Arkhangelsk - once Russia's only port - is a historic though not exactly pretty city. It does have an insidious kind of beauty, however, especially on its waterfront along the 2km-wide Severnaya (Northern) Dvina River. The rest of the city is chiefly an expanse of concrete, but it's one with broad, tree-lined streets, interspersed with surprising enclaves of old wooden houses (notably along pr Chumbarova-Luchinskogo).
Arkhangelsk is also blessed with a populace that is surely among the friendliest in Russia and is relatively well connected with the world at large. There's a real sense of Arkhangelsk as a 'happening' city if you meet the right people.