Kaliningrad

The Kaliningrad Cathedral

Kaliningrad (Russian: Калинингра́д kuh-leen-een-GRAHD) , also known by its original German name, Königsberg, is the capital city of Kaliningrad Oblast in Russia. It has about 450,000 inhabitants. It is also called 'Karaliaucius' in Lithuanian, as Lithuanians (cousins to the 'Old Prussians') used to live there. So it is truly 'City of the Four K s: Kaliningrad / Königsberg / Krolewiec / Karalaucius '. Following the second world war, it was briefly known as Kyonigsberg (Кёнигсберг), the Russified form of the original German name.

Understand

History

Kaliningrad's history dates back to the 13th century, when it was under the rule of the Teutonic knights, an order of German knights, priests and lay men who sought to expand Christianity through missions and conquests. Known by its German name of Königsberg then, the city was the capital of Prussia.

Kaliningrad was a hub for science and culture whizzes from Germany, Poland and Lithuania. It was home to renowned philosopher Immanuel Kant and prominent German writer Ernst Theodor Amadeus (known by the abbreviated form ETA) Hoffmann. Kant had such pride in his hometown that he barely left the place in his lifetime, declaring that he did not need to venture abroad because ships came and brought people to tell him stories.

Destroyed in World War II and annexed to the USSR in 1946, the region was stripped of its German identity and was named after Mikhail Kalinin, a Russian communist leader. A highly militarised zone during the Soviet era, the area only opened to visitors about 20 years ago.

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°C) 0.4 1.2 5.4 11.4 17.6 20.5 22.1 22.0 17.0 11.8 5.4 2.1
Nightly lows (°C) -4.3 -3.9 -1.3 2.6 7.0 10.8 13.0 12.6 9.0 5.1 0.9 -2.4
Precipitation (mm) 62 46 45 40 51 78 74 84 83 85 78 78

Average of Kaliningrad

Climate

The best time to visit is in summer between June and August, when the temperature is around 20 to 25 deg C. Temperatures in autumn range from 10 to 15 deg C and the season lasts from September to November. The Kaliningrad winter, which is from December to February, is much milder winter than Russia, with temperatures from 5 deg C to minus 11 deg C.

Take along an umbrella, because the weather is unpredictable and windy. The weather is quite humid too, thanks to its proximity to the Baltic sea. The Baltic sun is mild.

Get in

Visa

As Kaliningrad is an exclave of the Russian Federation, almost all visitors require a Russian visa to enter. If you plan to travel overland between Kaliningrad and other parts of Russia, you will need at least a double-entry visa in order to exit and re-enter Russia. Travelling by air on domestic flights between Kaliningrad and Moscow or St. Petersburg can be done even with a single-entry visa. For more information about Russian visas, see the visa section on the Russia page.

Special Kaliningrad visa: If you are only visiting Kaliningrad oblast (and not the rest of Russia), you may be able to obtain a special Kaliningrad visa, provided that you fulfill all of the following requirements:

The visa costs €70 and it can not be issued for children (for them regular visa must be obtained from a Russian embassy). See more information on how to obtain the special Kaliningrad visa from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

By plane

Khrabrovo Airport (IATA: KGD) is located 16 kilometers away from Kaliningrad. A regular bus (144) is going every hour from the terminal to various stops in the city centre for 33 roubles. Taxi service is also available; one company offers a fixed price of 300 roubles to get from the airport to any point in the city; other cab companies might charge substantially more.

Airlines and destinations include:

By train

The South (i.e. main) Train Station

Long-distance trains leaving from Kaliningrad run on Moscow time, an hour ahead of the local time. Thus a train advertised as leaving at 6:30PM actually leaves at 5:30PM local time. Comedian Yakov Smirnoff might have said, "In Soviet Russia trains are on time, you are late" Clocks at stations use Moscow time. Just to confuse things, local trains run on local time. After witnessing this system, you will no doubt understand that the railways were one of the driving forces for standardized time-zones throughout Europe.

The main connections for most travellers without a Belorussian visa will be either to Gdańsk or Vilnius. Even the St Petersburg trains travel via Belarus.

In summer (until the beginning of October), day-time trains connect Kalininrad with Gdynia via Sopot and Gdańsk.

Connections with elsewhere in central Europe are scarce. The once regular over-night trains from Berlin and Warsaw have been drastically reduced. In summer (May–October), there may be overnight (17 hrs) connections to Berlin.

East-bound long-distance trains still run regularly. Departures are daily from Moscow (22 h) via Minsk (11 h) and every two days from Saint Petersburg (26 h, also via Minsk).

More irregular services are available from Kiev (26 h), Kharkiv (30 h), the northern city of Murmansk (61 h) and Chelyabinsk (69 h) in the Urals. There's also trains from Black Sea resorts such as Sochi (61 h) and Sevastopol (41 h), except 1-2 trains a week during summer.

By car

The road system is extensive in the Kaliningrad region; however, they are not always well-maintained, and sometimes it is hard to get around because of absence of signage indicating directions/destinations (especially in the city). Driving rules are generally the same as in most European countries, but many do not follow the rules, especially during rush hour in the city. Beware of the traffic police because they like to stop foreigners and often expect bribes.

There are two ways to get to Kaliningrad by car - from Poland and from Lithuania, but you should expect delays on the borders (sometimes it can take a couple of hours)! The green card for insurance has been valid since beginning of 2009.

By bus

Bus time tables for international and regional buses (in English), see: here

Bus from Tallinn via Riga, see: here

Bus to/from Gdańsk (Zloty 28, from Kaliningrad to Gdańsk 500 Rubles) - leaves Gdańsk at 06:00, 06:30, 15:00, 15:30. See: here, and here

Bus to/from Vilnius - leaves Vilnius at 13:15

A night bus also runs from Kaliningrad to Warsaw. However, as of summer 2008 this bus departed not from the main bus station, but from a bus station east of the city centre. To get to this bus station, take Moskovski Prospekt east from the main Leninsky bridge over the river and walk for about a mile. The bus station is clearly visible on the right hand side of the road.

By boat

During summer there is a boat service between Kaliningrad, and Frombork, Krynica Morska and Elblag, Poland - more info at Zegluga Gdanska

Get around

City has bus, minibus, trolleybus, and tram networks. The best way to explore the city is by bus. The public transportation system is very good. Half of the population live in the city, hence it is very well-connected. Fares are kept low, at a flat rate of 15 rubles (US$0.50, GB £ 0.30) on the bus and the waiting time is short. Tickets on the buses are handed out by the conductors.

Taxis within the city may have meters, but most prefer to negotiate fares in advance. Minimum charge within the city is at least 100 Rubles, even for short distances.

See

The 'Monster' as viewed from the Plaza Center

Museums

Do

Buy

Amber jewellery and art and craft is the local specialty:

Eat

Drink

Local beer brands that are available in stores include Ostmark and Königsberg.

Sleep

Budget

Midrange

Splurge

Connect

Consulates

Visa Centers

Go next

Curonian Spit
This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, October 03, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.