Stretching an immense 10,000 km from east to west and some 4,000 km from north to south, Russia is by far the largest country in the world. Yet for many Russians, Instagram provides the only opportunity to transcend these enormous distances and travel to far-flung destinations from the Bering to the Baltic Sea. Take an epic journey with Rambler.Travel, as we head on a digital getaway with a collection of Instagram photos taken by residents and guests of the most remote towns in Russia.
Russia’s northernmost town is Pevek, located in the Chukotka Autonomous District some 640 km north-west of Anadyr and 5,572 km east of Moscow. You can fly to Pevek from Anadyr with air company Chukotavia, or from Moscow with VIM Avia and UTair. Between them, the companies operate between two and three flights per month, depending on weather conditions. Pevek was awarded the status of town in 1967, and boasted a total of 13,000 residents in 1989. Following the closure of the nearby gold mines in the 1990s, Pevek suffered the fastest depopulation rate nationwide, leaving it with a mere 2,500 inhabitants by the beginning of the new millennium. According to the 2015 census, Pevek now has 4,720 permanent residents. It takes just 20 to 30 minutes to cross Pevek on foot. The cosy town also has a public transport service, with each bus carrying the slogan “Pevek: A town of romantics and daisies”.
Russia’s southernmost town, Derbent (Republic of Dagestan), celebrated its 2,000th anniversary in 2015. It used to be the oldest town in Russia before the inclusion of Crimea in 2014. The historical quarter of Derbent has been a listed UNESCO’s World Heritage Site since 2003. Its principal landmarks include the city wall, used for defence by Persians, Arabs and Mongols for over 15 centuries, as well as the Naryn-Kala Citadel and Russia’s oldest mosque. The lighthouse in the centre of Derbent is considered the southernmost in Russia. It too appears on Russia’s List of Protected Architectural Monuments and the UNESCO World Heritage List. To reach Derbent, take a coach or suburban train from Makhachkala or a fast train from Moscow, St. Petersburg, Astrakhan or Baku. Derbent ranks among the largest towns in Dagestan, with a population exceeding 122,000 according to the most recent census data.
Russia’s westernmost town is Baltiysk, located in the northern part of the Vistula Spit 50 km west of Kaliningrad. A major naval base for Russia’s Baltic Fleet, Baltiysk used to be an off-limits area during the Soviet period. Today, the base is still operational, but the restrictions on incoming tourism have been lifted. The town hosts an annual Baltic Fleet parade on Russia’s Navy Day, which celebrated on the last Sunday in July.
You can reach Baltiysk by coach from Kaliningrad or the neighbouring towns, or by ferry from St. Petersburg or Kaliningrad. A railway service from Kaliningrad is also available. The town’s key historical sites are the ruins of the 13th century Lochstadt Castle and the later Pillau Citadel, built in the 17th century on the order of the Swedish king Gustav Adolph II. Formerly the town’s stronghold, Pillau now houses a local branch of the Baltic Fleet Museum. The Baltic Lighthouse, which was founded in 1741, is believed to be the westernmost lighthouse in Russia.
Anadyr, the capital of Chukotka, is situated on the eastern fringe of Russia. It lies 6,200 km from Moscow, but just 1,700 km from Anchorage, Alaska, USA. Anadyr was awarded the status of town in 1965 , and received the first non-stop flight from Moscow (performed on a classic IL-62 plane) 20 years later. Even today, the only way to travel to this remote destination is by air.
Anadyr is served by airline companies VIM-Avia and UTair from Moscow, the Yakutia air company from Khabarovsk, Yakutsk and Magadan, and by local airline Chukotavia. A trip downtown from Anadyr airport is an adventure in itself, as the airport and the city centre lie on opposite shores of the Anadyr Bay. You can cross to the other side by ferry in summer, or take a mini-bus across the ice in the winter season. In spring and autumn, the city centre can be accessed from the airport by helicopter Anadyr currently has roughly 15,000 permanent residents. The regional capital won the Russia’s Best-Maintained Town Competition in 2005 and ranked third in the same competition just three years later. Anadyr is also unofficially known as the nation’s most colourful town: while Roman Abramovich was serving his term as Chukotka governor, he had all the buildings here painted in cheerful colours to brighten up the Far Northern landscape.