Ulyanovsk (Russian: Улья́новск ool-YAHN-uhfsk) is the capital and principal city of Ulyanovsk Oblast. Originally known as Simbirsk (Симби́рск), in 1924 the city was renamed after Vladimir Lenin (born Ulyanov), who was born here.
Oddly enough, Ulyanovsk has two airports. Ulyanovsk-Tsentral'niy or Barataevka (Ульяновск-Центральный/Баратаевка) is a regular domestic airport that serves UTAir and RusLine flights to Moscow. Ulyanovsk-Vostochniy has been constructed as an experimental airfield for testing new aircraft (its runway is more than 5 km long!) Now it is converted into another passenger airport and may also cater to international flights (that do not exist, though). Flight Airlines (Russian: Полёт) operates flights to Moscow.
The train takes you here from Moscow (from Kazanskaya train station) in approximately 16 hours or from Volgograd in about 20 hours. Train tickets range from RUR 500 (USD 20) to RUR 5,000 (USD 200) one way, depending on the amount of privacy and comfort. Ulyanovsk Main Station is located 6 km from the city center.
Ulyanovsk has an extensive public transportation network that includes buses, trolleys, and trams. It is very affordable (10 RUR ~ $0.30 per trip), but congested and may be quite confusing. You won't find any route maps or schedules, neither at bus stops nor in buses. Fee collectors usually don't speak English. Express buses and semi-private van routes are more comfortable and more expensive. Taxis are not expensive (9 RUR — 0.20 EUR per km), and that's your best bet if you want to get somewhere (relatively) quickly, in (relative) comfort (almost all cars are old Russian ladas or over 10 year old non-Russian cars), and without much hassle. They are also most likely to have English speaking drivers (one in 1000) and superloud Russian pop music.
Getting between the banks of the Volga is a problem. There is a two lane bridge connecting the banks and it's nearly always congested, so if you're unlucky, it can take a couple of hours. Most locals avoid going over the bridge if they can. There is a new four lane bridge due for completion in 2010 that is supposed to relieve these problems.
As the home town of Lenin, it's worth visiting the Lenin Memorial Centre and Gardens and museums based in his former houses. There is also a museum dedicated to the poet 'Goncharov' and the war memorial at the end of the main street 'Ulitsa Goncharova' offers breathtaking views over the Volga.
In winter, try cross-country skiing along the Sviaga river, in summer take a boat ride over the reservoir.
The city's main shopping centre 'Tsum' is basic to say the least but does offer some basic shopping.
- At Gashek's, ul. Karla Marxa 5, ☎ . 12AM — 1AM.
- Maxi Pizza, ul. Goncharova 19. 10AM — 12PM. One slice (1/8 of a pizza) from RUR 35 each.
- Michel, ul. Karla Marxa 6, ☎ . Serves good French food
- Okna, ul. Sovetskaya 19/9, ☎ . Okna is on the second floor of hotel Venets. Tasteful meals start at RUR 200.
- Stariy Gorod, ul. Goncharova 30, second floor, ☎ . 9:30AM-2AM.
- Pianino, ul. Goncharova 30, basement. 9:30AM-2AM.
- Hotel Europe, Moskovskoe Shosse 100-A, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. — Small hotel in European style.
- [dead link] Hotel Oktyabrskaya, ul. Plekhanova 1, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. — This 3 star hotel (54 rooms) is located in the city center, close to the Kuybyshev reservoir (river Volga).
- [dead link] Hotel Venets, ul. Spasskaya 19/9, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-out: 12AM. — This 3 star hotel (263 rooms) is located opposite the Lenin Memorial Centre and is more lively than hotel Oktyabrskaya.
- Park-Hotel Imperial Club Deluxe, ul. Alexandrovskaya 60, ☎ . Check-in: from 2PM, check-out: until 12AM. from RUR 4,800.