Murmansk

Murmansk (Russian: Му́рманск) is a city in the extreme northwest of Russia and the world's largest city north of the Arctic Circle.

Understand

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°C) -6.8 -6.7 -2.4 2.6 7.6 13.6 17.3 14.9 10 3.6 -2.4 -5.3
Nightly lows (°C) -13 -12.8 -8.6 -3.8 1.1 5.7 9.2 8 4.5 -0.4 -7.1 -11.2

See current temperature in Murmansk at yr.no.

With a population of over 300,000, Murmansk is the largest city in the Arctic and an important Russian naval base and commercial port. In World War II (known to Russians as the Great Patriotic War), Murmansk served as a port for the arctic convoys, and after the war became the Soviet Union's most important submarine base. The history of this provides a major reason to visit the city, museums and port.

Located in the Far North Murmansk experiences cold winters with temperatures routinely dropping below -20 °C. The brief summer offers mild temperatures between 10-15 °C. Strong winds are common, especially at the higher parts of the city.

Get in

By plane

Murmansk Airport (IATA: MMK) has 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 located about 40 km south of Murmansk, near the town of Murmashi. Taxis to the city center cost R600-700 and make the trip in about 40 minutes. Catching a taxi waiting outside the airport is more expensive, expect to pay up to R800, 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 boat

During the summer months, Murmansk Shipping Company 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 necessary port and immigration/customs officials.

By train

Murmansk Railway Station

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. Previously existing regional trains from Nikel are now cut by station Mokket, rending them unusable for getting to Murmansk from Norwegian border.

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.

The central station is located in the city center, one block downhill from Five Corners Square on ul. Kominterna, 16.

By bus

There are bus connections from Finland (Ivalo, with connecting bus from Rovaniemi; with the night train from Helsinki or Turku the total travel time will be as with train from Saint Petersburg), and from Kirkenes in Norway . Keep in mind that departure times of Russian bus companies from Kirkenes usually are given in Moscow time. Book in advance, and be there on time, since it is a bad idea to miss the bus and overstay Russian visas.

By car

There 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 9 AM (Norwegian time) might end at 4 PM (Russian time).

Get around

Although Murmansk is long and thin, most sites of interest to visitors are within a fairly compact area in the city center. Prospekt Lenina 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, which is situated on a plateau on the north side of the city in less than two hours.

Trolleybuses 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. Notice that both buses and trolleybuses can be much-delayed during rush hours due to traffic jams. A new route planner which also shows real time location of trolleybuses on the most used lines is available online , the catch is it's in Russian only.

Another 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 400 RUB. Unmarked taxis can be cheaper but are generally a bit unreliable to use for those not fluent in the native tongue.

See

The Alyosha Statue

As a relatively new city, Murmansk has few real sights apart from the giant statue Alyosha; architecture buffs will, however, be intrigued by the crumbling Stalinist architecture downtown. The architecture is complemented by trees and other vegetation receiving little care.

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.

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.

Do

A nice and popular way to see the city is to take the ferry across Kola fjord.

Eat

Drink

Sleep

Five Corners Square, with the Meridian Hotel on the left

Connect

Consulates

Go next

The wilderness of the Kola peninsula and Murmansk Oblast is perfect for camping, fishing or hunting. A great deal of travellers continue out in the wild from here. There are several large national parks nearby and there are several companies to organize your trip.

Or you can head north; Murmansk is a great place to start for your icebreaker cruise to the Arctic Sea and the North Pole.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, June 22, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.