What many people seem to be unaware of is that these are not the only beaches in Russia – there are lots of other seaside resorts which are yet to attract hordes of holidaymakers. We've put together a list of these resorts for you.
Lately, the Kaliningrad region has reported a spike in the numbers of visiting Russians, who have discovered a taste for its Baltic beaches. Back when Kaliningrad was part of East Prussia, the Baltic shore had a number of popular resorts: Rauschen, Cranz and Palmnicken. These days they’re known as Svetlogorsk, Zelenogradsk and Yantarny.
Although the Baltic sea is cool, it’s very clean and there are now excellent beaches across the region, with great infrastructure and facilities. One of them, located at Yantarny, in 2016 was awarded The Blue Flag by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), becoming the first Russian beach to receive this recognition.
If you come to Svetlogorsk, you’re certain to be impressed how pristine it is. The air is filled with scent of pines, the water in the small bay is clear and cool and the boardwalk is the perfect place to stroll for a little while – or, for that matter, a long while. It’s also the regional capital of sanatoria and spa centres which are renowned for their treatments and generally beneficial effects on your health. When you’re not being pampered by the friendly staff, you can enjoy a cultural evening at the Organ Hall (a former chapel), walk through the picturesque buildings and see the resort's main landmark, an antique water tower.
Zelenogradsk, a two hundred year old town, specialises in Balneotherapy. Therapists long ago discovered that this place has the perfect combination of sea, sun, fresh air and, erm, dirt. When combined, these elements all provide a huge boost to your health. The resort towns are a stone's throw away from the region’s main natural treasure, the Curonian Spit, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This designation is well deserved by this nature reserve: the long, thin strip of land is a kaleidoscope of wild animals, sand dunes, ‘dancing’ trees, clean beaches and local flavour.
The hometown of the famous Russian writer, Anton Chekhov, is the Rostov region's main tourist hot spot. The locals call it a real jewel of a town. The high season lasts from May to September, during which temperatures can reach 30ºC, while the Azov sea settles at a modest 26ºC. The local ivory beaches gently slope into the sea, so it’s even safe for little kids. In mid-summer the sea starts to 'bloom', at which point the waters, now rich with algae, are considered to be particularly beneficial for the skin. An added benefit of this region is complete absence of jelly fish and other harmful marine life.
Taganrog is not all about the beach, either: there are plenty of landmarks worth visiting. A significant portion of them, naturally, are linked with Anton Chekhov: from the house where he was born, to his school, to his father’s shop. All of these buildings are now museums celebrating the writer’s life.
Another must-see is Tanais, an ancient city (well, the ruins of a city) located 30 kilometres from Taganrog, considered to be one of Russia’s principal archaeological treasures. It was founded in the third century BC and was inhabited until the second half of the fifth century AD. Today it offers a glimpse into the evolution of ancient city life across the ages.
Taman is another Russian resort that has been mentioned in Russian literary classics: it’s one of the settings in Lermontov’s A Hero of Our Time. It’s no surprise that the region is also home to the residence-turned-museum of the renowned poet and writer. Taman has been settled over a thousand years ago, and evidence of this can be found at various heritage sites scattered across the area.
But we're here for the beaches, right? Summers here are warm, sunny and dry: a great option for those who can’t stand humid heat. The high season for Sea of Azov tourism starts in late spring and ends in early autumn. Speaking of beaches, there’s many to choose from, as the range from wild and hidden to popular ones with great infrastructure. Taman’s central beach is bustling pretty much 24/7.
As sunbathers leave for the day, the beach towels and parasols are replaced with bonfires and guitars, as the sands play host to a wide variety of musical and theatrical performances. Although the shores are rocky, there are carefully marked pathways to safely walk into the sea, where there is more comfortable, sandy bottom.
The Cossack village “Ataman,” another tourist attraction, is right next to the beach which shares its name. This one has no rocks, and what it lacks in infrastructure, it makes up for in clean, golden sand. The Tuzla Spit is yet another notable landmark, spanning from the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov, offering visitors a rare chance to dip in both seas in just one day.
Temryuk, Taman’s largest town, is known for its restorative mud baths, which serve as the basis for many spa procedures – be sure to check them out. Temryuksky District is also famed for its wineries. There's nothing like a glass of local red to further unwind after a mud bath. Taman producers offer a wide variety of drinks, from inexpensive table wines to fine, aged liquors.
A city in Krasnodar Krai, in Russia’s southwest, Novorossiysk is situated on the shores of the Black Sea. The beaches here are supposedly provide more better bang for the buck than the overhyped destinations in Kuban region. After all, unlike Sochi and its ilk, Novorossiysk is not a resort town – it’s the home of a naval base for the Black Sea Fleet, along with several large businesses and a major port. Though this may have an impact on the local ecology, it certainly drives the prices down. The bottom line is, the Novorossiysk service industry is primarily targeting the locals, not rich tourists.
Beaches here are vast and some are located within the city limits. The first such urban beach is located at the Admiral Serebryakov Embankment. Infrastructure is fine and although it’s a shingle beach, it’s still comfortable to stroll along. The city’s central beach is also covered with pebbles. In 2009 it went through renovation, and now offers a number of services ranging from water massage to banana boat rides. The most popular beaches are located in the Aleksino district and on the Sudzhuk Spit. They are both well kitted out - and the latter has a dolphinarium.
Apart from beaches, the city offers other entertainment, such as night clubs, karaoke bars and parks (if you’re not into nightlife). Overall, this is a great place to experience beach life without denting your wallet too much.
Vladivostok is the capital of Primorsky Krai (also known as Primorye, Russia’s Far East region). It’s one of the access ports to the Pacific Ocean and is actually located on the same latitude as Sochi. In other words, in summer this is the perfect place for a beach vacation.
For example, the Shamora Beach (Lazurnaya Bay) is a well-known landmark, and not just among the locals. This popularity (apart from it being an amazing beach) is due to a song by popular Russian rock band Mumiy Troll, which was founded in Vladivostok and sometimes mentions their hometown in their songs. The beach provides everything a resort needs: rides, cafes and restaurants, and equipment rentals.
Another notable beach is located at Russky Island, Spokoynaya Bay. This is a relatively new recreational area, and facilities here are still under construction. At the moment, it has changing rooms, bathrooms, cafes, children’s playgrounds, all-age attractions and rentals.
Cape Kungasny has a beach of the same name, which is a local favourite; it has clean sand, cafes and plenty of entertainment. There’s a catch: this beach is not for swimming. Although that shouldn’t be a problem now, as the beach has plenty of pools to compensate for that.
Vladivostok is a major cultural and historical centre of Russia’s Far East. After a day at the beach you should take in the sights, such as visiting the Eagle's Nest Hill and driving across Zolotoy (Golden) and Russky (Russian) Bridges. Make sure to hire a good guide and book a tour to the Vladivostok Fortress – a unique defensive structure spread across a hilly woodland area. Then there’s Voroshilov Battery where visitors can actually fire a blank from a cannon. Thanks to Vladivostok's status as a Special Economic Zone, gambling is legal here – a recently opened casino is the place to test your luck. Who knows, maybe you’ll win enough to go to more than one beach resort next year?