The Kola Peninsula

Located in north-western Russia, the Kola Peninsula is bounded by both the Barents Sea and the White Sea. The Barents Sea is a marginal sea of the Arctic Ocean.
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Almost the entire peninsula is located north of the Arctic Circle. For this reason, it’s an ideal place to observe the northern lights (aurora borealis).
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The Kola Peninsula is populated and it comprises nearly 70% of the territory of Murmansk Oblast. It’s quite simple to get to the Arctic from Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Air transportation is quite well-developed and Murmansk Airport receives several flights per day. For those who prefer to go straight to the northern mountains, there are also several flights per week to Khibiny Airport. It’s only a 2.5-hour flight from Moscow and a 1.5-hour flight from Saint Petersburg. It’s also possible to get here by train.

Such a train journey is traditional for Russia and will take 36 hours from Moscow and 25 hours from Saint Petersburg. Automobile travel is also possible via federal highway R-21 that goes from St. Petersburg to the Kola Peninsula. Road trip enthusiasts will be interested in this route because it crosses the entire Republic of Karelia. You’ll be able to observe how the landscape and nature change as you drive north.
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From Murmansk, you can continue your journey further north to Norway or Finland. You will reach the border of both these countries in about 3 hours by car.

There are extreme variations in daylight on the Kola Peninsula—there is a season of polar days (when the sun stays above the horizon for 24 hours) and polar nights (when the sun doesn’t rise above the horizon at all). You can observe the northern lights on the Kola Peninsula during the polar nights period, as well as in the off-season from September 1 to April 15.

The northern lights are a complex natural phenomenon and a lot of factors determine whether you’ll be able to see them. Very simply, in order to observe the northern lights, you need to find a place with an open view of the northern horizon with no artificial lighting and without clouds. Conditions in the Murmansk Oblast make it rather difficult to find a place with suitable parameters. This is mainly due to the weather, which is quite changeable and unpredictable due to the proximity of the Arctic Ocean. The hunt for the northern lights is the process of finding suitable places for a specific night of observation (yes, the northern lights are seen at night).
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Tourist groups use light motor vehicles to travel between locations. Guides are equipped with satellite images of the weather and the latest data from satellites that monitor the solar wind. Their arsenal also includes hot tea and pastries because sometimes you need to stand outside in the fresh air for a while. Furthermore, there’s no guarantee that there will be no wind or that the temperature will be warmer than −20°C on the night of the hunt.

Guests will have no time to be bored while they wait during the day for a night with suitable conditions for the hunt. You can go on a tour of Murmansk, the capital of the Russian Arctic.
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You can go aboard the Lenin icebreaker, the world’s first nuclear-powered icebreaker.
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You can take a trip through the snowy tundra to the shore of the Arctic Ocean and visit the small village of Teriberka. You can stand on the shore of what will most likely be the northernmost beach you’ll ever visit.
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You can also go visit some husky dogs. At the same time, you can visit the Sami village—an open-air museum of the indigenous Sami people.
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You can set off for Kirovsk, where one of the best downhill ski resorts in Russia is located. The ski resort has numerous downhill ski slopes of various degrees of difficulty. Guests will also be able to go on snowmobile tours, snowshoe walks, visit the Snow Village, and do a lot more in this small mountain ski town.
Related trips
Tracking the Northern Lights
Tracking the Northern Lights
  • 3 days
  • 700 €
  • from January to March
  • The Kola Peninsula

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