Top 5 Things to Do in Makhachkala

The capital of Dagestan is berated for being unsightly and having nothing to do. We are ready to argue with this and offer five options for what to do and one bonus.

Tourists don’t come to Dagestan because of Makhachkala, but either at the beginning of their trip or the end, they spend some time in the capital. So, if you are in Makhachkala and are bored with walking, here is what you can do on a sightseeing tour.

Museums: History and Bears

There are many museums in Makhachkala, but the clearest idea of the region will be given by two of them:

  • Alibek Taho-Godi National Museum,
  • Dagestan Museum of Fine Arts.

Moreover, these museums are located next to each other, in the buildings opposite, so you can plan a visit to both of them at once. The National Museum is about everything at once. It includes flora, fauna, history, and archaeology. Even if you are in Dagestan for a short time, you can understand what Dagestan is and how it is organized.

The Museum of Fine Arts is more chamber-like. In it, you can get acquainted with all Dagestani crafts, consider a small collection of Russian avant-garde and a very large collection of paintings dedicated to the Caucasian War. Recently, for example, the museum has kept a sketch for Franz Roubaud’s famous panorama “Assault of Akhulgo aul. A Dagestani patron of arts bought it at a London auction and presented it to the museum. If you will be in the museum, be sure to find another sketch for the painting “Bears in a pine forest. Yes, those are the same bears. In the same pine forest. Just a draft.

Theaters: a Total Immersion

Even more than museums there are theaters in the city. There is a Puppet Theater, a Russian Drama Theater, a Philharmonic, an Opera and Ballet Theater. And there are also three national theaters. However, not knowing Avar, Kumyk or Lak language should not be an obstacle for potential viewers. First of all, each national theater has productions in Russian. The Kumyk theater puts on excellent children’s musicals “Mowgli and Mia” and “Little Red Riding Hood”, the Lak theater once had a go at William our Shakespeare and regularly presents “Romeo and Juliet”.

The Avars should also be quite comfortable in the Avar because the repertoire of the theater includes both children’s plays in Russian and plays for adults. However, you can immerse yourself in the national color to the full: theaters have equipment for simultaneous interpretation. Playbills are usually available on the official sites and Instagram accounts, you can learn everything in advance and choose the production. There you can also buy electronic tickets. The cost ranges from 300 to 500 rubles.

The Old Tower: Coffee With a View of the Sea

Alternatively, if you have already exhausted the promenade, you may move to the station square. Why there? Because there you can have a coffee in a real tower. The water tower in Makhachkala was erected at the beginning of the last century. At that time it was very popular near the railway station. Then, when steam locomotives were no longer used as the main pulling force for trains, the water tower sank into a long period of oblivion.

But now the tower has a new life. The object works as an observation deck (the attic has a view of the harbor and lighthouse), as a coffee house, and as a platform for performances and exhibitions of contemporary art. Here you can buy exclusive handmade souvenirs and hold a photo session.

The Old Tower Coffee With a View of the Sea

Masterclasses: Mysteries of Crafts

Masterclasses on Dagestan crafts are also a fascinating way to spend time. These are often held at museums, ethnic museums, and folk crafts centers, but they still need to be caught. The craft workshop “Remeslov” works every day as well.

The guys actively maintain a page on Instagram. There you can read the schedule of classes and sign up for a master class. You will be taught to create at the potter’s wheel, create ornaments of Kaytag embroidery, and even shape metal under the guidance of a real jeweler. You can take your masterpieces with you. By the way, there is a similar workshop in Derbent.

Sightseeing Platform: View from Above

From the observation deck in the village of Tarki adjoining the city one can get an interesting view of Makhachkala. Especially if you have already walked around the city on foot, know your way around, and can make out the minarets of the Juma Mosque, Ak-Gel Lake, the Leningrad Hotel, and Gamzatov Avenue. It is better to get to the observation point by cab. And if you’re in favor of a healthy lifestyle, you can run to the hill in the morning or evening – as many locals do.

Kaspiysk: a Green Neighbor

If you still have some time, it is worth a trip to Kaspiysk. It is a small town near the airport and 20 minutes from Makhachkala by cab. There are also buses, marshrutkas, and trolleybuses. It’s green, cozy, and quiet – it’s ideal for walking, unlike the capital city. That’s why the question of where to walk in Makhachkala is often answered: in Kaspiysk.

The city has a long beautiful embankment, and sometimes it seems that all life in Kaspiysk is concentrated in a park by the sea. Here, in the building of the Dagestan branch of Rusgidro, there is the First Gallery. For Daghestan it is the first: this project was started in the early 90s. There are always interesting exhibitions of the modern Dagestan artists within the walls of the gallery.

And from the shore you can see the famous abandoned 8th shop of the plant “Dagdiesel” – it stands directly in the sea. Fort Boyard looks mysterious and exotic from afar. In summer you can take a boat ride there. However, the building is an emergency and it is better not to go up there.

Still, in Kaspiysk you can watch the military ships or walk along a small pedestrian zone on Sovetskaya Street – it is no longer near the sea, but it is the old Kaspiysk, with its solid blocks of flats and Platanus alleys. There are a lot of cafes on Sovetskaya, as well as the famous cocktail shop in the city, where cocktails are served “like before” and cakes are priced at pennies.