Tourists from St Petersburg usually travel to Veliky Novgorod (also Novgorod the Great) for one day – it is enough to see all the main sights and return feeling not too tired. We have compiled for you routes that will cover everything and, depending on the desire and time, a little more than the minimum program.
Information on this page has been updated in January 2020.
Visiting Veliky Novgorod: Basic Options
Our three routes are made for those who travel to Novgorod for the first time and want to see the main sights.
1. Novgorod Kremlin + boat trip along the Volkhov River to Lake Ilmen + Yaroslav’s courtyard (about 4 hours);
2. Novgorod Kremlin + boat trip along the Volkhov to Lake Ilmen + Yaroslav’s courtyard + Vitoslavlitsy Museum (6-8 hours);
3. Novgorod Kremlin + boat trip along the Volkhov to Ilmen Lake + Yaroslav’s courtyard + Vitoslavlitsy Museum + the St. George’s (Yuriev) Monastery and the Nikolo-Vyazhischsky Monastery (named after St. Nicolas and the village of Vyazhischi) (10-12 hours).
Below we have described all the sights in the same sequence in which they are listed, except the Vitoslavlitsy museum, which we’re going to dedicate a post to (ask us about the museum if you need information on it).
We proceed from the fact that your tour begins and ends on the square in front of the railway and bus stations in Novgorod.
To choose the best transport mode and arrival/departure time, read our article How to get to Veliky Novgorod.
You can buy tickets both at the coach station and online with a credit card on:
Novgorod Kremlin: How To Get To, Prices, Tickets, Monuments
All the names of streets are given as they are written in English and in the Google map so that you can easily find it through Google. Sometimes their Russian names are also indicated.
Veliky Novgorod, as well as in Ryazan, Rostov, Moscow, Kazan, Astrakhan and few other cities of Russia, has its own Kremlin. In this city, it is the oldest in the whole country, and the northernmost.
We recommend starting your tour through Novgorod from the Kremlin, because it is the most important place worth seeing, and the optimal route begins there.
It is very simple to get to the Kremlin. After arriving in Novgorod (the train and bus stations are located in the same place, the Vokzal’naya Ploshchad, or the Railway Square) you need to turn your back to the railway station and walk right along the alley, along the Voskresensky Boulevard, or the Voskresenskiy Bul’var (in Russian Воскресенский бульвар).
The Voskresensky Boulevard
You will pass the «Russia» cinema center …
The `Russia` cinema center
…and the building of the Government of the Novgorod Region.
The building of the Government of the Novgorod Region
Actually, opposite this building, across a large square (the Sofia square or the Victory square), there are gates to the Veliky Novgorod Kremlin, the entrance to which is free. The walk from the railway station to the Kremlin takes about twenty minutes.
The gates to the Veliky Novgorod Kremlin
Inside the Kremlin, there are several sights included in the mandatory program of every tourist.
The first thing you should pay attention to is the monument Millennium of Russia by Mikhail Mikeshin that consists of three levels and 128 figures of major state, religious and cultural persons. Created in 1862, the monument was badly damaged during the World War II: it was cut into pieces by fascists who wanted to take it to Germany. A few details even left the Novgorod land for some time.
The Millennium monument
Opposite the Millennium monument is the main Orthodox Church of Novgorod – Holy Sophia Cathedral. Nowadays, the Cathedral is open, it periodically hosts religious services; free entrance for visitors.
Holy Sophia Cathedral
If you look closely, you can see a dove on the cross of the main dome of the Cathedral, which is one of the symbols of Veliky Novgorod. Among the locals there is a legend that during the massacre carried out by Ivan the Terrible over freedom-loving Novgorod citizens a dove sat down to rest on the cross and petrified with horror, seeing what was happening. The dove became a symbol of the Holy Spirit and, according to the legend, it protects the city.
Near the Kremlin gates opposite to the entrance is the Bell Tower, near which there are six large bells.
The Bell Tower
Like the Cathedral, the Bell Tower is open to tourists.
Entrance to the Bell Tower
Those who want to see the Novgorod Kremlin from all sides can buy tickets in the Bell Tower to the Kremlin’s rampart – to the Kremlin wall. It offers a wonderful view of the embankment of the Volkhov river, and while walking along the wall you can look into some of the towers. One of them presents battle armor of ancient Russian warriors.
The entrance to the Kremlin’s rampart
The entrance to the Kremlin’s rampart is located to the right of the Bell Tower (pictured above). Usually there, near the booth there are two streltsy ( soldiers in the regular army in Russia in the 16th and 17th centuries) and check tickets (see photo below).
Prices for visiting the Bell Tower of St. Sophia Cathedral and the rampart for an adult: 300 rubles.
The Bell Tower and the rampart are open from 10.00 to 14.00 and from 15.00 to 18.00 (Friday to Sunday to 20.00) in spring and winter, from 10.00 to 14.00 and from 15.00 to 18.00 in autumn and winter. As of November 6, the Bell Tower is closed.
In addition, in the Kremlin there is also the regional Philharmonic, the regional scientific library, a music school and many other interesting facilities.
In summer, the Novgorod Kremlin sometimes hosts outdoor concerts, for example, the jazz festival JUST JAZZ OPEN AIR has already become a tradition.
The Kremlin is surrounded by the Kremlin Park. It bends around the wall, and in the shade of its trees there is a small amusement park, which can be interesting to the youngest tourists. It is easy to find it: when you exit the Kremlin to the bridge, turn right and walk along the wall for not more than ten minutes. In addition, young travelers can ride a horse or a pony around the Kremlin. Horses are waiting for their riders near the attractions and on the square.
In general, you’ll spend no more than an hour and a half to walk through the Kremlin, taking into account the rampart and the park.
Boat Trips Along The Volkhov River To Lake Ilmen
Near the Kremlin, on the banks of the Volkhov river, there is a pier, from which the excursion ship to Lake Ilmen departs. The travel time is one hour, the vessel will float near the place where Russian statehood originated – the Riurik settlement and the Yuriev monastery.
Boat trips along the Volkhov river
The pier is located on the left after the exit from the Kremlin gate (opposite to the ones you entered). Do not cross the bridge.
Price — 500 roubles for an adult ticket, 300 roubles — for a child ticket. Tickets are purchased directly on board the ship or at the tourist information center Red Izba (Krasnaya Izba) located at 5, Sennaya Ploshad, Veliky Novgorod.
The boat moves quietly, no one suffers from sickness. You can take a place on the deck, enjoying the breeze, or indoor, where you’ll find a dining room with cheap pies and drinks.
A boat near the pier
The Yaroslav’s Courtyard
The Kremlin either followed by a boat trip or not – that is the first part of the tour.
Let’s move to the second. The Volkhov river divides the city into two sides – the Sofia side, where the Kremlin is situated, and the Trade side is, which is located across the foot-bridge.
When descending from the bridge, on the left you can see a nice monument to a girl-tourist who sat down to rest (the photo was taken on the opposite bank from the Kremlin).
A nice monument to a girl-tourist
The first attraction of the Trade side is clearly visible from afar — this is the famous Arcade of the Trading Yard (in the photo below), which in the old days framed the economic center of the city – the Yaroslav’s courtyard and the Marketplace.
The Yaroslav`s Courtyard
During major city holidays, such as the City Day or Hanseatic days, local and visiting merchants open their own shops with handmade souvenirs, home-made products, forged products and other interesting things behind the Arcade.
Behind the Arcade there are six churches, St Nicholas Cathedral, and the Gate Tower. The entrance to some churches and the Cathedral is open to the public at certain time. In general, it is nice to walk along the well-groomed paths of the Trade side and feel the atmosphere of the ancient city. The trade, however, now is not very active, yet there are a few trays with souvenirs, including handmade.
The ship, moored to the Trade side of Novgorod, is a restaurant complex Frigate Flagship (in the photo below). On Friday and Saturday from 22:00 to 06:00 there is a nightclub on board the ship.
Restaurant complex Frigate Flagship
Another tourist-attractive place is the Hanseatic fountain, which appeared in June 2009. It is made in the form of a negotiating table, which shows the coats of arms of 16 countries belonging to the Hanseatic League of Modern Times. It is easy to find it: when descending from the foot-bridge you need to go straight to the first turn to the right, from which a small path of slabs leads to the fountain.
The Hanseatic fountain
Not far from the fountain are souvenir shops with handmade products.
After that, you can walk along the promenade of the Trade side to see interesting and unusual monuments to the drawing boy, the siren and the wooden brown bear sitting on a bench in front of the shopping center «Diez». At the end of the embankment there is the Church of Boris and Gleb known to many fans of history of Russia, now operating and open for tourists.
An hour will be enough to see the Kremlin, another hour – to see the Courtyard, one hour – for the boat trip, and one more hour to walk from the railway station, wait for the departure of the vessel and other entertainment. All in all, four hours, or three without a boat trip, are enough for the standard program.