Trans-Siberian Spotlight: Vibrant Vladivostok

Trans-Siberian Spotlight: Vibrant Vladivostok

Vladivostok may be end of the line for many Trans-Siberian rail journeys, but there’s so much to see and do beyond the end of the line in this busy seaport city, once closed to foreigners during Soviet times.

"Here ends the Trans-Siberian Railway line. Distance from Moscow: 9288 km"Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

“Here ends the Trans-Siberian Railway line. Distance from Moscow: 9288 km”
Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

Port of VladivostokPhoto credit: Michel Behar

Sailors, tourists and locals join the promenade at the port of Vladivostok
Photo credit: Michel Behar

Rail Line of HistoryThis Trans-Siberian Railway city of nearly 600,000 was once ruled by Chinese dynasties and later ceded to Russia; the Russian Pacific Fleet developed here and commercial shipping lines opened. Fast-forward to 1891 when construction on the railway began, bringing more people to the city, more wooden and stone houses, more schools, more theaters and – because of its strategic military location – more battles and wars. Even today you can see formerly secret military fortifications throughout the seaport town.

Vibrant “Vladik”The Russian government spent substantial sums renovating Vladivostok for the big 2012 APEC Conference. Nicknamed “Vladik,” the city center today is filled with restored old buildings from the early 1900s.

Vladivostok is remembered as the place where U.S. President Gerald Ford and Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev met in 1974. Still, it took until 1992 for Vladivostok to open to foreign travelers.

Insider TipsThere’s a warm spirit to the city that’s found in its residents, food, views and things to do. A few tips:

  • Cold is colder, hot is hotter: Remember that numbers on the thermometer aren’t what you actually feel. Vladivostok has high humidity; after all, it’s on the water.
  • Seafood, a favorite food: No exaggeration, you can eat shrimp as big as your hand. Meander through Vladivostok’s seafood markets, unlike anything in Seattle or Alaska.
  • Try Korean and Japanese food: Both cuisines are popular in Vladivostok.
  • Souvenir shopping: The town center has stores stocked with Russian military-type souvenirs like Russian sailor shirts. That’s “the thing” to take home.

Local ActivitiesWhat to do when you’re in Vladivostok? Act like a local.

Camping and outdoor activities are popular: It’s a hilly town, and locals love to walk, especially along the embankment next to the Soviet-style amusement park and nearby sandy beach.

Head to “Kholodilnik: It means “refrigerator” in Russian; this former military bunker is  the highest point in the city. Then meander downhill to the lighthouse, often referred to as “the southernmost point in Russia.”

Getting married: Newlyweds visit Eagle’s Nest Observation Point, placing a lock on the railing to signify their marriage. Padlocks of love, Vladik-style.

Vintage photo of Eagle's Nest, with stirring views overlooking Vladivostok Photo credit: Michel Behar

Vintage photo of Eagle’s Nest, a favorite spot for Vladivostok views 
Photo credit: Michel Behar

Travel to Vladivostok with MIRYou can explore Vladivostok on many of MIR’s scheduled tours to Russia and Siberia as well as on a variety of Trans-Siberian Railway trips. You can also book a custom private journey.

 (Top photo credit: Michel Behar – The sun goes down over vibrant Vladivostok)

PUBLISHED: December 29, 2014

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