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Vladivostok is an exciting blend of Russian, Asian, and European culture and architecture. Located on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, it's the last stop on the famous Trans-Siberian railway. Sometimes called the "Master of the East", it's also an important naval base and busy commercial port as well as a bustling city filled with striking buildings, verdant parks, and sandy bays.
Vladivostok has been rated among the world's top 10 coastal cities by National Geographic, and with good reason. With iconic bridges, stunning scenery, islands, and beautiful beaches, this unusual and appealing city epitomizes the oceanfront lifestyle.
It's a relatively new and unspoiled destination. For 35 years (1958 - 1992) during the Soviet Era, Vladivostok was closed to overseas tourists. Now that it's accessible, more people than ever are discovering one of Russia's best-kept secrets.
Add glittering nightlife and trendy cocktail bars, friendly locals, and delicious food and you'll understand why Vladivostok is fast becoming the destination of the moment.
Life in Russia's largest eastern city revolves around the ocean. Join locals as they stroll along the promenade or relax on the beach at Sportivnaya Harbor or see the destroyer squadron of the Pacific Fleet at Golden Horn Bay.
The prestigious St. Petersburg Mariinsky theater opened its Primorsky Stage here in 2016, and the impressive steel and glass structure is now one of the city's top attractions. History buffs can delve into the Primorsky region's past at the Arseniev Regional History Museum, while art enthusiasts can visit the Primorye State Art Gallery.
Vladivostok was named a "The City of Military Glory" in 2010 due to its role in conflicts such as the Russo-Turkish War, the Russian Revolution, and World War Two. Visitors can see the memorial of the same name at Bortsov za Vlast' Sovyetov Square.
As the ice melts on the Sea of Japan, rhododendrons and cherry trees come into bloom in Vladivostok's open spaces including Pokrovskiy Park and Park Lazurny. It's the ideal time for long walks and family outings.
Soccer fans shouldn't miss the Dynamo Stadium, which is the base of the Russian premier league team FC Luch-Energiya Vladivostok. Basketball fan? Be sure to see the SK Olimpiets stadium, home to BC Spartak Primorye.
The Russky Island ferry costs just RUB50 for a round trip and it's well worth it for the view of the Russky Bridge from the deck. Stretching over the Eastern Bosphorus Strait, the world's longest cable-stayed bridge has a central span of 3,622 feet.
Hike up Eagle's Nest Hill or take the funicular for fabulous views over the city and its bays. The highest point of downtown Vladivostok, the hill is an extinct volcano and part of the Sikhote Alin chain.
Vladivostok was a strategic location during the Second World War. Discover what the period meant for locals at the Military and History Museum of the Pacific Fleet.
The secrets of the deep are revealed at Primorsky Aquarium on Russky Island. The striking wave-shaped building has been visited by the presidents of three countries (Russia, Korea, and Japan) since opening in 2016. Highlights include a model of a "Mir-1" submersible and an exhibit featuring horseshoe crabs, a species that has lived on Earth for over 450 million years.
Art lovers shouldn't miss the opportunity to visit Primorye State Art Gallery. The museum boasts an impressive permanent collection that includes "Portrait of David's Brother with a Mandolin" by Marc Chagall (1914) and "Improvisation" by Wassily Kandinsky (1913).
Vladivostok is one of those rare anytime destinations. Skiing and the Winter Fish Festival are among the great activities on offer between December and March. The two-part festival ("Smelt" in December and "Navaga" in February) attracts anglers from all over Russia and beyond. Local restaurants get in on the act with an impressive array of seasonal fish-based dishes. Spring and fall offer mild weather and seasonal colors, while summer temperatures of around 74°F make it the ideal time to hit the beaches and embankments.
Fly to Vladivostok International Airport (VVO) at Artyom, 24.8 miles northeast of the city. Over 1.5 million travelers pass through the Russian Far East's largest airport each year. Carriers such as Aeroflot and Korean Air offer direct flights from New York and there are regular flights from various Russian, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean cities. Take the 107 or 110 bus service to downtown Vladivostok. The journey takes around 90 minutes and the single fare is RUB70. There is also an Express Primorye train service that departs five times per day. Purchase a single for RUB350 and you'll reach the city center in 55 minutes.
Vladivostok is the final stop on the Trans-Siberian Railway. Demand for seats can be high, so be sure to book in advance. The Rossiya main line train leaves Moscow each day at 13:20 p.m. while the slower #99 service departs at 18:56 p.m. Stopping at cities like Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Omsk, and Ulan-Ude, a one-way trip costs around RUB19,200 on the Rossiya or RUB14,900 on the #99.
While most people choose to travel by plane or train, some plucky souls drive the Trans-Siberian Highway from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok. Stretching from the Baltic Sea to the Sea of Japan, the 7,000-mile route covers some of the world's most challenging terrain. The best time to attempt the drive is from June to September and, if you're lucky, you might encounter circus performers, throat singers, or Buddhist monks along the way.
Buses link Vladivostok with Chinese cities like Harbin and Suifenhe. The journey from Harbin via some of the Russian Far East's most picturesque highways takes around 5 hours, and the single fare is about RUB1,900.
There is accommodation to suit every budget in Vladivostok. Good economy options include Capsule Hotel Zodiak and Karmen. If you're visiting on business or with your family, mid-range establishments like Teplo and Aurora Park Hotel are ideal. Splash out on more luxurious hotels like Hyundai Hotel and AZIMUT Hotel Vladivostok for special occasions. The best areas to stay in or visit include Golden Horn, where you'll find the marina, beach, and the best hotels, restaurants, and bars, as well as Sportivnaya Bay, home to great shopping, music venues, and bars.
Public transportation in Vladivostok includes buses, streetcars, and a funicular railway. Buses are the most popular option and, although they can be busy, they are frequent. Fares range from RUB21 to RUB120, depending on your destination.
Taxis are readily available in the city center and close to major attractions. The starting tariff is RUB150, and journeys are charged at RUB10 per 0.62 miles.
Car hire companies like Avis offer affordable rates of around RUB2,200 per day in Vladivostok. Although heavy traffic is common, it is relatively easy to navigate the city.
Visit the iconic GUM department store on Svetlanskaya for clothes or home accessories. The city's markets sell fresh fruit, vegetables, and meat while the maze-like Sportivnaya Market offers everything from clothes and Chinese imports to a huge range of specialty foods.
Pick up essentials from supermarkets like OK! and Sfera-Market, which have branches throughout the city. You'll pay about RUB75 for a quart of regular milk and RUB84.25 for a dozen standard eggs.
Almost anything is available here including Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, French, and Italian cuisine and fast food chains such as Burger King. You can try traditional Russian dumplings and pancakes at Lozkhi-Ploshki and Dumpling Republic for lunch or sample classic Korean barbecue at Shilla Korean Restaurant for dinner. For a special meal, try Tokyo Kawaii for Japanese food or Zuma for Russian khachapuris, dumplings, and chebureki. A simple lunch costs approximately RUB450, while a three-course restaurant meal might come to RUB2,500.