Visit Vladivostok & The Russian Far East | Russia Travel Guide

Incredible Vladivostok & The Russian Far East

22.10.2019
Russky Bridge, Vladivostok
 

Often when people think of going to Russia for the first time they have a vague idea of what to expect from their trip. And even if potential travelers have some expectations, they don’t usually go beyond bears, balalaikas, vodka, and, of course, the two magnificent Russian capitals. Although Moscow and Saint Petersburg are rightfully considered to be the heart of Russia, this incredible country is so multifaceted in terms of nature, culture, history, and people, that even if you put both of them on your travel agenda, you won't get much closer to understanding the enigma of the mysterious Russian soul (although will definitely fall in love with this one-of-a-kind country). To properly comprehend the splendor of Russia, you need to look off the beaten path. And one of the best places to have a closer look at is glorious Vladivostok.

 

Why Go to Vladivostok

The most significant city in the Russian Far East, Vladivostok is known as the town of sailors. It was founded only 160 years ago as a small military port and, despite being one of the youngest additions to the country, somehow managed to find its way to all the "Best Russian Cities to Visit" lists over the years.

Its name originated from the combination of two words, vladet (meaning "to own") and vostok (meaning "east"), giving a clue for anyone, curious to find Vladivostok on a map.

For obvious reasons, the neighboring Chinese are not very fond of the city's name and if you happen to travel the land of the rising sun, you are most likely to hear them talk about the city, using its Chinese historical name Haishenwai, translated as the "small seaside village".

Vladivostok, Russia
 
Russian Navy Fleet, Vladivostok, Russia

Surrounded by water on three sides, Vladivostok boasts a superb geographical location as well as the status of the home port of the Russian Navy fleet, located in the Pacific Ocean. As you can guess, the military importance influenced the development of the city the most.

During Soviet times, for 40 years the city of Vladivostok was a secret navy base, closed for any visitors who didn't have official (and usually work-related) permission to enter the picturesque town.

And almost half a century of isolation is what helped the capital of the Far East to keep its Russian identity despite being much closer to China and North Korea than to the capital of the country. Even more, both Los Angeles and Canberra are closer to Vladivostok, than Moscow is!

 

This amazing city is truly a remarkable place and an incredible fusion of Asian, European, and its native Russian cultures. But don't think that with all that influence, Vladivostok has lost its personality, far from it! On the contrary, it took the best it could from the different worlds and blended it into its identity, creating something special you won't find anywhere else in the world.

How to Travel to Vladivostok

As a rule, people prefer to spend a couple of days exploring Vladivostok within their extensive Russian getaway instead of considering the city as an independent holiday destination. And one of the most popular ways to see what Russia has to offer is by going on a legendary Trans-Siberian journey. And it's hardly a surprise! If you take one of the most scenic countries and the longest railway route in the world, add the comfort of a 1st class rail car and a knowledgeable tour curator to the mix, you'll surely get a recipe of a journey of a lifetime.

In this case, amazing Vladivostok acts as the last stop on the Trans-Siberian Railway (or the first one, depending on whether you prefer to travel from Europe to Asia or vice versa), a grand final or an awe-inspiring opening of an incredible Russian adventure. Regardless of the direction travelers choose, usually, they have a couple of days to explore the wonderful city. And there are some incredible things to see.

 

Things to See in Vladivostok

Russki Bridge, Vladivostok, Russia

Russki Bridge

The striking symbol of the city, the Russian Bridge is one of the first places you should stop by during your Vladivostok travel. If you've ever wondered why locals affectionately call Vladivostok "our Russian San Francisco", one look at the elegant structure, strongly reminding the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge, is enough to satisfy your curiosity. The glorious construction looks very impressive in the daylight, but when the night falls and the Russky Bridge lights up, it switches from being very impressive to being unforgettable. The illumination was designed to make the structure look like it is floating in the air, leaving visitors with a bit of a mystical aftertaste as well as a bunch of amazing photos.

The construction of the world's longest cable-stayed bridge was accompanied by extreme weather conditions, including strong winds and very low outside temperatures.

 

Even the installation of the final consoles, closing the structure had to happen at night! The reason for this is solar radiation, coming from the sun, that is capable of influencing the characteristics of the steel blocks ever so slightly, but for joining the grooves of such a complex structure extreme accuracy is a "must".

Submarine S-56 Museum

The legendary Submarine S-56 is one of the most remarkable Vladivostok tourist attractions. Once the most efficient Soviet submarine of the USSR during World War II, now it's an eternal monument to the bravery of the Russian soldiers.

In order not to sound baseless in our praises, let us share some interesting facts about the ship. The Submarine S-56 was declared sunk 16 times by Hitler's army, it destroyed 10 enemy submarines, seriously damaged 4 more, and became one of the first submarines to make its way around the Earth. And it's only according to the official figures!

The captain of the ship said that the real number of the submarine’s victories is much bigger but keeping any kind of records was rather difficult during the war and part of the data was lost.

Submarine S-56 Museum, Vladivostok, Russia
 

Now the iconic ship has retired and serves as a living museum, welcoming hundreds of visitors every day. During the guided tour you can learn the history of the heroic ship and see what life was like for its crew all those years ago.

 
Eagle's Nest Observation Point, Vladivostok, Russia

Eagle's Nest Observation Point

Another distinguishing characteristic that Vladivostok shares with The City by the Bay is that it was built on the hills, scattered along the shores of the Golden Horn Bay.

The Eagle's Nest is the highest hill in historical Vladivostok, part of the Sikhote-Alin mountain range, boasting a very interesting phenomenon called "Broken Bow" when, under certain conditions, the observer can see his or her shadow, projected on clouds and sometimes surrounded by colorful halo-like rings.

Although we can't guarantee that you will be able to catch the peculiar phenomenon when visiting the Eagle's Nest Observation Point on the top of the eponymous hill, we can promise that the incredible views over spectacular Vladivostok won't leave you disappointed.

 

There are two ways to get to the top of Eagle's Nest. You can choose an old-school way and get to the observation point by taking the stairs, although keep in mind that there are almost 400 steps, leading to the top. Travelers who prefer to put their energy into exploring the city rather than stair climbing are welcome to take a funicular that can take you to the Eagle's Nest Observation Point in a bit over 1.5 minutes.

 

Beyond Vladivostok: Russia's Far East Wonders

As you can see, Vladivostok is a remarkable place that is worth your attention, just as much as the whole region does. The Far East of Russia is extraordinary and, unlike the European part of the country, less discovered, not spoilt for visitors, but just as much ready to surprise.

If you feel like a trip to Vladivostok is not enough to quench your thirst for adventure, you can spice up your Russian Far East travel by visiting the "Land of the Leopard" National Park, protecting the endangered Amur tigers and Far Eastern leopards, the rarest big cats on the planet.

Or you can travel to the Russian Loch Ness, the Labynkyr Lake in the Sakha Republic (although locals prefer to use its unofficial name, Yakutia). According to the local legend, the lake is home to a terrible monster, called Labynkyr's Devil. Quite a few scientific expeditions, trying to find a creature were held over the years but to no avail, although the scientists were unable to prove that the devil is nothing more than local folklore. In 2005, the animal jaws and bones were found in the huge anomaly crack in the bottom of the lake, so the theory about the Labynkyr's Devil is still a mystery to be uncovered.

Amur Tiger, Vladivostok, Russia
 
Kamchatka Penisula, Russia

Another interesting place to explore is the picturesque Kamchatka Peninsula. The area is overflowing with the volcanos, there are 160 of them on the territory of 270 000 sq km (100 000 sq mi) and 29 are still active and can be hiked. The daredevils who've done it say that the views are jaw-dropping and that seeing the fumes, escaping from the top, and knowing that there are tonnes of molten rock under your feet definitely bring the experience into the "like no other" category.

Just staying in the capital of Kamchatka, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, surrounded by the three magnificent volcanoes, can be a nerve-wracking experience. Two of the giants are still active and from time to time travelers can feel the ground shattering beneath their feet which can be slightly shocking, to say the least. Locals, on the other hand, are very fond of the magnificent landmarks and affectionately call them "our domestic volcanos".

 

There is a lot more to Russia that meets the eye and the Far East Region of the biggest country in the world is a treasure waiting to be discovered! It boasts everything a dream travel destination has to have, including the remarkable cities, breathtaking nature, unique cultures, and amazing landmarks. And no Russia vacation can do without a trip to the miraculous capital of the Far East. If you are interested in booking a Vladivostok trip to see its wonders for yourself, don't hesitate to contact one of our experienced travel specialists for details.

 
 

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