Petropavlovsk, Kamchatskiy, Russia
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While sailing on behalf of Russia in the 1740s, Danish explorer Vitus Bering—yes, the same person after whom the strait is named—landed at the site that would become the city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. His jaw likely dropped at the stunning backdrop of the Koryaksky and Avachinsky volcanic peaks. (More recently, UNESCO included the two peaks as part of Kamchatka’s World Heritage Site of volcanoes.) If it were located anywhere else, Avacha Bay, where Petropavlovsk sits and which also hosts a submarine base, would be overrun with visitors. In the Crimean War, it was almost overrun by less benign visitors: Anglo-French forces in an unsuccessful siege. The city’s defenders are today memorialized with a graceful chapel in the wooded Nikolskaya Hill Park.The fact that the city is not visited by more travelers each year is probably because it lies on the remote 1,200-kilometer-long (750-mile) Kamchatka Peninsula, and more specifically along the Ring of Fire. Indeed, Avachinsky erupted as recently as 2008. You won’t have to face crowds to see Petropavlovsk’s iconic landmark, the dramatic rock stacks called the Three Brothers that sit at the entrance to Avacha Bay, or to embark on one of the whale-watching tours that depart from the port.