Russia is increasingly gaining popularity among wanderlusts and it is not just Moscow or St Petersburg that reigns on top of the charts. Vladivostok is the unofficial capital of Far East Russia and enjoys a prime geographical location as a commercial port and naval base. The gorgeous hilly setting with its panoramic views, impressive architecture, lush islands, and sandy bays along the Pacific Coast with a vibrant cosmopolitan milieu makes the city intriguing. Vladivostok has everything- stunning views, beaches, museums, and architecture to lure the discerning tourist. An incredible place and gem that was hidden for so long, Vladivostok promises you a great time.
Tip: An attractive and picturesque oceanfront destination, Vladivostok ranks among the top 10 best oceanfront cities in the world.
Getting to Vladivostok
The Vladivostok International Airport (VVO) is an hour's drive from the north of the city of Vladivostok. Originally named Knevichi Airport after the village of Knevichi is open to all major airlines around the world. Cathay Pacific, Asiana Airlines, Aeroflot Airways, Korean Air flights, and Japan Airlines are some operators that offer flights to Vladivostok. Philippine Airlines, All Nippon Airways, Angara Airlines, and Ural Airlines are a few others that operate flights to Vladivostok.
Flights from Japan and China to Vladivostok take roughly about 2.5 hours. Flights from Australia take over 20 hours. If you are traveling from the USA, then you would need to be ready to travel for over 24 hours with stopovers in between. Flights from the UK take about 15 hours and there are no direct flights to Vladivostok.
Located in the Far East of Russia, Vladivostok has just opened the doors of tourism to the rest of the world. You would need to plan your itinerary and see the amount of time it takes to travel and the halts in between if you want a comfortable journey.
Vladivostok is relatively a compact city and much of it can be covered by foot. The city full of steep climbs and descents so bear in mind you will need to be physically fit. A bus is the cheapest and best way to get around and for trips over 5 km, it will be prudent to hire a taxi using apps like Taxi Maxim or Yandex Taxi.
Tip: For 35 years, Vladivostok was closed to foreigners in the Soviet Era and it delights them now as a start and end of the Trans-Siberian Rail.
Sightseeing in Vladivostok
The rest of Russia is now waking up to the potential of Vladivostok that buzzes with major attractions, restaurants, and cocktail bars. With a renewed sense of purpose, Vladivostok offers a lot to see.
The Vladivostok Train Station is an architectural marvel filled with history and tradition- the starting and finish line of the Trans-Siberian Train which arrives and departs to Moscow. You can admire the breathtaking ceilings, gorgeous mosaics, and the finer minute architectural details even if you do not take the train. It is joked that you cross Russia to get back to where you began.
Popov Island, located in Peter the Great Gulf, is a pebbled beach with warm waters. It is home to the Far Eastern Reserve and Museum of Nature. The diversity of fauna and the scuba diving options make it a perfect outdoor recreation spot.
Vladivostok Fortress is a powerful naval fortress with a unique history that will interest the public and tourists. Since its construction in the 19th century, it became impossible to attack the coast and the place has interesting exhibits from the medieval period of Primorye history and the creation of the Vladivostok Fortress
President Putin was instrumental in setting up the Primorsky Aquarium which is deeply involved in scientific research and discovery. The structure of the building in the shape of a shell is a spectacle designed by the Design Institute of Vladivostok. The exhibits and animal shows are the highlights for the visitors.
Russky Bridge is one of the longest cable-stayed bridges in the world and was built for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference. It is 1,104 meter in length and an exquisite piece of engineering which connects the city to the island. There is a minibus that will take you through the beautiful beaches and forts once you go around the island.
A visit to Russia will be incomplete without a visit to the local opera performance. Catch a show at the Mariinsky Theatre Primorsky Stage to witness the world’s renowned opera singers and performers.
Tip: Book yourself to the local bathhouse for a Russian steam bath which is a one of a kind experience. Bathhouses are called “banya” where people are fully naked and wait to perspire. It is also interesting to indulge a tree-bench-whipping from a Russian masseuse. They use birch tree branches known as “venik” to finish the rejuvenating spa therapy.
Shopping, dining, entertainment, and nightlife in Vladivostok
Eating experience in Vladivostok is a mixture of cuisines- Asian, European, Russian and even Korean. Vladivostok is closer to Tokyo than Moscow so gourmands will be surprised by the eclecticism of the gastronomic scene. Most restaurants serve traditional Russian fare and there are a few restaurants that serve Japanese, Korean and great seafood.
You can shop for sailor flags, and t-shirts. Russian souvenirs and Japanese whiskey are available at the many malls located around the city. The Chinese market is an inexpensive place to buy products for just one-time use and any authentic Chinese goods.
Vladivostok is also a great place for some lively nightlife with cocktail lounges, bars facing the sea and clubs that have an exciting dance floor. Most of the bars sell draft beers and cocktails that can be enjoyed viewing the sunset and gorgeous surrounding of the city.
From five-star hotels, beds, and breakfasts to cheap hostels, Vladivostok is full of options for the traveler of any budget. Hotels are cheap in December and March is the most expensive time to stay.
Tip: The culture of the city is so diverse that you can even find a traditional Irish pub here. Like each city has its rhythm, Vladivostok loves jazz. The annual jazz festival held in the summer is a big hit so make sure you book your tickets in advance if you are a fan.
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