The centre of Stalin's unspeakably cruel Far Eastern Gulag system in the 1930s, Magadan is today an isolated but not unpleasant town on the Sea of Okhotsk. Despite its dark past, it boasts an attractive main avenue painted in pastels and has views of the surrounding countryside and snow-capped mountains in all directions. Magadan deals well with its terrible past by Russian standards, with a famous monument to the victims of the camps overlooking the town and a well-run museum that movingly details the prisoner experience.
Those who travel to Magadan today are usually business travellers brought here by the local gold mining and jewellery industries. The odd intrepid traveller and tour group also makes it here every now and then to check out the town and perhaps camp at the remnants of a remote Gulag camp, fish on the Arman River or go birdwatching or hiking.