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Anyone coming to experience the magical scenery and rugged beauty of Kamchatka will have to spend some time in the peninsula's sprawling capital, Petropavlovsk, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Compared to the active volcanoes and geysers that bring travellers to Kamchatka, it's true that Petropavlovsk is a fairly workaday and architecturally uninteresting place. However it does have a magnificent setting on Avacha Bay and is overlooked by two giant volcanoes and surrounded by a long line of snow-capped mountains.

Though one of the oldest towns in the Far East, Petropavlovsk’s seemingly endless main avenue is lined with mostly grim Soviet block housing, and there are just a smattering of historic buildings in the old town along the seafront. That said, locals are friendly and the glorious volcanoes are just a short drive, hike or helicopter journey away.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky.