Located on the River Tom, the city was founded in 1604 by the order of Tsar Boris Godunov as a military outpost against nomadic peoples. Gold was discovered in 1830, which boosted the fortunes of the city, but after the construction of the Trans-Siberian Railroad, which bypassed Tomsk and passed the area further to the south, economic development also moved away from the city. Instead, Tomsk became a university town. Tomsk benefited after World War II as factories were moved east, away from the conflict. It was closed to outsiders during the Cold War.
Today, Tomsk has a population of around 525,000, of which 15% are students, coming from all over Siberia, Central Asia and even the European part of Russia. As a result, Tomsk probably has a bigger proportion of foreign language speakers than any other Siberian city.
- 1 Bogashevo Airport (TOF IATA) (27km southeast of the city centre). Flights operate from Moscow (4 hours overnight), Novosibirsk (30 minutes, occasional departures), Yekaterinburg (2.5 hours), Irkutsk, Krasnoyarsk, Surgut, and Tyumen.
Bus #118 (16 руб) operates between the airport and the city centre.
Buses are the most convenient way to reach Tomsk from Novosibirsk (4½ hours, 800 руб, 12 per day). Tickets can be purchased online.
There is a rail branch from the Trans-Siberian Railway junction at Taiga, 2½ hours from Tomsk by train.
Most of the city centre is within walking distance.
By public transport
Buses and trams typically cost 25 руб.
There are many taxi companies, most of which charge around 150-200 руб to go anywhere in the city. Taxi dispatchers and drivers do not speak English, so you would have to learn a couple of key phrases. If you are going to the airport or bus station, book the taxi in advance in case of high wait times. Don't hail taxis from the streets if possible, since they can rip off foreigners.
- 1 Tomsk State University, Lenin Ave 36, ☏ . Founded in 1878 and has 16,000 students.
- 2 Tomsk Polytechnic University, Lenin Ave 30, ☏ . Founded in 1896 and has 20,000 students.
- Governor's District. The central location in Tomsk, near the Oblast Administration office, on the bank of the river Tom. It was built to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the city and reflects its history with several attractions, including the city's main cathedral and controversial and funny monument to Anton Chekhov.
- Verhnyaya Yelan' is a carefully renovated and well-kept little district with wooden architecture, where old traditional merchant mansions are situated. Stunningly beautiful at night.
- Chekhov through the Eyes of a Drunk Man Lying in a Pit Who Never Read Kashtanka - a funny-looking monument of Chekhov in retaliation for Chechov's description of Tomsk as a muddy little town where the only good place to eat was Slavyanskiy Bazar.
- Wolf Monument inspired by the cartoon Once Upon a Time Lived a Dog (on Shevchenko Street) - if you press the button on the wolf's belly, it will say one of 8 sayings from the cartoon.
- Tomsk Slippers Monument (on the steps of Tomsk-2 Hotel across from Tomsk-I Train Station)
- The Pregnant Woman Monument - a monument of a baby coming out of a pregnant woman.
- Lagerny Sad (Camp Garden) is World War II monument on the bank of the river Tom which is beautiful and provides an amazing view of the river and the surroundings.
- Voskersenskaya Hill has a great viewing point; this is where, in the 19th century, fire fighters watched for signs of fire.
- The church choir in the Epiphany Cathedral
- Tomsk State University capella performs at what was the University chapel
- Tomsk City Garden (Томский Городской сад) - has a Ferris wheel that offers a great view
- Buff-Garden features an artificial cascade
- FC Tom Tomsk is the local team in the Russian Premier League
A lot of beautiful souvenirs made from birch bark, these range from hair brushes to bottles and baskets and maps of Russia. These are characteristic of Western Siberia and you will not get them anywhere else. Also try local souvenir shops at the airport and the main railway station for some other traditional local gifts.
The cuisine is similar to what you can try in Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk and any other city in the region. Local foods like pelmeni or bliny (pancakes) can be found in practically any restaurant. Try the Siberian Pancakes (Sibirskie Bliny) with a lot of different fillings.
- Bulanzhet, 6 locations, ☏ . Great tea, soups, and desserts.
- Endorfin, Several locations, ☏ . A cafe that serves unique coffee drinks.
- Antonov Dvor, Lenina Ave 104, ☏ . Good selection of cheap food.
- People's, Krasnoarmeyskaya St 31, ☏ . Grilled meat and burgers.
- Reka 827, Kooperativnyy St 2, ☏ . European food.
- Stary Zamok, Gagarina St 11A, ☏ . Great homemade food and ambiance.
- Slavyanskiy Bazar, Lenina Sq., House 10, ☏ . Chekhov dined here. Traditional Russian food with traditional Russian ambiance. The most expensive restaurant in Tomsk.
- Vechnyi Zov, Sovetskaya St 47, ☏ . Traditional Russian food.
- Parmezan, Rozy Lyuksemburg 2, ☏ . Excellent soup and seafood.
Nefiltroff is the local non-filtered beer — cheap, tasty and cheerful! Local vodka is also pretty cheap and considerably well-done.
Supermarkets cannot sell spirits after 11PM, although beer is still available at night.
- Harat's Irish Pub, Karla Marksa 23А, ☏ . Daily 12:00-02:00.
- Siberian Pub, Novo-Sobornaya pl 2, ☏ . Popular with expats.
- U Kryugera (У Крюгера), Arkadiya Ivanova 18А, ☏ . A great place to drink beer. Also has an extensive food menu with grilled meats and the like.
Most nightclubs charge high entrance fees.
- RayON Night Club, Krasnoarmeyskaya ulitsa 120, ☏ .
- Shizgara, Belinskogo 54, ☏ . Daily 22:00-06:00.
- Strekoza Striptease, Frunze Ave 16, ☏ . Daily 22:00-06:00.
- TEATRO, Frunze Ave 103, ☏ . F Sa 22:00-06:00.
- Underground Jazz Cafe, Lenin Ave 46, ☏ .
- 8 Floor Hostel, Dzerzhinskogo 56-55, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Bed in 10-bed dorm: 400 руб; Bed in 4-bed dorm: 600 руб; Double: 1500 руб.
- Hostel Shishki, Karpova 16/2, ☏ . Dorm bed: 400-550 руб.
- Art Plaza Hotel Tomsk, Istochnaya 53, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 2800-7300 руб.
- Bon Apart, Gertsena 1a, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Cozy hotel with a pool. 3700-6600 руб.
- Forum Hotel, Lenin Ave 91, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com.
- Gogol Hotel, Gogolya 36А, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 3600-8000 руб.
- Rubin, Akademicheskiy pr 16, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com.
Try not to drink on the streets, or at least not to show it to local policemen. They are usually quite tolerant and in most cases will just tell you to stop drinking, still there may be accidents.
There is zero tolerance toward drugs, even the softest ones — so take extreme care.
- The Altai Republic is a long drive south but has extremely beautiful scenery that will take at least a few days to explore.
- Krasnoyarsk is a large city to the east.
- Novokuznetsk is a polluted city south of Tomsk that offers more insights into Russian life.
- Novosibirsk is 4½ hours away by bus and is a bigger city with more nightlife options.
- Moscow is easily accessible via a direct flight.