MurmanskMurmansk (Russian: Му́рманск) is a city in the extreme northwest of Russia and the world's largest city north of the Arctic Circle. It lies in the Kola Bay on the Kola Peninsula, by the Barents Sea.
In the Far North, Murmansk experiences cold winters with temperatures routinely dropping below . The brief summer offers mild temperatures between . Strong winds are common, especially at the higher parts of the city.
Murmansk AirportHas multiple daily flights to Moscow and Saint Petersburg, and limited services to other Russian cities including Arkhangelsk, Sochi and Rostov-on-the-Don. There are also several flights per week from Tromsø and Kirkenes. Seasonal flights are available from Helsinki too.
The airport is about south of Murmansk, near the town of Murmashi. Taxis to the city center cost and make the trip in about 40 minutes. Catching a taxi waiting outside the airport is more expensive, expect to pay up to , depending on your language and negotiation skills. For cheaper (and official) taxi service, you have to order a taxi, expect to wait up to 30–40 minutes for it to arrive, though. Bus 106 goes to the train station, stopping at Detsky Mir near the Poliarnie Zori Hotel on its way, is less expensive but much more sluggish than a taxi.
By boatDuring the summer months, offers occasional trips to and from Barentsburg on Svalbard. They also serve remote villages along the northern coast of the Kola peninsula, most notably the isolated naval base of Ostrovnoy, with 2-3 trips per month.
A few cruise lines also visit the city during the summer season. The pier facilities are nil, basically a bare pier in a freight handling area, but with areas for buses, taxis, etc. Any scheduled ship will be greeted by port and immigration/customs officials.
Murmansk can be reached from most places in north-west Russia by train. Moscow is 35–40 hours away and Saint Petersburg 27–30 hours, depending on the train. The Arktika (Арктика) branded train is the fastest option, with first-class wagons and a restaurant on board. All long-distance trains make stop-overs in cities such as Kandalaksha and Petrozavodsk on their way. Other night trains reach Murmansk from cities as far east as Arkhangelsk or from Minsk and Brest in the west. Trains from Saint Petersburg and Moscow are daily, most others 2-3 times a week. During summer additional routes are added, mostly to Ukraine and the Black Sea.
Tickets can be bought either at the station or online at the webpage of national operator RZD.
Murmansk railway stationaddress: Ulitsa Kominterna, 14,
Pasvik Turist provides a bus connection from Kirkenes in Norway daily at 14:00 or 15:00 (confirm on website) for 350 NOK one-way or 600 NOK return (Sept 2017). They also offer Russian taxi (maximum 3 passengers) from 2000 NOK one way. A once-weekly bus service is also avalible from Ivalo, Finland by Auto Express.
Book in advance, and be there on time, since it is a bad idea to miss the bus and overstay Russian visas.
By carThere are roads from Ivalo, Finland (290 km) and Kirkenes, Norway (220 km). When calculating travel time expect hour-long waits at the border and keep the time difference in mind. A trip starting in Kirkenes at 09:00 (Norwegian time) might end at 16:00 (Russian time).
On footAlthough Murmansk is long and thin, most sites of interest to visitors are within a fairly compact area in the city center. is the main north-south thoroughfare through the city center and the central Five Corners Square. Avid walkers could cover the entire stretch of the central area from the Poliarnie Zori Hotel on the south end of the city center to the Alyosha Statue, on a plateau on the north side of the city, in less than two hours.
By busTrolleybuses are available on most larger streets and generally follows a north-south route, if you are heading east ("up the hill") you have to rely on the small mashtruka buses. Both buses and trolleybuses can be much delayed during rush hours due to traffic jams. A route planner showing real time location of trolleybuses on the most used lines is available online, the catch is it's in Russian only.
By taxiAnother option is to use taxis which are plentiful and cheap, few drivers speak anything other than Russian, so memorize the street or name of the place you are going to. A typical journey in the city centre will cost somewhere around . Unmarked taxis can be cheaper, but are generally a bit unreliable to use for those not fluent in the native tongue.
Walking up into the nearby hills offers remarkable views over the city, Kola bay, beautiful lakes, and the surrounding completely barren mountains - revealing how far north the city really is.
Alyosha StatueThe city's pride and most recognizable sight. Officially named Defenders of the Soviet Arctic, but known as Alyosha to all, this 42-meter-tall statue of a soldier overlooks the city and was built in 1974 to commemorate the Soviet defence of the Arctic during World War II. It's common for wedding parties to visit the statue and drink a bottle of champagne in front of the statue. The grassy hill surrounding Alyosha are good hiking grounds with dirt footpaths leading back towards the city.
Nuclear icebreaker LeninThe world's first nuclear-powered surface ship now rests in the docks of Murmansk and has been turned into a museum ship. It also features as a showcase for the Russian nuclear fleet, Atomflot. Guided tours are in Russian only, with some guides able to offer complementary explanations in English. Last tour starting 16:00.
Memorial to the Soldiers and Seamen Who Died in Peaceful TimeMonument dedicated to navy personnel perished at sea during peaceful times. Designed by architects Shiryaev and N. Bogdanova, the hexagonal lighthouse in the centre of the memorial stands 17.5 m tall, with marble stairs leading up to it. Next to the lighthouse is a small museum with artifacts, including diaries of sailors. Since the Kursk accident in the Barents Sea in 2009, the site has become a memorial for submariners as well.
Monument to Waiting WomenOfficially named Zhduschaia, this monument is dedicated to the spouses of sailors of the Arctic Fleet, anxiously awaiting the return of their husbands. The sculpture is unusual because it is on of the few in the city dedicated to women.
The city has several museums, all mildly interesting compared to larger cities in Russia, but they do offer a good appreciation for the regions history and art.
Arctic Research Institute Expositionphone: +7 8152 47 23 97address: Ul. Knipovicha 6Viewing apparently by appointment only; call and ask for Tatiana at least a few days in advance.
phone: +7 8152 22 14 45address: Ul. Tortseva 15
phone: +7 8152 45 03 85address: Ul. Kominterna 13
phone: +7 8152 42 26 17address: Prospekt Lenina 90Contains displays on various themes, including ethnography of local peoples, a taxidermy display of local flora and fauna (including polar bear and moose), arctic explorations, and an extensive display on Murmansk's role in World War II. All displays in Russian only, cashier closes at 17:00.
Shipping History Museumphone: +7 8152 48 13 56address: Ul Volodarskovo 6
phone: +7 8152-31-58-84address: Ul. Geroev-severomortsev 4See trained seals perform in the white domed building.
phone: +8(8152)43-56-61address: Vostochno-Obyezdnaya doroga, 9Small but popular ski complex that's a few minutes away from the city. The main slope is just over 500 metres. There's a ski shop and a café.
Orthodox Monasteryaddress: Prospekt KolskijWooden, notched (no nails used) working monastery. Beautifully handcrafted monastery with two churches. The main church is open for visitors, gift-shop included. The gift-shop has erratic opening-hours, but the monastery is open until very late, and if you show respect for the place and the people living there, they might open the church for you to see, even after closing-hours. Unclear when it closes. Beautiful hand-crafted wooden decorations inside the church, worth a look!
address: Prospekt Lenina 86Coffees and desserts in a relaxing environment. And jolly good chicken and chips.
phone: +7 8152 55-70-69address: ulitsa Leningradskaya 20, korpus 3, "Волна" (Volna) shopping centerThe world's northernmost McDonald's. Order at the counter with cash or via kiosk in English or Russian with a credit/debit card.
Bulldog Pubphone: +8 8152-260017address: ul. Karla Marksa, 48Sports bar showing matches from the Barclays Premier League and more. A good selection of draft beer, including ales. Typical pub food is also served.
Club Marrakeshphone: +8 8152-476464address: ul. Shmidta 43A swank club hosting many events. Has a fine selection of wines and even a cigar room. Open til early morning.
Moiseyaddress: 9/1 Kominterna St.There don't seem to be a lot of wireless internet hotspots so Моисей is a good option. With cheap draft beer and (uninviting) food, this is not a bad place to get one's bearings and check emails after arriving in the city.
phone: +7 8152 550350address: Prospekt Lenina 82Located in the Arktika building, the tallest above the arctic circle, this former Soviet flagship hotel have finally reopened after years of renovation as the city's premier business hotel. Rooms on the upper floors have some fantastic panoramic views over the city and fjord. Free WiFi and breakfast included.
phone: +7 8152 554000address: ul. Ogni Murmanska 1Hotel and resort complex overlooking the city from its eastern mountain slopes. This is a good option if you are exploring the surrounding nature and wildlife rather than Murmansk itself. Standards are good, there's 80 beds in 37 rooms as well as several cottages. The restaurant is very nice and popular, if somewhat overpriced. All major credit cards are accepted.
phone: +7 8152 288800address: ul. Vorovskogo 5/23Not related to the international chain of similar name. The lobby displays photos of notable former guests, including President Medvedev, which gives an indicator of class of service and of price.
phone: +7 8152 289500address: ul. Knipovicha 17A clean, well-located hotel with helpful front desk staff. Includes the very popular nightclub Ledokol ("Ледокол") which often hosts live music performances.
Finlandphone: +7 8152 445-382address: Karl Marks street, 25 A
Netherlandsphone: +7 (8152) 40-06-00 (common), +7 8152 40-06-20 (visas)address: Sofyi Perovskoy street, 5
- phone: +7 8152 40-06-00 (common), +7 8152 40-06-20 (visas)address: Sofyi Perovskoy street, 5
Swedenphone: +7 8152 40-06-00 (common), +7 8152 40-06-20 (visas)address: Sofyi Perovskoy street, 5
Flocks of stray dogs roam around suburban areas and have been known to attack humans carrying food. There are also bear sightings along the road leading to the airport. Although bears usually flee upon contact, mothers protecting cubs may be aggressive.
Or you can head north; Murmansk is a great place to start for your icebreaker cruise to the Arctic Sea and the North Pole.