[Editors note: Quark Expeditions isn't currently offering voyages to the North Pole which embark from Murmansk, Russia. Please stay tuned for an update in the near future.]
While traveling to and from your Arctic cruise, there are plenty of intriguing places on the globe to layover. Murmansk, Russia, is one of the largest and most populated and provides a mini-vacation in itself.
Quark Expeditions' North Pole: The Ultimate Arctic Adventure expedition provides an exciting voyage through the Arctic Ocean aboard the world’s most powerful icebreaker, 50 Years of Victory, beginning and ending in Murmansk, the largest city north of the Arctic Circle.
Here are 10 things to do in Murmansk to get the most out of your trip to the top of the world.
Northern Fleet Naval Museum
It isn’t unusual in large metro areas to find a wide variety of museums. One of the most popular in Murmansk is the Museum of the Northern Fleet. This museum of naval photographs, exhibits, and artifacts is on display within a turquoise anchor-flanked building.
Its exhibits include models of ships, artifacts, and exhibits of Russia’s first Navy and WWII convoys, and a photo collection of Franz Josef Land.
The rich history and position of Murmansk as a Hero City in World War II, means there are various war-time monuments throughout the city.
One of the most inspiring is Alyosha Monument, also considered the “Monument of the Defenders of the Soviet Arctic during the Great Patriotic War” which commemorates those who defended the port of Murmansk during the second world war.
Lenin Nuclear Icebreaker
The Lenin Nuclear Icebreaker is considered a must-visit in Murmansk. It is not only a historical ship - the first nuclear powered civilian vessel - but it also serves as a museum.
Onboard the Lenin, you can visit the crews’ quarters, communication control rooms, nuclear reactor room, and turbine power plant. The Lenin Nuclear Icebreaker is one sight in Murmansk you will not see anywhere else in the world. As a luxury liner, the ship also includes an enormous 1930s style dining room for its officers.
The Murmansk Oceanarium features shows with various sea animals, such as Greenland seals, sea cats, and walruses. The oceanarium is entertaining for animal lovers of any age and is one of the activities in Murmansk you can visit summer or winter, and regardless of the weather outdoors. It is also considered the northernmost aquarium in the world, and on the European continent, the only aquarium where you can see performances by trained arctic seals.
Waterfall on the River Lavna
Another relaxing opportunity to spend some time with nature is at the waterfall on the River Lavna. Located just outside of Murmansk, the river’s landscape includes not only an enchanting and picturesque waterfall, but also forest trails for hiking. In the warmer seasons, you can also swim, fish, and bicycle in the same area.
Murmansk Regional Philharmonic
The Murmansk Regional Philharmonic has hosted classical concerts and events since 1975 and is considered the youngest in the country. The Philharmonic presents Russian bands and soloists who perform classical, jazz, medieval, and spiritual music, each season. It also implements musical projects with the Norwegian National Opera and is active in public education.
Regional Museum of Local Lore
For visitors interested in learning everything about Murmansk, the Regional Museum of Local Lore was founded in 1926 and is the oldest museum in the area. This museum includes everything from minerals and geology to the wildlife, local lore, history, and economy of Murmansk, with four floors to keep you busy the entire day.
Regional Palace of Culture and Folk Arts
The Palace of Culture and Folk Arts is the first cultural institution on the Kola Peninsula. This site is also kid-friendly, with 150 of over 500 events available for children under the age of 14. Many of the events are designed to help develop new social and cultural projects, through the use of information technology.
Murmansk Sea Fishing
Ice fishing and boating are increasingly popular activities in Murmansk. You can select a fishing tour with various tour companies, including Kola Travel, which provides everything you need from lodging and meals to equipment specifically for Atlantic salmon fishing.
This particular adventure takes place on the Varzuga River in the center of the Kola Peninsula, known for sport fishing and its abundance of salmon.
Skiing and Snowboarding
Skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing and other winter activities are popular in Murmansk. Many hotels and lodges include winter sporting areas. For example, the Nord Star Ski Complex provides a variety of suites and junior suites with pools and saunas as well as a ski resort.
If you aren’t fully equipped for snow sports when you reach Murmansk, you can rent ski and snow equipment from the resort.
View the Northern Lights
The Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, are often visible during polar nights in the winter months. They add a level of enchantment to many Arctic expeditions.