Arkhangelsk is one of those cities where we immediately started off with doubt about what tone to strike. Should we encourage our readers to go to a place that is so far out of the way - next to the White Sea and 15 hours by car to the north-east from Moscow - and largely consists of the typical grey Soviet-era apartment blocks we all know so well? Should we really send you here to check out the town's Lenin square, the only moderately appealing scenery around the river embankment and less than impressive museums?
Yet as this city, which sits on the banks of the Northern Dvina River and in between endless forests, has quite a bit of prominence in Russian history (being the first port of trade with Europe), we don't feel entirely comfortable with leaving it out of our scope either.
And like it is with so many things, sometimes it is good to be forced to spend a bit of time with something that you initially may not find entirely appealing, as Arkhangelsk is in fact a city that can grow on you. Its center is said to have a European look to it, though we honestly couldn't really make that out. What you will nevertheless find here are shopping malls, hotels and plenty of cafes and restaurants, all of which make for a more pleasant and welcoming atmosphere than many other cities in the country. A good place to start getting a feel for that is the Prospekt Chumbarova-Luchinskogo which runs from the river not far from Lenin Square.
Sights of significance include the traditional timber houses which you will find spread out through the city (many have been demolished so there are fewer and fewer left). A better place to check them out may be the open air museum of Malye Korely, located quite far outside of the city center. Besides this, we could give you a long list of semi-interesting monuments and museums, but we will leave it up to you to explore those on your own. OK, well one more thing: check out the Regional Museum of Fine Arts, one of the biggest of its kind in Russia.
Best excuse of all to spend one or two days in Arkhangelsk? You were on your way to the Solovetsky Islands with its famous UNESCO-listed monastery. [Review by travelindicator]
- Arkhangelsk is a city in Russia's region of Arkhangel'sk. It has a population of 348,783, is situated at an altitude of 3ft and the best airport to fly into is ARH (Arkhangelsk, Arkhangelsk)
- The main spoken language here is Russian, and the average English skill is low
- Note Arkhangelsk is not a good point of entry for trips to Russia as it is not well internationally connected. Instead try entering through for instance Volgograd
- The currency used in Russia is the Russian ruble (RUB)
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More Arkhangelsk travel resources
Maybe you should start with reading up a bit about the city's history on its Wikipedia page, followed by Lonely Planet and Wikitravel. Next, head over to the Barents Observer to tell you about the "city of mysteries", check out someone's Adventures in Arkhangelsk and this Moscow Times piece.