Welcome to Kaliningrad, Russia!
A bit of an odd place, Kaliningrad Oblast (or simply Kaliningrad) is a Russian city, located between Poland and Lithuania. If you know your geography, you might wonder how that is possible. Kaliningrad is a Russian exclave, meaning that although it belongs to the country of Russia, it’s not connected to it by land. It was formerly known as Konigsberg and was founded in the middle ages by the Teutonic Knights. It was then the capital of the Duchy of Prussia, then part of the German Empire, part of the USSR, then finally Russia. To say that Kaliningrad has seen a lot of history is a bit of an understatement.
Kaliningrad might just be one of Europe’s most unique cities, and a worldwide local knows that the weird and unique cities are worth exploring.
Worldwide Local Tip: Since this is part of Russia, visitors will need a Russian tourist visa upon entering, and will have to go through border control once you arrive. Be aware, that they use Russian Rubles primarily and not Euros.
Getting Around Kaliningrad
Luckily, Kaliningrad is not a very large city only containing three main administrative districts, Moscovsky, Leningradsky, and Tsentralny. Many of the museums and places of interest will be around these areas. Stop in at the Kaliningrad stadium to take in a football match, or swing by the Kaliningrad Regional Amber Museum for some incredible art. The Rossgarten Gate is what is left of the old city gate and is located in the central part of the city--it’s now a restaurant! Hang out here with some local members of the Kaliningrad population and grab a cold glass of Konigsberg beer to take part in the city’s history.
Worldwide Local Tip: Most of the population of the city lives centrally located, so public transportation is your best bet for getting around town. Many locals live in the city, so most of the network is well connected to the central areas. The transportation system is good, and affordable utilizing trams, buses, and trolleys will set you back about 50 cents USD per ride. If you feel adventurous, take a walk through town, and soak up the Kaliningrad weather.
A Kaliningrad Landmark
If you’re going to check out any monument around Kaliningrad, make sure to head to the Konigsberg Cathedral. The cathedral was built by the Prussians and was the first place of Catholic worship, in Kaliningrad. After the Reformation, it became a Protestant church but during the second world war, when most of the city was destroyed, the cathedral, unfortunately, was also part of that destruction. Eventually, it was rebuilt and restored in the 1990s and is now home to the tomb of famous Kaliningrad Philosopher Emmanuel Kant. Prussian Kings were crowned here, and there is a small museum dedicated to Kant.
Worldwide Local Tip: The Konigsberg Cathedral is also host to some free concerts. There’s a daily organ concert that is free and available to the public so make sure to stick around and catch a show when you visit.
Kaliningrad After Dark
A worldwide local knows that where you’re visiting a new city, it is ideal to be with the people to get a sense of what’s happening in the city. Kaliningrad has a vibrant nightlife that caters to, not only locals but a lot of tourists as well. Kaliningrad is an up and coming party city, in Eastern Europe. If you’re in the party scene you should definitely check out the weird themed bars and clubs around the city and indulge in local craft beer and vodka cocktails.
Worldwide Local Tip: Perhaps one of the quirkiest bars in town is Bar Yeltsin. Named after the last Soviet premier, this Soviet inspired bar is popular with students, locals, and tourists alike. Serving craft beer and utilizing a great outdoor space, here you can hang out with the locals. Employees speak English, Russian and Polish, so it’s traveler-friendly.
Have a Wonderful Time in Kaliningrad!
Kaliningrad is a place with old history and has an odd place in Europe. The city might not be the most visited spot on the continent, but it sure is one of the most unique. A worldwide local knows that unique cities are always the coolest!