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Named as one of the host cities for the World Cup 2018, Rostov-on-Don is where the locals love to race their tractors through mud and dust and every summer all the tractor rev heads in the region show up for the Bizon Track Show, the only one of its kind in the whole of Russia. Little wonder when you consider that Rostov-on-Don is home to the world's biggest combine makers, the Rostselmash Group and the most rapidly developing sector of its economy is agriculture and the production of agricultural equipment. There is no metro system to get around on, but there are overcrowded buses that are cheap on the pocket and some taxis. Beware though of unlicensed taxis trolling the streets to scam tourists.
Sitting on the Don River in the East European Plain, Rostov-on-Don is where you will see gatherings of traditionally dressed Cossacks in their dark-blue uniforms and red striped pants, some even riding chestnut horses that appear to have stepped straight out of the history books. The huge Don River actually cuts the city in half where white or pale yellow stucco decorated 18th Century mansions now house local administration and Russian and foreign bank offices. A huge industrial city with a population over the 1 million mark, it is also renowned for its helicopter production and is home to Rostvertol, one of the biggest helicopter producers in the world. To orientate yourself, the right bank of the river is residential and business, whilst the left bank is awash in bars and restaurants with the two areas connected by 2 bridges.
You can rub shoulders with the locals on the flower encrusted Don Embankment, stroll under towering trees along the riverbank and take time out to listen to the street performers along the way or pop into one of the many cafes. Snow-white steamboats bob in the water waiting for tourists to take them on a river cruise where you will see the golden domes of the Orthodox Cathedral or the massive railroad bridge being raised to let ships through to the port. The most beautiful street in the city to meander along is Pushkinskaya, where wide walking paths are decorated in red and yellow paving stones amidst white and purple flowerbeds. Check out the wrought-iron globes depicting Alexander Pushkin and scenes from his works. You can hang out in the evenings at one of the many city parks such as Maxim Gorky Park, visit a Cossack village (aka "stanitsa") or take in the State Sholokhov Museum-Reserve. Of course there is a circus with performing bears and a local zoo if you want to get up close and personal with some animals.
If you want to get out of town for something different, then take a ride to the ancient city of Azov, a fortress owned by the Turks and conquered by Peter the Great in 1696.
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