A guide to Kizhi Island, one of the best Russia’s attractions. How to get, what to see and what to do at Kizhi.

Kizhi Island is a “must see” attraction in Russia. It is home to incredible collection of monuments of wooden architecture.

Kizhi Pogost

Kizhi Pogost (churchyard) is the heart of Kizhi island. It is represented by the Church of the Transfiguration, the Church of the Intercession, and a bell tower located between these two churches.

The 22-dome Church of the Transfiguration of Our Savior (built in 1714) is the key sight of the place. It was designed and constructed as a summer cathedral: services were held there only in the summer time. Fascinating multiple cupolas of the cathedral and the mastery of its builders captivate the visitors.

Next to the Church of Transfiguration we see the 9-dome Church of the Intercession. It is considered to have been built in 1764, though some historians debate the exact timing of construction. The design and plan of this Church differ from the Church of Transfiguration. But at the same time the builders succeeded in combining both churches as well as the bell tower into a unique wooden ensemble.

Church of Lazarus of Murom

It is believed to be the oldest monument of wooden architecture in Russia - the Church was built in the middle of the 14th century. This church was transferred to the island of Kizhi from Murom Monastery, situated at the southern shore of Lake Onego.

Chapels of Kizhi

Several chapels are also a part of the ensemble. These are the Chapel of Archangel Mikhail (17-18th centuries), the Chapel of the Assumption of Virgin Mary (17-18th centuries), the Chapel of the Divine Savior (17-18th centuries), the Chapel of Peter and Paul (17th century), and many others. Each of them has its own long-running history.

Kizhi Island domestic architecture

Aside from churches and chapels, old wooden households are also located on the Island. These are water- and windmills, granaries, blacksmith’s shops, famous chimneyless bathhouses - or Russian smoke saunas, houses of peasants who once lived in the region.

During the visit of the houses of peasants of Sergeyev, Oshevnev, Elizarov and others, a visitor can learn a lot about the life of residents of Onego Lake Region, their traditions and customs.

The museum's collection includes a lot of icons of the 18-19th centuries. Particularly interesting are the icons "The Transfiguration of Christ", "The Lives of Abraham and Sarah" and “Sts. Zosima and Savvaty of Solovki with Lives”.

Nature

The area is rich with species of birds, animals and trees, which are under protection. Boat and walking eco tours can be arranged.

There is an ecological trail on the very Island which goes from the boat pier to the Vernicle Chapel on Naryina Hill.

By motorboat, it is possible to visit natural sights on the islands of Bolshoy Klimenetskiy, Radkolye and Gryz.

Opening hours of Kizhi museum

The museum of Kizhi is open daily without breaks and days-off.

Summer (01.05–31.08) — from 08.00 till 20.00;

Autumn (01.09–31.10) — from 09.00 till 18.00;

Winter (01.11–28.02) — from 10.00 till 16.00;

Spring (01.03–30.04) — from 09.00 till 17.00.

Accommodation at Kizhi Island

There is a nice guesthouse in the village of Ersnevo, just over the strait from Kizhi. It has several twin/triple rooms, all with en-suite WC and shower.

Getting here

Getting to Kizhi Island

1. Travel to Kizhi Island by boat (hydrofoil)

From about 20th of May till about 20th of September Petrozavodsk and the island are connected by hydrofoils. The distance is 63 km; non-stop travel time is 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Below you can find the general timetable and our comments.

Timetable of boats to Kizhi
 Petrozavodsk, departure   Kizhi Island, arrival / departure Petrozavodsk, arrival  
  09:30 11:00/15:00   16:30
  10:15 11:45/15:45   17:15
  11:15 12:45/16:45   18:15
  12:30 14:00/18:00   19:30
  13:15 14:45/18:45   20:15
  18:00 19:15/20:35   21:50

Actual trips depend on demand. During the high season the number of trips to Kizhi can be as high as 6-7 per day, but on certain days in May or September there may be no departures at all.

Boat cancellation and delay notice

In case of a heavy storm or thick fog boats between Petrozavodsk and Kizhi can be delayed or even cancelled, though it does not happen often.

Combination of different departures

On a standard day tour, visitors use the same boat for the trip to and from Kizhi. It may be possible to use different boats, for example, the boat at 09:30 for the trip to Kizhi and the boat at 17:15 for the trip back.

2. Travel by motorboat

It is possible to use private motorboats for getting to the Island. In the summer time it is usually not practical as regular hydrofoils are bigger, cheaper and more comfortable. However, in late September and early October when the hydrofoil season is over travelling by a motorboat from Velikaya Guba village (north off Kizhi) can be the only reasonable option. Direct route from Petrozavodsk goes across the open lake greatly affected by winds and that is why it is not reliable.

3. Travel by helicopter

The helicopter company in Petrozavodsk owns big MI-8 helicopters for 20-22 people which are quite expensive in operation. The cost of a charter flight to the Island is rather high. Flying time is about 25 minutes one way.

4. Travel to Kizhi Island in winter by hovercraft

We use hovercrafts for trips to Kizhi on the ice of Lake Onega. Depending on weather conditions, a trip from Petrozavodsk takes 60-90 minutes.

However, direct trips are possible when Lake Onego between Petrozavodsk and Kizhi is completely covered with ice. In case of a warm winter, as it was in 2019-2020, tours are carried out from the village of Oyatevshina, which is located on the Zaonezhsky Peninsula. The distance from Petrozavodsk to Oyatevshina by road is 300 km. From Oyatevshina to Kizhi Island, the trip by a hovercraft will last for about 10 minutes. The whole trip through Oyatevshina takes about 13-15 hours.

In spring, ice conditions usually allow travelling until mid April.

5. Travel by snowmobile

Safe driving on the frozen lake depends on ice conditions. Whilst hovercrafts need at least some ice and can move over areas of open water snowmobiles require much thicker ice. February and March are the months when it is usually possible.

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