7 road trip destinations for those who want to discover Tatarstan by car

Traveling around Tatarstan is always an unforgettable adventure, especially if you’ve arrived by, or plan on renting a car. From ancient caves and magic fields to fishing and inspiring landscapes: we’ve compiled a short guide for those who want to find out some of the best road trip and camping destinations around Tatarstan.

Author — Lola Malova

85 km
distance from Kazan

Spin fishing and green fields in the Sorochi Mountains

Rybno-Sloboda region

As you travel along the P239 highway, just before the 14 metre Kama river crossing, take the turn off to the Sorochi Mountains. It’s worth it to go here simply to visit the untouched nature of the Volga region. At the earliest temperature rises after the cold winter, fishermen come from all over the Kama region, and lovers of outdoor recreation like to set up camp right on the river banks. Let's be honest: fishing here is unpredictable, but in Kama river, you might find carp, perch, pike, pike perch and other kinds of fish, which make for a great fish soup, cooked at your camp site. If you get bored camping, you can always head out towards civilization to the recreation centre “Sorochi Gory” with guest houses, a sauna, and sporting grounds. From here, you can also join one of the organized fishing or hunting group trips.

107 km
distance from Kazan

Yurievskaya Cave

Kamsko-Ustinsky district

The kilometre-long cave in the south of Tatarstan is accessible to all fans of speleology. The entrance to it is inconspicuous: in the Bogorodsk Mountains, overgrown with trees resembling a jungle, there is a small grotto - this is the starting point of the descent. The cave consists of several halls - from the ‘Silver’ one, covered in gypsum deposits, to the ‘Grotto of Rains’ containing stalagmites. Yurievskaya Cave is like a museum, where the exhibits are its geological features. Inside, you’ll find a range of many interesting things. For example, do not be surprised when you find yourself inside a room with a door and window – this is the ‘Professor's Lodge’, or when you come across the so-called ‘Castle of Horrors’ which contains a real knackery. Further along the route there is a baboons room, as well as others – ‘Kamerton’, ‘Library’, ‘Flounder’, ‘Candle’ and ‘Organ pipes’, some of which you will need to crawl to reach. We advise visitors to take special care and bring some of the essentials for your trip such as torches, old clothes you wouldn’t mind getting dirty and boots. Yurievskaya Cave is a great opportunity to overcome your fears and enjoy nature. It is not recommended to spend the night in the cave, but you can camp out and build a fire (be sure to tidy up after your stay) in the nearest neighbourhoods.

35 km
distance from Kazan

Sviyazhskiye Kholmy

Savino Village

The ‘Sviyazhskiye Kholmy’ ski resort, which is an hour's drive from Kazan along the M7 highway, becomes even more charming in summer. Instead of snowy mountains, you’ll find green fields and hills, from which an excellent view of the merging of the Volga, Sviyaga and Sulitsa rivers opens up. In terms of picturesqueness, this place is not inferior to the Swiss Alps, which is why it becomes the main subject of inspiration for local artists and photographers, as well as a popular destination for photo shoots. The entertainment complex is open all year round and offers guests over 100 pine chalets, a golf course, a shooting range and opportunities to recharge your health in the beautiful surroundings. If you prefer a camping getaway, set up a tent a little further down from the ski resort, on the bank of the Sviyaga River, and go fishing. The local sunsets will definitely not leave you indifferent, as the sun here sets directly into the river.

20 km
distance from Kazan

Miraculous springs at the Anisyanyh Gryadkah

Vysokogorsky district

You can get to the famous springs from Kazan not only by car, but even by bicycle. Anisya was a woman who lived here before the revolution and devoted herself to serving God. She helped travelers, fed beggars and orphans, and grew vegetables in her garden. Now on the site where her house once stood, a small handmade wooden staircase leads to the clock tower which has been built in its place, equipped with two spring baths and Anisya’s grave. They say that the water in this place is sacred, and the heat comes from the earth, which heals all diseases. You’ll see the nearby trees have ribbons tied to its branches - visitors believe in the sanctity of this place and regularly come to Anisya with requests and prayers, as they tie a ribbon around branches. The Kazanka river flows nearby, which looks more like a stream, surrounded by the open meadows, glades, and thickets of trees which shelter visitors from the scorching sun in summer. You can set up a tent in the forest or on the open meadow. The only thing that remains is your visit here to come and see the magic of this place for yourself.

113 km
distance from Kazan

Gypsum Galleries

Kamsko-Ustinsky district

A road trip through Tatarstan cannot be complete without visiting the picturesque Kamskoye Ustye. On its banks you’ll find nature’s true treasure - gypsum tunnels. Inside await labyrinths of gypsum deposits, caves filled with water, and wide passages, which make for spectacular photos. The tunnel miners are still active here, so you will see their tools, trailers and wooden props along the walls. In the past, serfs, runaway criminals and handcuffed convicts worked and mined within these walls. As such, there are various legends among tourists and speleologists about the spirits and ghosts inhabiting these mines.

240 km
distance from Kazan

Holy waterfalls in Krasniy Kluch

Nizhnekamsk

In order to see a real waterfall, head over to Krasniy Kluch. For over 400 years, this protected area has acquired legends and beliefs about itself, therefore, like all similar shrines, the surrounding trees are decorated with ribbons tied by visitors making a wish. The spring ‘Krasniy Kluch’ is picturesque and forms a cascade of waterfalls on the mountainside. On the other side of it is an enchanting landscape with views of the Kama River and the arboretum. In the past, this elevated forested area used to belong to the Staheev family of merchants who planted the fir trees, blue fir trees and other shrubs which you can see today. In the evenings, the trees and spring are illuminated with green and blue lights. Despite the surrounding beauty, it is not worthwhile to camp near the waterfall, so opt to put up your tent at the nearby ‘Dubki’ resort, where you can also ride a catamaran and even shoot in a shooting range under the supervision of an experienced instructor.

140 km
distance from Kazan

Ancient city ruins on Dzhuketau Mountain

Chistopol

What was once one of the major urban centres of the Volga Bolgar now looks like a mountain of ruins. This used to be the centre of the city with steep slopes on the banks of the Kama river. To this day, remains of fragments of the Bolgar buildings, cemeteries, necropolises and settlements can be found at the site. All around are moats and ravines, which are now overgrown with grass. On the territory of Dzhuketau, numerous items of the past have been found - coins of the times of the Golden Horde, fragments of ancient pottery and other everyday household items. Having disappeared in the 15th century, the city has left only memories of its greatness among the untouched beauty of the Volga region.

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