Chelyabinsk may be a thriving industrial center, but the city is located in the heart of the Urals, which means you're never far from dense woodlands and majestic mountains. There are a number of parks in and around the city that make the most of its spectacular surroundings, giving you plenty of space to stretch your legs.
Named after celebrated cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, this sprawling city park covers an area of 1200 hectares, including the Shershnevskoe water reservoir and an extensive network of pathways. Enjoy a picnic on one of the park's hilly slopes in the summer, or go sledding and skiing down the hills in the wintertime. In the fall, the park comes alive with a Day of Harvest festival, a traditional celebration of the bounty provided by crops grown and reaped over summer. Gagarin Park is a favorite destination for the city-dwellers of Chelyabinsk, who take to its pathways on foot, astride a horse or bicycle, or on roller blades. Although some of this forest park is landscaped, there's also a wild feeling to its old stone quarries, making it easy to lose a whole afternoon exploring its twists and turns.
This urban park is located just moments away from our Radisson Blu Hotel, Chelyabinsk. As you might guess from the name, it has a military theme, with displays of equipment and monuments to fallen heroes between the shaded leafy pathways. The small park has recently been renovated and now includes a large playground, children's rides, and sports fields.
Ilmen National Park
If you prefer fauna to flora, this is an essential day trip. You'll have a chance of spotting brown bears, elks, foxes, and badgers in their natural habitat, while ornithologists will be delighted by eastern imperial eagles and whooper swans. This reserve is also home to 30 lakes and a fascinating Science Museum – over 18 minerals were first discovered here, including ilmenite.
Chelyabinsk's privileged position in heart of the Urals means that just outside the city limits, you're surrounded by crystalline streams, which lead towards pristine lakes. Lake Uvildy is one of the largest, located around an hour and a half's drive from central Chelyabinsk. Although it's a popular choice for day trips in the region, there's more than enough space on its shores and islands for everyone. It's said that the lake's water has health-boosting properties due to its unique composition and mineral content, making a swim in these cool waters particularly rejuvenating.
Taganay National Park
After a morning by the lake, continue driving west towards Taganay National Park in the Ural Mountains. This huge park's enchanting landscapes include meadows carpeted with wildflowers, jagged ridges and wide, shallow rivers. Naturally, it's become a firm favorite among adrenaline junkies, and now offers white water rafting, mountain biking, skiing, and hiking through pineland forests.
Another shining example of the beauty of the Chelyabinsk region, Lake Turgoyak is renowned for its crystal clear water. Like Uvildy, small islands disrupt the lake's surface – it's worth hiring a boat and paddling out to Vera Island to see the megalithic monument and ruins of an old monastery. If you prefer to stay by the shore, swimming, fishing, and hiking in the surrounding forests are all equally popular pursuits.