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Travel Guide Europe Russia Northwestern Russia Murmansk

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Introduction

Murmansk Region

Murmansk Region

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Murmansk is a city in the north of the Kola Peninsula, in the northwest of Russia and is a major seaport with around 300,000 inhabitants. The number of people in the city is drastically declining, from almost half a million in the late 1980's! Still, it is the world's largest city north of the Arctic Circle.

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Sights and Activities

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.

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Weather

Murmansk has a subarctic climate with cold winters and cool summers. From June to August temperatures are mostly around 14-18 °C with nights below 10 °C on average. Winters from December to February see days of around -6 °C to -8 °C and nights mostly between -12 °C and -14 °C. The alltime low is almost -40 °C though! Summers see most of the rain of course, and from November to March there is snowfall on 20-25 days a month.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max-7.8 °C-7.7 °C-3.2 °C1.7 °C7.3 °C13.9 °C17.2 °C14.7 °C9.5 °C3 °C-2.4 °C-6 °C
Avg Min-14.5 °C-14.1 °C-9.7 °C-4.6 °C0.7 °C5.6 °C9 °C7.8 °C4.3 °C-1.1 °C-7.6 °C-12.2 °C
Rainfall32 mm22 mm19 mm20 mm30 mm54 mm61 mm66 mm53 mm44 mm42 mm37 mm
Rain Days9767710101111111010

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Getting There

By Plane

Murmansk Airport (MMK) has flights to Moscow, Arkhangelsk, Helsinki, Tromso, St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad.

The airport is located about 40 kilometres south of Murmansk, near the town of Murmashi. Taxis to the city centre cost RUB600-700 and make the trip in about 40 minutes. Catching a taxi waiting outside the airport is more expensive, expect to pay up to RUB800, 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 Train

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.

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.

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

By Car

The M18 Kola Motorway goes south, connecting with the rest of Russia. 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 09:00 (Norwegian time) might end at 16:00 (Russian time).

By Bus

Pasvik Turist provides a bus connection from Kirkenes in Norway daily at 14:00 or 15:00 (confirm on website) for 350 NOK one-way or 600 NOK return. They also offer Russian taxi (maximum 3 passengers) from 2,000 NOK one way.

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 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 port and immigration/customs officials.

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Getting 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 RUB400. Unmarked taxis can be cheaper but are generally a bit unreliable to use for those not fluent in the native tongue.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Russia is a huge country, and excess to the internet varies a lot. The main cities and tourist places have (free) wifi excess at lots of places, like restaurants and cafes (McDonald's is always a safe bet). Internet cafes are present in larger places as well. Rural areas and especially if you venture into remote and/or mountainous areas have little excess at all. Most travellers will find connections though when using their phone or tablet.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

The emergency number is 112. The country code for Russia is 7. Russian phone numbers have an area code with three, four or five digits (according to their province), followed by an individual number with, respectively, 7, 6 or 5 digits, always yielding 10 digits in total. The three digit code 800 is used for toll-free calls. Mobile phones always have three-digit "area" codes and seven-digit numbers. Calls within any one area code may omit the area code (except in Moscow). Inter-area code calls within Russia: 8 (wait for tone) full Russian number including area code. The international access code for dialling outwith Russia is the sequence of 8 (wait for secondary tone and then) 10. International calls to Russia, as always, replace the plus sign (+) in the international phone format with the local international access code for the country you're calling from, followed by Russia's country code of 7 followed by the individual Russian phone number including area code.

You will require a SIM-unlocked GSM 900 / 1800 compatible international cell phone when buying a Russian SIM card. If you do not have your own international cell phone, it's best to buy a cheap cell phone with some value on the card. Foreigners can purchase a local SIM card by showing your passport. BeeLine is considered to be the best in terms of reliability and connections quality. However Megafon's services can be a bit cheaper.

Post

Russian Post is the national postal service of Russia. It's English version is currently under construction, but mainly involves the track&trace system. The domestic post is reasonably reliable, and sending international mail is fairly reliable but slow, taking at least a few weeks to European countries, longer to the USA or Australia for example. The delivery of mail sent from abroad to Russia is highly unreliable, and people or companies tend to use foreign adresses, from where a private carrier sends it to Russia. Alternatives like poste restante are non-existent with Russian Post. Most cities and large towns in Russia have a Central Post Office (Glavpochtamt), which also sells stamps and envelopes, and usually has fax services and Internet availability, though the latter mostly not in smaller places. Also, many hotels have postal services, including mail boxes. Post offices tend to keep long hours, usually from 8:00am or 9:00am until 8:00pm or 9:00pm Monday to Friday, and closing earlier during weekends. The main central post offices in the biggest cities keep even longer hours. For sending parcels, you can also try services by DHL Russia and FedEx Russia. For all mail you can use the regular alphabet, though maybe include the country's name in Cyrillic. For sending post to Russia (or trying to receive it) note that addresses should be in reverse order: Russia, postal code, city, street address, name.

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Accommodation in Murmansk

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This is version 3. Last edited at 11:47 on Oct 23, 17 by Utrecht. 10 articles link to this page.

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