Volga Region : Middle Volga : Samara Oblast : Samara
Samara (Russian: Сама́ра suh-MAH-ruh), the sixth largest city in Russia and capital of an eponymous region, lies on the Volga River in European Russia. It is a major economic, industrial and cultural centre and has a population of over 1,164,000. It will be one of the 11 Russian cities to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Samara was officially founded in 1586 with the construction of a Russian fortress on the Volga. However, settlement there had been mentioned since at least the 14th century.
During World War II, Samara, then named Kuibyshev, was the second capital of USSR. The city's growth was stimulated during the war due to its proximity to Moscow but distance from the war zone; several government offices were evacuated to Kuibyshev when Moscow was under threat. The city has also became one of the principal aircraft manufacturers due to Voronezh Aviation Factory, as well as part of Moscow Aviation Institute (this part has eventually grown into Kuybyshev Aviation Institute and later Samara State Aerospace University) evacuated there. More than 74% of the famous Ilyushin IL-2 Sturmovik battle planes were produced in Kuibyshev.
During the post-war period evacuated aircraft industry and scientific base, as well as development of the Volga-Urals oilfield, helped Samara to grow rapidly and become one the most important centers of aerospace science and industry. The city has contributed a lot to Soviet achievements during the Space Race. Due to this strategic importance, Kuibyshev was closed for foreigners till the very dissolution of the USSR.
Kuibyshev reverted to being Samara in 1991 and is now available for tourists, but due to the above-mentioned reasons its tourist infrastructure is not so well-developed. Hopefully, the FIFA World Cup should greatly improve this situation.
As a cultural centre, Samara has attracted several famous creative Russians. The likes of writers Tolstoy and Gorky, painters Ilya Repin, Vasily Surikov and Ivan Aivazovsky, and revolutionaries Michael Frunze and Vladimir Lenin have all lived in the city. Even Alexandre Dumas visited in 1858, he describes his whole journey, including his impressions of Samara, in "From Paris to Astrakhan".
The city is served by Kurumoch International Airport (IATA: KUF) "website" which has international connections from Dubai, Frankfurt and Prague. Domestic, there are up to ten depatures daily from Moscow as well as direct flights to Samara from many other major Russian cities including Saint Petersburg, Krasnoyarsk, Perm and Rostov-on-Don .
Aeroexpress trains "(timetable 1 in Russian)" "(timetable 2 with recent changes - please check both)" operated by Samara PPK  run between Kurumoch Airport and Samara railway station. There is a free shuttle bus linking the airport terminal building and the Kurumoch Airport Aeroexpress station (the bus leaves from the airport terminal building to the Kurumoch Airport Aeroexpress station around 30 mins before the train is scheduled to depart). As of Feb 2018, there are two trains daily in each direction: Aeroexpress train leaves from Kurumoch Airport at 13:19 and 19:30 (local time) and from Samara railway station at 09:56, 16;41 (local time). The journey time is around 1hr 15 min. A one-way ticket costs 150₽ for adults and 75₽ for children (tickets available onboard the train and payment by cash only). Additionally there are buses:
typical bus operating hours are 07:00 - 21:00. Actual information you can find in 2GIS Samara map locating a Kurumoch bus stop.
Wikitravel has a guide to Trans-Siberian Railway.
Samara is a major railway junction and almost all trains connecting with South Urals and Central Asia call here. There are at least five departures every day from Moscow, including the Zhiguli branded deluxe train. Journey times varies between 14-20 hours depending on train. Another branded train, Samara, is avalible from Saint Petersburg every second day taking just over 23 hours to Samara and going further to Ufa. Most other major cities in central Russia also have overnight trains to Samara. The once-weekly Sibirjak train originating in Berlin calls here, a neat journey of four nights. It's also possible to get on this train in Warsaw and Minsk. You can plan your trip by train there Russian Railways site
If traveling by own car, Samara is along the M5 Highway, also known as Ural Highway. Distance from Moscow is just over 1000 km.
During the summer season, cruise ships operate along the Volga river to Kazan, Saratov, Volgograd etc. A list of cruise companies and routes is available on the website of the Samara Tourist Information Centre   (in Russian).
The city public transport includes buses, small buses "marshrutka", trolleybuses, trams, and one relatively small metro line. As of Feb-2018, the fare is RUB 25 (approx. $0.4) everywhere.
Samara bus network has a wide variety of routes. You can plan your journey using Google Maps or Yandex Maps or 2GIS applications (available for Android and iOS). Additionally, you can in realtime monitor you trip in Samara using web bus map or corresponding applications
Samara has an extensive tram network which is the most well-developed and widely used public transportation system in the city and allows to move between many places of interest rather quickly, especially during traffic jams. However, the lines closest to the Volga embankment are located relatively far (~1 km) from it, but it is not so difficult to get there on foot, for example, from "Samarskaya Square" tram stop. "Samara metro and tram map"
The Samara Metro is a convenient way of zipping across the city. However, it remains underdeveloped and comprises one line that runs east to west and not yet even linked with the train station.
Typically, you cannot get a taxi on the street - nobody stops. Usually taxis are ordered via phone and applications: Uber, Yandex taxi, Gett.
There is one carsharing "Delimobil". The price is 7rub/min for rent with 2.5rub for standby. Please note that allowed parking zone does not cover all Samara - check it in Delimobil app before parking.
Also there is a lot of sightseeing artifacts, monuments, etc. You can find a list of them here (in Russian) - just choose by picture and follow the coordinates there.
Samara 2018 Festivals calendar
this calendar will help you plan your journey and activities:
Typical souvenirs are related to aerospace and sightseeings. You can find souvenir shops using Yandex Maps or Google Maps or 2GIS
The most notable speciality in Samara is undoubtedly the famous Zhigulevskoye beer that was originally produced right here by the eponymous brewery founded in 1881. It is a traditional lager beer with 11% original extract and 4.5% of alcohol. The best place to try it is so-called "Dno" ("Дно", "Bottom"): Volzhsky prospect, 4, where it is on draught directly from the brewery. There is a bar where one can enjoy a mug or two of great beer, and in the neighbouring building closer to the river there is a booth with a tap where you can be provided with as much Zhigulevskoye as you can carry for the lowest price in the city (RUB 71 per litre). The tap booth both allows pouring beer into your own bottles and sells new empty ones, a 1.5L bottle costs RUB 10.
Tourist Information Centres (TIC)