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Kaliningrad

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Europe : Russia : Kaliningrad Oblast : Kaliningrad
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The Kaliningrad Cathedral

Kaliningrad (Russian: Калинингра́д kuh-leen-een-GRAHD) [1], also known by its original German name, Königsberg, is the capital city of Kaliningrad Oblast a Russian exclave. It has about 450,000 inhabitants and is called 'Karaliaucius' in Lithuanian (Lithuanians [cousins to the 'Old Prussians'] used to live there). Along with the Polish name (Krolewiec) it is sometimes known as the 'City of the Four Ks: Kaliningrad/Konigsberg/Krolewiec/Karalaucius'. Following WWII 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 Koenigsberg 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 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 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 if you hold 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 (and not the rest of Russia), you may be able to obtain a special Kaliningrad visa if you fulfil all of the following conditions:

  • your stay in Kaliningrad is a maximum of 3 days
  • you are a citizen of a Schengen member state, the UK or Japan
  • you enter and exit Kaliningrad from the border check points of Bagrationovsk, Mamonovo and/or Khrabrovo Airport

For more information on how to obtain the special Kaliningrad visa, visit the website of the Representation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation in Kaliningrad.

By plane

Kaliningrad Hrabrovo Airport 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:

  • Aeroflot (Moscow-Sheremetyevo, St. Petersburg)
  • airBaltic (Copenhagen, Riga)
  • Air Berlin (Berlin)
  • Belavia (Minsk)
  • Gomelavia (Grodno, Gomel, Minsk)
  • Rossiya (St. Petersburg)
  • Sky Express (Moscow-Vnukovo)
  • UTair Aviation (Moscow-Vnukovo)

By train

The South Train Station

First of all, be aware that trains leaving from Kaliningrad runs 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 Russia, trains leave on time but you get to the station late! Clocks at stations use Moscow time.

As of now (May 2011) train connections with central European countries are scarce and regular over-night trains from Berlin and Warsaw have been drastically reduced. However, there will be a nightly train from Berlin taking 17 hours during May-October 2011. Long-distance trains are however still running if travelling from the east. Departures are daily from Moscow (22 h) via Minsk (11 h) and every two days from Saint Petersburg (26 h). More irregular services are avalible from Kiev (26 h), Kharkiv (30 h), the northern city of Murmansk (61 h) and Chelyabinsk (69 h) in the Urals. While trains from Black Sea resorts such as Sochi (61 h) and Sevastopol (41 h) are intended mostly for tourists getting home, it is still possible to book regular tickets on them, except 1-2 trains a week during summer.

In summer season regional trains PKP [2] depart from Gdynia via Sopot and Gdansk. Or not, check the website.

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. On large roads, signs are displayed in Cyrillic an Roman letters).

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, and expect up to 5 hours or more on exit, which is why most inhabitants of Kaliningrad prefer the bus which uses a special corridor at the border). 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: [3]

  • Bus from Tallinn via Riga, see:

[4]

  • Bus to/from Gdansk to Kaliningrad, with two companies.

- Zelenogradsk-Trans, price is Zloty 50 (500 Rubles) from Kaliningrad to Gdansk). You can buy tickets until 6 PM at the underground level of the bus station, located behind Gdansk's train station, or directly with the driver, if you are more adventurous. The bus leaves Gdansk at 06:00, 15:00 and 17:00 (as of June 2013). Small coaches leaving from Platform 11 in Gdansk, arriving at Autobus Vokzal in Kaliningrad. Website : [5]

- KenigAuto, departure from Gdansk at 6:30 and 15:30, from Kaliningrad to Gdansk at 6:30 and 16:30. Price is also 500 Rub. In summer 2013 there is a special offer at Rub 350. Comfortable coaches with TV in Russian and free coffee. When the bus is full, however, border transit times are longer because of the number of passengers. Schedules are subject to change, it is advised to consult the company's website at [6]. It leaves from another platform in Gdansk, further on the right when you are looking at the bus station from the street, in Gdansk, and leaves from Moskovskiy Prospekt (where the company is located) or from the Train Station, not far from the entrance (so not at the autobus station). You must buy your ticket in advance, seats are numbered.

Please note that the schedule on the following websites, that appear via a Google search, are not actual: [7], [8]

  • 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 [9]

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 12 rubles (US$0.40) 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

  • Königsberg Cathedral, ulitsa Kanta (Kant's street), 1 (Easily approachable by foot either from the direction of the Kaliningrad Hotel (take the left side of the Leninsky Prospekt auto bridge south, and descend the stairs when the cathedral appears on your left) or from the direction of the Fish Village), +7-4012-934-583, [10]. 9am to 5pm. Originally built in 1333-1380 and largely reconstructed after World War II, the cathedral on Kneiphof Island along the Pregolya River is a sight to see. The cathedral links Kaliningrad to its German past, where the Prussian kings were once crowned. There are two rooms in the Cathedral Museum devoted to the life of Kant, whose tomb lies beside the cathedral walls. Up the stairs to the left of the main door is a three-story museum dedicated to the life and work of Immanuel Kant (separate ticket needed). Kant's grave can be viewed outside the cathedral, on the northeast corner of the building. 270 rubles. (54.706389,20.511667)
The 'Monster' as viewed from the Plaza Center
  • The House of Soviets. Known to locals as 'The Monster,' this is sort of an anti-attraction, but useful for orientation in the city center. It was constructed on the ruins of the Königsberg Castle, but was deemed structurally unsound and therefore never occupied. Rumor has it that a mysterious owner prevents it from being demolished. An archaeological dig is active on the grounds, which is not open to tourists, but specialists may be able to arrange for a visit of the remains of the castle.
  • The old fortifications (approx. 1860-'70). Includes 15 town gates - Sackheim, King's, Rossgarten, Attack, Railway, Brandenburg, Friedland, Friedrich Wilhelm III. One of the towers is home to the Amber Museum.
  • Amber Museum, Marshal Vasilevsky Square 1 (In the Dohna Tower of the city wall), (4012) 46 68 88 (, fax: (4012) 46 65 50), [11]. 10am to 7pm, daily except Monday. Houses a large number of amber ornaments and jewellery from Yantarny in the wider Kaliningrad region. 90 Rubles.
  • Bunker Museum, Universitetskaya, 2a (Enter the first courtyard to the right behind the Kaliningrad Hotel), +7(4012) 536-593, [12]. daily except Wednesday, 10am to 4pm. A bit hard to find (one must weave through three or four courtyards and children's playgrounds before finding it, which is barely marked except by two black upright triangular canopies over the bunker doors), it was the headquarters of the local German command during the 1945 battle. A museum of the city's German past (which lasted 689 years) and Soviet "liberation" of the city, including several interesting dioramas of events during the days of the battle. 50 rubles. (54°42'47N,20°30'35E)
  • Museum of the World Ocean, Nab. Petra Velikovo 1, (4012) 53 89 15 (), [13]. 11am to 6pm, Wed-Sun. includes two museum ships and one submarine.
  • Victory Square. The central area where the administrative buildings, banks and shops are.
  • Fishing Village. Red-roofed buildings and colourful exteriors illustrate the charm of old Koenigsberg, what Kaliningrad used to be known as.

Do

  • Kaliningrad event calendar 'Kaliningradcity.ru events' (Kaliningradcity.ru events), [14]. Events, updated daily
  • Annual Jazz Festival 'Don Chento Jazz', [15]. Takes place in August
  • Fish at the Baltic sea, (See Curonian Spit sand dunes below). All year round
  • Trek in the forests, (Two-hour drive from the city). Soak up nature in the untouched forests
  • Kaliningrad's annual two-day City Day. Commemorates its founding since 1255. It is celebrated in July. The city comes out in full force to party under the dazzling fireworks, concerts, performances, sports, arts and car-related events.

Buy

  • Europa shopping mall, Ploshad Pobedy, 2A Victory Square (Train to Severnyy vokzal), 8 (4012) 21-08-23. 66,000 m2 of high-end boutiques, cinemas, food and beverage outlets ranging from fine-dining restaurants, cosy cafes to cheap food kiosks.

Amber jewellery and art and craft is the local specialty:

  • Kaliningrad Amber Factory, Ul. Chernyakhovskovo 62 (also other locations in the city), 8 (4012) 53 05 45 (), [16]. Factory store offering a wide variety of jewelry and objets d'art for almost any budget.
  • Amber pavillion, (A few blocks up Leninsky Prospekt from the Kaliningrad Hotel). opens at 10am. Several stores grouped together with a variety of amber items at competitive prices.
  • Yantarny, Information tourist center «Gorod Vdohnoveniya», Masterov Square, Yantarny settlement (Located an hour's drive from the city), 8-911-462-79-59/ 8-911-462-79-59 (). Yantarny has the biggest amber mine in the world and accounts for more than 90 per cent of the world's output. This settlement has a wide variety of amber products.
  • Amber Museum's gift shop, 236016 1, Marshal Vasilevsky square, 8 (4012) 46 68 88, 46 65 50 (). You can buy a piece of amber from 240 rubles.

Eat

  • Papasha Beppe Pizzaria, Leninsky Pr. 20/26 and Baltiiskaya Ul. 12 (Central location on Leninsky Prospekt is within walking distance of the Plazma Center). 11am to 11pm. Many locals consider this to be the best thin crust and thick crust pizza in town, and Papasha Beppe also offers a wide variety of reasonably-priced salads, pastas, risottos, and desserts. 200-600 Rubles per pizza.
  • Zarya, Prospekt Mira 41/43 (Just up the street from the Moscow Hotel), (4012) 21-39-29. A trendy, upscale restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating, wide selection on the menu, excellent desserts. In the same building as a movie theater.
  • Karamel, Leninsky Prospekt 30 (On the top floor of the Plaza Center; note the separate elevator to the right of the main entrance to the shopping mall.), (4012) 53-04-61. Some of the best views from the city from this cafe. Excellent food and fairly broad range of European cuisine, approximately 500 rubles per entree.
  • Kropotkin, Teatralnaya ulitsa 30 (Next to the big McDonalds near Victory Square.), +7 401 266 8060. Self-made beer (100 RUB 0,5l), probably the best in town. Try the unfiltered one. Acceptable food, cosy beerhall atmosphere and business lunch. 400 RUB.
  • Razgulyai, Ploshad' Pobedy 1, (4012) 533-689. Cafeteria-style restaurant with rustic decor. Good for children.
  • Twelve Chairs (Dvenadstat' Stulyev). A very chic bohemian style cafe with a decent food menu
  • In the Shadows of the Castle (V Teni Zamka, (In the strip mall across from the Kaliningrad Hotel, on the same block as the 'Monster'). opens at 11am. One of Kaliningrad's longest-lasting cafes.
  • Viktoriya Supermarket, Leninsky Prospekt 30 (Ground floor of the Plaza Center). A 24-hour supermarket, useful for self-caterers. Other locations throughout the city, too.
  • Solyanka Cafe, 24 Prospect Mira, +7-4012-936-203. Try the solyanka, a a thick, piquant soup that is either meat-based, fish-based or vegetable-based. It is cooked with preserved cucumbers, olives, capers and tomato puree that give a strong sour-salty taste to the the soup. Solyanka is perhaps one of the most popular soups besides borscht (beetroot soup) in Russia, but remains unknown beyond the national boundaries. 500 rubles.
  • Hmel Restaurant and Brewery, Pobedi Square, 10, 'Klover' Shopping Centre, 2nd Floor (Situated next to the Victory Square), +7-4012-593-377. Savour traditional Russian and Siberian cuisine. 700 rubles.

Drink

  • Hmel Restaurant and Brewery, Pobedi Square, 10, 'Klover' Shopping Centre, 2nd Floor (Situated at the Victory Square), +7-4012-593-377. Live music starts at 9pm every night. A gigantic brewery on the second floor churns out home-made beer. 95 rubles/glass.
  • Local Beer. Local beer brands that are available in stores include Ostmark and Königsberg.

Sleep

  • Kaliningrad Hotel, Leninsky Prospekt 81 (Very center of the city), +7 4012 536021 (), [17]. A landmark hotel in the city center, clean and well renovated, within walking distance to most sights. Breakfast buffet is 250 Rubles extra. 2100-2500 Rubles per night.
  • Moscow Hotel, Prospekt Mira 19, +7 4012 352333 (), [18]. Affiliated with the Kaliningrad Hotel, and quite similar although a little bit up the road, but still near the city center. 2100-2500 Rubles.
  • Skipper Hotel, Oktyabrskaya Ulitsa 4A (In the Fish Village), +7 4012 592-000 (), [19]. A boutique hotel in the Fish Village, within walking distance of the cathedral and the circus. Breakfast buffet is 200 Rubles extra. 2500-2800 Rubles per night.
  • The Art Hotel «Pushkin Hall», Dostoevskogo st. 19, +7 (4012) 36-57-52, [20]. checkin: 14:00; checkout: 12:00. It is a family hotel where you can feel at home or at your close friends’. 40 Eur. (20.530592,54.737789)
  • Amigos Hostel, Yablonevaya Alleya 34, +7 911 485 9761 (), [21]. checkin: 12; checkout: 11.00. Hostel is a two-story house with a fenced free parking. Kitchen combined with a spacious dining room. Bathroom on the second floor and shower room on the first floor. English speaking staff, free WiFi. 30-40 minute walk to the centre. 500-600 RUB.
  • Radisson Hotel Kaliningrad, 10 Pobedy Square 236010 Kaliningrad, + 7 (401) 259 3344 (), [22]. Located in the historic main square of Kaliningrad. The hotel contains 178 rooms and suites created by Swedish designer Christian Lundveld

Contact

Consulates

  • Am-flag.png Armenia (Honourary Consulate), Kievskaya street, 23, +7 (4012) 681-083, 680-022.
  • Hr-flag.png Croatia (General Consulate), Dzherzhinskogo street, 244-A, +7 (4012) 60-05-55 (fax: +7 (4012) 60-05-56).
  • Da-flag.png Denmark (Honourary Consulate), Proletarskaya street, 133, +7 (4012) 95-76-88.
  • Gm-flag.png Germany (General Consulate), Leningradskaya street, 4, +7 (4012) 920-218 (short-term visas), 920-220 (admission), 920-219 (national visas) (, fax: +7 (4012) 920-229). Mon-Thu, 9AM-5PM; Fri 9AM-2PM.
  • Gr-flag.png Greece (Honourary Consulate), Ogareva street, 33, +7 (4012) 93-60-27 ().
  • It-flag.png Italy (Honourary Consulate), Chernyakhovskogo street, 6 office 108, +7 (4012) 53-24-32 (, fax: +7 (4012) 53-24-32).
  • Lg-flag.png Latvia (General Consulate), Engels street, 52-а, +7 (921) 107-4224, (411) 270-6755, (401) 256-5502, 295-7441 (, fax: +7 (921) 232-9750). Mon-Fri, 9AM-6PM.
  • Lh-flag.png Lithuania (General Consulate), Proletarskaya street, 133, +7 (4012) 95-7688, 95-9486 (, fax: +7 (4012) 95-6838). Mon-Fri, 8-30 - 12-30.
  • Nl-flag.png Netherlands (Representation at the General Consulate of Sweden), Kutuzova street, 29, +7 (4012) 959-400 (, fax: +7 (4012) 959-433). Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri, 9-00 - 12-00.
  • No-flag.png Norway (Honourary Consulate at the General Consulate of Poland), Kashtanovaya Alley, 51, +7 (4012) 976-440, visa issues - (4012) 218-741 (, fax: +7 (4012) 976-443). Mon-Fri, 8-30AM - 1-00PM.
  • Pl-flag.png Poland (General Consulate), Kashtanovaya Alley, 51, +7 (4012) 976-440, visa issues - (4012) 218-741 (, fax: +7 (4012) 976-443). Mon-Fri, 9-00AM - 2-00PM.

Visa Centers

  • En-flag.png Estonia (Estonian visa service provided by the Consulate of Lithuania), Proletarskaya street, 133, +7 (4012) 95-7688, 95-9486 (, fax: +7 (4012) 95-6838). Mon-Fri, 8-30 - 12-30.
  • Hu-flag.png Si-flag.pngHungary and Slovenia (Hungarian and Slovenian visa service provided by the Consulate of Latvia), Engels street, 52-а, +7 (921) 107-4224, (411) 270-6755, (401) 256-5502, 295-7441 (, fax: +7 (921) 232-9750). Mon-Fri, 9AM-6PM.
  • Sw-flag.png Sweden (Swedish visa service provided by the Consulate of Poland), Kashtanovaya Alley, 51, +7 (4012) 976-440, visa issues - (4012) 218-741 (, fax: +7 (4012) 976-443). Mon-Fri, 9-00AM - 2-00PM.

Get out

Curonian Spit
  • Curonian Spit [23] A nearly 50-km-long spit stretching between Zelenogradsk and the Lithuanian border, separating the Baltic Sea from the Curonian Bay, it includes pine forest, hiking paths (beware of encephalitis-bearing ticks), and beaches. The average height of the sand dunes is 35m, with some reaching to 70m high. Entry fees are 30 rubles per person, plus 200 rubles per car.
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