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.
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.
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.
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.
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. There's also cheaper regional trains from Nikel, close to the Norwegian border, and Apatity.
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.
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 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.
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. 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.
- Alyosha Statue (North of centre on hill near lake Semyonovskaya, access by road that curves around north of the lake. Nearest bus stop 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). excursions weekends 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm; there may be evening excursions on other days. The world's first nuclear-powered surface ship now rests in the docks of Murmansk and has been turned into a museum ship. It also features as a showcase for the Russian nuclear fleet, Atomflot. As of summer 2013, going aboard the ship is only allowed on excursions. Russian citizens - 100 rub., Foreigners - 150 rub., no additional charge for photos.
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.
- 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.
- Northern Navy Museum, Ul. Tortseva 15 (By public transit, take any buses/marshrutkas to the north that are marked "Севморпуть" (Sevmorput') or "Ловова" (Lobova). Exit at the stop near Lobova 42. Continue walking north along Lobova to Tortseva. (Tortseva will be marked as a dead-end street. Walk towards the big blue building and around the right (north) side where all the columns are. The entrance to the museum is on this side of the building and is difficult to see.), ☎ 22 14 45. 9am-1pm, 2pm-7pm, Thu-Mon. 50 rub..
- Regional Arts Museum, Ul. Kominterna 13, ☎ 45 03 85. 11am to 6pm, Wed-Sun.
- Regional History Museum, Prospekt Lenina 90 (10-minute walk from Five Corners Square or trolleybus 3 or 6 to ulitsa Volodarskovo (ул. Володарского)), ☎ 42 26 17. 11am to 6pm (last entry 5pm), 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. 100rub., 50rub. extra for photos.
- Shipping History Museum, Ul Volodarskovo 6 (10-minute walk from Five Corners Square, trolleybus 3 or 6 to ulitsa Volodarskovo (ул. Володарского), or trolleybus 2 or 4 to ulitsa Volodarskovo (ул. Володарского) northbound or ulitsa Chelyuskintsev (ул. Челюскинцев)), ☎ 48 13 56. 9am to 5pm, daily except Saturday.
A nice and popular way to see the city is to take the ferry across Kola fjord.
- Oceanarium (Океанариум), Ul. Geroev-severomortsev 4 (On Lake Semyonovskaya), ☎ . See trained seals perform in the white domed building.
- Sport Complex "South Slope" (Южный склон), Vostochno-Obyezdnaya doroga, 9 (Just of the main bypass road towards Severomorsk, northeast of city centre.), ☎ . Small but popular ski complex that's just a few minutes away from the city. The main slope is just over 500 metres. There's a ski shop and a café.
- 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! 0.
- Cafe "cafe ~ cafe", Prospekt Lenina 65, ☎ 45-22-92, e-mail: email@example.com. Sun-Thu 11am-11pm, Fri-Sat 11am-1am. A pleasant, new cafe with a variety of delicious entrees, soups, drinks, coffee, desserts, and salads. On par with any good cafe in a much larger city. Great service. Entrees 300-500 rubles.
- 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 Meridian Hotel on Five Corners Square), ☎ . Menu in English Entrees 600-1000 rubles.
- Cafe Yunost, Prospekt Lenina 86 (Next to the Anatoliy Bredov Statue). Coffees and desserts in a relaxing environment.And jolly good chicken and chips.
- McDonald's, ulitsa Leningradskaya 20, korpus 3, "Волна" (Volna) shopping center (Entrance off Ul. Yegorova), ☎ 55-70-69. 7am-11:30pm. The world's northernmost McDonald's. Ordering at the counter with cash or via kiosk in English or Russian with a credit/debit card. 200 rub..
- Bulldog Pub (Паб Бульдог), ul. Karla Marksa, 48 (Up the stairs and right from intersection ul. Karla Marksa/ul. Poliarnie Zori), ☎ . Newly opened sports bar showing matches from English premier league and more. A good selection of draft beer, including ales. Typical pub food is also served.
- Club Marrakesh, ul. Shmidta 43, ☎ . Fr-Sa 11PM-06AM. A swank club hosting many events. Has a fine selection of wines and even a cigar room. Open til early morning.
- Moisey (Моисей), 9/1 Kominterna St. (downstairs in shopping complex across from the train station). There don't seem to be a lot of wireless internet hotspots so Моисей is a good option. With 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.
- Arktika Hotel, Prospekt Lenina 82 (North side of Five Corners Square.). The former Soviet flagship hotel now closed for renovation. After several years delays it's now targeted to open in early summer 2014.
- Hotel Ogni Murmanska, ul. Ogni Murmanska 1 (On the bypass road towards Severmorsk.), ☎ . Hotel and resort complex overlooking the city from it's eastern mountain slopes. This is a good option if you are exploring the surrounding nature and wildlife rather then Murmansk itself. Standards are good, there's 80 beds in 37 rooms aswell as several cottages. The resturant is very nice and popular, if somewhat overpriced. All major credit cards are accepted. From 3500 RUB per night..
- Meridian Hotel, ul. Vorovskogo 5/23 (South side of Five Corners Square.), ☎ . Not related to the international chain of 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.
- Park Inn Poliarnie Zori, ul. Knipovicha 17 (A short walk up the hill from the Detskiy Mir bus stop.), ☎ , fax: +7(8152) 289-543. A clean, well-located hotel with helpful front desk staff. Includes the very popular nightclub Ledokol ("Ледокол") which often hosts live music performances. From 1300 rubles for a basic single.
- Finland (Murmansk office of the General Consulate of Finland in Saint Petersburg), Karl Marks street, 25 A, ☎ , fax: +7 (8152) 448-341, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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), fax: +7 (8152) 45-74-51, 47-61-78, 45-68-71, e-mail: email@example.com. Mon-Thu 9-00 - 12-00.
- Norway (General Consulate), S. Perovskaya street, 5, ☎ +7 (8152) 40-06-00 (common), (8152) 40-06-20 (visas), fax: +7 (8152) 45-74-51, 47-61-78, 45-68-71, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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), fax: +7 (8152) 45-74-51, 47-61-78, 45-68-71, e-mail: email@example.com. 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.