Vladivostok in 5 Days
Vladivostok is an absolute must-stop during any Trans-Siberian Railway trip no matter whether you plan your Trans-Siberian route from east to west or vice versa starting from Moscow and after more than 9,200km arriving in this vibrant and navy city. Usually there is only one day included in the long and exciting 20-day trip across the Trans-Siberian Railway, but of course, here in Vladivostok, there are plenty of things to see and enjoy.
Vladivostok is located at the far eastern side of Russia, on the Sea of Japan. Moscow feels very far away in this part of Russia. The name Vladivostok literally means “Rule the East”, and indeed, economically and culturally, the city looks more to its Eastern neighbors than to Europe. Korea, Japan, and China are both important trade partners and tourist destinations for the inhabitants of Vladivostok, and vice versa.
Day 1: Russky Island
On our first day, we visited Russky Island. This island is connected to the mainland via Russky Bridge, built in 2012 in honor of the APEC summit. The Vladivostok bridges have given the city the nickname “San Francisco of Russia”. Overall, the summit greatly improved the infrastructure in and around Vladivostok. A brand new university campus was also built.
Russky Island is a nature paradise. In the summer, you can go hiking, cycling, and swimming in the sea. We walked out all the way to the tip of the island, from which we had a spectacular view over the ocean and neighboring islands. In a little restaurant by the water, we tried fresh scallops and Ukha (Russian fish soup).
Day 2: Botanical Garden
Apart from Russky Island, Vladivostok and its surroundings provide many options for those who are into the outdoors. On our second day, we hiked in the Botanical Garden, which has a beautiful forest attached. The nearby Taiga and national parks also provide ample opportunities for fishing, hunting and wildlife watching. If you want to catch a glimpse of the famous Siberian Tiger (also known as the Amur Tiger), head to Sikhote-Alin Nature Reserve.
Day 3: Museums
Those more into history and culture, take a tour around the numerous forts that surround Vladivostok. The city has a unique past, having been founded originally for military purposes. At the time of construction, Vladivostok’s defensive structures represented some of the newest advancements in military architecture.
The Arseniev Museum of Primorskiy Region provides a useful overview Vladivostok’s fascinating history and nature. Here, you can find out what connection the city has to Belarus and learn that the city’s population was at one point almost a quarter Chinese.
Military vehicles and artillery by the Vladivostok Fortress Museum:
Day 4: Stroll around the city itself
Vladivostok is a vibrant city. Walking around, you discover many unexpected sights. Did you know, for example, that Yul Brynner, the famous actor, was born in Vladivostok? You can visit his house.
On some days, the central square hosts a market, where you can get an idea of the variety of fish and other food products that are available from the region.
Because the city is built on a slope, there is a funicular that leads to the top of the hill, from which you have a great view over the city and the port.
Statue to Yull Brynner:
At the market, women sell Kimchi and many other interesting food items.
Day 5: Lighthouse
At the edge of the city, on a thin stretch of land that runs out into the sea, is a small lighthouse of such picturesque beauty, it looks as if it came out of a children’s book. To get there, we had to take a long bus ride and walk for another 20 minutes, but the reward was definitely worth it. The views you have from this edge of the city are spectacular. You really feel like you are at the edge of Russia, which you are – quite literally.
Finally, a stay in Vladivostok would not be complete without trying some authentic Korean food. At the restaurant Pyongyang, we indulged in Kimchi, Bibimbap and Bulgogi. I had to hurry to take this photo before the food disappeared completely!
Vladivostok is an overlooked treasure. I did not expect to see and learn so much. The city is fun and refreshing, and I found the people to be open and very friendly. I can recommend it to anybody who wants to see a slightly different side of Russia. Visit in the summer, when the weather is warm and you can make the most of the stunning outdoors. Enjoy!
text and pictures by our friend and avid traveler across Russia Karin Riechenberg
Are you thinking about visiting Vladivostok? We offer a Trans-Siberian Railway Tour in Winter – check it out, and you can go from Moscow to Vladivostok by train! Read our Essential guide for Trans-Siberian Railway trip to be fully inspired!