Samara (from 1935 to 1991 called Kuibyshev) is a city in the Middle Volga region of Russia, the center of the Volga economic region and the Samara region that forms the urban district of Samara. It is also dubbed as the city of labor and military glory in 2016. The population is 1,156,644 people according to the 2019 census, making it the ninth most populated city in Russia. It is located on the left low bank of the Saratov reservoir opposite Samarskaya Luka, at the confluence of the Samara rivers (hence the name of the city) and Soka.
Being one of the most popular tourist destinations in Russia, Samara is – obviously – heavily visited by tourists and not a few of them are solo traveler from out of Russia. If you are one of the future solo travelers that plan to go to Samara, here is the guide for you.
How to Get to Samara
There are several ways to get to Samara directly:
To Samara by plane
Samara International Airport Kurumoch is located 35 kilometers from the center of the city. Over 2 million passengers are served here annually: the airport is one of the ten largest in Russia. It has regular flights to and from the largest cities of Russia and many foreign countries, including Munich, Antalya, Burgas, Monastir and many more. However, most of the domestic and international flights only occur during the warm season and close in September-October.
A direct flight from Moscow to Samara takes about 1.5 hours, with several dozen flights a day. They are served by Aeroflot, Ural Airlines, UTair, Transaero, S7 and Alrosa.
Only Aeroflot offers direct flights to Samara from St. Petersburg, the journey takes about 2.5-3 hours. In the summer there are up to ten flights a day, in winter the number is reduced to four.
To Samara by train
Samara is a major railway junction; the modern building of the railway station is the highest station in Europe. The train to Samara from Moscow takes 15-20 hours. It is more convenient to get to Samara by train from neighboring cities such as Kazan, Saratov, Penza, Orenburg and a bit distant ones like Yekaterinburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Tyumen and others.
To Samara by bus
Samara is conveniently accessible by bus from the cities in central Russia. There is a direct bus connects with Cheboksary, Syzran, Ural, Ulyanovsk, Saratov, Perm, Orenburg, Izhevsk, Yoshkar-Ola and other large cities. The road to Samara from St. Petersburg takes about 40 hours.
To Samara by water
Samara is located on the banks of the Volga; the city has a river station. However, there is no regular river connection with other Volga cities. You can check the ferry schedule for Rozhdestveno and other flights on the carrier’s website: Samara River Passenger Enterprise LLC. Also, many cruise ships depart from Samara. By this ship you can get to Kazan, Volgograd, Astrakhan, Nizhny Novgorod, Kostroma, Rostov-on-Don and other cities.
How to get to the center of Samara
As mentioned above, the international airport is quite far from the city center. But, getting from Samara Airport to the city center is easy. The easiest way is by bus that leaves from the domestic terminal every hour from 7:15 to 21:45. Near the airport there is the village of Bereza, where you can get from Samara by minibus number 392 (runs every 10 minutes from 6:00 to 21:00), city bus number 78 or suburban bus number 406, which runs much less frequently. Bus and minibus stops are 200 meters from the terminal building. Bus number 652 Samara – Tolyatti also passes through the airport. However, there is no round-the-clock connection between the city center and the airport. Passengers of night flights will have to use a taxi.
What to See in Samara
In the region there are 1143 cultural monuments, 2123 archeological monuments, 11 theaters, and 58 museums. The Samara Regional Museum of History and Local Lore is named after P.V. Alabin, founded in 1886, and has several branches throughout the region. The Art Museum in Samara is one of the largest museums in Russia. Dedicated to Stalin, a bunker was built in Samara during the Great Patriotic War. There are 259 hotels, 125 recreation centers, 30 resorts, and 30 health camps in the region.
The Ministry of Tourism of the region recommends visiting:
- Stalin’s bunker – 37m deep.
- The Samara Cosmic Museum, where you can see the Soyuz launch vehicle, the Yantar-4K1 and Resource F-1 descent vehicles, the liquid-propellant rocket engine models for the Soyuz-U, Energy and Zenith.
- The complex of the history of technology in Tolyatti.
- The house-museum of I.E. Repin in the village of Shiryaevo.
- Samara embankment and Volga.
- Tract of “Stone Bowl”.
- Sarbay center of folk crafts in the village of Sarbay.
- The Center for Historical Modeling “The Ancient World”, where the dwellings of the Stone and Bronze Ages are located, the pavilion of the funeral rite, the site for processing stone and bone, the pottery and bronze foundry.
The most interesting is Samarskaya Luka National Park, where eco-ethnic tourism is developing in the village of Shiryaevo and on the shores of the Usinsky Bay.
Events in Samara
The All-Russian Valery Grushin author’s song festival, the Bard World festival, Russia’s largest rock festival Rock over the Volga, electronic music festival HES-Fest, Battle of Timur and Tokhtamysh, Steppe Races on the Samara estate are annually held. The International Festival of Drums of the World, the Syzran Tomato holiday, the Festival of Cherry Pie in the village of Shiryaevo, Zakharovsky rally, the festival of oriental and ethnic dances “Anatolia” are some of the events you can attend while visiting the Samara region. You can always check the schedule through the region’s official website.
That was the compact version of the guide to visit Samara if you are a non-Russian who plan to travel solo to the Russia. Hope it helps!