The Kola Peninsula is located in the far northwest of Russia and bordered by the Barents Sea and the White Sea. Most part of this territory lies inside the Arctic Circle which makes the region quite peculiar in terms of climate and natural phenomena. Tourism in Kola has been actively developing during the last decade and now can offer many unhackneyed options of active vacation or eco-leisure.
Murmansk is the administrative center of the Kola Peninsula and features a seaport. When you arrive at Kola from Moscow or Saint Petersburg, you definitely arrive at Murmansk first — the airport or the railway station.
The city itself is quite small but there are still things to do and to visit! The main sights include the main Five Corners Square (with the most northern McDonald's' restaurant in the world), Defenders of the Soviet Arctic during the Great Patriotic which is also called Alyosha, the famous Nuclear Icebreaker Lenin. If you have time, don’t miss the markets to buy seafood and game: venison, Murmansk cod, elk; the other special threat of north is cloudberry and products made of it: jams and liquors.
If you stay at Azimuth Hotel, the highest building of Murmansk, you will be lucky to enjoy a pretty panorama of the city from the bird-eye view: block houses of the Soviet era, multi-colored launching barges of the port, and, like the icing on the cake, a mountain range on the background of the whole landscape.
Be careful when choosing a season for your trip: Murmansk and the whole Kolskiy District have a polar night from the beginning of December and 40 days on (this means sun never rises during this period) and a polar day from the end of May till the end of July, when, on the contrary, the sun is shining 24/7. This may be quite difficult for those who are not used to such phenomena.
This village on the Barents Sea coast is a must-visit during any time of the year and not only because it became the main filming spot of the Leviathan movie, the Golden Globe winner-2015. This is a true escape from the everyday life of a huge megapolis citizen and the ultimate expression of real nature. Russian rural scenery with small wooden houses, boats, the chapel is now mixed with a tourist service which includes a great restaurant with the Barents Sea panoramic view and snowmobile riding. With a snowmobile, you can reach more spots with perfect views, including non-freezing waterfalls and cliffs.
The Barents Sea never freezes in this region so even if you arrive in winter you can feast your eyes on its roaring waves. Due to the Golfstream, sea winds here are not cold; however, make sure you wear warm clothes as temperatures can reach 30-35 degrees below zero.
The way to Teriberka from Murmansk lies through the tundra. Its horizonless views do not leave anyone indifferent and are definitely worth a photo stop.
An important tip: the road to Teriberka can be closed if the weather does not allow you to ride along with it. We recommend not to postpone your trip to Teriberka till the last day of your vacation to have an opportunity to shift it to another day.
One of the most famous gems of the Kola peninsula is, of course, Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis. Briefly, this is a beautiful light show created in a night sky by nature itself; it is caused by the collision between electrically charged particles coming to the atmosphere from the sun.
Kola is one of the best spots for catching Aurora. It is impossible to see them in the city because of the bright lights; however, if you take a ride out to the countryside like Teriberka, Lovosero Lake, the Khibiny Mountains you have a great chance to see the miracle of dancing colored lights. The Northern Lights start appearing in late August and can be caught till mid-April.
You can book a seat in the Northern Lights Hunting trip at the link:
Make sure you wear warm clothes as you might spend plenty of time watching Aurora! It is difficult to capture the lights with a standard smartphone camera, but you can try to do this with a professional one after adjusting the right settings.
Kolskiy district is a real catch for nature lovers and fans of trekking, picnics, fishing, snowmobiles riding, and just having a retreat. For instance, you can try the Eco House Hotel in the suburbs of Murmansk is a complex of wooden houses with Russian banya, surrounded by a forest full of fresh clean air. A relatively new glamping complex called Aurora Village offers a set of igloos and features one of the best spots for seeing the Northern Lights. Near the complex is a lake where you can try ice fishing and snowmobile riding, skiing and then have a rest with a barbeque open-air dinner. Many tourists long for riding a dog in a sled — and here, in the Kola Peninsula, you also have a chance to try it with real Siberian Huskies in Husky village not far from Murmansk.
Russia has several high-quality ski resorts, and Kirovsk, the city in the Kola Peninsula located at the spurs of the Khibiny Mountains, is one of the most affordable options you can find. Ski Complex “Bolshoj Vudjavr” is aimed at all categories of skiers, from beginners to professionals. 15 of 23 trails are artificially enlightened which allows you to ski even during the polar night. The total length of trails is 25 km. You can rent all the necessary equipment in the ski center for a moderate price; ski-pass prices start from 500 RUB. There are hotels and guest houses near the ski resort so you can stay there for several days.
Don’t forget to treat yourself to delicious Russian cuisine which has its special zest of the North. Such restaurants as Tsar Hunt and Tundra in Murmansk, V Svoey Tarelke in Kirovsk, and tourist cafes in Teriberka and Sami village offer exquisitely cooked venison, various sorts of delicious fish in unusual dressings, traditional Russian drinks, and desserts.
Snow Village is a must-see for families with children; however, it is interesting for adult travelers, too. Being a unique project started by a single enthusiast in 2008, it is now a big art complex made of snow and ice — a really spectacular thing! The art object is located right under the Vudjavr mountain; it is a good idea of a break during skiing activities or on your way to the ski resort.
The Snow Village looks like a cave with multiple rooms; each room made in its own style with sculptures and carvings of snow and ice. The most peculiar thing about it is that it is totally made by human hands without any artificial materials. The level of effort and the final result are really extraordinary.
Sami Village called “Sam Syyt” is located approximately 100 km from Murmansk and serves for keeping the traditions of the old northern population — Sami. In simple words, Sam Syyt is an open-air museum dedicated to the lifestyle and traditions of Sami.
As soon as you arrive, you will be met by friendly rabbits, running all around the village. For animal lovers, there is even more to enjoy, as Sami Village keeps reindeer, which can be fed and cuddled during your visit. For the most adventurous ones, there is reindeer sledding. Finally, you can spend time with lovely huskies on a small husky farm of Sam Syyt and get acquainted with the old moose.
A restaurant of Sam Syyt offers different dishes of Sami cuisine. After lunch, you are welcome to try Sami traditional open-air games and take photos in traditional clothes. Don’t forget to make a wish near the idols — Sami believe they make wishes come true if you give them a coin. You will need one coin for each of the six majestic idols.