Trip To Russia: Life In A Small Town

by Anna de Nord

A trip to Russia is not necessarily a trip to megapolises. The most known among travellers Russian destinations are without a doubt Moscow and St. Petersburg. However, many tourists think of a trip to Russia outside big cities — to have a look at the real Russian life. I’ve already told you that at the beginning of September I’ve spent 2 weeks in a small provincial Russian town — and now I’m ready to show you a bit of how Russians live beyond Moscow. Let’s go!

First, some provincial town facts:

It’s a small town in the Mid-Volga region. Approximately 800 km south-east from Moscow. Let’s call this town “N. Town”.

👪 8000 inhabitants (Christians and Muslims)
🏥 1 hospital
🏢 2 schools + some sports schools for kids
🏦 3 banks
🏤 1 post office
⛪ 1 orthodox church + 1 mosque
🏨 No hotels, 1 very cheap cafe (called à la Russe “stolovaya”)

Though it’s called “town”, it looks mostly like a village: almost no multistory buildings, streets are narrow and rather empty. Very calm… Very!

While walking down the streets, you can often meet farm animals (hens, goats, geese, even cows). It all looks very picturesque, I have to say 📸 No bears, do not worry! 🙂

Unlike you can imagine, inhabitants are not full-time farmers. They work in administration, shops, schools, bank, run their own businesses, etc. But every family has its own vegetable garden near the house. They grow potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, cabbages, apples, pears, berries — but for personal consumption, not for sale. As salaries are rather low (~300-400 USD), this kind of farming provides families with the most important groceries. And helps to eat healthy food!

2 Kinds Of Monuments You Can Find In Every Russian Town

  • Monument to Lenin. Usually located somewhere near the local administration. USSR heritage. Vladimir Lenin is an emblematic person for Russia, one of the most influential figures of the XX century, communist revolutionary and politician. Lenin’s personality cult existed until the Soviet Union dissolution — that’s why we still have streets, squares, etc. named after him. If you’ve been on the Red Square in Moscow, you have certainly seen Lenin’s Mausoleum where Lenin’s body is displayed.

No one removes these monuments. Not because people still love this odious personality. On the contrary: no one cares about him… #FeelTheDifference

  • War memorials commemorating Russian victory over Nazism and the courage of Russian soldiers.
Monument to Russian Soldier
Monument to Russian Soldier

As usual, War memorial is a wall with panels with names of victims written on them — local inhabitants perished during World War II. Here you can see the monument to Russian Soldier, a howitzer (authentic but not functioning anymore) and the memorial wall. The memorial is located in a very quiet green birch park. Each time I come here, I feel so peaceful and protected.

Public Transportation

Though my lovely town is lost somewhere in fields and forests, it is not isolated: people have electricity, gas, cell network and even good Internet connection…

But no public transport within the town (God bless addicted to walking!)

There are buses BETWEEN towns and villages, but no buses, trams or metro WITHIN the town. Only school buses for kids. Though local authorities tried several times to run buses, it didn’t work. However, a few years ago one local businessman decided to start a taxi service… And it was a success! They charge approximately 0.90 USD per car (regardless of the number of passengers) — and you can choose any itinerary you like within the city… No matter 1 km long or 15 km long — it’s always 0.90 USD. Great, right?

The Best Time For A Trip To Russian Province

Russian province is a lovely place for those who prefer travelling in nature, out of crowded touristy places. If you’re fond of walking in blooming meadows, picking wild berries and getting lost in endless forests, then you better travel from July to September.

Green and golden hues of Russian autumn
Green and golden hues of early Russian autumn

September and October are the months of golden autumn when green woods turn into flashy gold and red colours.

If you’re dying to see much snow (really really much snow!), then plan your visit for December-February. Keep in mind that you should be properly dressed, as temperatures often go below -10°C.

The only disadvantage of trips to Russian small towns and villages is that locals don’t speak foreign languages. But you can still rely on body language 🙂 It’s not a must, but I would recommend seeing those places with a local — thus it will be more fun and enjoyment


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Leave a Comment


Gena 20.03.2019 - 12:23 am

What a great post! I feel like small towns always have that extra charm we all are looking for when traveling

Anna de Nord 21.03.2019 - 10:10 pm

“Extra charm” is a great definition! They are hidden from main tourist paths. Probably, that is the reason why small towns are so attractive…

Annemarie LeBlanc 20.03.2019 - 12:34 am

It is nice to be able to explore the countryside. This small Russian town looks so pretty. I can’t believe there are only 8000 inhabitants! They must know each other very well which is what we don’t see anymore in cities.

Anna de Nord 21.03.2019 - 10:08 pm

Oh, yes, the inhabitants do know each other. We’re not acquainted with it in cities.

Michael 20.03.2019 - 4:56 am

Hopefully someday.. I want to go there. Thanks for sharing the pictures! Sigh.

Karen Monica 20.03.2019 - 8:48 am

I love exploring the countryside. It always looks so peaceful. Russia has always been on my bucket list. And when I do get to visit one day, I would love to visit small towns like this too.

Anna de Nord 21.03.2019 - 10:06 pm

Not only looks peaceful, it IS peaceful and calm))

Ritu Sharma 20.03.2019 - 9:43 am

Images are jaw dropping, I feel living in a small town is the best for a short trip.

Anna de Nord 21.03.2019 - 10:04 pm

It’s true)) Small towns are a nice destination, especially for those who live in concrete jungles ))

Pooja Shama 20.03.2019 - 12:52 pm

Never thought about visiting Russia soon but I am sure I have would add it to my list in near future. Thank you for sharing your experience.

Anna de Nord 21.03.2019 - 10:02 pm

You’re welcome!

LuciWest 20.03.2019 - 10:25 pm

Looks to be a lovely area to get away from the city and relax. Your lovely photos of the Russian countryside also make me miss summer! Soon, soon…

Anna de Nord 21.03.2019 - 10:01 pm

You feel me! This is where I go for relaxing and calmness ))

vidya 21.03.2019 - 12:22 am

this sounds like a wonderful trip indeed.. we try to include at least one small portion of our vacations to places like this – even if only for a day and it helps..

Anna de Nord 21.03.2019 - 9:59 pm

It’s very smart to include small towns and villages to travel list! Usually, these places give a better image of countries. Life in a big city differs a lot from the countryside lifestyle.

John Sallie 21.03.2019 - 3:05 am

Sounds interesting enough. It does remind me of some of the small towns around me here in northern Canada

Anna de Nord 21.03.2019 - 9:55 pm

I only hope that you don’t have monuments to Lenin in Canada ))

sabrina barbante 21.03.2019 - 10:11 am

lIving in a small town can tell you so much about a country. You can learn things you won’t learn in big cities.. And Russia is such an interesting and fascinating country indeed!

Anna de Nord 21.03.2019 - 9:54 pm

I totally agree with you, Sabrina. Small towns can teach us many interesting things.

Kristine Gadsby 16.04.2019 - 2:56 am

These small towns must be quite! Especially in rural Russia!I have never been over there but it would be interesting.


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