Vladivostok, Russia cruises

Opening up adventures through ancient military fortifications and a chance to indulge in the culinary influences of its close Asian neighbours, a visit to Vladivostok offers experiences you won’t find in any other Russian port.

 

Vladivostok port guide.

 

Closer to Seoul than Moscow, a port call to Vladivostok reveals a lesser-seen side to Russia, where the influences of the east are as prominent as those of the west. Here you’ll find constant reminders of Vladivostok’s proximity to its Chinese, Korean and Japanese neighbours, most notably in its cuisine and retail. While Russian dolls line the shelves of its gift shops, steamed Asian dumplings and fresh seafood are a staple of Vladivostok’s dining offer. These constant contradictions, like that of the city’s historic fortifications and 21st-century bridges, all contribute to making Vladivostok a dynamic Russian port call on a cruise to the Far East.

 

Top Landmarks and sights in Vladivostok.

 

One of Vladivostok’s most iconic landmarks is actually among the city’s newest having completed its construction as recently as August 2012. The Zolotoy Rog, or Golden Horn Bridge as it is also known, was constructed by renowned British architect Lord Norman Foster and is among the world’s longest cable-stayed bridges. It connects the centre of Vladivostok with Cape Churkin, cutting an hour’s journey down to a mere ten minutes. It’s one of two cable-stayed bridges opened in Vladivostok in 2012, the other being the Russky Island Bridge; currently the longest of its kind in the world.

In a contrast that sums up Vladivostok perfectly, the city’s other main claim to fame is also its oldest. The historic Vladivostok Fortress built in the wake of the Japan-Russia War, spreads out across the city’s mainland and islands. Offering an insight into Russia’s defence, these ancient coastal fortifications have fascinated military enthusiasts for eons. Be sure to visit Battery Point Museum on Russky Island where you can venture below ground to explore atmospheric tunnels and dungeons. 

 

Things to do in Vladivostok.

 

From bouncing between vibrant cocktail bars to exploring the city’s excellent art and military museums, you’ll never be short of ways to pass the time on a cruise to Vladivostok. Take your pick from entering a submarine at the S-56 Submarine Museum or browsing over 5000 historical works of art at the city’s highly-rated Primorye State Art Gallery. There are museums dedicated to the culture of the Far East, antique cars and the Pacific Fleet, although be aware that some only display information in Russian, so it’s worth doing your research ahead of time.

Vladivostok is also the gateway to the Trans-Siberian Railway, which departs the city for Moscow daily. The railway is the longest in the world, passing through two continents and up to 90 cities. The Vladivostok-Moscow connection takes several days so while you won’t be able to partake personally, you’ll still be able to witness this iconic train depart Vladivostok for its world-famous journey.  

Another of Vladivostok’s proud attractions is the city’s Primorsky Aquarium. Opened by Vladimir Putin in 2016, Primorsky is the world’s third-largest aquarium; its tanks so extensive that many were built before the centre’s walls and roof went in. Among the countless exhibits on display, you’ll discover giant Pacific octopi and South American Humboldt penguins, whose conservation is at the heart of the aquarium’s mission to preserve aquatic biodiversity.

 

Eating and drinking near Vladivostok cruise port.

 

Something that often surprises guests on a port call to Vladivostok is how diverse and upscale the city’s dining offer is. While Russian fare has its place, Vladivostok’s kitchens enjoy an eclectic multicultural influence, largely hailing from the city’s close eastern neighbours. Whether you’re in the mood for dim sum, sushi or Korean BBQ, you’ll find it here easily (and of a high calibre). The city is also a prime spot for crab and oysters among other high-end seafood, while the November and December ice fishing season sees native smelt become a staple of Vladivostok’s menus.

Something you might not expect (but which is also easy to come by in Vladivostok) is a taste of America. This oceanfront city is home to several excellent coffee houses, together with a number of burger bars and premium steakhouses serving up succulent prime cuts. It’s a familiar taste of the west that only emphasises the breadth and modernity of Vladivostok’s culinary offer. You’ll even find halal and vegetarian diets catered for in this part of Russia.

 

Shopping in Vladivostok.

 

From souvenir shops selling traditional Russian crafts to bustling Chinese markets, Vladivostok’s shops, like its restaurants, offer both a native taste of Russia coupled with the charms of the east.

If a Russian stacking doll is high on your wish list you won’t be disappointed. Gift shops in Vladivostok are teeming with this infamous Russian souvenir. Gzhel porcelain (iconic for its blue and white pattern) is another popular purchase you’ll find on a cruise to Vladivostok, while jewellery boxes, decorated with images from Russian folklore, also make a pretty keepsake to take home.

Chinese vodka, Japanese whisky and the natively brewed tipple, Ussuri Balsam (a bitter flavoured with Siberian Ginseng) are among the alcoholic gifts Vladivostok excels in. You’ll also find many products that celebrate the city’s proximity to the ocean, including chocolates flavoured with kelp and sea salt, and beauty products enriched with algae and seagrass.

 

Vladivostok culture and history.

 

As cities go Vladivostok is a relative newcomer, having only been in Russian possession since 1860. Prior to this, the land belonged jointly to Russia and China, but after its handover the city transformed at pace, starting with the relocation of the Siberian navy to Vladivostok in 1871. 

By the turn of the 20th century, Vladivostok had acquired official city status and become Russia’s largest far eastern port. It enjoyed a rail connection with Siberia and a strengthening cultural offer, boosted by theatres and libraries. 

Both pre and post-WWII Vladivostok’s infrastructure gained further momentum and today the city enjoys a well-connected transport system, most recently boosted by the Russky Island and Zolotoy Rog bridges. A migration of Korean, Japanese and Chinese settlers has also contributed to the city’s cultural, culinary and retail offer, resulting in Vladivostok’s notable pan-Asian feel.

 

Vladivostok port facilities and location.

 

Cruises to Vladivostok call at the city’s Vladivostok Sea Terminal in the Zolotoy Rog Bay. The terminal building is itself shaped like a cruise ship, and it’s common for traditional Russian folk dancers to entertain disembarking passengers on the day cruise ships dock in port.

Vladivostok Sea Terminal is located close to the railway station and with a viaduct that connects you to Sea Terminal Square. You’ll find free city maps and tour guides at the cruise terminal’s tourist information, ideal for helping you to plan your time in port.