The city was founded in 1865, and has a population of just over 100,000. It was once the capital of the Kalmyk ASSR, then because the Kalmykians were kind of naughty in collaborating with the Germans during WWII, it became Stepnoy under Stalin amidst deportations of the citizenry to Siberia. After resuming its former name, it witnessed some brighter days as the site of the 1998 Chess Olympiad (with the creation of a satellite village called Chess City even), the dedication of the tallest Buddhist temple in Europe by the Dalai Lama, and the establishment of many Buddhist and Lenin monuments by its enthusiastic mayor.
Several private companies operate a daily bus service between Moscow and Elista. The pickup point in Moscow is Luzhniki Stadium.
Mini-buses ply routes around the city.
- 1 Golden Temple of Elista (Burkhan Bakshin Altan Sume). Modern Buddhist temple opened in 2005 with the Dalai Lama's blessing, and said to be the biggest in Europe. It is quite visible from many places in town.
- Museum of Kalmyk Buddhist Art.
- Museum of Local Lore.
- Museum of Buddhist History.
- Gallery of Fine Arts.
- Kazansky Cathedral.
- 2 Geden Sheddup Choikorling Monastery.
- 3 The Golden Abode of the Buddha Shakyamuni (Burkhan Bakshin Altan Sume).
- 4 Seven Days Pagoda.
- Drama Theatre
- Puppet Theatre
- Play chess
- Kalmyk puzzle närn shanj (нәрн шанҗ)
- Uralan (Уралан), Nomto Ochirova St., 9
- Zheltaya Cheburechka, Ulitsa Pushkina 1. A little shwarma/cheburek hut that seems to win people's hearts and serves tea.
- Chaykhana "Tamerlan", Ulitsa Imeni Yu 27A. Good-sized portions of kebabs, dumplings, soup, etc.
- Gurman, Ulitsa Imeni Nomto Ochirova 9. Traditional dishes. Attached to the Kalmykia Museum.
- Cafe Kalmyk Cuisine (Калмыцкая Кухня)
- Restaurant White Lotus (Белый Лотос) (in Bely Lotus Hotel).
You can drink Kalmyk tea
- Hotel Elista, ☏ . 1 Gorodovikova ul.
- City Chess Hotel (Otel' Gorod Shakhmat), Siti Chess 18, ☏ . Uralan district. Little chess displays, so it lives up to the name.
- Belyy Lotos, Khoninova Str., 7. Glassy exterior. Here you'll get a free breakfast and maybe some tea from a samovar. +7 960 897-18-18.
- 1 Kalmyk Institute for Humanities Research.
- Khurul Monastery - about 6 km from the city.