Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky Travel Guide
Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky Travel Guide
The eastern outpost of Russia, the city of Saints Peter and Paul located far away from the capital, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky stretches along the banks of Avacha Bay. The region of Kamchatka is the most seismically active place on the planet, so earthquakes are quite common here.
Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky is well known as the base of Russia’s Pacific Fleet and a starting point for hunting tours and extreme sports such as rafting, hiking and winter diving.
Scientists name 1697 as the year when the first Russian explorers appeared on these territories.
They were brave, courageous representatives of the Russian Cossacks who sought a better life, new free lands and natural resources.
One of the travellers’ tasks was to pay tribute to the local people to replenish the treasury of the Russian Empire. The Cossacks established an outpost in Avacha Bay for this purpose and began to build labour camps.
Petropavlovsky Ostrog received its name from the ships that were part of the Second Kamchatka Expedition (1733-1743), which was headed by Alexei Chirikov and Vitus Bering. The history of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky begins with Ivan Elagin, a navigator who was given the task of exploring Avacha Bay, drawing up maps and constructing warehouses and buildings for the ship’s crew.
The construction of a new settlement began on the coast of the harbour of Nyakina in 1740. The navigator finished his research, made measurements of the depths within the bay and compiled maps of the terrain. The 6 October, when the ships entered the bay bearing the names of Saints Peter and Paul, is considered to be the anniversary of the city.
On 17 August 1854, an Anglo-French squadron entered the Avacha Bay. On 20 August, the enemy concentrated its main attack on the batteries that protected the entrance to the harbour.
For two hours, they fought with the frigates President and Fort. The garrison battled with the frigate Pike and the steamer Virago. The battery’s guns caused significant damage to the enemy vessels, the Cemetery itself suffering no losses, and was left only after up to 600 of the enemy had landed.
On 24 August, the military actions resumed. It took the Anglo-French squadron three days to repair the damage caused by the Russian army, bury their dead and draw up a new plan of attack.
The military advance began with an intensive bombardment of the Perecheechnaya battery. Its garrison fought against the frigates Fort and Eurydice. Unable to withstand the pressure of the Russian fighters, the enemy fled. After picking up the remnants of their landing force, the enemy ships retreated, and on 27 August they left Avacha Bay.
With the end of the Crimean War, the main Russian port in the Far East was Nikolayevsk-on-Amur, and then, from 1871 – Vladivostok. Petropavlovsk port found itself on the sidelines of the sea trade routes and began to decline.
Today, the city is the administrative centre of Kamchatka. Kamchatka is one of the most amazing and picturesque places in Russia, with its unique nature, volcanoes and mountains. Sea with sandy beaches, an amazing underwater world, geysers, boiling lakes, extinct and active volcanoes, geothermal springs, waterfalls, mountain streams – it all combines to surprise and amaze the imagination of even the experienced traveller. Kamchatka owes its wealth of minerals and geothermal waters, geysers and fumaroles to volcanic activity. The volcanoes of Kamchatka are included in UNESCO’s list of World Cultural and Natural Heritage. Of Kamchatka’s 300 volcanoes, 29 are active, among them the largest volcano in Eurasia – Klyuchevskaya Sopka (altitude 4750 m). The Kamchatka Valley of Geysers is recognised as one of the Seven Wonders of Russia and is located within the Kronotsky Reserve.
Where to Stay
To stay near Avacha Bay, the picturesque lake and Nikolskaya Sopka, choose the hotels located in the centre. The top-ranking hotels are Inn Dom Kutha, Apart-Hotel Risskii Dvor or Petropavlovsk Hotel. If you need a cheaper option, it’s better to book an apartment. When you choose accommodation, make sure they have panoramic windows so that you can enjoy the breathtaking views of Avacha Bay and the volcanoes. You can also stay at Pimchakh, a traditional village serving as a cultural centre for the Itelmens, original inhabitants of southern Kamchatka. The camp is located in the picturesque countryside at the base of Ostraya Gora (Steep Mountain).
Bars and Restaurants
The best dinner spots are Kioto, San Marino, Korea House and DaVinchi. At Korea House, guests can cook seafood on a stove by themselves. At Bulvar, you can try fusion cuisine, from Russian traditional dishes to sushi and sashimi. All major social events are usually held at Kolizey, which can boast the freshest delicious fish and seafood. If you’re looking for a fun time, visit Ikra, the city’s most famous club, with lots of cheerful events and costume parties.
What to See
Most tourists come here to see Kamchatka, a land of contrasts that is quite different from Central Russia. This is the place to go for volcanoes and glaciers, hot springs and boiling geysers, swift-flowing rivers, lakes and waterfalls. There are 414 glaciers and 160 volcanoes, 29 of which are active.
The territory of the Kamchatka region covers the Kamchatka Peninsula and the adjacent northern mainland, as well as the Komandorski and Karaginsky Islands. The peninsula is washed in the west by the Sea of Okhotsk, in the north-east by the Bering Sea, and by the Pacific Ocean in the
south-east. The main types of leisure activities are adventure tourism, sightseeing tours, water tourism (rafting, sea walks, diving), eco-tourism, mountain skiing, hunting and fishing. The main natural attractions are Tri Brata (three rocks at Avacha Bay), the Valley of the Geysers, Uzon Caldera, Kluchevskoy Volcano, Avachinsky Volcano, Koryak Volcano, Karymsky Volcano and Mishennaya Sopka. Helicopter volcano tours are quite expensive, but they are definitely worth it.
When in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, don’t miss the following sights:
- Theatre Square (formerly called Lenin Square) with its statue of Lenin.
- The monument to Vitus Bering, which marked the starting point of an expedition to the shores of America.
- The Church of the Holy Trinity, the main cathedral of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, and the Church of St Nicholas are the region’s main Orthodox religious buildings.
- The National Museum of Kamchatka is also worth visiting. Here, you will find exhibits telling about the ancient history of the Kamchatka Territory: dioramas of prehistoric settlements, ancient cannonballs and flags, materials from the largest volcanic eruption, Tolbachik, and maps of the development of the territory of Alaska. You can also learn more about Kamchatka’s volcanic nature at the Volcanology Institute.
Yelizovo Airport offers daily flights to Moscow, Vladivostok and other Russian cities, as well as regular connections to Tokyo and Seoul. You can use bus number 104 to get from Petropavlovsk to the 10km Bus Station, the airport and Yelizovo. There are also buses and minibuses throughout the city. The main bus station is situated on Pobedy Prospect.
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