Kaliningrad

Basics

Basics

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Climate

Thanks to its coastal location Kaliningrad typically experiences mild winters. The ‘warm water’ of the Baltic Sea means the port does not freeze over and this stream also greatly affects the climate in the region.

The seasons are clearly differentiated. Winters are usually moderate cold and cloudy lasting from December to March and including periods of snow. January and February are the coldest months with the temperature sometimes dropping as low as −15 °C. Spring begins a little later here than in mainland Russia and it is not unusual for June’s weather to be closer to that of late April. Summer is predominantly warm with occasional heavy rain and thunderstorms. Temperatures can reach as high as 30–35 °C. The autumn tends to be much warmer and softer, and it is still possible to swim in the Baltic as late as the start of October in what is referred to locally as the ‘Velvet Season’, before it turns cold, damp and foggy in November. Kaliningrad is famous for its unpredictable and frequently changing weather with strong differences in atmospheric pressure and gusty winds.

Customs

Because of the sanctions and counter-sanctions imposed in recent times, you should pay particular attention as to what you are trying to bring into or take out of Russia. You are permitted to bring in up to 3 litres of alcohol and 200 cigarettes (10 packs) to Russia. It is not permitted to bring in meat from Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland. You should also note that it is forbidden to take amber out of the region UNLESS it has been purchased in a registered store who should provide you with a proof of purchase.

Districts

Officially, the city is divided into three districts: Central, Leningrad and Moscow. The Moscow district covers the area, basically, south of the river. The northern part of the city is split into the Leningrad district to the east and the Central district to the west with the border between the two roughly following the railway line running between North and South stations. In the past there were four districts, the fourth being the rather rough Baltrayonom which was merged into Moscow. Many locals still refer to Moscow as Baltrayonom and it’s not meant to be a compliment. The most expensive and attractive is the Central District, which is where you’ll find a lot of the surviving Konigsberg villas and the fashionable Amalienau district.

Electricity

Electricity in Kaliningrad is 230V, 50Hz AC. Plug sockets are round with two round-pin sockets as in most of Europe. Therefore if you are coming from the UK, US or Ireland you are definitely going to need a plug convertor.

Facts & Figures

Territory


Kaliningrad city is located in the Russian province of Kaliningrad which occupies a large part of what was once the German province of East Prussia. Kaliningrad is a seaport city and is a Russian exclave that is geographically separated from the rest of Russia by Lithuania to the east. The Kaliningrad region covers an area of 15,000 square kilometres and borders Poland, Lithuania and the Baltic Sea.

In contrast to the south-eastern part of the region, the area around the city is quite low-lying, although the northern part is located on a small hill, rather grandly named the North Mount. The river Pregolya (German Pregel) passes through the centre of the city flowing east to west into the Vistula Lagoon. The Pregolya is Kaliningrad’s longest river at 123km and flows through Kaliningrad, Cherniakhovsk, Znamensk, and Gvardeisk. It starts as a confluence of the Instruch and the Angrapa and drains into the Baltic Sea through Vistula Lagoon.  

Kaliningrad has a number of lakes and ponds, some natural, many manmade as part of the city fortifications, and lots of parkland and places to walk and relax.

Baltiysk is a seaport town, it is located on the northern part of the Vistula Spit, separating the Vistula Lagoon from the Gdansk Bay. Baltiysk is the most western town of Russia and is also home to the Russian Baltic Fleet.

Kaliningrad is closer to Berlin and Prague than it is to Moscow and St. Petersburg. The closest large cities are found in neighbouring Poland and Lithuania.

Gdansk (Poland) - 125 km
Klaipeda (Lithuania) - 119 km
Warsaw (Poland) - 275 km
Vilnius (Lithuania) - 309 km
Berlin (Germany) - 527 km
Stockholm (Sweden) -  535 km
Prague (Czech) - 659 km
St. Petersburg (Russia) - 797 km
Moscow (Russia) - 1289 km

Population


The city is currently home to a little less than 500 000 inhabitants, not including the residents of the surrounding area who each day travel to Kaliningrad to work. Most of the population is Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian, followed by Armenian, Tatar, Lithuanian, Polish and German. The number of immigrants from the southern republics of the former Soviet Union is much lower thna in comparison with St. Petersburg and Moscow.

Population (source gks.ru 2015)

Russia 146,267,288
Moscow 12,197,596
Saint Petersburg 5,191,690
Kaliningrad 453,461
Kaliningrad region 941,873
Russian 87.4%
Ukrainian 4%
Belarusian 3.8%
Armenian 0.7%
Tatar 0.5%

Local Time


​Time in Kaliningrad really hasn’t stood still in recent years. Following a series of new laws, Kaliningrad now finds itself permanently at UTC + 2 hours. Russia decided to drop daylight saving in 2011 meaning that time throughout Russia remains the same all year round. What this means for Kaliningrad is that while its clocks remain the same, its time in relation to other countries which do use daylight saving changes twice a year. So between the last Sunday in October and the last Sunday in March, when it is 12:00 in Kaliningrad, it is 13:00 in Moscow; 11:00 in Warsaw and Berlin, 10:00 in London, 05:00 in New York and 02:00 in San Francisco.

Between the last weekend in March and the last weekend in October, when it is 12:00 in Kaliningrad, it is 13:00 in Moscow; 12:00 in Warsaw and Berlin, 11:00 in London, 06:00 in New York and 03:00 in San Francisco.

One interesting fact is that Russia has 11 different time zones, making the celebration of the New Year a very long party. Cities in different time zones will celebrate their own New Year but the main celebration is reserved for when the clock strikes midnight in Moscow. Kaliningrad’s westerly location means that it is the only place in Russia which celebrates its own new year after Moscow.

Health & Emergency

In Kaliningrad, there are many private, multi-disciplinary clinics (including dentists), which offer a wide choice of medical services so making an appointment to see a doctor in the event of sickness is not difficult. The cost of professional services varies but a typical consultation with a General Practitioner will cost you about 1,000 Rubles.

In an emergency you should be aware of the telephone numbers 101 (fire services), 102 (police), 103 (ambulance) or 112 (all three). You are unlikely to be put through to an English speaker but we find in an emergency situation a way of understanding is normally found. In less urgent emergencies you’ll find the nearest emergency room at City Clinical Hospital of Emergency Medical Care at ul. Aleksandra Nevskogo, 90.

Law & Order

Kaliningrad is a much safer and more pleasant place to visit than it was not much more than a decade ago. Despite the serious diplomatic disagreements at present which have seen a ranch of economic sanctions imposed on Russia and which Russia has retaliated to with a series of its own (most notably bans on Polish apples and Italian Mozzarella), the foreigner visitor is still treated with the same level of courtesy and hospitality one might normally expect.

The city is coming to terms with an increase in visitors, primarily at the moment at least, from mainland Russia. The tourism infrastructure is improving and part of this is the local law enforcement agencies. Police keep a relatively low profile but you can guarantee one will be on hand if you decide to act the fool in a public place. A program called ‘Safe City’ is now in place which is designed to reduce street crime with the aid of more security cameras and the introduction of alarm buttons around the city. Pushing one of those will alert the police who will despatch officers to the scene promptly.

The more touristy areas like Kant Island, the Fishing Village and in and around Victory Square are well patrolled. Going further south than the Southern Station is not necessary and not necessarily recommended though we’ve had no first-hand experience of problems in what is traditionally a rougher part of town.

To call the police you should use either 102 or 112. While we don’t recommend playing silly games with the police in any country, it is even less well-advised here in Kaliningrad where the police are actually a part of the country’s military. Be warned and behave.

Market Values

Due to the current political and economic situation in Russia prices for typical everyday products have noticeably increased. Here are some typical everyday products and prices.
 
Market values as of November 25, 2015 based on €1 = 69.63 RUB
Product Price (RUB) Price (€) 
McDonald's Big Mac RUB 112.00 € 1.61
Snickers RUB 30.90 € 0.44
Loaf of white bread RUB 26.00 € 0.37
0.5ltr vodka (shop) RUB 268.00 € 3.85
0.5ltr beer (shop) RUB 42.00 € 0.60
0.5ltr beer (bar) RUB 140.00 € 2.01
20 Marlboros RUB 96.00 € 1.38
1 ltr of unleaded petrol (98) RUB 36.25 € 0.52
Local transport ticket (1 journey) RUB 18.00 € 0.26

Money

The Russian currency is called the Ruble or Rouble (RUB). Notes come in denominations of 5000, 1000, 500, 100, 50, and 10 Rubles, and there are 10, 5, 2 and 1 Ruble coins. One Ruble equals 100 kopeks which come in 50 and 10 kopek coins.
Currency can be exchanged at banks or you can withdraw currency at a bank machine using your ATM card. Currency exchange rate does not vary a lot, so you will see pretty much the same numbers in the different banks.

Smoking

Russia frowns upon smoking in public just as much, if not more, than its EU neighbours although this doesn’t seem to have stopped Russians continue to smoke in noticeable numbers. Smoking is completely banned inside public buildings and places where the public gather e.g. restaurants, bars, clubs etc. It is worth noting that this ban often extends as far as the premises’ terrace as well. Some places appear to not enforce the law to this extent but be warned that many do and you will be fined if you are caught by a passing police officer.

Toilets

Toilets are clearly marked and though there are not that many in public areas you will of course find them in bars and restaurants and close to major tourist attractions. Toilets are generally marked with an image of a man or a woman so you don’t have to try to decode the shapes used in some neighbouring countries. Where an image isn’t used look out for the Russian abbreviations of M for male and Ж for female.

Water

While the water that comes out of your tap in the hotel will be fine to wash your teeth with, the water isn’t suitable for drinking. Instead we recommend that you buy the cheap and widely available bottled water to drink with brands to look out for including Voss, Perrier and Vittel.

Wi Fi

Free Wi-Fi is widely available in bars, restaurants and cafes, though you may need to request a password. The trolleybuses, trams and buses running in the centre provide password free access to Wi-Fi on-board. The strength of the signal is usually enough to send large text files and photos. Keep an eye out for the free Wi-Fi sign to see those vehicles which offer it.

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