Travelling to Chechnya and visiting its unfamous capital city of Grozny is possible and safe in 2024 ! Despite the insane amount of outdated bullsh*t written online, it’s totally fine, allowed and easy for foreign tourists to visit the Chechen capital these days.
Often called the Dubai of the North Caucasus – at least that’s president Kadyrov aspirations for his beloved city – Grozny stands worlds apart from your typical travel destinations; it’s a great place to learn about the unique Chechen culture and meet some of the most hospitable people in Russia.
This Grozny travel guide is your go-to resource, covering everything you need to know, from cultural etiquette and accommodation options to must-see attractions, tasty chechen cuisine spots, and my personal favorite cafés to meet up friendly english-speaking locals. Join me on an exploration of Grozny, where cultural discovery and genuine hospitality await you !
Everything written bellow is from my personnal experiences and multiple visits to Grozny.
Brief introduction to Grozny
Grozny is an old city even though it looks brand new these days (obviously …). It was build by the Cossaks during the 19th century conquest of the Caucasus as a fort/garrison and named “Grozny”, which can be translated from russian by “fearsome” or even “terrible” (as in ‘Ivan Grozny’ translated by ‘Ivan the Terrible’).
In a more recent history, the city was almost enterely destroyed during the two Chechen wars. The central Russian government gave a lot of money to rebuild it as well as the major roads within the republic. The differences with the neighboring republics is noticable and quite shocking in my opinion.
Reminder : No, Chechnya is not a country. Yes, the Chechen republic is a federal entity within the Russian Federation. No, you don’t need a special permit to visit it in 2024.
Grozny is nowadays a very pleasant and safe city, crossed by the Sunzha River, dotted with various police forces including the Kadyrovtsy (easy to spot : mostly tall heavily built bearded men dressed in black, friendly and very efficient in giving directions), trendy cafés all along Putina Prospekt, the only Putin Avenue in Russia and sights easily reachable on foot.
How to travel to Grozny
There are many ways to travel to Grozny :
The central bus station is located behind the huge Berkat market. I found it a bit intimidating at first. If you can read cyrillic you might easily find the right bus to take you where you want, if not, simply ask the friendly chechens around you, they will surely help you out.
Many times I had random middle aged men walking me to the other side of the station to help me find the right bus I needed.
Travelling around the city
Grozny is the capital and largest city in Chechnya, but not that big. All the interesting sights, museums, trains and bus stations, cafés and restaurants are located in the very center, on Kadyrova and Putina Prospekt (Kadyrov and Putin Avenues, yes) or right off the main streets. Everything is within walking distance really.
Marshrutkas and buses are the way to go anywhere, just use Yandex Maps to find the right one.
Taxis are also very common, you can find one directly on the street or order it online on Yandex Go. They are cheap like anywhere else in Russia and I honestly doubt any Chechen driver would rip you off.
If you are arriving in Grozny by train you will find plenty of old friendly taxi drivers right outside the station, ready to take you anywhere you wish. However they are unlikely to speak any english, but never know.
Where to sleep
Grozny has accommodation options for all budgets. Not loads like Moscow but enough to satisfy all types of travellers. Here are some hostel and hostel suggestions that can be booked without a bank card.
• Budget hostel : Hostel in Grozny (yes, that’s the actual name) is the one I stayed in everytime I was in Grozny. The ladies running the place are the least friendly people you will encounter in Chechnya but the place is very clean, there is a kitchen, it’s within walking distance from the very center of the city and as a solo female tourist I felt very comfortable. No english is spoken though.
• Mid range : Nokhcho-Star right on Putina Prospekt in the very center of the city.
• 5* russian style hotel : Cosmos Selection Grozny City, right in the brand new Grozny City microdistrict to get some Dubai vibes.
• Short term appartment rental : Airbnb just like Booking.com aren’t operating in Russia at the moment but you can find appartments to rent on Ostrovok.ru.
What to do & see in Grozny
Grozny has no UNESCO sites to see nor tones of museums. Urbex lovers and Dark Tourism enthusiats will be disappointed because the city has been fully rebuilt. Chechnya’s capital is much smaller than Moscow or St Petersburg so if you are only there for the sights and not so interested in Chechen culture and in meeting up with locals, 24 hours in the city will be plenty enough.
Best places to eat in Grozny
You could spend a month in Grozny and eat in a different place everyday. Options seem endless !
Here are a few places I really liked :
Must-try chechen cuisine
• Siskal and To-beram : fried cornflour pancakes served with a sort of tvorok made sauce and boiled eggs – for breakfast.
• Zhizigh – galnash : Litterally meaning “meat and dough”, it’s boiled meat (either mutton or beef) with little noodles. traditionnally requested by the mother in law to test the culinary skills of her new daughter in law.
• Chepalgash : flat pie filled with cottage cheese and green onions.
• Chudnash : the corn flour version of Chepalgash.
• Khingalsh : flat bread filled with pumpkin – one of my favourite, simply delicious !
• Baarsh : tripe stuffed with mutton or beef with onions, rice.
• Holtmash : dumplings filled with mixed nettle, wild garlic, eggs, and/or cheese.
• Jijig – Chorpa : vegetable soup with either mutton or beef meat..
Cafés to meet locals
There are no bars in Grozny but plenty of western style cafés open until late where the young and possibly english-speaking people hang out.
Some cafés might have a more masculine clientele than others so the following places I suggest are only places I’ve tried myself as a solo female tourist and never felt uncomfortable stepping in.
Can we buy alcohol in Chechnya ?
Even though I said there are no bars in Grozny, one supermarket outside of the city that will sell alcohol to us, foreigners/non chechens (make sure to bring your ID) : Lenta supermarket and only between 8am to 10am. Of course be respectuful and drink your beers or whatever else in private. Alcohol is also served at the Kupol restaurant in Grozny City (the fancy microdistrict).
It is probihited for Chechens to buy and drink alcohol, by decree of president Kadyrov. It doesn’t mean everyone follows the rule.
Now you may wonder : Is it allowed to smoke in Chechnya ? For men, it’s alright, though I’ve never ever seen someone smoking right in the street, so best to avoid it in public. The Chechen Ministry of Tourism shared an instagram post about “rules to follows in Chechnya for tourists and among it was “Women in Chechnya don’t smoke”; so I believe it’s a rather clear instruction.
All the places mentionned on this post can be found on this Yandex maps. Click the bottom left corner (Открыть в Яндекс Картах) to open it.
Final thoughts on travelling to Grozny & Chechnya
Grozny is a rather easy travel destination in my opinion (in terms of transportation to get there, accomodation, food places …), Chechens are very welcoming to foreigners and will do everything to make you feel comfortable. As a solo female western tourist, I’ve always felt safe and super welcomed every time I visited the city.
Grozny is a great introduction to Chechnya if you have no time to travel to the mountains. Go for it, you won’t regret it !
Is Grozny safe now ?
Grozny is not a warzone anymore. The situation is as stable as anywhere else in Russia with heavy police presence. It is totally safe to travel to Grozny and Chechnya in 2024.
Do they speak English in Chechnya?
Yes. I found it’s easier to find english-speaker in Chechnya than anywhere else in Russia. Young chechens are eager to meet foreigners and practice their language skills.
Do Chechens wear hijab ?
Yes, some wear a hijab, or simply a scarf tied low behind the head, and others wear nothing at all. As a woman you do not have to cover your hair unless you enter a mosque.
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