Nikel (Ни́кель) is a small town in Murmansk Oblast close to the Norwegian border.


Panoramic vista over Nikel.

Nikel is an small industrial town a few kilometres away from the Norwegian border with just over 12,000 souls living and working here, down from 21,000 in Soviet times. As the town's name hint Nikel owes its existence to the vast quantities of nickel that have been mined nearby since the 1930s. Russian mining giant Norilsk Nickel owns the mines and operates a huge smelter plant just outside the town where a large part of the population finds employment. This smelter also happens to be one of the world's biggest emitters of sulfur dioxide affecting the environment (and people!) living nearby - including those on the other side of the border. Emissions and the future of the Nikel smelter continues to engage both the Norwegian government as well as the general population.

Visa requirements have been eased in the last few years in the border area which has led to a large increase of visitors from Norway, mostly interested in cheap gasoline but in the process driving a small boom economy.

Get in

Buses connect with the regional capital Murmansk up to six times a day taking 3½ hours. A single ticket costs about 500 RUB. Also, the daily bus from Kirkenes, across the border in Norway, to Murmansk makes a stopover in Nikel, tickets are about 300 NOK.

Regional trains linking Nikel with the rest of Kola have been cut since early 2014.



A majority of foreign visitors, almost exclusive from Norway, comes to Nikel for buying cheap gasoline. Prices here are less than half of those across the border.




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This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, January 31, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.