Planning a visit to Vladivostok? Edgier and more mysterious than the European centres of Moscow and St. Petersburg, it’s well worth the trip. This guide is full of the best things to do in Vladivostok, as well as insider tips for food, drink and accommodation.
Vladivostok feels like the city that time forgot.
Tsar Nikolai II chose Vladivostok as the eastern terminal for his grand Trans-Siberian Railway project. Money and workers quickly poured into the city, along with sailors attracted by the bustling port.
For a time, Vladivostok flourished. The streets are full of evidence of Russia’s glorious past. Look a little closer though, and you’ll find the scars left by a crumbling empire.
Flaking plaster and peeling paint tell the story: a once-thriving seaport slowly decaying during a decades-long lockdown as the headquarters of the Soviet Union’s Pacific Fleet. A bite-sized piece of the entire history of Russia perched precariously on its Far Eastern seaboard.
When Vladivostok finally opened up to the world in the early 90s, the mafia took over, earning the city the title of the world’s most dangerous seaport. Speak to any local though, and they’ll tell you that those times are well and truly past. Vladivostok is rising from the ashes.
Students fill hip coffee shops and cute little cafes. Golden Horn Bay, which used to split the city in two, is now dominated by the sweep of the impressively photogenic Zolotoy Bridge. New art projects fill public spaces, the Hermitage has plans to open a branch here, and there’s a burgeoning foodie scene.
I visited Vladivostok in the depths of winter, arriving to the howl of icy winds whipping snow horizontally through the streets in subzero temperatures. Despite the weather, or maybe because of it, I fell hard for this little city in Russia’s far east.
Locals tell me that it’s even better here in the summer when you can explore a coastline dotted with beautiful beaches and forests perfect for hiking. Venture a little further and you’ll find a stunning national park, home to a wide variety of species, including the Siberian tiger and leopard.
3 days is just about enough time to get a taste of the city, but you could easily spend a couple of weeks exploring the area without getting bored.
In this guide, you’ll find everything you need to plan the perfect trip to the city. From sights you can’t miss to where to eat, where to stay and the very best things to do in Vladivostok, it’s all here.
THE BEST OF VLADIVOSTOK
Explore Russia’s Soviet past in this port city
Get a taste of the east with the thriving food and drink scene
Modern art meets classic opera in the city’s art centres
A great base for 2 nights
The eastern terminus of the Trans-Siberian Railway
Things to Do in Vladivostok
1. ALL ABOARD AT THE START OF THE TRANS-SIBERIAN RAILWAY
Ok, so maybe it’s the end of the line for some people (that sounds more threatening than I intended), but this is Vladivostok’s chance to shine. If you’re travelling east to west, Vladivostok train station marks the beginning of the long ride to Moscow. As it was for me since I started my 3-week Trans-Siberian trip here.
Vladivostok Station was founded in 1891, but the building you see there now has changed a lot from the original.
When Moscow’s Yaroslavsky Station was upgraded in the early 1900s, Vladivostok got a makeover so that it would look the same. The idea was a rather romantic notion of Tsar Nikolai II that the railway stations would represent a portal connecting the east and west of the impressive Russian Empire.
Whilst the outside of the station is pure Russian Revival, the interior is more like an Orthodox Church, all high ceilings and frescoes. Be sure to check out the ceiling mural in the main waiting room, representing the Tsar’s journey across the country from Moscow to Vladivostok.
Downstairs, by the tracks, you’ll find an old train that was gifted to Russia by the US after the Great Patriotic War (the Russian name for World War II).
Where | 2 Ulitsa Aleutskaya
Cost | Free
Open | 24/7
Good to Know | To enter the station (as with most stations in Russia) you need to pass through a security checkpoint, similar to what you’d find at the airport. You don’t need to remove your shoes or take your laptop and liquids out of your bags, but remember to empty your pockets!
2. VISIT THE EAGLE’S NEST TO SEE THE BRIDGE THEY SAID WOULD NEVER BE BUILT
Golden Horn Bay splits Vladivostok in two, separating the historic northern centre from the shipbuilding districts in the south. It’s a 90-minute drive around the bay to get from one side of the city to the other.
Almost since the city was founded, residents dreamed of a bridge spanning the bay. In 2009, the Russian government announced that they were going to build not one, but three bridges in time for the APEC summit in 2012.
City residents were divided over whether the bridges would be built at all, let alone in the three-year time limit given to them. Although there were various issues along the way, all bridges were completed on time, and they’re impossible to miss.
The Golden Bridge is the one you’ve likely seen in photos of the city, with its V-shaped pylons reaching to the sky. You can get up close to the base of the bridge by taking a walk along Ulitsa Svetlanskaya but the best views are to be had from the Eagle’s Nest observation deck.
Getting there | You’d think getting to the Eagle’s Nest would be easy since it’s clearly marked on Google maps. Twice. Unfortunately, as with many locations in Russia, Google doesn’t work so well, and you actually need to use the Vidovaya Ploshchadka Orlinoye Gnezdo marker. If you’re using Yandex Maps (highly recommended) then typing Vidovaya will give you an option “видовая площадка ДВГТУ” which is what you’re looking for!
I walked to the viewpoint by heading along Ulitsa Sukhanova to the big roundabout. Once here, you take the pedestrian underpass and then head towards the left. Back on the street take the bridge across the road and simply follow the path around to the left where you’ll find the view!
TIP | I really recommend downloading Yandex Navigator for your trip to Russia. I found that Google often couldn’t find the address that I was looking for, or suggested insane routes to get there.
An alternative if you don’t want to walk is the funicular which runs between Ulitsas Pushkinskaya and Sukhanova. The funicular leaves every 3-5 minutes between 7am and 8pm and costs ₽20. The upper station is at the large roundabout, so you can then follow the directions above.
If you’re on Ulitsa Pushkinskaya and you fancy a rather steep uphill climb then there’s also a flight of stairs running alongside the funicular. They’re not in the best state of repair, you have been warned. Coming downhill, the same stairs connect with Ulitsa Svetlanskkaya, bringing you out on the embankment near the base of the bridge.
Cost | Free
Open | 24/7, but best at sunset and blue hour to see the city lighting up
Tour | One of the easiest ways to get here is to take a fully customisable tour with a local, like this top-rated one!
3. FALL IN LOVE WITH VLADIVOSTOK’S HISTORIC STREETS
The thing with Vladivostok is that it refuses to conform. Nowhere is that easier to see than on its streets, where you’ll find almost every architectural style there is.
Whilst I’m not an expert, falling more in the ‘cool shape, pretty colour’ group, I think that Vladivostok is a pretty fabulous introduction to the variety of architectural styles you’ll see as you travel across Russia. The great thing about Vladivostok is that most of these buildings are packed into a relatively small city centre, so it’s very walkable.
Getting there | You can honestly just pick a direction and wander, but some of the best buildings are found along Ulitsa Svetlanskaya and Ulitsa Aleutskaya
Tour | Getting a feel for Vladivostok’s past is a million times better with a local. For a fun twist, why not try this top-rated tour which includes rides on 3 different types of local public transport.
4. GET BLOWN AWAY AT TOKAREVSKY LIGHTHOUSE
And yes, I do mean that quite literally.
Standing proud on the furthest tip of the peninsula, the lighthouse was founded in 1876. The original wooden structure no longer exists, but the current lighthouse dates from 1910 and proudly stands as a guide for ships entering the Port of Vladivostok.
You’re likely to encounter pretty strong winds down here, especially in the winter. In summer, high tides cover the access path to the lighthouse itself so you’ll get your feet wet if you turn up at the wrong time!
In winter you can easily walk to the lighthouse if you can withstand the winds, and you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the seals that call the area home. You’ll also get an impressive view of the Russky Bridge, which connects Vladivostok to Russky Island.
In the summer there’s a café and paid toilet here, along with plenty of sunbathers (swimming is prohibited), but in the winter everything gets locked up for the off-season.
Getting there | The lighthouse sits at the far end of Ultisa Tokarevskaya Koshka, about 6km from the city centre. To get there on public transport take bus #59/60/62/81 or marshrutka #63 from stop 634 on Ulitsa Aleutskaya (opposite the railway station) to Mayak, which is the last stop. The bus ride takes about 15 minutes. You’ll then have a 2km (20-30 minutes depending on your speed and whether the wind’s behind you) walk to the lighthouse itself. The bus ride costs ₽28 each way. Your other option is to take a taxi (I recommend using Yandex Go) which will cost about ₽250 each way and take 20 minutes.
Cost | Free
Open | The lighthouse itself is closed to the public. The beach is always open but be aware of tide times if you want to walk there to the lighthouse itself in summer since the isthmus is covered at high tide.
5. GET YOUR GEEK ON AT VLADIVOSTOK’S MUSEUMS
Like so many places in Russia, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to museums in Vladivostok. No matter your interests, there’s bound to be a place for you. Here are just a few of the city’s most popular:
S-56 Submarine Museum
This is definitely one for the World War II history buffs. The museum is located inside the S-56 submarine that saw active service during the Great Patriotic War and was one of the most successful at sinking enemy ships. The first part of the museum is entirely in Russian, so may not be that interesting if you don’t understand the language. The second half is, however, a walk through the submarine exactly as it was set up during active duty. It’s a pretty unique experience as far as museums go!
Where | Between Admiralskiy Square and Ulitsa Korabelnaya Naberezhnaya
Open | 9am – 8pm
Cost | ₽100 and an extra ₽50 for photography
Arseniev Museum of Far East History
This is the main museum of the city, containing exhibits celebrating Vladivostok’s position in the Far East. You’ll find folk crafts, 18th and 19th-century clothing, old statues and stained glass windows. There’s a section dedicated to the Indigenous people of the region, and an interesting photography exhibit on the 3rd floor. Be aware that most of the signage is in Russian.
Where | 20 Ulitsa Svetlanskaya
Open | 10am – 7pm
Cost | ₽400
Zaraya Museum of Contemporary Art
This cool modern art venue is located in an old garment factory and is an awesome place to visit. With revolving exhibitions, there’s always something new to see. A lot of the artworks that you’ll see when wandering around the city have been commissioned from artists who got their start here.
Where | 155 Prospekt 100 Let Vladivostok. Check what’s on here.
Open | 12pm – 8pm
Cost | Free
Tip | There’s a beautiful reading room here with fast wi-fi, a coffee shop and plenty of charging points.
6. SEEK OUT VLADIVOSTOK’S STREET ART
Wandering the streets of a new city is my favourite way of exploring, and Vladivostok is no exception. Not surprisingly, given its up and coming vibe, the city is full of cool art installations and street art is constantly popping up all over the city. Here are some art pieces to look out for.
Blue Sky Light Installation | Obviously this is best seen once it’s dark! Sparkling lights hanging over Arbat, the pedestrianised portion of Ulitsa Admirala Fokina, make this a favourite Instagram spot after dark. It’s also where you’ll find lots of places to eat and drink.
Tiger statues | There’s tiger-themed art all over the city since the Amur Tiger is the official symbol of both Vladivostok and the region of Primorye. These cute tiger cub statues are worth seeking out, and you can also enjoy a walk along Vladivostok’s pretty seafront at the same time.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn Monument | You’ll find this statue commemorating Russia’s Nobel Prize-winning author down on the waterfront. A rather controversial figure both in Russia and overseas, he was an outspoken critic of Communism. His novel, The Gulag Archipelago, is credited with revealing what life was like in the prison camps of soviet times.
Memories of the Foreign Sailor | Harking back to Vladivostok’s maritime past, this artwork is full of symbolism. Representing a Soviet sailor who returned from overseas in the 60s-70s, the figure carries with him everything that was forbidden in the then Soviet Union. From his sunglasses and cigarettes to the Led Zeppelin record tucked under his arm, this statue is full of surprises. Depending on when you visit he might even be dressed up for the occasion! Look out for him on Ulitsa Aleutskaya.
Eleanor Pray | Near the post office on Ulitsa Svetlankaya you’ll find the statue commemorating an American woman who fell in love with Vladivostok. Living here for 30 years at the start of the 20th Century, she chronicled life in the city. Her letters and photographs have been published in several books, and she’s fondly referred to as Vladivostok’s first blogger!
Gorodov-Pobratimov Square | This translates to “Twin Cities Square” from Russian. You can’t miss the arches inscribed with all the names of the cities that Vladivostok is twinned with, but the real attraction here is the art. On the walls that make up two sides of the square, you’ll find a variety of cool murals – the tiger and whale were my favourites!
7. TAKE A TRIP TO RUSSKY ISLAND
Russky Island was only accessible by sea until the building of the bridges for the APEC summit. Now it’s an easy trip from the city centre, and definitely worth a visit. There are plenty of places to go hiking and lots of little bays and beaches to explore. You should be aware, however, that there aren’t any toilets. Plenty of trees though…
Russky Bridge is one of the three built for APEC 2020 and it’s a very impressive sight with its world record-breaking pylons stretching to the sky. On the island itself, you can explore the old fortifications that dot the landscape, each of which had a saint and a shrine to protect it. I would suggest that you consider getting a guide to take you out to the island since you’ll certainly get more out of it with a local who knows where to take you.
The guides also know where the (to be honest, virtually tame and probably nuisance to the locals) cute foxes are…
Getting there | It’ll take about an hour to get out to the island from the centre on the bus. A taxi will take you about 30 minutes at a cost of around ₽350 one way. From the city centre, you can take several busses, all of which terminate at the Far Eastern Federal University campus – check the routes here. Once you’re at the University you can take bus 29 to get to Voyevoda Bay on the far side of the island.
You can, obviously take a taxi out and then public transport back, but be aware that it might be tricky trying to get a taxi back to the city as they simply won’t be hanging about on Russky Island.
8. SHOP TIL YOU DROP IN LOCAL MARKETS & STORES
Sportivnaya Market | This is one of those places that you’ll either love or hate. Situated in an old stadium, you can find literally anything in this market. Even if you have no intention of buying something, I’m pretty sure you’ll find an item that will change your mind. Everything’s divided into sections – meat and fish in one area, utensils in another, clothing in yet another. You get the idea. I’d wholeheartedly recommend buying food here if you’re self-catering or heading off on the train since you’ll be getting it straight from the farmer in many cases! Take the bus to Ulitsa Sportivnaya.
TIP | If you don’t speak Russian and the thought of visiting a local market is totally daunting, why not check out this awesome tour with a local English-speaking guide. You’ll even get lunch!
Central Square Market | Located, unsurprisingly enough, in Central Square, this market is only open in the warmer months at the weekends. You’ll find local farmers selling fruits, veggies, berries, honey, bread and fish. For locally sourced produce you won’t get any better than this in the heart of the city. Once you’ve done with your shopping you can pop into the nearby Orthodox Church or take a selfie with the monuments!
Sunduk | This is a cute little place with a variety of locally produced souvenirs. Worth a look if you’re walking past. Located at 10A Ulitsa Fokina
Luna I Grosh | The name of this bookstore come souvenir shop translates to the Moon and Sixpence. Honestly I love bookstores even if I can’t read a thing, so the fact that it sells books was enough to get me inside. Maybe next time I’ll feel confident enough with my Russian to pick up a book for the 3-5 age group… A girl can dream. Find it at 26 Ulitsa Aleutskaya
Nevelskoy Book Club | In the same place as Sunduk, another cute bookstore. Yes, ok, I know. I have a book problem. There are worse vices, right?
Primorsky Konditer | This confectionary store is pretty famous in Vladivostok. You should try their chocolate with seasalt (morskaya sol) or seaweed (morskaya kapusta) or the popular Bird’s Milk (ptichye moloko) sweets made with agar. There are a couple of branches, but the most central is at 52 Ulitsa Aleutskaya.
9. CELEBRATE TIGER DAY
Every year, on the last Sunday in September, Vladivostok gets together to celebrate the Amur Tiger.
There are only about 350-400 adult Amur tigers left in the wild, and 95% of them live in the forests of Russia’s Far East. As with so many species, poaching, hunting, and human encroachment on their territory has led to a massive decline in species numbers. Tiger Day is a holiday promoting education and wildlife conservation.
Although you may not enjoy the educational component if you don’t speak Russian, I think we can all agree that watching a tiger-themed parade is entertainment at its finest. Not only will you find crowds of people dressed as tigers, but even cars decorated with tiger stripes.
I could make this all about how worthy the environmental cause is (because it is), but honestly? Nobody throws a party like the Russians do.
Where | Central Vladivostok
When | the last Sunday in September
Cost | Free
10. CLEAN UP AT THE BANYA
One of the greatest parts of Russian culture is the Banya. Similar to a sauna, with a focus on relaxation and health, going to the banya became one of my favourite things to do in Russia. In Vladivostok, you can visit the banya on the ocean, Banya More and enjoy sea views whilst steaming your cares away.
The idea behind the Russian banya is to get as hot as possible before getting icy cold. The sea is the perfect place to cool down! The best part is getting gently beaten with bunches of eucalyptus, birch and oak, which secrete aromatic oils. I promise it’s more fun than it sounds!
Where | Banya More
Cost | From 1700 ₽/Hr for the small banya (1 – 4 people)
Open | All year
MAP OF THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN VLADIVOSTOK
To make things easy for you, here’s a map of all the things to do in Vladivostok, along with some suggestions for where to eat, drink and stay. More on those below.
To save this map to your own account, just click on the little star next to the title.
WHERE IS VLADIVOSTOK?
Vladivostok is on the furthest eastern coast of Russia, closer to Japan than it is to Moscow! Thanks to its location there’s a significant amount of Asian influence in both the culture and cuisine of the city. There’s also a long tradition of casinos here, although they were phased out when the city was closed during Soviet times.
These days it’s a bustling, up and coming city with a great foodie scene and wonderful museums and art exhibitions.
WHERE TO STAY IN VLADIVOSTOK
There’s a huge variety of places to stay in Vladivostok, from high-end hotels to budget hostels and everything in between. The centre of Vladivostok is small and everything is within easy walking distance, so the chances are good that you’ll pick a place that’s convenient. I’d recommend staying within a 10-minute walk of the train station.
To save you some time, here are some of the best options in the city.
Note that prices are based on a February occupancy and will vary throughout the year.
BOOKING YOUR TRIP | If you book your trip via my links I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you, which helps keep me on the road. Thanks for your support – Cat.
V Hotel & Rooftop Lounge | This is a new hotel at a great location in the heart of the old city. There are apartments with a kitchenette available as well as standard hotel rooms. The hotel has had great reviews for location, wifi and standard of service. They offer airport transfers and have a 24h front desk. From £71/night. Check availability here.
Lotte Hotel | This is one of the higher-end hotels in Vladivostok. With a swimming pool, sauna and gym you’ll be sorted if the weather’s against you! They’ve got a couple of in-house restaurants and guests rate the views from the upper floors highly. From £123/night. Check availability here.
Sea Breeze Boutique Hotel | The hotel is in a great location for exploring the city and the rooms are bright and clean. Breakfast is provided and can be taken up to your room or enjoyed in the small dining room. They also provide an airport shuttle service but you’ll need to pay for this. From £70/night. Check availability here.
History Hotel | Situated in one of the oldest buildings in the city, this is in the heart of the action and only a short distance from the Railway Station. The rooms are beautiful, the bathrooms cute, and the breakfasts delicious (I sampled them extensively!). They also offer an airport pick-up and drop-off service. Free wifi and English speaking staff, but no gym (you’ll get plenty of exercise walking the city anyway). From £50/night. Check availability here.
Hotel Vladpoint | This Is one of the closest hotels to the railway station. Offering free breakfast delivered to your room and an elevator to the location on the 5th floor, this is good for a night or two prior to (or after) a Trans Siberian railway trip. From £31/night. Check availability here.
Hotel Bay Garden | This 4* hotel gets great reviews from travellers. The rooms are large, many with ocean views, and there’s a highly rated buffet breakfast. The staff speak good English. The wifi here is free and fast and they offer an airport shuttle service. Check cost and availability here.
Azimut Hotel | With free wifi and a good breakfast included, this is a popular hotel in Vladivostok. It’s fairly close to the waterfront and about a 10-minute walk from the station. Some people found the rooms to be a little small. From £40/night. Check availability here.
Apartments on 51 | If you prefer self-catering then these apartments come highly rated. They’re located near the Zoloty Bridge on Ulitsa Svetlanskaya, but an easy walk to the central sights. The kitchens get good reviews and the apartments are clean and spacious. From £40/night. Check availability here.
Sea View Apartments on Stanyukovicha | Offering an airport shuttle, 24-hour front desk and bike hire along with sea views, these self-catering apartments have beautiful sea views. They’re a little further from the city centre but quieter as a result. The owners speak fluent English. From £81/night. Check availability here.
HOSTELS & BUDGET ACCOMMODATION
Hostel IZBA | A clean and comfortable hostel with a lovely shared lounge and kitchen area. The location is really good for exploring the old part of the city. Good wifi throughout. From £6/night. Check availability here.
Luna Hostel | Another nice, centrally located hostel. There’s a shared lounge and kitchen with good wifi throughout the property. Guests rate the cleanliness and location very highly. From £8/night. Check availability here.
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK IN VLADIVOSTOK
There’s a huge number of places to eat and drink in the city, but here are a few that I’ve tried and tested along with some locals’ recommendations.
This speciality coffee shop has very knowledgeable staff who speak good English. They’ll help you find a coffee that will suit your tastes. If you, like me, cannot survive without your morning coffee then this is a great place to stock up before heading off on the train. They’ll even grind your purchase for you!
Where | There are 3 branches in the city – I went to the one at 17 Ulitsa Svetlanskaya.
Hours | 8am – 9pm daily
MILK & HONEY | MOLOKO I MED
Situated on one of Vladivostok’s famous hills, this is a spot that’s well worth the walk. The food is delicious, the staff speak good English, and the restaurant itself is a beautiful space. There are a few vegetarian dishes on the menu, but otherwise this is very seafood and meat-oriented.
Where | 6A Ulitsa Sukhanova
Hours | 10am – 11pm Sunday to Thursday and 10am – midnight Friday and Saturday
I honestly can’t recommend this Georgian Restaurant enough – I have the word ‘amazing’ underlined 3 times in my notes! The staff are wonderful, friendly and English speaking if you’ve not quite managed to get a grasp of Russian. The food is both excellent and great value. If you’re on your own then you’ll probably get lucky enough to sit at the bar where you can watch the kitchen produce the dishes with flair. This restaurant basically convinced me that I have to go to Georgia
Where | 1B Ulitsa Admirala Fokina
Hours | midday – 11pm daily
HOROSHEE MESTO (VEGGIE/VEGAN)
The name means ‘Good Place’ in Russian, and this is a good place for those who eat plant-based! The staff speak English and will be happy to help you out with the menu. There’s a set lunch which is good value, and they also have a variety of pelmeni, which you don’t often find in veggie form!
Where | 7 Ulitsa Fontannaya
Hours | 10am – 4pm weekends (Yandex indicates that this may now be closed – let me know if you have an update!)
A nice place near the base of Golden Bridge where you can pop in for coffee, cake or cocktails depending on the time of day and what you fancy! They have an extensive European-style menu but again, you may struggle as a veggie/vegan
Where | 61 Ulitsa Svetlanskaya
Hours | open 24h daily
This one’s for the meat lovers. It’s supposed to be the best burger joint in the whole of Vladivostok. They’re definitely the prettiest!
Where | 33 Ulitsa Svetlanskaya (Old GUM Courtyard)
Hours | 11am – 9pm
One of the most popular seafood restaurants in the city, with a lovely view over the ocean. As you’d expect, there’s not a lot on the menu for those who don’t eat meat or fish. Make sure you let them know if you’d like English-speaking wait-staff.
Where | 2B Ulitsa Batareinaya
Hours | midday – midnight daily
Famous for their seafood, particularly Kamchatka crab, this is one of the more high-end (and famous) restaurants in Vladivostok. Best described as Asian Fusion, they’ve also recently opened a karaoke bar! You should consider booking in advance as it’s usually very busy. They also organise Scallop Fest, which happens every July, and Hold the Crab! Which, unsurprisingly, is the Kamchatka crab festival, held in October.
Where | 2 Ulitsa Fontannaya
Hours | 11am – 2am daily
Located at the Zarya Centre for Contemporary Art, this is a lovely spot with high ceilings and huge windows. The food not only looks beautiful but tastes great too. The emphasis here is primarily seafood, although you will find a couple of veggie options on the menu.
Where | 155 Prospekt 100 Let Vladivostok
Hours | 9am – 8pm daily
This is heaven for pastry lovers. With a definite emphasis on French cuisine, this is the perfect spot for a coffee and cake! They also do sandwiches, quiche and various hot dishes, with some veggie options. You’ll find them in the GUM department store.
Where | 6A Ulitsa Sukhanova
Hours | 8am – 10pm daily
HOW TO GET TO VLADIVOSTOK
Vladivostok’s international airport is well-served from the Asia-Pacific region with multiple flights daily. There is a reduced service in the winter months. From Europe and North America you’ll find that many flights connect through Moscow or the Middle East depending on your country of origin.
If you’re starting your trip here then you’re likely to be flying to Vladivostok. The new airport opened for the APEC summit in 2012, and is about 38km north of the city. You will need to get either a taxi, bus or train to get to the city centre from here.
As one end of the Trans-Siberian railway, the train station here receives arrivals from all over Russia daily. You’ll be arriving in the very centre of the city and many venues are within easy walking distance. Timetables and tickets are available via the Russian Railways site.
It’s also extremely easy to get a taxi from the station to elsewhere in the city.
Previously, there was a ferry service connecting Vladivostok with South Korea and Japan. At the time of writing the DBS ferry service has unfortunately been suspended.
GETTING AROUND IN VLADIVOSTOK
Whilst I’m a massive fan of having your own wheels, parking in Vladivostok is a nightmare and, if you’re here in winter, the streets are terrifying. Many of the cars here are Japanese imports which means the driver sits on the right (like the UK). Russia, however, is a country where everyone drives on the right side of the road (like the US and Europe). It’s utterly confusing, and driving here is not for the faint of heart.
Taxis are your best option if you want to go somewhere that doesn’t have reliable public transport, such as the lighthouse. I’d recommend downloading the Yandex Go app (basically Uber for Russia) and using this. You can hail taxis in the street, but unless you have a grasp of Russian, you may struggle to make yourself understood.
TIP | Be aware that most apps in Russia will not accept internationally issued credit cards. You’ll also need a locally issued SIM to activate them (these can be easily purchased at the airport). There’s always a ‘pay by cash’ option in the apps, so just be sure to tick that.
There is a good bus system in much of Russia, and Vladivostok is no exception. Yandex maps is the equivalent of Google in Russia, and is likely to give you more accurate information about routes and times.
THE BEST TIME TO VISIT VLADIVOSTOK
The best time to visit is very much dependent on why you’re here. Summer doesn’t really turn up properly until August. With warm, sunny days and settled weather, early August to mid October are the most popular (and busiest) months to visit. The Autumn colours in October are wonderful.
Winter is very cold and snow is common from December to March. It’s an entirely different experience, and you’ll have the streets mostly to yourself. For me, Russia always conjured up images of a snow-covered wonderland and I loved my trip to Vladivostok in February. Despite the snowstorm on the day of my arrival.
April brings spring fog which is cool for bridge shots but may prevent you from seeing much of the scenery that the city is famous for. I’m sure the fog is part of the reason why Vladivostok has earned itself the nickname “San Francisco of Russia” – it’s truly not the hills I swear!
May to July is more settled and somewhat warmer from a weather point of view. Honestly, though, there’s always something cool to see or fun to do whatever the weather in Vladivostok.
HOW LONG SHOULD YOU SPEND IN VLADIVOSTOK?
Most people seem to spend 24 hours or less here, but I really think that Vladivostok is worth a longer visit. If you’re a keen hiker and here during the summer season then there are extensive hiking trails in the nearby National Parks. In summer there are beautiful beaches and sailing options, so you really can find plenty to occupy yourself for at least a week no matter the season.
I recommend spending a minimum of 48 hours in the city in order to really get a feel for everything it has to offer.
USEFUL THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU VISIT VLADIVOSTOK
Citizens of 52 countries are now able to apply for e-visas to Russia. This includes most of Europe, but not eh UK, USA, Australia or New Zealand. The e-visa will entitel you to a single entry stay of up to 16 days. See if you’re eligible and apply here.
I recommend getting a local SIM card when you arrive in Vladivostok. You can get an unlimited data card for 30 days for ₽500. Many cafés and restaurants have free wifi which is pretty reliable.
The weather here is unpredictable and it’s very much a ‘4 seasons in a day’ kind of a place so pack accordingly. No matter what time of year you come, you’ll want to bring comfortable walking shoes, as you’ll be doing a lot of steps, many of them up and down fairly steep hills!
You need to have some form of ID on you at all times, just in case you’re asked for it by the police. For most people, this will be a passport. I would carry this in an inside pocket and make sure that you have copies back at your accommodation.
Vladivostok is such an easy city to walk around that it’s easy to have a very cheap couple of days here. Almost everywhere accepts card and contactless payment. The local currency is rubles (₽).
BUDGET FOR VLADIVOSTOK
Budget accommodation eg dorm bed in a hostel | ₽750 (€8)
Coffee | ₽150
Beer | ₽100
Inexpensive meal | ₽600
Mid range accommodation | ₽4000 (€46)
Mid range meal | ₽2000
Luxury accommodation | ₽8000 (€87)
Luxury meal | ₽5000
Half day tour | ₽5500
Full day tour | ₽8000
If you’d like to get out and see some of the surrounding countryside or do something a little more unique like a local cooking class, I recommend contacting Serj at Explore Primorye for any specific tour requests. I spent a great couple of days in the city thanks to him!
Now you should have all the information you need to plan an epic trip to Vladivostok! Get in touch on social media or leave a comment below if you’ve got any questions at all.
PLANNING A TRIP TO RUSSIA?
A vast country with every landscape and activity imaginable, what you can do in Russia is limited only by your imagination. From mountains to beaches, snowmobiling to surfing and everything in between, Russia is one of my favourite destinations.
Check out these essential guides, travel tips, and more to help you plan your trip:
RUSSIA ESSENTIALS | Everything you need to know to plan the perfect trip
TRAVEL INSURANCE | Don’t go anywhere without it! I use and recommend World Nomads.
RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL | No matter where you go, try to always be aware of the fact that travel impacts the place and people that live there. Being a responsible traveller is more important than ever. Here are my top tips to make your trip a mindful one.
PHOTOGRAPHY | Love my photos and want to know how to take better shots on your own trips? Then my photography guide is for you. Here’s all the gear I use too. Want to buy one of my images? Head to the Print Store.
ESSENTIAL GEAR | You’ll find my travel essentials here, and a complete guide to all my hiking gear here.