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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. |+|
With a population of over 300,000, Murmansk is the largest city in the Arctic and an important Russian naval base and commercial port. World War II (known 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.
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Revision as of 18:03, 14 November 2012
Murmansk (Russian: Му́рманск)  is a city in the extreme northwest of Russia and the world's largest city north of the Arctic Circle.
With a population of over 300,000, Murmansk is the largest city in the Arctic and an important Russian naval base and commercial port. During World War II (known in Russia 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.
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 avalible from Helsinki too.
The airport is located about 40km south of Murmansk, near the town of Murmashi. Taxis to the city center cost R500-600 and make the trip in about 40 minutes. Catching a taxi waiting outside the airport is more expensive, expect to pay up to R1000. For cheaper (and official) taxiservice, 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 it's way, is less expensive but much more sluggish than a taxi.
During the summer months, Murmansk Shipping Company  offers occasional trips to and from Barentsburg on Svalbard. They also serve remote villages along the northen coast of the Kola peninsula, most notably the isolated naval base of Ostrovnoy, with 2-3 trips per month.
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, it also offers first-class wagons and a restaurant onboard. All 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. There is also a local night train from Nikel close to the 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 train is located in the city center, one block downhill from Five Corners Square on ul. Kominterna, 16.
There are bus connections from Finland (Ivalo, with connecting bus from Rovaniemi) and Kirkenes in Norway. Keep in mind that departure times of Russian bus companies from Kirkenes usually are given in Moscow time.
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 avalible 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 realtime locatation of trolleybuses on the most used lines is avalible 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 then 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.
As a relativly new entity Murmansk has few real sights apart from the giant statue Alyosha; architecture buffs will, however, be intrigued by the crumbling but Stalinist architecture downtown. Walking up into the nearby hills offers remarkable views over the city, Kola bay and the surrounding completely barren mountains - revealing how far north the city really is.
- Alyosha Statue, (North of centre on hill near lake Semyonovskaya, acess by road that curves around north of the lake. Nearest bustop is Gagarina (Гагаринa), northbound trolleybus lines 2, 3 and 4 calls there). The city's pride and most recognizable sight. Officially named Defenders of the Soviet Arctic, but known as Alyosha to all, this 30-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 Lenin (Aтомный ледокол Ленин), (At the docks, cross the railway on elevated bridge next to the central station, turn right then left after 150m). The world's first nucelar powerd surface ship now rests in the docks of Murmansk and have been turned into a museum ship. It also features as a showcase for the Russian nuclear fleet, Atomflot.
The city offers several museums, all mildly interesting for a visitor but gives a good appreciation for the regions history and art.
- Arctic Research Institute Exposition, Ul. Knipovicha 6, ☎ 47 23 97. 9am to 4pm, Mon-Fri. Viewing apparently by appointment only; call and ask for Tatiana at least a few days in advance.
- Regional Arts Museum, Ul. Kominterna 13, ☎ 45 03 85, . 11am to 6pm, Wed-Sun.
- Regional History Museum, Prospekt Lenina 90, ☎ 42 26 17, . 11am to 5:45pm, daily except Thursday. Contains 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 5:00pm. 25 Rubles.
- Shipping History Museum, Ul Volodarskovo 6, ☎ 48 13 56. 9am to 5pm, daily except Saturday.
- Take a ferry across the inlet to see Murmansk from the water.
- Oceanarium, Ul. Geroev-severomortsev 4 (On Lake Semyonovskaya), ☎ 31 58 84. See trained seals perform in the white domed building.
- Orthodox Monastery, Prospekt Kolskij (trolleybus nr 6 from city centre going south). all day. Wooden, 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 itself 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 "officially" closes. Beautiful hand-crafted wooden decorations inside the church, worth a look!
- Cafe Leto, Prospekt Lenina 61 (Entrance off Ul. Yegorova), ☎ 45-96-06, . A fasionable, clean cafe with a variety of international and Russian dishes and tempting desserts. Good service, menu in English. Entrees 300-500 rubles.
- Torro Steak House, Prospekt Lenina 80 (Next to the Meridian Hotel), ☎ 45-17-00. Menu in English Entrees 600-1000 rubles.
- Cafe Yunost, Prospekt Lenina (Next to the Anatoliy Bredov Statue). Coffees and desserts in a relaxing environment.And jolly good chicken and chips.
- моисей (24-hour cafe with wireless internet), Kominterna ulitsa 9/1 (Downstairs in shopping complex across from train station.), . There doesn't seem to be a lot of wireless internet hotspots so моисей is a good option. 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.
Five Corners Square, with the Meridian Hotel on the left
- Hotel Poliarnie Zori, Ul. Knipovicha 17 (A short walk up the hill from the Detskiy Mir bus stop), ☎ +7 815 228 95 00 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +7 815 228 95 04), . A clean, well-located hotel with helpful front desk staff. Beginning at 1300 rubles for a basic single.
- Meridian Hotel, Ul. Vorovskogo 5/23 (On Five Corners Square), ☎ +7 815 228 89 00. Not related to the international chain of a similar name. The lobby displays photos of notable former guests, including President Medvedev, which gives both an indicator of class of service and price. Beginning at 3500 rubles for a single.
- Arktika Hotel, Prospekt Lenina 82 (On Five Corners Square). Closed for renovation, which is expected to finish in 2012.
- Hotel Ogni Murmanska, Ogni Murmanska st. 1 (город Мурманск), RUS-183032 Murmansk, ☎ +7 815 255 40 00. This hotel has 80 beds in 37 rooms. The standard is good and the hotel offers a very nice view. Good restaurant. The hotel accepts major credit cards, such as VISA, MasterCard and American Express.
- Finland (Murmansk office of the General Consulate of Finland in Saint Petersburg), Karl Marks street, 25 A, ☎ +7 (8152) 445-382 (email@example.com, fax: +7 (8152) 448-341). Mon-Thu 9-30 - 12-00.
- Netherlands (General Consulate), S. Perovskaya street, 5 (at General Consulate of Norway), ☎ +7 (8152) 40-06-00 (common), (8152) 40-06-20 (visas) (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +7 (8152) 45-74-51, 47-61-78, 45-68-71). Mon-Thu 9-00 - 12-00.
- Norway (General Consulate), S. Perovskaya street, 5, ☎ +7 (8152) 40-06-00 (common), (8152) 40-06-20 (visas) (email@example.com, fax: +7 (8152) 45-74-51, 47-61-78, 45-68-71). Mon-Thu 9-00 - 12-00.
- Sweden (General Consulate), S. Perovskaya street, 5 (at General Consulate of Norway), ☎ +7 (8152) 40-06-00 (common), (8152) 40-06-20 (visas) (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +7 (8152) 45-74-51, 47-61-78, 45-68-71). Mon-Thu 9-00 - 12-00.
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.