Europe > Russia > Urals > Chelyabinsk Oblast > Chelyabinsk
- Centralniy (Center)
- Severo-Zapad (North-West)
Chelyabinsk is the closest city to where a meteor exploded during its fall through the atmosphere on 15 February 2013. It is the largest known meteor to enter Earth's atmosphere since the 1908 "Tunguska Event". The high heat and extreme pressures of entering and traveling through the atmosphere caused the meteor to explode at an altitude of 30–50 km, sending a powerful shockwave through the city and surrounding regions.
People in Chelyabinsk are mostly Russians, Tatars and Bashkirs, other nations are present as well. People of Chelyabinsk are very different. The level of education can vary as well as social background and wealth. The society is extremely polar from incredibly rich to extremely poor. In the city there are a lot of factory workers and in general people of labor, especially far from the downtown.
The number of English-speakers is very low. Those who seem to speak it mostly know only a couple of phrases from their school study which is quite poor considering languages. More probable that you meet an English-speaking person among young people than among old ones. It is adviceable to get acquaintances in the city in advance. For that you can use local English-speaking on the VK  social network or local CouchSurfing  community.
Russian people on the streets and in local transport seem to be a bit rude and not smiley which gives you a bad first impression. They are mostly poor and closed inside their numerous problems and apart it is not in Russian culture to show false emotions. You smile only when you feel really happy or something funny happened, otherwise Russians keep straight face, it is normal. In reality people are really helpful, hospitable and frank, it is only hidden by their everyday masks of unhappiness.
Chelyabinsk is served by its own airport. As it has a limited number of international flights it might be convenient to get in from the nearest big international airport of Yekaterinburg Koltsovo.
Chelyabinsk airport  (CEK IATA, until 2008 the airport name was Balandino) is the most convenient way to get to the city from Moscow and several other Russian cities. It has a few international flights but they are a little overpriced in comparison with the flights served by the airport of Yekaterinburg. Chelyabinsk airport serves regular flights to Düsseldorf, Dushanbe, Yerevan, Khujand, Vienna, Harbin, Dubai and charter flights to Antalya, Rimini, Bangkok. To get to the city from the airport:
- Bus lines 1 (to the railway station), 41 (to the Metallurgic district), 45 (to the North-West). A ticket costs approximately $0.40
- Small city buses with stops on demand ("marshrutkas") line 82 to the railway station. A ticket is approximately $0.80
- Taxi service. Average price is $10-$15 but don't become a victim of taxi drivers who would probably try to overcharge you. It is better to call a taxi in advance.
Two daily trains to Moscow. Train 13/14 is quicker (34 hours), but the ticket price is comparable to that of the plane ticket. Train 391/392 is cheaper, at around 1300 RUB, but is less safe and slower (41 hours).
Trains to all other parts of Russia are available as well, including the Kyiv-Vladivostok train that travels about 10,000 km. International trains run to Asian ex-USSR countries, such as Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, and even to Beijing (twice a month).
Yekaterinburg-Chelyabinsk route is very popular, with buses running every 20–30 minutes at around 300 RUB and 3–4 hours travel time. The main bus station in Chelyabinsk is Northern Bus Terminal (Avtovokzal Severny) which is located in the center of the city, near the Yunost sporting complex. Free bus shuttles circulate between the bus terminal and the railway station. There is another bus station Southern Bus Terminal (Avtovokzal Yuzhny) with mostly buses to smaller towns of the region.
By marshrutka (small city bus with stops on demand)
Marshrutka is a very convenient means of transportation. It is a typically Russian transport. Marshrutka can be considered as a shared taxi but it follows a certain route. All marshrutkas have route numbers painted on them. They follow the route like a city bus but they stop at bus stops only on demand. If you want to take marshrutka, stay at the right place (a bus stop) and hitch by stretching your hand. If you want to exit, just say it to the driver, preferably very loudly. Keep in mind that the driver will only stop at the next official bus stop and he might not hear you. You would better ask other passengers for instructions. This sounds as an incovenience but as soon as you get accustomed to marshrutkas, you appreciate them. The transport network covers all the city and surroundings, the speed of a marshrutka is comparably high (much higher than one of buses as it doesn't stop at every bus stop) and the number of vehicle is tremendously big. The waiting period is usually about 5–10 minutes in suburbs and 1–3 minutes in the city center as there are a lot of routes. It is highly adviceable to but a map of routes and to ask locals. As well there are very good free electronic maps in Russian (2Gis). You can use online maps as well (Google, Yandex...).
The typical price is 15 rubles but there are higher prices on longer routes (it can be 20 rubles between districts and more expensive from the airport). In Chelyabinsk you should pay to the driver as soon as you get on a marshrutka (in some other cities you should pay when you get off). It is common to ask other passengers to pass money to the driver. It is quite safe as people would almost never steal your money in that situation. Passing the change back is common as well. There are marshrutkas with two types of doors. One type is automatic, so passengers should not do anything with the door. Another type is a sliding door which should be opened or closed manually. You should always close the door when get on a marshrutka or get off it last.
- Forest climbing. Climb from one pine tree to another 250r.
- Swim. Swim in one of many Ural lakes. Swim season is from June to August. E.g. Shershni and Smolino lakes.
- Cross-coutry ski. City is surrounded by many beautiful forests and parks. You can rent equipment from one of ski bases. Prices depend on quality. Day price for a good set is about 200r. Ski bases: Strela (AMZ district, ул. Ковшовой, 2), ChTZ (in the forest, 500m from main university building), etc
- Skate indoor. Big European class skate-ring working whole year round 230r.
- Swim in the pool. 0730-2145. There are several good pools in the city. The newest is from SUS-university. 200r.
- Skate outdoor. Several city parks open skate-rings during long Ural winter. Entry and rental prices are modest. After skating you can usually buy a hot tea in the canteen. Check it e.g. in Pushkin park.
- Trek. Ural mountains are just 2-3 hours from the city. Take the city train (elektrichka) from main railway station. The most popular destination is Taganay mountain.
Russia has an international phone code of +7 while the telephone area code of Chelyabinsk is 351.