Penza (Russian: Пе́нза PYEHN-zuh) is the large industrial capital of Penza Oblast in Russia. It has its origins like other former frontier towns of Russia as a fort to protect against attacks by the Tatars, its founding being around the mid-17th century. Part of the fortress demarcation zone, known as the Lomovskaya sentry line, still exists. One other peculiar note about Penza is that it's where a type of computer, the Ural mainframe, was designed.
The easiest way to get to Penza is from Moscow. A regular train (#052) departs from Kazanskiy Railway Station at about 8:30PM daily. It is quite comfortable and is affordable even for low-budget backpackers. In about 12 hours you will arrive at Penza's main railway station, "Penza I", at the centre of the city.
There is usually one slower (around 15 h) but cheaper overnight train to Penza, but cheap tickets to this train are often sold out well in advance. During periods of high demand (summer and around New Year) there may be another train, daily or several times a week. Also, it is possible to take one of many trains which stop in Penza then continue to other cities, but many of those trains are very dirty (especially ones heading to Central Asian countries. which may be less secure as well and are highly not recommended) and poorly heated during cold season.
There is a small airport in Penza, and, as of 2011, a flight from Moscow Domodedovo airport available several times a week, which will take around a hour. However, tickets are extremely expensive at 9750 руб for a return trip.
Penza does not have metro or trams, but the size and layout of the city make it easy to get around by bus (fare is 18 Russian rubles, about $0.30) or taxi (fare $2-5 depending on how far you need to go and how hard you bargain with the driver). Another option is to use shuttle bus service: it is slightly more expensive but faster and more comfortable compared to a regular bus.
- 1 Square Lermontov, Sobornaya Ploshchad' 1. Nice square here with the Spassky Cathedral and Monument to Peter and Fevronia on display.
- 2 Museum of One Picture named after G.V. Myasnikov, Ulitsa Kirova, 11, ☏ . daily 11:00-18:00. A small art museum with some paintings.
- 3 Penza State Museum of Local Lore, Ulitsa Krasnaya, 73, ☏ . W-Su 10:00-17:00. Local history, mastodon replicas, military uniforms, etc.
- 4 Penza Folk Museum, Ulitsa Kuybysheva, 45, ☏ . Another museum, this one more inclusive of little figurines and elements of Russian home life.
- 5 Rostok, Ulitsa Slavy, 9, Penza. Monument to Russia's glory, right on the Sura River, which could either be a lazy watershed or inanimate block of ice depending on the timing of your visit.
- 6 Pamyatnik Pobedy, Kommunisticheskaya Ulitsa. Another monument having to do with military glory.
- 1 Helio Spa Residence, Ulitsa Kirova, 49/22, ☏ . Features a hot spa pool, sauna, and massage service to work out all those aches and feelings of hypothermia from a typical Russian winter day. 900 руб (for entry to hot pool).
- 2 Park of Culture and Rest named after V.G.Belinsky, Ulitsa Karla Marksa, 1. daily 10:00-22:00. Park with a hodgepodge of old, creaky rides, Lenin and other statues, a botanical garden, trails, recreated forts and such and such.
- 3 Penza Zoo, Ulitsa Krasnaya, 10, ☏ . Here you'll see some cats and polar bears on display, among more docile species like ungulates.
- 4 Penza Regional Drama Theater named after A. V. Lunacharsky, Ulitsa Moskovskaya, 89, ☏ . The premier drama theater of Penza.
- 1 Sovremennik, Ulitsa Pushkina, 10. Enjoy sushi and some dessert and then hit up a movie.
- 2 Dva Khurma, Ulitsa Moskovskaya, 66, ☏ . daily Noon-23ː00. It has an interesting ambience, people smoking waterpipes while they're eating.
- 3 Restaurant "Bierhaus", Ulitsa Moskovskaya, 91, ☏ . daily 12:00-00:00. Comfort food offered along with beer.
- 1 Life Hotel, Ulitsa Volodarskogo, 23/12, ☏ . It's like a friendly little inn where you can have coffee and piroshki at the cafe in the morning and a pilsner later on in the lounge. 1404 руб.
- 2 Penza Hotel, Ulitsa Slavy, 10, ☏ . This one feels like it has been around for a while like a dingy sock but has a restaurant and the superlatives of overlooking greenways and the Sura River. 3548 руб.
- 3 Art-Otel' "Motsart", Ulitsa Slavy, 8 (next to Penza Hotel), ☏ . A fun little hotel with a Mozart theme. 2809 руб.
- 4 Boutique Hotel London City, Ulitsa Bakunina, 137, ☏ . It may feel a bit like staying in a college dorm, but breakfast is pretty hearty. 2069 руб.
- 5 Staryy Gorod, Ulitsa Moskovskaya, 8, ☏ . Very boutique like and probably a good place to stay if you like someone to fuss over you. 3104 руб.