Nestled in the far east of Russia along the Avacha Bay, next to picturesque snowy mountains, Petropavlovsk is a beautiful introduction to Russia. Petropavlovsk is one of the more rustic and undeveloped towns you’ll visit on an Asia cruise, which makes it a breath of fresh air after a set of posh, urban destinations.
In Petropavlovsk, the few major sights are dramatic, like its field of geysers and Lake Kurilskoye, an active caldera. Curious about volcanic activity in the area? Head to the informative Museum of Volcanoes. If you aren’t a Russian history buff yet, you will be when you leave Petropavlovsk. It’s a town filled with monuments to Russia’s colorful past. While on a Petropavlovsk cruise, you can also enjoy the relaxing beachfront, where you can stop for a tea, coffee, or beer at any of the local cafes.
In nearby Kamchatka is the remote and undisturbed Kuril Lake, which is an active volcano and home to the greatest population of sockeye salmon in Asia. Brown bear sightings are common here as the bears feast on salmon, and visitors frequently comment on how impossibly close they’re able to get to the bears when they come here.
It’s important to plan ahead to see the Valley of Geysers during Petropavlovsk cruises, which is usually reachable only by helicopter. When you arrive, you’ll feel like you’ve landed on Mars. The system of geysers is also home to incredible hot springs, bubbling lakes of mud, waterfalls, and dramatic natural beauty.
An entire museum in Petropavlovsk is dedicated to the incredible salmon farming industry and salmon population here. The museum studies the history and biological makeup of the fish in a way that’ll interest pretty much anyone, going all the way back to the Neolithic period.
The Pacific Ocean is at your fingertips when you sail along Avacha Bay. The dramatic “Three Brothers” rock formation welcomes you to the the Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky area. Getting to the bay from the center of town is just a 15-minute taxi ride. The Three Brothers, or tri brata, are perfectly Instagrammable.
You’ll see a smattering of Russian monuments as you walk through Gora Nikolskaya, a peaceful park in Petropavlovsk. It’s close to many of the area’s other monuments as well as the Kamchatka Regional Art Museum. Enjoy plenty of peace, quiet, and reflection during your walk.
Address: 3rd floor of the Galant City Mall, ul Leningradskaya
Unfussy and casual, Milk Cafe is an affordable spot for pizzas, salads, and sandwiches. Plus, the menu has photos to make the language barrier easier for travelers who don’t know Russian.
Address: 4th floor of Parus Shopping Centre, pr 50 let Oktyabrya 16/1
One of the top-rated restaurants in the area is Da Vinci, which specializes in Italian-inspired dishes and seafood such as squid, salmon, and crab cakes. It balances a cozy, fine dining atmosphere with a casual attitude.
Address: Prospekt Karla Marksa, 29/1, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky
San Marino offers lunch and dinner items as well as specialty cakes. It’s a mid-range option for dining in Petropavlovsk that features Eastern European and Asian dishes like local Kamchatka fish soup and the exotic-sounding reindeer steak. End your meal with a comforting, strong coffee.
Petropavlovsk is one of the oldest cities in Russia, and today it’s home to a population of around 250,000. Fishing is the principal industry here, and the town pays careful homage to the huge populations of sockeye salmon that swim through. Russian captain Vitus Bering founded Petropavlovsk in 1740, and the town’s strategic location in the Avacha Bay kept it protected and secluded. The locals are friendly here and tourists are rare considering the remoteness of the town.
On Petropavlovsk cruises, your ship will tender you into the center of town, where it’s easy to walk around and cover the city’s downtown on foot. Most of the town’s sights are just a few miles away. Because of Russia’s laws and security regulations, it may take a little longer than usual to get on and off your cruise ship, so factor that in when planning your day in port.
Getting around in the city center is easiest on foot, and there’s not much time to get to any other destinations in Russia when you’re stopped here while on a cruise. Be sure to look into excursions where transportation is included. There isn’t a ton of infrastructure in terms of roads in Petropavlovsk, but cheap local buses are a common mode of transportation.
The main shopping drag is along Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky street, where you’ll find bayside shops, restaurants, and cafes. Because you’ll already be dropped off in the center of town, it’s just a short walk to many of the area’s shops and markets.
You’ll use the Russian ruble when you travel on cruises to Petropavlovsk. Currency exchange is a must if you venture into town in Petropavlovsk, though credit cards tend to be accepted at fancier, more expensive restaurants and businesses.