“Me and a friend is planing to travel by train from Murmansk to St Petersburg this summer. We are planing to make two overnight stops between Murmansk and Petrozavodsk. At the moment we are thinking of Kandalaksha and Belomorsk but I would be very greatful for any kind of recomendation on other places on the Railway line.”
Got this as a question in my facebook group but answering here for all the travelling public to see.
Where you stop will depend on your interests. Possibly you’ll want to drive part of the way, eg. from Apatity to Kandalaksha or from Kandalaksha to Kovda. The road between Apatity and Kandalaksha goes between lakes and has views onto mountains.
One stopping point worth considering is Lovozero, 80km from the railroad track, with Olenegorsk being the closest station. Get off at Olenegorsk, get a cab or a bus, and in an hour-something you’ll be in the local center of Saami culture and reindeer breeding. See here about Lovozero. Revda, with a neat local history museum, is 20km before Lovozero and may too be worth visitiing. There are possible problms with accommodation in both Lovozero and Revda that offer only tiny hostels but also comfortable rather expensive camps 20-30km outside of either town.
Visit Apatity, right on the track, if you happen to be interested in mining. Plus good exhibitions are often held in Apatity. In 20km from Apatity there is a town of Kirovsk, which has the Erofeev museum. No problem with accommodation either in Apatity or Kirovsk.
Kandalaksha is a good place to see natural beauty: a view from the mountain crest, going up the Volostnaya hill, all close by, or historic/military sites, local history museum etc.
See What to do if you find yourself stuck in Kandalaksha for 2-3 days. No problem with accommodation. And I’m personally available as a guide and driver here or in the area.
Consider Kovda, an old Pomor village with a 17th century church as its main attraction. 17km from the train station. No accommodation.
Kem’ is a very gloomy place, so perfectly gloomy that it alone may qualify as an attraction. Boats depart to the Solovetskye Islands from there. Has a History of GULAG museum.
Belomorsk – haven’t visited it, can’t say much.
“Bear Mounains” is a pleasant wooden town. Lots of military monuments and artifacts. Associated with Stalin’s purges. Lots of guest houses. See Medvezhyegorsk.
I hope the above considerations help. Any questions – please e-mail me or leave a comment.