Why is Murmansk shrinking

Long Distance Bike Tour 'Northwest Russia' (13+ days)

Long distance bike tour 'Northwest Russia':

Day 1: Finland: Narva or Vyborg - Pushkin (145 km)
Cycle to Pushkin, a suburb south of Saint Petersburg, if you want to come from the south via the border town of Narva. Stay in a motel in downtown Pushkin. Or if you want to cross the border from Finland to Russia via Vyborg, you can spend the night north of Saint Petersburg in Kingisepp or in Volokova.
Optional offer: City tour of Pushkin. Pushkin is a beautiful city with many picturesque parks and historical sights, which make the city a historical and cultural gem. The city owes its fame to several generations of famous poets and writers, whose genius, inspired by the beauties of the city, incorporated Russian culture into their works. Pushkin is therefore also called the 'city of the muses'. Take a bike tour through the beautiful avenues and let yourself be inspired.
Optional offer: City tour of Saint Petersburg. Pushkin is located about 24 km south of the center of Saint Petersburg. Either explore Saint Petersburg on your own or take part in a guided city tour. (see optional) Saint Petersburg is one of the most beautiful cities in the world! The city has always been a stronghold of Russian history - for two centuries it was even the Russian capital. Today it has made a name for itself as the cultural capital and plays an important role in the cultural and scientific life of Russia. Your luggage and your bike are in the safe care of the hotel. Overnight at hotel.

Day 2: Pushkin - Staraya Ladoga (150 km)
After breakfast you cycle from Pushkin to Staraya Ladoga. This city is possibly the oldest Russian city, which was also one of the largest. In 2003 she celebrated her 1250th birthday! Here you will visit the Staraya Ladoga Museum of Urban History with Traditional Cultural Assets and the Nikolo - Medvedsky (St. Nikolas) Monastery.

Day 3: Staraya Ladoga / Syastroy - Olonets (150 km)
You cycle to Olonets and check in at the hotel. Visit the place on foot, visit the Historical Museum: there is a model of the old fortress in which the museum and the park are located. At the same time, you can visit the wonderful Smolensky Cathedral on an islet in the small urban lake. Overnight at the hotel in Olonets.

Day 4: Olonets - Petrozavodsk (150 km)
You cycle to Petrozavodsk, which is the capital of the Karelian Republic and has the status of the Historical City of Karelia. It has a great architecture and the 'Square' with the neighboring park offers many opportunities for walking and cycling. Overnight at the hotel in Petrozavodsk.
Optional offers: Excursion to Museum Island Kizhi. Stroll through this beautiful city to the harbor and board a boat to Museum Island Kizhi, a peaceful and undisturbed island that serves as an open-air museum for 18th century wooden architecture. There you have the opportunity to book a guided tour. (see optional)
Optional offers: Excursion through Petrozavodsk. You can visit the museums, including the Ship Museum with replicas of old ships and the Smithy Work Shop. You can also book this with a tour guide. (see optional) A short two-hour cruise on one of the historic sailing ships is also possible. You will get to know the old way of sailing and even how people used to shoot cannons there. (see optional)

Day 5: Petrozavodsk - Medvezhegorsk 164 km)
You continue on your way north. After breakfast you start to Medvezhegorsk. The city is located on the north shore of Lake Onega. It is surrounded by beautiful pine forests and bizarre rock cliffs. On the way there you will have the option to visit the Kivach waterfall. A pretty and enchanted place, only 5 km from the M 18 road. The Kivach waterfalls are considered to be the second largest in Europe (the Rhine Falls near Schaffhausen are sometimes called the largest). Overnight at hotel.

Day 6: Medvezhegorsk - Segezha (110 km)
Cycle towards Segezha. Cycling determines the whole day, it gives you the opportunity to look around, to enjoy the landscape and the trip and to discover the Nordic nature, which is now very different from everything you got to know at the beginning of your tour. Overnight at hotel.

Day 7: Segezha - Kem (164 km)
You are driving in the direction of Kem. Kem is very nicely situated where the Kem river flows into the Kemskaya Bay into the White Sea. Kem belongs to the Solovetsky Monastery and has always had a close relationship with the archipelago. During the 1920s and 1930s the Solovetsky camp administration was stationed in Kem and the prisoners were deported from here to the islands. You can visit the Gulag Museum. Today Kem is a dreamy town, mainly with wooden houses in the middle of a green landscape in summer. Overnight at the hotel in Kem.
Optional offers: Excursion to the Solovetsky Islands. Take a boat to the Solovetsky Islands (from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.). You can also book a guided tour to visit the monastery and the Gulag Museum. (see optional) and a rowing tour on the canals (see optional) The excursion ship returns at 6:00 p.m. and arrives in Kem at around 7:50 p.m. You will have dinner at the hotel and spend the night there. All luggage and the bike can be safely left in the hotel. If you want, you can extend your stay on the Solovetsky Islands to one or more days.

Day 8: Kem - Loughi (175 km)
You are now cycling towards the Kola Peninsula in the direction of Loukhi. The Nordic nature accompanies you invariably throughout the day. Stay at a hotel in Loukhi. On your way there you will pass some trucker cafes where you can have lunch.

Day 9: Loukhi - Kandalaksha (145 km)
We continue towards the Kola Peninsula. On the way is Kovda with the famous wooden church. The landscape gradually becomes a little hilly and beautiful panoramic views open up in front of you. Spend the night in downtown Kandalaksha and have dinner in a recommended restaurant.

Day 10: Kandalaksha - Monchegorsk (110 km)
Today it will be a harder day. The hills get higher and steeper. But when you get to the top you will have forgotten the hassle of the climb; take the time to look around and then enjoy the descent down to the valley. We have already reserved a bed for you in a brand new, nice hotel in the greenest and prettiest city center: in Monchegorsk! After a break, discover the city. Monchegorsk was built on three blue lakes, which the city divides into islands. There you will find the largest Orthodox cathedral in the Murmansk region, which occupies the most important place in the city. You can learn even more about the history of Monchegorsk by visiting the local Historical Museum. You can also visit the Museum of Colored Stones, the Geological Museum. It houses a unique mineral collection from all over Russia. You can have dinner either in your hotel or in a recommended restaurant.
Optional offers: 2 hours cruise on the largest lake on the Kola Peninsula, the Imanda, with a sailing yacht.
Optional offers: Extend your vacation a little with a hike to the idyllic Devichyi Kosi waterfall (girl's braids) in the Monche Tundra with lunch by the campfire.

Day 11: Monchegorsk - Murmansk (140 km)
Today you will cross the 69th parallel and encounter the largest city north of the Arctic Circle. Your hotel will be in the center. Murmansk, with its large port in the north, played an important role for the Russian army in the defense of Russia in World War I and II. One of the 'highlights' of the city is the majestic monument 'ALESHA' in memory of those who fell in World War II. It was built in 1974 on a hill above the city and shows a 34 m high security guard with a rifle and steel helmet, which can be seen from every point in the city. There are a large number of interesting sights to visit in the city, which is shaped by the culture of the sea and the navy. This also includes the first nuclear icebreaker 'Lenin'. The Marine Museum, the Ship Museum, and the Oceanarium. We also recommend visiting the local historical museum, the art museum and the folklore center.
Optional offers: Stay a few days in Murmansk to get to know the city by following the sights we have described on your city map or by booking a city tour (see details)

Day 12: Murmansk - Titovka (100 km)
Today you cross the Kola Bay by bike over a bridge and cycle through a huge tundra landscape without any civilization. You will notice that trees are now shrinking to bushes due to the harsh climate. You will discover some of the remnants of the last wars as these were the defensive areas of Russia. After 100 km you will come to Titovka, a small village in an oasis of birch groves. You are now halfway to the Norwegian border and spend the night in a simple motel with a small cafe.

Day 13: Titokva - Kirkenes (120 km)
Your last day on Russian soil! From Titovka you cycle 100 km through the tundra without a single tree. You will pass through some military villages; and 25 km before the border, the landscape changes from the bare tundra to a beautiful coniferous forest region. You cross the border near Kirkenes. In the village of Hesseng (15 km behind the border) there is an inexpensive motel and in Kirkenes (25 km behind the border) there are several hotels. If you wish, we will be happy to book an overnight stay for you.

This long distance bike tour 'Northwest Russia' was undertaken in 2011 by solo cyclist Leo Plank. You may find that the distances of the daily stages are very long. It is possible to plan shorter bike routes, if you wish, also to add days for rest breaks or sightseeing / excursions. Please feel free to let us know your wishes!