The Republic of Kalmykia and Elista
The Republic of Kalmykia is a region in the South of the Russian Federation, the capital is the city of Elista (Elista in Russia). The population of the region is slightly more than 270 thousand people, and it is even less than many cities of Russia.
Kalmykia is hard to call an attractive tourist region, where specifically should go on vacation. But it is a special place because it is the only country in Europe where the dominant religion is Buddhism. Surprisingly, even today many people in Central Russia are not aware that just next to them is the center of European Buddhism, mistakenly believing that this religion is common only in the Eastern regions of the Russian Federation.
It is because of Buddhism and related religion sites, this region of the Russian Federation may be of interest to tourists and travelers. As we mentioned here, don't purposely set out to go, but if your route to the South, for example in Sochi, the Crimea, Mineral water, Astrakhan, etc. passes through this region or near it, some of the sights of Kalmykia worth a little detour from the road and visit them. First of all, this exotic for the European part of the Russian Federation, Buddhist temples and pagodas. Examining them, not feeling like you're not in the West of Russia, and the far East or even in Asia. Indeed, the architecture of the temples and pagodas follows the traditional traits of Asian multi-level structures and style of many temples copied from traditional Tibetan buildings. But with natural beauty and historic sites the region is lucky: nature of Kalmykia, a predominantly steppe, particular beauties are to be found. Incidentally, this is also one of the amazing things in Kalmykia: it is necessary to enter the country, as the green is sharply replaced by steppe, and away from the region you will again meet the green carpets of fields.
The tourist infrastructure in General in the region and in the city of Elista, almost not developed. Besides hotels according to type only to sleep in, you won't find anything here. There are even travel agencies that organize any tours, so the attractions have to organize their own local transport, although it is best to come here by car. The only exceptions are the sightseeing bus tours from neighboring regions, mainly from Volgograd. Entertainment created especially for visitors to the city or region – no.
Where to stay in Kalmykia
In Kalmykia and the city of Elista there is a large variety of hotels, and usually, accommodation is provided in a simple hotel only to sleep. You can also rent an apartment, but here the selection is small, only a few dozen variants. Prices for a double hotel room starts from 1,500 rubles for an apartment/room for rent from 800 roubles.
The highest concentration of accommodation is in the Republic's capital, Elista, although there can count no more than two dozen hotels. You can also stay in roadside hotels and motels for the rest of the country, but they are very rare, one-on-many hundreds of kilometers, so the aim is still to stop in the capital. If you stay in Elista, essentially to pick a place not necessarily because the town is small and all the attractions and infrastructure will be easily accessible by local transport or on foot.
Search and book hotels in Elista and Kalmykia Republic are best at the following sites, because only they provided the most options for accommodation:
Find hotels in Elista
How to get to Kalmykia and Elista
Kalmykia borders the Republic of Dagestan and the Stavropol territory, Rostov, Volgograd and Astrakhan region (Kalmykia on the map of Russia). To get to the regional capital, Elista city, by plane from Moscow and by bus from neighbouring regions. Trains here at the moment (2018) do not go, but flights can be renewed, so keep track of the schedule on the website of Russian Railways. The best way to travel to Elista and see the region – by car.
There is another way to visit Kalmykia – tours from Volgograd. The cost of such trips from 1500 rubles, the duration – one day. To book a tour in advance is better through the Internet, because they do not leave every day, perhaps even very rare.
On the plane
Unfortunately, at the airport of Elista runs the only flight from Moscow, from Domodedovo airport, and not every day. During the summer period may start flight in Sochi. No more flight no. The flight from Moscow takes a little over two hours, the prices are very high, 8 Tr in same direction.
The airport is 10 kilometers from the city (airport map) and get to it by taxi from 400 rubles, or by bus, which departs after the arrival of flight, costs 70 rubles.
Regular bus services connect Elista to Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi and neighboring regions. The cost of the trip from Moscow to Elista – from 1800 rubles. The schedule and cost can be found on the website Yandex.schedule
All buses arrive in town at the bus station, which is located on the Forecourt next to the now closed railway station (bus station on the map). From here to the desired places in the city can be reached by taxi, city bus, or on foot.
This is the best way to get to Elista, and see the sights of the region. One of the most convenient route is via highway M6 Volgograd. It is a good two lane road, transportation, it goes little, cameras register violations of the bit.
Keep in mind that Kalmykia is a steppe region is very, almost desert. When driving on the roads many tens and even hundreds of kilometers it is possible not to come across gas stations, cafes, and generally not the soul. Therefore, before entering the Republic we recommend you to fill the car, take along food, water, and in the Kalmykia Republic restock and refuel at the first opportunity. Near Elista in the city, problems with the pump no: there are local and network filling stations "LUKOIL", the cost of fuel as in other regions of this part of Russia.
Problems with movement and Parking at the Elista will not occur, there is enough space. To Park a car here-free in almost any area of the city.
The distance to Elista from some cities of the Russian Federation
- Moscow – Elista – 1260 kilometers
- Voronezh – Elista – 830 kilometers
- Kazan – Elista – 1300 kilometers
- Samara – Elista – 1,100 km
- Volgograd – Elista – 290 kilometers
- Sochi – Elista – 770 kilometers
- Krasnodar – Elista – 510 kilometers
Transport, to move around Kalmykia and Elista
In Elista there is a system of public transport of buses and taxis, there are just a little more than 20 routes. For tourists it makes no sense to study the layout of the routes, as most of the attractions of Elista can be explored on foot because everything is near the center. It may be useful to except that route 7 (you can reach the city of chess and to the stupa of enlightenment). Taxis in the city is also present, the fare from 50 rubles.
To move around the Republic it is best to use a personal vehicle as intercity and commuter service between cities in the Republic is underdeveloped.
Sights of Kalmykia and Elista
Attractions in the Republic of Kalmykia is not very much, and most of them located in the capital of the Republic – the city of Elista. The most interesting and exotic places are Buddhist temples (called here Khurul) and pagodas, including one of the largest Buddhist temples in Europe and the big Buddha statue in it. Also interesting are a couple of pagodas you can visit the local Museum and the town of chess with the chess Museum.
By the way, the temples and stupas in an Asian style can be seen not only in the capital but throughout the country, even in the smallest villages and in the steppes. Unfortunately, the ancient temples are almost gone, as in the Soviet period Buddhism very actively eradicated by the Soviet authorities, and ancient temples were destroyed. Read more about sights of Kalmykia and Elista here...