From the caves to the lake that never freezes. 8 places near Kazan worth seeing

5 june 2018
So you’ve walked all over Kazan and have tried everything Tatar cuisine has to offer. It’s time to explore something new! The youngest city in Russia, 200-year-old tunnels and Tatarstan’s Loch Ness: we share eight amazing locations situated within a 100 kilometre radius around the capital of Tatarstan

Author — Visit Tatarstan

Sviyazhsk

58 km
distance from Kazan

The island town which, according to legend, was praised by Pushkin in ‘The Tale of Tsar Saltan’, erected by Ivan the Terrible after several attempts to conquer Kazan. Sviyazhsk is worth a visit for those wanting to experience the atmosphere of medieval Russia. Sviyazhsk architecture, among others, features 16th century churches built without a single nail, and a building with stone walls 3 metres thick. At ‘Konniy Dvor’, go horseback riding, or visit ‘Leniviy Torzhok’ which regularly organizes folk festivities and knight battles. Museums on the island will tell you about the town’s past during the times of the Civil and Patriotic Wars in which 70% of local residents died, as well as the locals’ way of life in the Middle Ages. However, immersion into its history is not the only reason to visit Sviyazhsk; the island town towers over the Volga, and provides an excellent opportunity to see the beauty of Tatarstan's nature.

Raifa

30 km
distance from Kazan

A half an hour drive will bring you to the Raifa Monastery. Many come here not only for spiritual reasons - tours are regularly conducted on the territory of the temple. During the warmer seasons, it's nice to simply take a walk along the lake filled with water lilies and observe the local cats. Not far from the religious shrine, you’ll find the arboretum of the Volga-Kama Reserve. Over an area of ​​21.5 hectares, hundred-year-old trees and shrubs grow here, and along the paths you’re likely to see hedgehogs and other small forest animals. Each plant has a sign featuring its name and when it was planted. To get acquainted more closely with the nature of the reserve, we recommend hiring a tour guide who will guide you through the entire arboretum.

Kara-Kul Lake

108 km
distance from Kazan

Tatarstan has its very own ‘Loch Ness’ – it is the Kara-Kul Lake in the Visokogorskiy region. Because of the karst rocks, its waters have turned black, which gave rise to the legend of the ‘Su Ugez’ snake monster, living in the depths of Kara-Kul. Old-timers say that they have often seen the creature on the surface, but have never been able to prove it. For those who do not believe in myths and legends, the lake is worth a visit simply for its picturesque scenery.

Yurievskaya Cave

107 km
distance from Kazan

Kamskoye Ustye in the south of the Republic is a real natural treasure - the endless water surface is surrounded by high hills with cliffs, which house the hidden centuries-old caves. The most famous of these is the Yurievskaya Cave. You can walk around it as part of a tour – your guide will help you find the right places for descent and ensure you do not get lost within the stone labyrinths. Helmets, torches and gloves are given out before you go inside. It is best to wear old clothing if you plan on embarking on this expedition, as your clothing might get dirty due to the calcareous rock walls inside.

‘Kamskoye More’ Beach

66 km
distance from Kazan

Kama is one of the two (along with the Volga) main rivers of Tatarstan. It has a wide channel, and the water surface merges with the sky, resembling the sea. The beach was opened in Laidhevo last autumn, which was given the name ‘Kamskoye More’ (‘Kama Sea’). A wooden path cuts through the sand-and-shingle waterfront, along which you’ll find a lighthouse, lifeguard towers, locker rooms, showers and the bow of a sunken plow. Nearby there’s also a stage and an amphitheatre. ‘Kamskoye More’ is a very photogenic place for a walk, and you are unlikely to leave here without taking a few photos against the backdrop of the 177-metre turquoise-white pergola.

Verkhniy Uslon

50 km
distance from Kazan

This village opposite Kazan can be most conveniently reached by water transport – in summer – travel by a ‘meteor’ motorboat, or in winter – catch a hovercraft. In just 15 minutes you can be wandering through the narrow streets filled with cute wooden houses, admire the Nikolo-Ilinskiy Church and feel the Volga breeze. Be sure to go up to the observation deck on Mount Sokolka, from which you can enjoy the breathtaking panorama of Kazan. Then, go for a walk to the neighbouring village of Pechischi, where you will see the 200-year-old tunnels where workers mined limestone for the construction of the Kazan Kremlin.

Golubye Ozera

15 km
distance from Kazan

Many flock to these eternally cold waters (the temperature of the water always stays within the range of 3-7 degrees throughout the year) to relax and take beautiful photos of the stretch of turquoise coloured lakes. The three ponds, sourced from underground sources, have a salty algae mud sediment which is what gives the water its unique colour. Local residents often like to take a dip in the waters, while those more curious go diving alongside instructors right to the bottom. Let the city hustle and bustle remain behind the forest wall: here you can peacefully be at one with nature.

Innopolis

36,5 km
distance from Kazan

The youngest city in Russia is situated on the hills surrounded by forests, fields, and the Volga and Sviyaga rivers. Having opened in 2015, Innopolis looks futuristic and at the same time, harmonious with its surrounding nature. The masterplan of the city was developed by Singapore company RSP Architects, while Kazan architects designed the buildings. Smooth lines of the University of Innopolis imitate the natural landscape and mirror the surrounding terrains, in the design of the snow-white sports complex, the principles of mathematical logic were used, the facades of residential buildings resemble binary code, and the ‘looped’ technopark named after A. S. Popov reflects the natural system.

The hospitable city of Innopolis offers guided visitor tours around the city, which also include accommodation, meals and entertainment. The more independent travelers can alternatively opt to explore the city themselves with the help of the ‘Innoguide’ app. The mobile app will give you a full orientation around the city and lead you to discover the most interesting places the city has to offer.

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