Kola Peninsula: accessible Arctic region

Kola Peninsula: accessible Arctic region

The Kola Peninsula is the closest and most accessible region for residents of central Russia where you can touch the harsh exoticism of the Arctic. Washed by the waters of the White and Barents Seas of the Arctic Ocean, it is beautiful at any time of the year. 

In winter people come here for the northern lights and ski holidays, in spring – in pursuit of whales, in summer – to see mountain passes and sacred lakes of the Sami and fishing in mountain rivers, in autumn – to enjoy the riot of colors.

The polar day in summer and the polar night in winter will add a special flavor to the trip. 

How to get there 

Kola Peninsula: accessible Arctic region

B  Murmansk has the largest airport in the region (the second is in the city of Apatity). Air tickets from Moscow cost from 4,500 to 15,000 rubles for a round-trip flight, depending on the season, the availability of special offers and how far in advance you made the purchase. The plane from the capital takes only 2.5 hours.

The train from Moscow takes 35 hours, a ticket for a reserved seat will cost at least 2,500 rubles, for a compartment – from 5,000 rubles.


Kola Peninsula: accessible Arctic region

Public transport runs between cities on the peninsula. But if you rely on buses and minibuses, you need to carefully plan all your transfers in advance and check the schedule at the Murmansk bus station.

The most convenient way to travel is by car. We recommend renting a four-wheel drive vehicle with high ground clearance. However, for the main routes Kandalaksha – Monchegorsk – Murmansk with exits to Kirovsk, Varzuga and Teriberka (in the absence of snow), an ordinary passenger car is also suitable. The rental price starts from 1,500 rubles per day excluding the price of gasoline.

Taxi is also a popular, albeit expensive option for those who do not want or cannot rent a car, but are not ready to adapt to the logistics of public transport. This option will be convenient if you travel  company and do not make a lot of moves.

A separate point should be mentioned that the most interesting places, for example, the Lovozero tundra, the Khibiny Mountains and the Rybachy Peninsula, can only be seen if you have an SUV and the ability to drive a car in off-road conditions. In this case, you can consider organized and individual excursions in prepared cars with experienced drivers. 

Summer on Kola

In summer, the most picturesque corners of the Kola Peninsula become more accessible.  Where only snowmobiles can travel before the snow melts, in summer you can travel by car, SUV, or on foot. Nature is liberated from the long northern winter, the time of colorful mosses, berries and long walks in the mountains and nature reserves comes. 


Kola Peninsula: accessible Arctic region

You can get into the heart of the Khibiny and Lovozero tundras on your own on foot or accompanied by a local guide on a one-day or week-long hike. But if time is limited and you want to see more without giving up amenities, there is also a car option. Local (Murmansk and Kirov) companies offer fairly comfortable trips lasting up to a week to the Khibiny and Lovozero tundras on the legendary Shishiga (GAZ-66). A giant SUV storms the passes, and you sit in the fully equipped interior of this monstrous truck and admire the amazing beauty of completely untouched nature.

One of the most popular routes in this area is a trip to the Lovozero tundra and to Seydozero, sacred to the Sami. It is believed that the disappeared mythical civilization of Hyperborea is hidden at its bottom. In addition to the hills and lakes, the program includes a tasting of national dishes from Lovozero fish, venison, local vegetables and berries. A visit to the bathhouse is a must. 

You can get to Seydozero (Revda village) on your own from Olenegorsk station for 200 rubles, or you can walk (about 12 km one way). In winter (which essentially lasts from about November to May on the Kola Peninsula), this area is only accessible by snowmobile.

Tersky coast 

Kola Peninsula: accessible Arctic region

The White Sea coast in the vicinity of Teriberka is probably no more picturesque than the Barents, but unique in its own way.

The most interesting objects from Kandalaksha to Varzuga are the Umba village, waterfalls on the Chavanga and Chapoma rivers, Cape Korabl and its amethysts, the village of Kashkarantsy and the lighthouse on the shore, petroglyphs of Kanozero, Kuzomensky sands and herds of wild horses ( if you are lucky enough to meet them).

The Tersky coast is reachable in your own or rented car without an escort. You can also get here by public transport from Murmansk (buses go to Umba and Varzuga, only walking is possible to Kuzomen). A three-day organized trip from Murmansk will cost approximately 15 000 rubles per person.

In winter, the road along the Tersky coast to Varzuga is regularly cleared, but it is impossible to leave it, Cape Korabl is unreachable, Kuzomensky sands are covered with snow.

Lapland Nature Reserve

Kola Peninsula: accessible Arctic region

An option for those who love walks in nature, but are not ready to spend a lot of time on them or are traveling with children. There is no free entrance to the territory; you must call the administration in advance and arrange a meeting and accompaniment of a guide. 

In 3-4 hours you will climb Mount Elnyun, see the sacred seid stones, a panorama of the surrounding lakes, notice how the local vegetation changes even with a slight increase in altitude, meet dwarf birches, colorful mosses, endless bushes of sweet blueberries and sour shiksha.

The reserve is located on the federal highway “Kola” not far from the exit to Kirovsk. A ticket costs 450 rubles, walks are possible from June to October. You can get there by car or taxi from Kirovsk and Apatity.

Contacts: laplandzap.ru


Kola Peninsula: accessible Arctic region

Autumn is the most beautiful time on the Kola Peninsula and a good time to visit its pearl – the Rybachy Peninsula. And yes, if you’re lucky, you can catch the northern lights in the fall.

Getting out to Rybachy on your own is not easy: you will need an SUV and the ability to drive it. Therefore, the most popular option is an organized trip for 2-4 days. Three days are enough to leisurely see all the most picturesque locations of the peninsula. Start and finish are in Murmansk. Estimated cost is about 15 000-20 000 rubles per person for a three-day trip. There are also more extreme options like ATV tours. But their cost will be higher: about 50 000 rubles per person. 

The main points you will visit: the Musta-Tunturi mountain range, the waterfall on the Titovka River, the defense lines of the Great Patriotic War, the Sredny Peninsula, the “Garden of Red Stones”, the ancient Sami temple, the Two Brothers rocks, Cape German, Vaida-Guba village, Cape Kekursky, Cape Skorbeevsky, Ozerko Bay.

September and October are golden autumn on Rybachy; in November, winter begins here, lasting until May. In winter, the roads on the peninsula are impassable even for off-road vehicles; tours are conducted on snowmobiles and cost about 60,000 rubles per person for a three-day trip.


Northern Lights

Kola Peninsula: accessible Arctic region

Polar night, deep snow and northern lights. The Murmansk region is perhaps the most accessible region of Russia, where you can see the magical glow in the night sky with your own eyes.

The best months for “catching” the radiance: from November to March (in November and December it can be colored tints, closer to March – mostly classic green shades). Where to watch: away from major cities. It is worth stopping at tourist bases, for example, at Lake Imandra.

Surprise: It is almost impossible to predict in advance whether the aurora will be visible on certain days. If there is cloudiness, even strong flashes will not be noticeable. Special applications for smartphones, for example, Northern Light Aurora Forecast, will help you get your bearings a little.

Kola Ski Resort

Kola Peninsula: accessible Arctic region

The ski season in the Murmansk region lasts from December to May. So, in fact, you can ski here both in winter and in spring, when it is a little warmer and lighter. And this needs to be done in Kirovsk. Two ski resorts are open here, offering a total of about 63 km of slopes: Bolshoi Vudyavr (ski pass 1,700 rubles per day and 7,300 rubles for a week) and Kukisvumchorr (1,200 rubles per day and 4,500 rubles for 5 days).

You can stay either in the city itself or at one of the bases on Lake Imandra – with a bathhouse and reindeer rides.

In addition to ski holidays, snowmobile tours to the Khibiny Mountains start from Kirovsk, lasting from 1 to 5 days. This could be a radial trip to a Sami village or Seydozero with a return to Kirovsk, as well as a trip to the Tersky coast of the White Sea with a final destination in Kandalaksha. The cost of snowmobile tours is quite high – from 20 000 rubles per person for a 2-day trip to 80 000 rubles for a five-day tour.

However, the surroundings of Kirovsk are good not only in winter. In the summer, trekking through the Khibiny Mountains starts from here, you can go diving on Lake Bolshoi Vudyavr, and the surrounding lakes offer fishing.

Apatity, neighboring Kirovsk, has its own airport. But tickets are significantly more expensive than to Murmansk: from 15,000 to 20 000 rubles from Moscow. Trains going from Moscow and St. Petersburg to Murmansk also pass through Apatity. There are buses and minibuses from the regional capital (the fare is about 600 rubles one way).

Winter hills of Kandalaksha

Kola Peninsula: accessible Arctic region

In January, the polar night ends, the sun appears above the horizon and illuminates the gnarled and snow-covered spruce trees on the Kandalaksha hills with a soft pink light. Why is it here that a fairytale forest appears every winter? Because of the favorable location of the hills relative to the White Sea. Strong winds typical for this area blow sea fog onto the hills, icy frost settles on the trees, forming bizarre snow figures.

The most famous hill is Volosyanaya. It is here that the popular tourist shelter “DublDom” is located, which is reached by snowmobiles in winter. You can also get up from the city on foot (about 3 km), but it is better to walk in these places in snowshoes. Under favorable weather conditions, the northern lights can be observed from the hill.

Kandalaksha is located on the Kola federal highway; Moscow-Murmansk trains pass through the city. Buses also go here from Murmansk (about 4 hours on the way, tickets cost about 600 rubles).

Sami village “Sam-Syit” and Husky Park “Northern Elan”

Kola Peninsula: accessible Arctic region

Photo: VPales/Shutterstock.com

The Sami village and husky park offer more than just winter activities. However, it is at this time of year that you can ride a dog sled or a sleigh pulled by reindeer. In addition, in a Sami village there is an opportunity to get acquainted with the life and culture of the people, their rituals, traditions, games and cuisine. 

Both objects are located in the Lovozersky district of the Murmansk region. The easiest way to get to them is by car or as part of a tour.


Spring comes late to Kola. Here, what is associated with her is not the singing of birds and blooming primroses, but the still unmelted snow. But capelin come to the shores of the Barents Sea, followed by cod and, finally, whales (mainly sperm whales and minke whales). May is the best time to come to the village of Teriberka in pursuit of the largest mammals on our planet.

Whales in the Barents Sea

Kola Peninsula: accessible Arctic region

Teriberka is colorful in itself. This is a partially abandoned village 130 km from Murmansk on the coast of the Arctic Ocean. It’s windy here, there are bare stones and rocks, and near the village lie the rusted wrecks of ships. Harsh realities for local residents, laconic romance for tourists hungry for new experiences.

In Teriberskaya Bay, on the shore of which the village is located, whales rarely appear, so you should not expect to see them from the shore. To meet these luxurious giants you need to go out to the open sea. It is better to book a boat excursion in advance (about 5,000 rubles per person) at one of the local travel agencies or through the owners of the hotel where you plan to stay.

In addition, it is worth leaving at least a day for a walk along the shore towards the Batareisky waterfall and the “Dinosaur Eggs” beach. Trips on SUVs and snowmobiles are organized here (depending on the season), but an independent walk will also be pleasant (about 6 km one way).

Kola Peninsula: accessible Arctic region

You can spend another day in the village of Teriberka itself, visiting ship cemeteries and an abandoned school. Stop by the only local restaurant “Teribersky Bereg” with capital prices and northern sea delicacies. And the sunset can be seen on the sandy beach in a meditative flight on a huge swing. If you choose the format of an organized trip, we recommend combining a trip to Teriberka with a visit to the islands of Kildin and Anikiev.

Teriberka is also good in the warmer seasons, although you shouldn’t count on whales in autumn and even winter, when there is a chance to see the northern lights. But keep in mind that the road is not cleared every day, and the huge amount of snow during the winter season does not allow you to clearly plan the day of your trip.

A bus runs to Teriberka from the Murmansk bus station every 2 days, the fare is about 500 rubles, the journey takes about 4 hours. A taxi will cost from 3,000 to 5,000 rubles one way, depending on the season and the passability of the route.

Regional capital, Murmansk out of season

Kola Peninsula: accessible Arctic region

Photo: Tony Ivanz/Shutterstock.com

When planning a trip to the Kola Peninsula, it is difficult to avoid spending at least one night in the capital of the region. If time permits, it is definitely worth visiting the nuclear icebreaker “Lenin”, the memorial complex “Defenders of the Soviet Arctic” (statue of Alyosha), memorial “Sailors who died in peacetime” (fragment of the submarine “Kursk”), sculpture “Waiting” over the Kola Bay.

Overnight options:

  • Three Hares
  • Apartment Comfort
  • Boutique Hotel Renaissance

Useful tips and travel budget

Trip budget

Kola Peninsula: accessible Arctic region

In general, a trip to the Murmansk region can be very budget-friendly. In fact, the most expensive item of expenditure is excursion trips to hard-to-reach places. If you don’t include such events in your plan, you can save money and still see a lot of amazing things. 

Approximate budget for 4 days for a trip Moscow – Murmansk – Kirovsk – Teriberka – Murmansk):

  • Flight: 10 000 rubles (maybe less if you buy tickets in advance).
  • Accommodation: on average 2,000 rubles per night for two (in Murmansk from 1,500 rubles, in Kirovsk from 2,000 rubles, in Teriberka from 2,500 rubles).
  • Car rental: 6,000 rubles plus about 2,500 rubles for gasoline for 700 km.
  • Meals: the amount depends greatly on whether you go to restaurants or prefer to cook yourself. You can meet 1,000 rubles per day.

Total, if you go together, a trip for 4 days can cost 22 250 rubles per person.

When traveling by public transport, avoiding cafes and restaurants, choosing the cheapest accommodation facilities, traveling by car with four people and buying air tickets on special offer, it’s even cheaper (about 15 000 rubles).

Whether to increase this minimum budget through off-road and snowmobile tours, skiing, going to sea, fishing, and so on depends on the goals, desires and capabilities of the individual traveler.

Features of the region

Kola Peninsula: accessible Arctic region

The main feature of the Arctic is the local weather conditions. Unpredictable and tough. In any season, including summer, you need to be prepared for the possibility of getting wet and freezing.

Therefore, advice: do not skimp on clothing and equipment!

First of all, this concerns shoes. It should be comfortable for walking on rough terrain and waterproof. Trekking membrane boots are perfect.

Feel free to take a waterproof winter jacket with you even in summer. In winter – expect it to be very cold. Especially taking into account the polar night, when the sun will not warm at all. In addition to the usual warm set of clothes, take thermal underwear, waterproof gloves, a wind buff or balaclava, several pairs of wool socks and a comfortable backpack. 

If you decide to include excursion trips into your trip, do not skimp on the organizer. Where there are no roads, it is very important to be confident both in the quality of the equipment provided and in the experience of the guide. Choose large, proven companies with a good reputation.

How to save: 

Kola Peninsula: accessible Arctic region

Travel in a group. This almost always works out cheaper: you can divide the cost of a rented car or taxi among everyone, reduce the cost of excursions due to the number of participants, rent an apartment or house at a tourist base. 

Choose locations that are easy to reach on your own. If the main thing you can’t save on in Kola is tourist services, then the main source of savings will be the same. Choose attractions that you can visit on your own. The most accessible here will be Kirovsk and Teriberka, Kandalaksha, Monchegorsk and some points on the Tersky coast of the White Sea.

Text author: Ksenia Chesnokova

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top