Murmansk transportation: a brief overview

It on the Kola road (M18) from St. Petersburg to Norway. Highway A132 to Norway  and P12 to Finland begin in Murmansk.

Airport “Murmansk” is actually in Murmashi, 24km from Murmansk. Daily flights to Moscow and St. Petersburg. Regular flights to Arkhangelsk, Tromso (Norway), Helsinki (Finland), Turkey, and Egypt.

3-4 direct Moscow to Murmansk trains, more >>

Murmansk religious scene

Seventeen registered denominations is and impressive number for a city of less than half a million. They have a Catholic church, Lutherans, Baptists, Jehowa’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, Pentecostals, and Hare Krishna devotees whatever their official name is. Don’t see such liberties being allowed in the Russian mainland.

Buses from Kandalaksha or Murmansk to Finland, Norway, or Sweden

map_finlandNo, there is no train connection. No planes either.

The bus from Kandalaksha to Rovaniemi, Finland (via Salla and Kemijärvi) runs twice a week.

Lots of offers for Finland and Sweden from private car owners in Kandalaksha. The usual cost is …… Transfer-tour offers minibuses. All the services cater to Russian tourists, with very few English speakers and no info in English. That’s where we see ourselves once our move to Kandalaksha happens.

Buses run regularly form Murmansk to Kirkenes (Norway) and Ivalo (Finland). More, in Russian >>


Good-by asphalt. The “road” is there till the next storm. Better have a good sense of direction. And a compass. Not sure if GPS will work there – so much out of this world the place seems.

Why travel to Kuzomen’

Sami descendants, wild horses (!), ghosts that the local **educated** priest says are real, northern sand desert…

Where to stay in Kuzomen’

Rely on local’s hospitality. Housing conditions will be sub-standard, unlike in the nearby Varzuga where the locals mysteriously live much better. Hire me with a jeep and trailer. Camping in the summer.


Desert, gloom, and decay

Kuzomen people

Wild horses

I’m playing with the idea of going there in winter, bribing horses with oats so that by spring, when they are hungry and weak, they are firm in the erroneous conviction I’m the good guy. Once they are tame I’ll show my true nature by enslaving a couple. If they survived in these conditions they are indestructible and I want a low-maintenance horse. Also on the pictures they are the ugliest animals I’ve seen and I sort of fall for anti-esthetics.

Kuzomen’ in winter



Huge spaces, lamp poles unable to stay straight, weathered building, young men trying to act tough by swearing, smoking, and turning music full blast, young women desperate to look attractive only to give up on themselves in a few years, ageing men by store entrances hoping to be treated for a free drink… Luvenga has a good chance of becoming part of my Russian Misery Travel (c) tour.

Congratulations again. You are now on the north side of the Kandalaksha Bay (or the south edge of the Kola Peninsula), moving south-east. “North side” means that the hills are facing south so you get plenty of sunlight. The scenery is there but you are travelling to nowhere. The asphalt will be getting worse till, in about 150km from Kandalaksha, it will turn a trail that, after Varzuga, will disappear into a desert. Yes, a real desert. Sand, dunes, and even a herd of wild horses. For out of this world experience plan a trip to Kuzomen‘. That’s it. If you insist on continuing by car you’ll have to wait will low tide and use bared strip of sand as your road. If you get seriously stuck…

The road from the Nature Reserve outpost to the Village of Luvenga

If you go down to the sea from Luvenga, you’ll find the station of the Kandalaksha Nature Reserve where Alexandra Goryashko has been living and working every summer for the last 30 or so years. Her work consists of measuring Common Eider eggs in June and writing biographies of obscure and often semi-insane turn-of-the century polar scientists. I’m trying to sell her as someone able to compile biographies of your Russian ancestors, for a good fee.

Luvenga Station of the Kandalaksha Nature Reserve

There are still a few Pomor type people in villages along the cost. Ethnically Pomors are Russians or of mostly Russian origin. What sets them aside is history, culture, values, and lifestyle. Think of Pomors as the Russian equivalent of Protestants. One outstanding feature of the Pomor culture is active women who fish, hunt, and hold official or even church posts.

The middle of July. Hot. Swim all you like in the sea. Or go into the hill if you feel like playing in snow.

No hotels in Luvenga. If you for whatever mysterious reason want to stay here, talk to me. I’ll probably set you up with one of the hospitable locals. The closest hotel is by the ski slope, on your right as you exit Kandalaksha towards Luvenga.

The famous Stone Vagina that to the Sami symbolized the Great Goddess, is somewhere in the hills over Luvenga.


Also here there is an obelisk to guerrilla fighters who ambushed a group of British soldiers sent to clean up Luvenga from the Bolsheviks sometime in 1919. In this land obelisks are usually erected in honour of the bad guys..

Looking for your ancestors? Lots of 19th and early 20th century graves with Pomor names and very typical Pomor photographs. For a list of names from the graves along the south-west edge of the Kola peninsula see (Russian). Things here in the north go back into primordial chaos slowly, and chances of finding a grave or an archive record are better than in the faster and more disturbed central Russia.


The name “Luvenga” comes from Sami “luvi” and means “shake”. Luvenga is in a a seismically active zone even though actual earthquakes are extremely rare. But a local geologist told me that all prerequisites for big trouble are here.


Congratulations. You’ve nearly made it to near the end of the world. Vikings were not wimps but they hesitated venturing beyond Kandalaksha for the fear that there is nothing but total darkness and void in there, preferring to loot France and England instead. The names of places often originate from Sami “house of witches”, “mountain of darkness” and such. The local priest, an educated fellow and a recognized historian, speaks seriously of the local spirit and ghost population. Welcome to Kandalaksha..  

The tank on Kandalaksha’s central square. Generations of Young Pioneers (re-branded into “Nashi” and dubbed “Nascists”) swore here their loyalty to the business of Lenin (now Putin or “Great Russia” or whatever it is). Children regularly fall from the tank and at least one death made it to the press. Sad but somehow fitting that tanks continue to kill. I should make a page for “absurd ways to die” and add it to my Russian Misery Travel (c) concept..

Getting to Kandalaksha

From Moscow by train, 36 hours, $50-150, depending on the class. Northern trains are generally clean and comfortable, and fellow passengers are quiet and will not smoke inside compartments.

Or by car but it is a 2000km journey. Travel either along the Moscow to Saint-Petersburg road, then to Petrozavodsk and along the main highway. Easy to navigate, and the pavement is mostly good. Or take the Yaroslavskoye Shosse from Moscow, go through the “Golden Ring” area, and then turn towards Medvezh’yegorsk. A bit longer and the road is said to be worse but your trip will be more saturated.

Individual car trips possible for the whole or any part of the Moscow to Kandalaksha axis ANY TIME OF THE YEAR. A house trailer will be available soon and you can certainly count on is for the 2012 travel season. I like Kiev and am likely to expand the concept all the way to Kiev or even beyond, all the way to Chisinau.


..Coming up. For now see Several hotel available, all in the $50-150 per room range. House trailer parking with hydro and waste disposal in summer months, very inexpensively ($10-15/night). If you are staying for longer time you may want to rent a private apartment. Unfortunately apartment owners are shy about making their offers public but feel free to contact us for accommodation advice and information.

Here is an extensive compilation of Kandalaksha Hotels from the Kandalaksha Nature Reserve site:

Attraction and memorable places in Kandalaksha and area

Here is just a very shortened summary based on a rather extensive list from

Island Mikkov. Located where the Kovda River flows into the Kandalaksha Bay. Granitites formed 2.3-2.4 million years ago are exposed here. Gneiss and amphibolite boulders, which are at least 2.9 million years old, are scattered around. Of interest to those who are amused by this planet’s history. Geology students flock there.


Curative dirt of Palkina Guba. They are used locally to treat diseases of the nervous system and joints.

The Cape of Verkhny Navolok of the Tolskik Peninsula of the Kandalaksha Bay. A range of minerals caught and exposed in transition. Minerals of the epidotic group, amphiboles, pyroxenes, and granites. A mecca for geology students.

Ringing stones. If you strike one of these stones  it will produce prolonged metallic sound. Sami tribes treated these stones as cult objects. A few of these stones are found at the Volosyanaya Hill.

Oket’yeva (Akat’yeva) mountain and the “Iron Gate”. In Sami “akka” means not only “old woman” but Great Goddess. The gorge between Okat’yeva and Domashnyaya hills is a stone corridor about 500 feet long. Ancient Samies thought of the gorge as the residence of Great Goddess. The gorge is within walking distance from Luvenga.

The labyrinth. Walking distance east from Kandalaksha. Possibly a cult object used by the Sami or Celtic tribes.

Holy stones that housed the spirits of departed Sami shamans. No loud talking and certainly no profanities within hearing range of these stones! Sacrifices encouraged. Objects that are connected to hunting (eg. bullets) are especially appropriate.

Silver Mines on the Medvezhi (Bear) Island. These are now flooded, and access to the island is highly restricted. But I’m toying with the idea…

Wooden church in Kovda. Built in the 17th century and presently being restored. See more on the Kovda page.

Military cemeteries –

Russian: Kandalaksha, Beloye More village, Train Station Yyamozero, Kayraly village, Alakurrti village (two cemeteries), Train Station Voyta, Staryye Prolivy, Nivsky, Kayraly, Kuolayarvi, the 50th, 63rd, 74th, and 88th kilometer of the old Kandalaksha to Alakurtti road, Kovdozero, Zarechensk, Train Station Kovda, Nivsky, Fedoseyevska.

German: Near Staraya Salla and near the crossing of roads to Murmansk, Saint-Petersburg, and Lupche Savino.

Finnish: Staraya Salla.

Contact us for grave searches and care, or if you require assistance organizing your trip to visit a grave.

A comprehensive list of names on the graves of the Tersky (Luvenga, Umba, Kuzomen) side of the White Sea:  (Russian) 

Other possible points of interest

..The cross erected in the 16th century and then again in 2004

.. Kandalaksha Monastery

.. The cross in memory of Swedish raid on the Kandalaksha Monastery in 1589 (450 local residents, including monks, killed).

.. Old Pomor Cemetery in Kandalaksha

.. The place between Island Anisimov and Island Bogomolikha where icebreaker Sadko sank in 1916 and then was raised in 1933 and restored in 1934.

.. Clashes between local guerillas and the British marines in 1919 in Kandalaksha and Kolvitsa.

.. The place where blimp “USSR B-6” (105 meters long, 19 th. cubic metes of hydrogen, three motors 800hp total, top speed over 100km/hour) crashed in February 1938.

.. A place near Island Bolshoy Sedlovany where steamer Pomorye exploded on a mine in August 1941. 62 victims, no survivors.

Tourist portal of the Murmansk region. Attention nationals of Finland, Norway, and Sweden.

Looked into what resources are available to foreign travellers to the Murmanks region. Found – Lots of useful info on accommodation, transportation, attractions etc. ENGLISH VERSION. Note the diplomatic missions of Finland and Norway in Murmansk. Consulates can assist in emergencies (e.g. illness, accident, loss of passport, crime or for comparable reason) and help find an interpreter if needed.

If you are from Finland, note the Murmansk office of the Consulate General of Finland in St.Petersburg, Ulitsa Karla Marksa 25A. their number in Murmanks is +7 8152 44582.  In emergency call +7 921 272 5095 or +7 921 272 5096 (24 hours). If you are in St. petersburg and are in trouble, call +7 812 967 3782 (24/7). For more information on Finland’s diplomatic missions in Russia see (Russian, Finnish).

Norway nationals – Your consulate is at Ulitsa Sofii Perovskoi 5, Murmansk, +7 8152 400600 (24/7). See (Russian, Norwegian).

Swedish citizens in trouble: talk to the Norway Mission.

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