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Travel to Murmansk, the Largest City North of the Arctic Circle

TripSavvy / Aleksandr Bergan

Murmansk is the largest city in the world above the Arctic Circle and the administrative center of Murmansk Oblast. It is an important historical and cultural city largely because of its military and trade significance during World War II. The city is a perfectly preserved slice of Post-Communist Russia since it has not undergone many changes since the Communist Era.

A Brief History

Murmansk was the last city to be founded in the Russian Empire when the Russian railway system was extended to the North in 1915. During World War II, the city was one of the most important ports in the country for manufacturing and trading supplies.

Murmansk was heavily bombed during World War II by Hitler’s army; the only other Russian city that was attacked more heavily was Stalingrad. Almost the entire city burned down but Murmansk was never defeated. They were granted the honorable title of “Hero City” for their resistance against the German army.

During the Cold War, Murmansk was a port for Soviet nuclear icebreakers and submarines, many of which it still houses today. The city remains a port for fishery, exports and passenger vessels.

After 1989 the population of Murmansk declined drastically due to the fall of the Soviet Union and the rapidly worsening economic situation. Its current population is approximately 304 500 people.

Visiting Murmansk

There are two good ways to Get to Murmansk:

  • By Train:  Trains run daily to Murmansk from St. Petersburg , Moscow and many other major cities. However, due to its location in the far north, it's a long train ride - 32 hours from St. Petersburg.
  • By Airplane:  Fly into Murmansk Airport from St. Petersburg, Moscow , and Helsinki .

Where to Stay in Murmansk

You can stay at the historic 3-star Hotel Artika in the center of the city, or right beside it at the Hotel Meridian, another 3-star hotel on the Five Corners Square. Another popular and central hotel is the 4-star Park Inn Poliarnie Zori.

Weather in Murmansk

Murmansk has relatively mild weather for how far north it is. In the winter weather is usually around -10 degrees Celsius, and during the summer it usually stays around 12 degrees with rain. Polar nights (24-hour darkness) occur from December 2 – January 11, and polar days from 2 May – 22 July.

You may even be able to see the  Northern Lights : they occur 15 to 20 times throughout the winter.

Murmansk Sights and Attractions

Murmansk has lots of statues and memorials that you will encounter while walking around the city. Here are some of the most famous places to visit:

  • The Alyosha Monument: Be sure to see one of the largest war memorials in Russia, a 116-ft tall statue of an unnamed soldier in honor of the "Defenders of the Soviet Arctic during the Great Patriotic War" (World War II).
  • St. Nicholas Church: A small but significant Russian Orthodox church named after the patron saint of sailors. Nearby is a commemorative lighthouse, also dedicated to Russian sailors.
  • The Square of Five Corners: This is the central square of Murmansk, housing the DUMA, the main shopping center and the Hotel Arktika.
  • The Hotel Arktika : This was the tallest building above the Arctic Circle when it was built. It is only 16 stories high because taller buildings become unstable due to the cold climate. The hotel is open for tourist visits.
  • The Museum of Regional History: This museum houses four floors detailing the history and culture of the region, including stunning nature and animal displays that kids will enjoy.
  • The Fine Arts Museum: The only art museum above the Arctic Circle. There are more than 3000 works of art on display, focusing on artists from Murmansk and a sculpture collection.
  • The Lenin Nuclear Icebreaker: The first nuclear icebreaker built in the world, the ship is still kept in very good shape. It houses a museum with lots of hands-on exhibitions (great for kids). Tours are offered daily in English, and you can even take a look at the nuclear reactor inside.
  • The Puppet Theater: Great for kids and adults alike, the theater puts on Russian fairy tales for kids of all ages throughout the year, including Christmas tales. The strong visuals mean it's not necessary to speak Russian to enjoy the shows.
  • The Murmansk Regional Drama Theatre: This theater shows Russian plays year-round. This is a great place to soak up some Russian culture.

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The Best Things to do in Murmansk: the Russian Arctic

Due to the current situation, I advice against travel to Murmansk and Russia at the moment. All affiliated links related to Russia have been removed. But I have decided to keep my posts about Russia as it remains a beautiful country. I hope that circumstances change and that travel is possible again in the near future.

Russia has quite a history of building cities in some of the most remote and harsh environments. Murmansk is one of them. Despite the long, cold, dark and snowy winters, Murmansk developed into the largest city in the world above the Arctic circle.

Visiting Murmansk in winter sounds crazy, but it was a highlight of my trip in Russia. There are plenty of things to do in Murmansk. From visiting nucleair icebreakers to watching the northern lights and playing with huskies on a husky farm.

Murmansk is the gateway to the Russian part of Lapland and makes a great budget alternative for your arctic winter adventures that will cost you much more in neighbouring Scandinavia. Just make sure you bring enough warm clothes.

Visiting a husky farm is among the top things to do in Murmansk

A short history of Murmansk

Murmansk was only established in 1915, but became of huge strategic importance as a major port on the Arctic ocean during the Soviet Union. During the Second World war the Germans did everything to gain control over Murmansk.

Murmansk was heavily bombed and largely destroyed, but the Germans did not succeed. There was fierce resistance and along with the harsh weather conditions the German Army had to retreat. Murmansk later received the honorable title of Hero city.

During the Cold War, Murmansk was vital as a port for nuclear icebreakers and submarines. After the fall of the Soviet Union the population declined, but the port is still driving the economy of the Kola peninsula.

Soviet flats in Murmansk

The best things to do in Murmansk

The city of Murmansk is a typical Soviet city where not much has changed since the end of communism. The concrete flat blocks still dominate the city and on a cloudy rainy day it can feel dreary.

In the cold winter sun, Murmansk has its charms though. The thick blanket of white snow covering the city contrasts with the degraded pastel coloured flats. As the sun sets, the clear blue skies become a beautiful pink and purple.

There are enough things to do in Murmansk to keep you busy for a day or two, especially if you include some outdoor activities into the beautiful forested Kola peninsula.

1. Lenin nuclear icebreaker

A visit to the Lenin icebreaker was among the top things to do in Murmansk. The Lenin icebreaker was the first nuclear powered ships and mostly cleared the ice for Russian cargo ships, but was also involved in Arctic rescue missions and other Arctic expeditions.

The ship stopped working in 1989 and is now a museum ship that is interestting to visit even if you have no particular interest in ships. Most tours are in Russian, but there are some information boards with english explanations about the Arctic expeditions and the ship’s involvement.

The Lenin icebreaker is among the top things to do in Murmansk

2. World War 2 Memorial

Murmansk is one of the Soviet Union’s Hero cities. A honorary title that was given to 12 cities that played a big role in defeating Nazi Germany. For Murmansk it came at a high price.

Murmansk was heavily bombarded and the amount of destruction equaled that of Leningrad (Saint Petersburg) and Stalingrad (Moscow). Nevertheless, the fierce resistance in Murmansk kept the city firmly within Soviet control.

A small memorial that few people know about is near the Lenin Ice breaker. The more famous monument is Alyosha overlooking the Kola bay

The WW2 memorial in Murmansk

3. Alyosha Monument

Up on a hill overlooking the Murmansk port and Kola bay stands soldier Alyosha. With more than 35 meters it is the second tallest statue in Russia. It’s also known as the monument to the defenders of the Soviet arctic during the Great Patriotic War.

Alyosha looks west towards the Valley of Glory that saw some of the heaviest fighting between the Soviet and Nazi armies. In true Soviet tradition there is also a tomb of the unknown soldier and an eternal flame.

A visit to Murmansk is not complete without a visit to Alyosha. The statue is impressive as well as the beautiful views over the Kola Bay.

Alyosha is among the top things to do in Murmansk

4. Murmansk port

The Murmansk port still dominates the economy of Murmansk and it is in fact one of the largest ice free ports in Russia. There are three sections for fishing, commerce and passengers.

I am not sure you can visit the actual port as a foreign traveller, but from Alyosha you get a pretty good view over the port below.

Murmansk port

5. Walk from Alyosha to Lake Semyonovskoe

Alyosha lies up a hill and the best way to get there is by taxi. However, to get back there is a scenic walk down towards lake Semyonovskoe. At least, in winter it is beautiful when you walk down the hill in a thick blanket of snow.

Snow near Alyosha on the way to Lake Semyonovskoe

6. Lake Semyonovskoe

Lake Semyonovskoe in the middle of Murmansk was built for recreational purposes. It’s solid frozen during the winter and a great place to see the people in Murmansk having fun. Ice skating, sledding, snowshoeing and ice fishing are popular activities at the lake.

Lake Semyonovskoe

7. Church saviours on the water

At Lake Semyonovskoe you can also find the small saviours on the water church in memorial to all the seamen that perished on the sea. Below the church is also a lighthouse monument to remember the 118 men that died in the Kursk submarine accident.

8. Morzhi Ice bathers hut

Come to the Morzhi ice bathers hut at Lake Semyonovskoe to see a few brave Russians bathing in freezing waters. It’s actually for members only, but we soon had an invitation to join which I had to decline. I didn’t really think of bringing my bathing suit to Arctic Murmansk, but maybe I should have.

Lake Semyonovskoe

9. Murmansk square

The main square in Murmansk is at the heart of the city. Shopping centers, the famous Soviet hotel Arktika and in winter some ice slides make it among the top places to visit in Murmansk.

Lake Semyonovskoe

10. Soviet murals

When in Murmansk don’t forget to look at the side of the communist flat appartment buildings. Some have beautiful mural decorations with Soviet themes.

I am personally a big fan of the Soviet mosaics and Soviet architecture. Murmansk did not dissapoint me in that regard either.

Soviet mural in Murmansk

Things to do near Murmansk

There are just as many things to do outside Murmansk as inside the city. Murmansk is the gateway to the forested Kola peninsula that is home to the indigenous Sami community and several husky farms.

Exploring the Kola peninsula on your own is a bit of a challenge. I booked my northern lights tour and my visit to the Saami village and Husky farm through Visit Murmansk .

11. Watch the Northern lights in Murmansk

Murmansk is an excellent place to see the Northern lights, especially during the polar nights when the sun doesn’t come up at all. It is also one of the cheapest places to see the northern lights in this region.

If money is no issue you can always stay at the Aurora village outside of Murmansk. However, this is not necessary and a more budget friendly alternative is to join a tour with Visit Murmansk.

I had a taxi with a driver that was in contact with the office to keep himself up to date with where the highest chances for Aurora were. In the beginning we had a very short but lucky sight of the Aurora Borealis.

After that we spent two hours driving around without seeing much. Clouds were moving in and obscuring our view. As it was so cold I was almost giving up, but our driver assured me to be patient. And yes, there it was in full glory. Streaks of green and white light dacing in the sky.

12. Visit a Saami village

One of the most popular things to do near Murmansk is a visit to a Saami village . You will hardly see any other tourists in Murmansk, but you will be surprised how touristic the Saami experience actually is and I left with mixed feelings.

The Saami are the indigenous population of the Kola peninsula. They were once nomadic reindeer hunters in the tundra, but the Soviet Union changed their lifestyle forever. Forced collectivization and the closure of pastures for military purposes erased a large part of Saami culture.

They were forced to settle in the village of Lovozero where there are few employment opportunities. Tourism is one of them and the result is the Saami village. Here you can visit an Arctic zoo, pet reindeers and go on a snowmobile banana.

Although fun, I can still remember the two sad little arctic foxes in a small cage. They did not look happy and I am pretty sure this has nothing to do with indigenous Sami culture.

The Saami village also has a guesthouse and Sauna in case you like to stay longer.

How to get there : The easiest is to go on an organized tour through Visit Murmansk or another agency. It is also possible to take a train or bus from Murmsansk to Olenogorsk and then take a taxi from there. Note that the Sami village is not in Lovozero itself.

Saami village

13. Visit a husky farm

Another popular thing to do near Murmansk is a visit to a husky farm . Here I left with a much more positive feeling than after my visit to the Saami village.

I am actually a bit scared of big dogs, but I absolutely fell in love with the friendly huskies that were overly excited to play with us. An informative video shows the actual strength of the dogs and in our tour we had a short dog sledge experience. They can also organize longer dog sledging experiences if you like.

How to get there : The easiest is to go on an organized tour through Visit Murmansk or another agency or a taxi from Murmansk.

Husky farm

14. Teriberka

Teriberka at the Barents sea lies at the edge of Russia where the fall of the Soviet Union hasn’t been easy. Most people have left Teriberka and it almost feels like a ghost town.

If you have seen the film Leviathan that was filmed in this region you might wonder if there is any reason at all to come here. But the nature is spectacular and if abandoned places tickle your fancy it is certainly worth a visit.

How to get there : The easiest is to go on an organized tour through Visit Murmansk or another agency. There is a direct bus every other day from Murmansk to Teriberka leaving between 17:40 and 18:00. It returns from Teriberka the next day at 07:00 AM.

Murmansk Travel Tips

Where to eat in murmansk.

The white rabbit : The white rabbit is one of the few options where you can get a varied menu with quality food on a budget. They have a large selection of pastries and cakes and some nice salads too.

Shtolle : Shtolle is a chain restaurant throughout Russia that specializes in Russian pies. They have a huge menu with all kind of different fillings from apple, jams to muhrooms, salmon and meat.

It became one of my favourite places to eat for breakfast or lunch and I was therefore very happy to find out they had one in Murmansk as well.

Where to sleep in Murmansk

Tri Zaytsa : Mini Hotel tri zaytsa or in english the three rabbits is a friendly and small budget hostel where I had a good time.

Hotel Arktika : For a long time the Hotel Arktika held the record for being the tallest building north of the arctic circle. A classic Soviet era hotel that is prominent in Murmansks history It is still one of the best hotels in the city, but if staying here is out of your budget you can also pay a visit to its restaurant bar on the top floor.

Murmansk train station

How to get to Murmansk

by plane : The easiest way to reach Murmansk is to fly from either Moscow or Saint Petersburg.

by train : Besides flying, it is also possible to get to Murmansk by train. The Saint Petersburg to Murmansk train takes 24 hours. It’s a long, but very beautiful journey through the north of Russia.

It is one of the highlights of my train journeys along with the Kandy to Ella train in Sri Lanka , the Belgrade to Bar train and the Dogu express in Turkey .

Disclaimer : This post about the best things to do in Murmansk Russia contains affiliate links. If you buy any service through any of my links, I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you. These earnings help me to keep Backpack Adventures alive! Thanks for your support!

Due to the current situation in Ukraine all affiliated links related to Russia have been removed

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5 thoughts on “The Best Things to do in Murmansk: the Russian Arctic”

I would love to go to Russia, but I want to vist Moscow. And especially when there’s snow 😀

What an incredible trip. It really appealed to me after our trip beyond the Artic in Scandinavia. I was so sad though to read about the Saami and how their culture has been almost lost. This feels unforgivable although evolution I guess.

Murmansk sounds really lovely. I’m fascinated by these former Soviet towns and am hoping to travel to several soon. I’d love to visit in the snow!

Fascinating! Not a typical bucket list item. I would love to go there one day. Thank for the inspiration 🙂

This just looks like the ultimate off-the-beaten track adventure! Would love to have such an experience. The buildings look so Soviet! Thanks for sharing 🙂

Understand [ edit ]

With a population of over 300,000, Murmansk is the largest city in the Arctic and an important Russian naval base and commercial port. Unlike Arkhangelsk on the White Sea, its harbor does not freeze in winter. It was the last city founded by the Russian Empire . 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. This history provides a major reason to visit the city, museums and port.

Climate [ edit ]

In the Far North, Murmansk experiences cold winters with temperatures routinely dropping below −20 °C (−4 °F). The brief summer offers mild temperatures between 10–15 °C (50–59 °F). Strong winds are common, especially at the higher parts of the city.

By boat [ edit ]

During the summer months, 68.973889 33.076046 2 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.

By bus [ edit ]

Pasvik Turist [dead link] 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 (Sept 2017). They also offer Russian taxi (maximum 3 passengers) from 2000 NOK one way. A once-weekly bus service is also available from Ivalo , Finland by Auto Express .

Book in advance, and be there on time, since it is a bad idea to miss the bus and overstay Russian visas.

By car [ edit ]

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).

Get around [ edit ]


On foot [ edit ]

Although Murmansk is long and thin, most sites of interest to visitors are within a fairly compact area in the city center. 68.964005 33.073114 1 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 , 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. Both buses and trolleybuses can be much delayed during rush hours due to traffic jams. A route planner showing real time location of trolleybuses on the most used lines is available online [dead link] , the catch is it's in Russian only.

Connect [ edit ]

Consulates [ edit ], stay safe [ edit ].

Some neighbourhoods may be unsafe at night, particularly Rostu and Zhilstroy.

Packs of stray dogs roam around suburban areas and have been known to attack humans carrying food. There are also bear sightings along the road leading to the airport. Although bears usually flee upon contact, mothers protecting cubs may be aggressive.

Go next [ edit ]

The wilderness of the Kola peninsula and Murmansk Oblast is perfect for camping, fishing or hunting. Many visitors 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 .

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Magalie B, French

Aurora Village and Visit Murmansk organises day tours. We took one to Teriberka which I strongly recommend as well. Indeed, we ended up on the north-western coast of Russia on the shores of the Barents sea which was a total escape for foreigners like us ! We saw the wide and wild tundra, the one you read about in adventure novels when you are young, magnificent lakes and, of course, the old fishermen's village called Teriberka. Further away on the other side of the village, we took some pics at the ghostly but very photogenic ship cemetery : a great place for your instagram account ;-) and then, we went to Dragon eggs beach (wow !THAT is a spot !) And to a wild waterfall. I'd like to thank Oleg and his staff for making our week at Aurora village a great time. We were stuck in Russia because of covid 19 and couldn't see our family in France which we haven't seen for a year so we really appreciated their warm welcome, their disponibility and efficiency.

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Penny, Blogger of GlobeTrove

"…Next we headed out to a place that was meant for winter activities. We played with some huskies, rode snowmobiles and even did a bit of ice fishing. No! We didn’t catch anything other than a cold. It’s funny how the cold creeps up when you stand in one place for two long! That being said I must admit that we had a lot of fun. We made some great friends and learned about a new culture. We were lucky to have found a group that suited our wavelength. Half the fun of an excursion always lies with the company you have.

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Korakot Hensangvilai

"Thanks to all of your team for being very good guide, Alex, Ivan, Riga, …. I was very happy to see Aurora even only first night on 18 Feb and Ivan taken a photo for me with his good camera after knowing I had only mobile phone. Please remind Ivan kindly send me the Aurora photos.God bless you, Korakot"

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Mr. Kenichi Hayasaka

"The management of the travel company “Proco Air Service Inc.”, Tokyo, expresses its sincere gratitude for organizing an advertising tour to the city of Murmansk in the period from 23 to 26 February 2018.Thanks to your high professionalism and exceptional goodwill in communication, harmonious and organized work of the whole team of operators and guides, the tour was held at the highest level!For tourist agencies in Japan, selling winter tours around Russia is extremely difficult, almost impossible. But, after a successful tour thanks to you, taking advantage of all the invaluable knowledge gained, we, for our part, will do our best and will do everything we can to attract Japanese tourists to a new, not yet covered direction, such as the Murmansk region."

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Miss HappyFeet, Blogger

"During our hunting North Light tour, Mr. Oleg brought us across the river to take in the nice night of Murmansk city. Then, he drove us to his secret aurora spot where we prayed fervently for a glimpse of the Northern Lights. Mr. Oleg even prepared hot tea while we waited, and a bottle of (rum?) to celebrate the sighting. Weather was not the best when we were on our hunt. Fortunately we managed to locate a window of clear sky and later, witnessed a spectacular dance of the spirits from a distance."

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"Hi Oleg, thanks for your team kind help to take care of us. Out tour guide Ms Lica and Mr Ivan and also the Drivers are very kind to show us the beauty of Murmansk. We all are Glad that we engaging our activities with ur company. And surely will recommend ur team to friends who interested to come Murmansk. Big thanks to you, Dima, Lica, Ivan and drivers that we have met. Wish you have a nice day."

Remesh Aswathi

Hope you are having a good time there! We reached back and already miss! We had a good time at Murmansk!

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Tours, Attractions and Things To Do in Murmansk

Murmansk travel guide.

  • 3. Attractions and museums
  • 4. Northern lights and polar nights
  • 5. Holidays and festivals

Murmansk, Russia beckons adventurous travelers to discover its arctic culture and unusual history firsthand. Nicknamed the "Gateway to the Arctic", it is the largest city north of the Arctic Circle and a major launching point for commercial ships, fishing vessels and arctic expeditions. Murmansk is also a Hero City, a title of great honor given to select communities in Russia after World War II. A young city with a history of little more than 100 years, Murmansk has already experienced four wars but has remarkably never been conquered.

The city’s evolution from fledgling outpost to thriving city in the span of a century is fascinating in itself, yet it is the frigid arctic climate of Murmansk, Russia which continues to set it apart. Subzero temperatures and weeks of winter darkness are tempered with extraordinary natural wonders and an adaptable, almost magical culture that dictates everyday life in Murmansk while enticing visitors to experience the remote side of Russia .

History of Murmansk

The construction of a much-needed city beyond the Arctic Circle was discussed in the Russian Empire back in the 1870s. Scientific research began on the Kola Peninsula in 1912, and three years later a port was founded on the Barents Sea, next to which a small village was built and named after nearby Lake Semyonovskoye. At the same time, a railway line leading from Petrozavodsk to the Kola Peninsula was hastily constructed. The opening of the port at this northern point was very strategic, for at that time Russia was embroiled in World War I and the Baltic and Black Seas were essentially blocked. Thanks to the new port, the Russian Empire was still able to receive essential cargo from allied nations.

City status was granted to the new settlement on October 4, 1916. On the same day, St. Nicholas Cathedral was consecrated in honor of Nicholas the Wonderworker, the patron saint of seafarers who is canonized in the church. Initially called Romanov-na-Murmane, the name was changed to Murmansk after the February Revolution in 1917. During the turbulent events of 1917-1920, power in the city passed violently from the Bolsheviks to the White Guard. In February 1920, the Soviets finally took firm control of Murmansk, which by this time lay in ruins with only 2500 inhabitants.

The city was revived in the years leading up to World War II, and in 1933 it became the base for the Northern Fleet. At the Murmansk port, Russia received cargo and goods for a new mining and metallurgical plant in Norilsk which was then being built. The city’s fishing industry also developed to the extent that Murmansk began exporting fish to other cities. Gradually, multi-story brick buildings, paved streets and urban transport transformed the city from a struggling outpost to a successful regional center, and by the start of World War II the number of residents had reached 120,000.

During World War II, a German army of 150,000 troops stationed in the Arctic tried several times to storm Murmansk by land and air. Bombing raids caused fires which nearly decimated the town, with the threat of further attacks lingering over Murmansk until 1944. The city’s resiliency under these assaults prompted government officials to award Murmansk with the title of Hero City after the war finally came to an end.

Murmansk bounced back remarkably fast in the aftermath of the war, largely because the restoration of this port city was strategically important for the Soviets. By the 1950s, Murmansk’s population had returned to its pre-war count and it continued to grow in the coming decades through the addition of new neighborhoods and a steadily increasing population. Today, the economy of Murmansk is reliant upon fishing, fish processing, marine vessel repair, metal processing, marine geology and geological exploration .

Murmansk Tourism

Tourism in Murmansk, Russia revolves largely around its arctic climate, for what the city lacks in history it compensates for with unusual natural phenomena and memorable holidays that celebrate its arctic culture .

Murmansk Attractions and Museums

Since Murmansk does not have a historical center, most of its attractions are concentrated near Five Corners Square, a harmonious ensemble built in the latter half of the 20 th century. Scattered throughout the city are monuments dedicated to military heroes, including Monument to Anatoly Bredov (Soviet military leader), Victims of the Intervention of 1918-1920 Memorial, Arctic Convoys Memorial, Monument to the Icebreaker “Ermak” and Memorial to the Defenders of the Soviet Arctic. Church of Tryphon of Pechenga (Pechenga Monastery) and St. Nicholas Cathedral are notable among Murmansk’s historical-religious landmarks.

Murmansk has more than 20 institutes of higher education, making it the largest educational center in Northern Russia. The city is also known for its many unique museums, including Naval Museum of the Northern Fleet, Museum of the History of the Murmansk Shipping Company and Lenin Nuclear Icebreaker Museum .

Northern Lights and Polar Nights

From the city of Murmansk you can witness the Northern Lights, polar nights and parhelion, all unusual natural phenomena which are only visible in extreme northern latitudes.

Polar night, during which the sun never rises above the horizon, lasts from December 2 nd to January 10 th in Murmansk Region. Another rare phenomenon which can be viewed here during winter is parhelion, the refraction of sunlight in floating ice crystals which gives the illusion of 2-5 bright light sources in the sky.

The Northern Lights in Murmansk are so spectacular that some tourists visit the region specifically to enjoy these mind-blowing light performances which play across the sky. During a display of the Northern Lights, which may be seen in Murmansk from the beginning of September to around mid-April, the dark, star-studded sky is suddenly alight with bright flashes of green, turquoise, blue, pink, yellow and purple. These bright waves of light move dynamically across the sky before vanishing as suddenly as they appeared.

The Northern Lights in Murmansk are definitely worth seeing, although they are not visible every day. As the lights usually make their appearance when an anticyclone is active, check the forecast before you fly so as to align your travels with the approach of a magnetic storm, which will almost guarantee you a front-row seat for this phenomenal lights show!

Murmansk Holidays and Festivals

Almost every month in Murmansk is marked by a lively holiday or festival ranging from the traditional to the truly unusual. Many of these regional festivals revolve around the arctic culture which developed in response to the frigid Murmansk weather, and some are now recognized nationally for their cultural significance. When visiting Murmansk, consider timing your travels with one of these eclectic celebrations:

Snegoled Festival is a jaw-dropping ice sculpture carnival held annually at the end of January. At Snegoled, hundreds of huge sculptures crafted from snow and ice by skilled artists can be seen in the frosty white expanse of the Arctic. Each life-size creation is wholly unique and only appears once to the world before melting in the months to come. Sculptures range from the ordinary to the fantastical, while special interactive exhibits and master classes make for a truly magical experience.

Festival of the North , unofficially known as "Polar Olympiad", is a winter sports competition which is held annually from late March to early April. Both professional athletes and amateurs can compete in cross-country skiing and shooting, downhill slalom, rock climbing, winter kiting, windsurfing and even winter swimming. For those wishing to participate in a truly unusual sport, football in the snow and ice fishing are also offered.

First Dawn is dedicated to the first sunrise in Murmansk after the polar night, which strangely takes place not in the morning but during the day between 11am and 2pm. This event was held for the first time on January 12, 2020, and the organizers now plan to make it an annual tradition.

Pomeranian Kozulya Festival is held every year in early August in Kuzreka village of Murmansk Region. Kozulya is a traditional cookie made from rye dough that has been baked in these northern lands since the 12 th century. Each delicate treat is shaped to resemble deer and other arctic animals before being beautifully decorated with icing. Time your visit to Murmansk, Russia to attend the Pomeranian Kozulya Festival and you will enjoy an authentic village fair, special exhibitions, master classes, tea tastings and plenty of tasty cookies.

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Located almost due north of Saint Petersburg, behind the Northern Polar circle Murmansk is the largest city within the Arctic Circle. The city is often called «the Arctic gates», as the city is the starting point of the Northern Seaway and the base of the icebreaking fleet. Murmansk was founded in 1916 with British assistance during World War I. It is the largest seaport, which is free of ice throughout the years, and the most important base of the fishing industry in Russia. Shipbuilding and repairing of vessels is the main part of the Murmansk industry. The city is an important scientific and cultural center of the region. Every year Murmansk is getting more and more popular as the center of international tourism. Excursions to the giant ships, the Northern Lights in November and December, beautiful northern nature and exotic animals as well as cruises across the northern seas guarantee an unforgettable trip.

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Life Above the Arctic Circle: Russia's Murmansk

You are here.

Will you believe us if we tell you that there's a place on Earth where every year for 40 days in a row people live without the light of the sun? No matter how unbelievable it may seem, we didn't make this up. Welcome to spectacular Murmansk, Russia's capital of Arctica!

Being the largest town in the world located above the Arctic Circle, Murmansk is one of the most unique spots on the planet and a great travel destination for anyone who feels adventurous or thinks that Russia has no more surprises up its sleeve. It is also among the best locations to hunt for Northern Lights, home to incredible untouched nature, fantastic views, and even magnificent fjords! Still not convinced? Let’s get to know the city a bit better.

Tour to Northern Lights in Russia

Brief History of Murmansk

Murmansk is one of the most fascinating Russian cities and, although it seems beyond belief, it was founded just a bit over a century ago! It all started with a small settlement of fishermen that appeared on the coast of the Barents Sea in 1915. But officially the story of the city began only a year later, in 1916, when the foundation stone of the settlement's first church was laid. Later this sacred place was consecrated in the name of Saint Nicholas of Myra, the patronage of fishermen, and Murmansk became the last city founded in the mighty Russian Empire.

Despite the common misconception, Murmansk was never used as a prison nor a place of exile, unlike the region of Siberia. The seamen from all over Russia were willingly coming to live in Murmansk, drawn by the icy waters of the Barents Sea, promising plenty of fish and new money opportunities.

Good to Know Despite the common misconception, Murmansk was never used as a prison nor a place of exile, unlike the region of Siberia.

The city even owes its name to the Barents Sea! Originally, the citizens of Norway were called "murmans" in Russia. As time passed, the whole southern coast of the Barents Sea, neighboring Norway, was known as "the Murman Coast" and that's exactly the place where you should look for Murmansk on a map. The name "Murmansk" simply means "the city that was built on Murman".

During WWII, the town was seriously damaged. Hitler's army was planning to conquer Murmansk in 2 days but this plan of action has remained a dead letter. The German army had undertaken several large-scaled incursions but to no avail. During the war, 185 000 bombs were dropped on Murmansk, but the city has never surrendered. In November of 1945, only one-fifth of the city's buildings were still standing, and the hero-city of Murmansk was listed among the 15 Russian cities to be rebuilt as a matter of priority.

The town was reconstructed to its pre-war state in less than 10 years, and in the beginning of the 1950s a new chapter of Murmansk's history has begun. The city was constantly growing and developing over the years and became one of the most unusual travel destinations for those who want to explore Russia off-the-beaten-path.

Murmansk Map

Murmansk's Weather

After everything we've said about the location of Murmansk high up in the Arctic north of Russia, you probably picture the city being something like C. S. Lewis' Narnia during the Hundred-Year Winter, always covered with the white snow blanket and promising a maximum outside temperature of -35°C (-31°F). But, as shocking as it may be, despite its proximity to the Arctic Circle, Murmansk boasts a relatively mild climate, and winters there aren't colder than in the capital of Canada, scenic Ottawa!

Murmansk's average temperature in January is a comfortable -12.6°C (9.32°F) while July boasts the average temperature of 14.2°C (57.6°F). The reason for this is the Barents Sea, repeatedly mentioned above, and its warm North Atlantic Current, extending the famous Gulf Stream. This powerful current transports more tropical water than any other one does in the northern region, nor than any other boundary current can in the world! Thus, the climate in Murmansk distinguishes a lot from any typical northern city and almost completely lacks any severe frosts.

Murmansk Scenery

Getting to Murmansk: Crossing the Arctic

Although you might imagine your Russian journey to faraway Arctic Murmansk being a combination of a long-haul flight with long hours of making your way to the final destination, the city is actually very easy to reach! Of course, the most popular way of traveling to Murmansk is by taking a plane. Only a 2.5-hour flight separates Moscow and Murmansk while the Saint Petersburg - Murmansk flight takes even less than that, 2 hours for covering the distance of 1340 km (833 mi).

Another popular way of traveling to Murmansk is onboard the luxurious Arctic Explorer train, starting its journey in glorious Saint Petersburg, proceeding to the magnificent Arctic Circle, and then going back to scenic Moscow. Apart from the fantastic views, this deluxe private train offers service worthy of the best hotels, top-notch en-suite cabins, fantastic onboard entertainment programs, and exquisite dining.

It's no doubt, all the travelers' needs are thoroughly catered for during the ride, making the Arctic Explorer train the most memorable way to travel to Murmansk. Or, if you are interested in getting a genuine Russia experience, you can choose to travel to Murmansk onboard a regular Russian train. The most popular starting points are Moscow, Saint Petersburg, and wondrous Petrozavodsk , the capital of the Karelia region and one of the most picturesque corners of the beautiful country.

Russia Train Travel

Murmansk Trip Planning

When to go to murmansk.

As mentioned previously, glorious Murmansk is an off-the-beaten-path Russia travel destination. So regardless of the season, you choose for your trip, there is no need to worry about tourist crowds or overbooked hotels. The relatively mild climate, not boasting any extreme temperatures or weather conditions also shouldn't shape your travel plans. However, we advise going to Murmansk within a Russian winter tour .

Firstly, December and January are the time when polar night falls on the city, increasing your chances to see the miracle of Northern Lights. Secondly, starting from late autumn and until early spring, you can enjoy such amazing winter activities as dog and reindeer sledding, take part in the traditional winter games, and explore the fairytale Snow Village, one of the most popular Murmansk attractions.

And thirdly, if you happen to visit Murmansk in January, there is a chance to catch the "The First Dawn" and "Hello, Sun!" city festivals when citizens of Murmansk celebrate the end of the polar night with the carnivals all around the city.

Murmansk Dog Sledding

For How Long to Stay in Murmansk

Murmansk is a beautiful city offering plenty to see, but travelers rarely treat it as a separate holiday destination and prefer to combine their Murmansk visit with the exploration of the wonderous Russian capitals or Russia's breathtaking Karelia region. All in all, 3 days should be enough to stop by all the Murmansk "must-sees" and get to know the beautiful town.

Plus, 3 days is the advisable amount of time to spend in the city for the Northern Lights hunters, promising a 90% chance of catching the beautiful phenomenon in the winter.

Karelia Region

What to Pack for a Murmansk Trip

As any holiday packing, the first things that should go in your suitcase are the necessary documents (passport, ID, medical insurance, tickets, and so on), a wallet, a charger with a European plug adapter, and your medication (if needed). When high-priority items are taken care of, you can start packing your clothes.

Although Murmansk has nothing to do with the kingdom of eternal ice and snow, be prepared to encounter some strong headwinds during your visit, even during the summer months, so a couple of warm sweaters is among the first things you should pack, getting ready for your Murmansk trip. Another "must" thing to take with you to the fairytale city is a pair of comfortable shoes as revealing all Murmansk secrets requires quite a lot of walking.

Also, we advise leaving some space in your bag for an umbrella and a light raincoat, so you can properly enjoy your trip, regardless of what surprises the weather might bring you.


Travel in Comfort Since most of the Murmansk tours are walking, make sure to pack a pair of comfortable boots in your suitcase!

Hopefully, you once again saw that Russia travel isn't limited to visiting its spectacular capitals. It has even more to offer than the epic Trans-Siberian journey or the exploration of the Golden Ring . The fantastic country is home to so many captivating and unique places, that a lifetime won't be enough to see everything there is to see. In the second part of our travel guide , dedicated to this one-of-a-kind city, we will tell you about the top things to do in Murmansk.

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Murmansk Travel - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (2024)

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Murmansk Travel Guide: All You Need To Know

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Murmansk is the largest city in the Arctic and serves as the administrative center of Murmansk Oblast in Russia. It is located in the extreme northwest of the country and is known for its unique geographic location and Arctic climate. Here’s some information about Murmansk:

Places to Visit in Murmansk: Alyosha Monument: Visit the Alyosha Monument, a large statue of a Soviet soldier overlooking the city. It’s one of the iconic landmarks in Murmansk.

Lenin Icebreaker: Explore the Lenin Icebreaker, a historic ship that is now a museum. It offers insights into Arctic exploration and the history of icebreakers.

Northern Fleet Museum: Discover the history of Russia’s Northern Fleet at the Northern Fleet Museum, which showcases naval artifacts and the military history of the region.

Memorial Complex “In Memory of the Sailors”: Pay your respects at this memorial complex dedicated to sailors who perished at sea during World War II.

Pier and Harbor: Stroll along the pier and harbor area to enjoy the scenic views of the Barents Sea and the ships coming and going.

Best Time to Visit Murmansk: The best time to visit Murmansk is during the short summer season, from late June to August when the weather is relatively milder. Winters in Murmansk are extremely cold and dark due to the polar night. Things to Do in Murmansk: Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis): Murmansk is a prime location for viewing the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis), especially during the winter months. Join organized tours to increase your chances of seeing this natural spectacle.

Cultural Experiences: Experience the local culture, traditions, and the Sami indigenous culture of the region.

Outdoor Activities: Enjoy outdoor adventures such as snowmobiling, dog sledding, and ice fishing in the winter, and hiking, fishing, and wildlife watching in the summer.

Museums and Historical Sites: Visit museums like the Regional Museum and the Murmansk Art Museum to learn about the history and culture of the region.

How to Get Around Murmansk: Transportation: The city of Murmansk is well-connected by roads, but travel to remote areas may require special vehicles. Public transportation is available within the city.

Taxis: Taxis are available for local transportation, particularly in urban areas.

Internal Flights: Some remote areas may be accessible by small internal flights.

Where to Eat in Murmansk: Local Cuisine: Savor traditional Russian dishes, especially those influenced by the Arctic environment, such as seafood and reindeer meat.

Cafes and Restaurants: Explore local dining establishments offering both Russian and international cuisine.

Local Markets: Look for local food vendors and markets selling fresh produce, regional specialties, and handmade crafts.

Where to Stay in Murmansk: Murmansk offers a range of accommodation options, including hotels, guesthouses, and hostels. Popular areas to stay in include the city center and the harbor area.

Travel Tips for Murmansk: Language: Russian is the primary language spoken in Murmansk. English may not be widely spoken, especially in remote areas.

Currency: The currency used is the Russian Ruble (RUB). Credit cards are accepted in hotels and larger restaurants, but it’s advisable to carry cash for smaller establishments.

Safety: The region is generally safe for tourists, but be prepared for the extreme cold and challenging conditions, especially in the winter.

Climate: Murmansk experiences an Arctic climate, so pack appropriate clothing for the season and be aware of the potential for extreme weather.

Local Customs: Respect local customs and traditions when visiting indigenous communities and cultural sites.

Murmansk offers a unique and adventurous Arctic experience for travelers interested in exploring this remote part of Russia. Be prepared for the challenging conditions and plan your visit accordingly.

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We offer you to go with us to a wonderful place of wild nature — Husky Park "Lovozero" is:

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Great mood, unforgettable impressions and a desire to come back to us again! We ride a dog sled, feed the deer, eat a homemade lunch: ear on cream according to the Norwegian recipe, venison.

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    Мурманск,Северное сияние,Териберка,Саами,Север туризм,Россия туризм,Что посмотреть,в ...

  19. Murmansk Travel

    About. We have profession aurora hunters and tour guides.With our trips,you will get profession the Aurora prediction and the knowledge of the aurora and other trips.Our experience is the one you should count on, everything else is a good addition to it.We would like to share our passion with you and make a unforgettable tour of your lifetime ...

  20. Murmansk Travel Guide: All You Need To Know

    Murmansk is the largest city in the Arctic and serves as the administrative center of Murmansk Oblast in Russia. It is located in the extreme northwest of the country and is known for its unique geographic location and Arctic climate. Here's some information about Murmansk: Places to Visit in Murmansk:Alyosha Monument: Visit the Alyosha Monument, …

  21. Guides

    The entire Murmansk region — in one click Install the mobile app and be aware of the most interesting excursions, new highlights, special offers from hotels and restaurants

  22. Tourist complex "Lapland village"

    Murmansk region, Kola district, Kildinstroy. [email protected]. +79216662626. Lapland Village is a modern tourist complex where you can have a great time with the whole family or a friendly company. The tourist complex is located in the most picturesque place of the Kola Land, a 20-minute drive from the city of Murmansk ...

  23. Husky Park Lovozero

    The entire Murmansk region — in one click Install the mobile app and be aware of the most interesting excursions, new highlights, special offers from hotels and restaurants ... The official tourist portal of the Murmansk region [email protected] Туристский информационный центр Мурманской области