VLADIVOSTOK (variously interpreted as “Rule the East,” “Lord of the East,” or “Conqueror of the East”) is the home of the Russian Pacific Fleet and the largest Russian port on the Pacific Ocean. During 35 years of the Soviet era (from 1958 to 1992) Vladivostok was off-limits to foreigners and finally was re-opened for tourism.
Vladik (that’s how the locals call Vladivostok) is a great stop-over on the way to Japan, China and Koreas. These countries are much closer to Vladik than Lake Baikal and eastern Siberia. It takes full nine hours to Moscow by air. Despite the fact that Japanese cars are everywhere in the streets of Vladivostok, the city remains genuinely Russian
Vladivostok is the final stop of the Trans-Siberian and the Vladivostok Train Station is the first thing people will see arriving here by train. It is also one of the oldest and most beautiful buildings of the city which was founded in 1891, simultaneously with the Trans-Siberian railroad. The Crown Prince Nikolai Alexandrovich (future Russian Emperor Nicholas II) personally participated in the opening ceremony.
Vladivostok also happens to be one of Russia’s greatest wandering cities. Wherever you walk, you’re going up or down sopki, long-dead volcanic hills, which give the city patchwork layer-cake effect. The beautiful and varied landscape in and around the city provides many opportunities for interesting sightseeing.
THE BRIDGES OF VLADIVOSTOK
There are three important bridges in Vladivostok which have changed the life of the city for the better. The first bridge is across Golden Horn Bay, the second leads across Eastern Bosphorus strait to Russky Island (Russian Island), and the third is across Amur Bay. The massive construction boom hit Vladivostok as the city prepared to host a summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Community (Apec) on Russky Island. Today, taking a ride across all three bridges is a must for every person who visits Vladivostok. One can also choose to walk across the Zolotoy Bridge, preferably on a calm day (at least “calm” by Vladivostok’s standards).
THE VLADIVOSTOK WATERFRONT
The Sports Harbor Embankment is the oldest and most popular one. Decades ago it housed the first public baths: the waters of the Amur Bay were notorious for their high salt concentration and therefore for their healing benefits. In 2013, a statue of two bronze Amur tiger cubs was installed on the embankment. The statue raises awareness of saving this rare animal.
The Korabelnaya Embankment is conveniently located in the downtown of Vladivostok. There are numerous memorials and monuments, including the memorial of the Pacific Fleet Glory, the Submarine S-56, a 14-meter obelisk in the form of wind-filled sails, and Nikolai’s Triumphal Arch (Arch of Crown Prince Nicholas), in the immediate vicinity of the embankment.
The Crown Prince Embankment was opened in 2012 and is considered the “youngest” embankment in Vladivostok. By design, the Crown Prince Embankment is a large promenade suitable for roller skaters and skateboarders. The waterfront offers a scenic view of the Golden Bridge and ships moored in the Golden Horn Bay.
The Far Eastern Federal University Embankment on Russian Island is the most ambitious and well-maintained recreational area of Vladivostok and it occupies 54 hectares of the campus territory. A park with paved alleys and many paths for walking, a man-made waterfall, and ponds welcome visitors and students.
Vladivostok has its own local holiday — Tiger Day, which is celebrated on the last weekend of September. Tiger Day was launched by a nature activist Vladimir Troinin in 2000. Since then more than 20 towns and villages around Vladivostok joined in celebrating. The festive program has expanded so much, that since 2016 the celebrations take two days running. The idea of the festival is to draw the public’s attention to the unique nature of the Russian Far East, particularly the Amur tiger and the Far East leopard, which are considered to be endangered species at present.
TIP FROM THE LOCALS
Check out the Mumyi Troll bar. It’s located on the bar street Pogranichnaya, which is five minutes’ walk from the central embankment. The bar is named after one of the most famous Russian rock bands Mumyi Troll, which was founded in Vladivostok. Beloved by locals, a front man Ilya Lagutenko patronizes the city’s music stage and the bar is the headquarters of V-ROX music festival.