When someone asks if you've ever been to Tver, Russia, you might think they're talking about a street in Moscow with a similar name. In fact, Tver is a separate (albeit somewhat small) city about two hours northwest of the capital. Although far smaller than any of Russia's major cities, Tver is an interesting place to spend a day or two. If you're on the lookout for things to do in Tver, Russia, start your search here.
Tour an 18th-Century Palace
From the outside, the palace of Putevoy Dvorets might not seem not much, particularly if you've previously had a chance to visit some of the opulent royal complexes in Moscow and St. Petersburg. However, Tver's most famous structure has an impressive backstory. Namely, that it served as a resting point for famed Russian Tsarina Catherine the Great on her journeys between Russia's two largest cities during the 18th century. These days, an art gallery resides within the Palace, which makes it even more worth a visit on your trip to Tver.
Get Lost in a Botanical Garden
If Putevoy Dvorets is the manmade structure of Tver that makes you feel like royalty, than the plants inside the Botanical Garden of Tver State University are nature's answer to that. Originally founded in the late 19th century as part of a monastery that once sat on the present-day site, Tver Botanical Garden is presently home to 350 species of plants, flowers, trees and shrubs, which attract an estimated 25,000 visitors per year.
Go to Chuch
Of course, it's not just history and nature that's appealing about the prospect of a trip to Tver. The city has a rich religious heritage as well, connectedly mostly to the Russian Orthodox branch of Christianity. Visit the humble Church of St. Michael of Tver, for example, to admire an understated and relatively traditional example of this sort of architecture, or the Orshin Voznesenskiy Monastery to walk through a slightly larger and more ornate structure.
Cross the Volga
Like many cities in the most populated parts of Russia, Tver straddles one of the Federation's great rivers — in this instance, the Volga. However, beautiful riverine scenery isn't the only alluring option this waterway presents to those who visit Tver. Most specifically, you can cross Starovolzhskiy Most, the oldest trans-Volga Bridge in Tver city. Dating back to the 19th century, this bridge is the ultimate monument to Tver's history as a modern industrial city, especially when you consider that a great majority of Tver residents who've lived in the last 200 years have likely walked across it.
Enjoy Two Takes on Local Cuisine
Russian cuisine doesn't get as much love as it should. Whether it's a hot bowl of borscht beet soup on a frigid winter day, vareniki dumplings filled with cherry to satisfy your sweet tooth or the timeless classic of noodles stroganoff, Russia is a far more formidable destination for gastronomy than its reputation might have you believe.
Two of the top restaurants in Tver approach Russian dining in decidedly different ways. The celebrated Manilov Cafe presents a more traditional take on Russian cuisine, with large portions of dishes made more or less true to their original recipes. Trendier restaurant Gubernator, on the other hand, presents more artistic versions of Russian dishes, with a menu that's generally more innovative and varied, incorporating the flavors of the former Soviet Republics of the Caucasus region, and even a number of pan-European items.
Learn the History of Russian Tea
Tea might not be a beverage you typically associate with Russia, but the Muzey Tverskogo Byta museum helps dispel that notion. Though the exhibits here are particular to the practices of tea making and drinking in Tver, there's also information about the consumption of tea in Russia as a whole (including details on the traditional Samovar used to brew tea leaves). After you finish enjoying the exhibition, you'll have the opportunity to purchase some tea (though you'll have to head to the flea markets of Trekhsvyatskaya Street if you want to purchase your very own Samovar to take home).
Pray with the Spirit of Catherine the Great
Putevoy Dvorets isn't the only spot in Tver that pays homage to the legacy of Catherine the Great. St. Catherine's Convent, for example, was name in honor of Russia's former Tsarina, and is built in a style iconic of the construction of that era. Even if you aren't a particularly religious person, a visit to St. Catherine's Convent is something of a communion with the famous ruler's spirit.
Drink Something Besides Vodka
You might think vodka is the only thing to drink in Russia, especially in smaller Russian cities such as Tver. However, this would be a false assumption. For example, a spot called Mamonts serves up a variety of cocktails to accompany its diverse selection of international fare.
Honor the Heroes of Chernobyl
Chernobyl is hundreds of miles from Tver, which might make you wonder why a statue honoring rescuers from the nuclear tragedy stands here. Nonetheless, the Park of Chernobyl Heroes in Tver is an enduring monument to the bravery of the first responders of the then-Soviet Union, who helped to minimize loss of life as the reactor melted down. At a bare minimum, this is a wonderful green space to pass a relaxing afternoon in Tver.
Continue on to Moscow (or Somewhere Else)
Just as Tver was a stopping off point for Catherine the Great, it's probably neither your first nor your last stop in Russia. Assuming you're coming from either Moscow or St. Petersburg, you could visit one of these cities after you're finished exploring Tver. Another option would be to use "mainstream" Russia destinations as a jumping off point for a larger trip, whether to Vladivostok in the Russian Far East, Kazan in the autonomous Republic of Tatarstan or any of Russia's other dozens of great cities.