- 1 Novgorod — the capital is the region's only city and a great weekend trip from Saint Petersburg or Moscow as its kremlin holds the oldest church in Russia, Saint Sophia's Cathedral, and the kremlin and city are full of a wide variety of churches, one of which boasts frescoes painted by the 12th century Russian master, Andrey Rublev.
- 2 Kholm — if you're looking for an adventure, head to this small town ruined by World War II and try to get to the abandoned Rdeisky Monastery in the thick woods and swamp to the west.
- 3 Staraya Russa — a large town where Dostoevsky spent his summers and wrote The Brothers Karamazov, which is set in the town; Dostoevsky's house is open to visitors as a museum.
- 4 Valday — Iversky Monastery is under construction, albeit still beautiful, and this town is the main base for exploring Valdaisky National Park.
Novgorod Oblast is surprisingly sparsely populated for European Russia because World War II hit this region hard. Most of the former residents were either killed or forced to relocate permanently. But fear not, the cultural monuments of Novgorod were among the first of the Soviet's priorities for restoration after the war, underscoring their huge importance to Russia.
Novgorod's kremlin and churches are without question the highlight of any visit to the region, and probably the only destination on your itinerary for the region. That is, unless you love Dostoevsky as much as you should, in which case you should budget a full day to explore Staraya Russa.
Daily trains depart from Saint Petersburg to Novgorod in the afternoon and take 3 hours. The return trip leaves Novgorod in the morning around 07:00.
Daily overnight trains also depart from Moscow (around 22:00) for Novgorod (arriving around 06:00).
Novgorod is famous for its mead and rightly so—it's absolutely delicious.