit if you want to try and see something else, experience a real Russian city that is not influenced by globalization so much yet. Of course there are things to see in Krasnodar, otherwise there will be nothing to write about, and all together it forms a nice place to visit, for an off the beaten track city trip, or for example in transit, when you pass the city (more or less) anyway on a road trip to elsewhere. Krasnodar has the largest fountain in Europe, the largest mall of southern Russia, various museums, concert halls and theaters, Pushkin’s Libary, etc. Enough to keep you busy for a couple of days.
Shukhovskaya Bashnya, a tower designed by famous Russian architect and engineer Vladimir Shukhov. He designed more but this is one of the few remaining. The tower is also referred to as the Russian Eiffel Tower, Rashpilnaya Tower or Hyperbolic tower. This original 32-meters steel design was completed in 1928 and served originally as water tower. The steel grid work forms a sharp contrast with the surrounding old cathedrals and colorful tree gardens. Opposite the tower there is the famous Krasnodar State Circus.
St. Catherine’s Cathedral and Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, two beautiful examples of Russian Orthodox style churches. Catherine the Great was the longest female ruling Empress of Russia in the 18th century. Alexander Nevsky was a Prince ruling over several parts of Russia in the 13th century. The Russian Orthodox Church canonized both saint. You will see their names popping up in many other Russian cities, such as the beautiful St. Petersburg.
Krasnaya Ulitsa, also known as Krasnaya Street or Red Street, is the main boulevard that forms the heart of Krasnodar’s city center. The street is filled with all kinds of sights including fountains, Triumphal Arch, statues, etc. and ends at Avrora cinema center. I would highly recommend staying at or near this lively street should you spend a few days here.
Statues, monuments & sculptures
The bronze sculpture Walking Dogs, also known as Dog’s City which are actually two dogs standing up like a human man and woman, is a popular sight, also popular amongst locals, who like rubbing their noses for good luck. There are a few more bronze sculptures at Red Street in similar style:
- Monument Krasnodar Guest, a sitting man with an umbrella
- Monument to Shurik and Lidochka, a boy and a girl reading a book
There are many more statues in Krasnodar, I marked the main ones located in the city center in below map.
Fountains & Parks
Theater Fountain on Theater Square is the largest splash fountain of Europe since 2011. There are dozens of other smaller fountains in Krasnodar, for example at Chistyakovskaya Grove. All fountains in the city are put back into action sometime mid-April, when temperatures will not go below freezing point anymore for sure. In the evenings, many fountains get illuminated.
In addition, Krasnodar has several city parks that are nice to stroll around, pick nick, hop on a bicycle, get an ice cream… whatever you are in the mood for on a warm spring or summer day! Some parks include other attractions such as Ferris wheel and carousel. The 30th Anniversary of Victory Culture and Rest Park includes a military museum and submarine. See map below for locations.
There is various architecture in Krasnodar. I really like these red brick buildings, they remind me a bit of parts of New York City. The blue white buildings with many details and ornaments are another level of pretty, they are shown in some photos earlier in this article, with a lot of elegance and classy glamour.
Rainy day, need to kill time before a flight or simply in the mood for shopping? Go to OZ Mall, the largest shopping center of southern Russia.
Krasnodar has a famous soccer team, F.C. Krasnodar, who have a huge, hypermodern stadium financed by its super rich owner (opened in 2016). Maybe your favorite soccer team had to play once against F.C. Krasnodar? The below video is not mine but gives a nice impression of the stadium that is said to be one of the best in Europe.
There are not so many tours available in Krasnodar yet, another sign this city is a real off the beaten track destination! A tour can be nice though, because a local guide will tell and show you things you would not hear or see on your own.
This mobile friendly map includes most things mentioned in this article and more!! It is smartphone friendly; you can use it easily via Google Maps. Click on the top left icon to open the menu. To customize the map to your interests, you can simply (un)select categories. Via Google Drive you can copy it to your folder of My Google Maps.
Where to eat & drink
Despite the fact that international cuisine has also made its appearance in Krasnodar, I would highly recommend to try and eat Russian food. You should absolutely taste delicious dishes like beef stroganoff, borsch (beet soup), pelmeni (dumplings), grilled shashlik (kebab skewers) and blini (pancakes). Obviously accompanied with a glass of crystal clear Russian vodka. Or whatever you like.
Some of my favorite restaurants in Krasnodar serving Russian food include for example Борщberry (Borsch Berry) and the House of Russian Cuisine. Bumbarash is also good, but serves Georgian food. For more restaurant options see map below, also for some bar suggestions.
Where to stay in Krasnodar
I stayed twice at Hilton Garden Inn Krasnodar and would do so again, because of the international level of comfort and its central location right at Krasnaya Street (Red Street). You know what you will get and it is good. WiFi, air-conditioning, 24-hours reception, spacious rooms with private bathroom, gym, good breakfast, Hilton Garden Inn has it all. Prices start around EUR 64 per night. Best value for money.
Should Hilton Garden Inn Krasnodar be above your budget or full, you may want to consider staying at:
Tip: Type C and F sockets are used in Russia. The voltage is 220 V. If you visit from the Netherlands, your own plugs should fit. Otherwise simply bring a world plug for electronic devices.
Some distances from Krasnodar to other cities:
- Dzhubga at the Black Sea 120 km
- Novorissiysk 150 km
- Sochi 300 km
- Moscow 1350 km
- St. Petersburg 2100 km
- Amsterdam 3100 km
You may remember Sochi from the Winter Olympics 2014. Although the distance from Krasnodar to Sochi is only 300 km, and Google Map says the drive should take about 5.5 hours, I would recommend to fly in between those cities because of the challenging, bad road conditions, moreover in winter. Locals mentioned this to me as the smartest choice.
How to get to Krasnodar
Flights to Krasnodar go from all three airports in Moscow, take about 4 hours and prices start around EUR 42 one way. Flights from Saint Petersburg take about 5 hours and ticket prices start around EUR 97 one way. Main airlines flying into Krasnodar are Aeroflot, Utair, Pobeda, Hahn Air, Norwind Airlines, S7 Airlines and Red Wings.
To check possibilities and prices for flights to Krasnodar International Airport Pasjkovski (KRR) from anywhere around the world, Skyscanner is the way to go.
From Moscow you can also consider taking the direct overnight train from Moscow (Moskva Kazanskia station) to Krasnodar (direction Novorossiisk), it goes once a day. It takes 18.5 hours and train ticket prices should be somewhere between EUR 35 and EUR 80 per person one way.
In addition it is possible to take the bus from Moscow Orekhovo station, but you will have to transfer in Kropotkin. In total the bus ride from Moscow to Krasnodar takes about 21 hours and prices for bus ticket vary somewhere between EUR 36 and EUR 54 single ride.
How to get around Krasnodar
The number #1 transportation method for locals is still the car. For A to B private taxi rides you may want to use Yandex or Uber. A single taxi ride from Krasnodar International Airport to for example Hilton Garden Inn Krasnodar takes about 30 min and costs around RUB 280 (EUR 4). The airport is in the east of the city (see map above).
Krasnodar’s city center is pretty flat and most sights are pretty close to each other, so it is easy to walk around. Unless you would come in winter and you may want to avoid to freeze to death out on the street (kidding). There are clear road signs to the main sights so that’s easy-peasy too.
In addition, Krasnodar has public buses, trams and so-called marshrutkas (taxis with fixed route). Cycling is also a do-able option here; the city council created new bike lanes around the city center, especially in and around the city parks.
When to visit
You probably want to visit Krasnodar between April and mid-October. May, June and September are great months to go, usually September gets the least rain fall. But also summer is quite good in Krasnodar. Temperatures in July and August are on average between 20 and 32 degrees Celsius, so still pretty comfortable. In March I had grey weather, in July all sunny and bright blue skies. Up to you!
Winter temperatures are too cold for a city trip to Krasnodar. Maybe you want to explore possibilities for winter sports? In Krasnodar Krai there are some ski slopes with ski lift but they are near Sochi, not Krasnodar city. See map above.
Do I need a visa for Russia?
The answer to that question highly depends on your nationality, how long you wish to stay, what you plan to do (tourist or other), etc. Check for example the website of iVisa to learn whether you need a visa or not.
Now a city trip to Krasnodar is something else than cities like Budapest or Prague, way more off the beaten track. Hope you liked this article and find it useful, that it will inspire you to start exploring Russia. In Krasnodar I found the people friendlier than in Moscow for example. Please feel free to leave a question or comment below.
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