Yantarny (former Palmnicken) is a small town about 40 km from Kaliningrad. As its name suggests (“yantar” is the Russian for “amber”), the settlement is famous for amber mining. It boasts the world’s only amber mining combine extracting 90(!) percent of the world’s amber supply! The mine is open for tourists and there is also a museum where you can learn all about the process and see unique amber exhibits.
Another highlight of Yantarny is the lovely long beach with soft white sand — the first beach in Russia to earn the ecological Blue Flag award. Sometimes, during a storm, a large amount of amber is washed ashore. They say that after one of such storms in the late 19th century the shore was so full of amber, the locals kept picking it up for a few years.
Yantarny is not so popular (think crowded) as Zelenogradsk and Svetlogorsk, and therefore will suit those who prefer a quiet leisure experience. The tourist areas are well-maintained, and the service is good. Walk along the cozy streets lined with old German houses, visit the beautiful Bekker park and take a look at the former Lutheran church — you’ll love it!
By the way, if you want to see the place where all this amber is worked, visit the Kaliningrad Amber Combine!
The combine houses a museum displaying very interesting amber exhibits such as the map of Russia, unique jewelry items, and extremely large pieces of amber. Take a guided tour to learn about the combine’s history, ways of amber extraction and processing, and how to tell real amber from fake one! The museum is modern and has a lot of interactive media. Some exhibits in the museum are available for sale. You can buy amber items in the shop opposite the museum, too.
You may also visit the amber mine and see the excavators in work! They mine up to 400 tons of amber every year! Note that the museum and mining platform are at the opposite ends of Yantarny (about 3 km apart).