Grand Karelia Tour: St. Petersburg - Solovetsky

Grand Karelia Tour: St. Petersburg - Solovetsky

8 days / 7 nights

Discover the most interesting sights of North-European Russia

  • Travel to Valaam, Kizhi and Solovetsky Islands
  • Visit monasteries and museums
  • Observe natural sites and Gulag objects
  • Taste local food and take a vintage steam train
  • Small group tour for up to 12 people

Day 1. Sunday. St. Petersburg

Meals No
Arrive in St. Petersburg at any time.
Transfer to the hotel.
Overnight at the hotel in St. Petersburg (“Dostoevsky” or similar).

Day 2. Monday. Valaam Monastery

Meals B, L, D
Pick-up at the hotel and departure for the town of Sortavala by train or by bus.
Boat tour to Valaam Island (subject to weather conditions).
Visit the central cloister of Valaam Monastery and the Cathedral of the Transfiguration. Learn about the history and modern life of the Monastery.
Short concert of Orthodox church music.
Lunch in the refectory, including typical monastery meals such as vegetarian soup and fish.
Observe smaller monastic buildings, called sketes or hermitages. Among them are the Resurrection Skete and the Gethsemane Skete, surrounded by picturesque pine forest.
Arrive by boat to Sortavala, a town on the northern shore of Ladoga Lake.
Overnight at the hotel in Sortavala (“Piipun-Piha” or similar).

Day 3. Tuesday. Ruskeala and Karelian village

Meals B, D
Take a vintage steam train at Sortavala train station and travel to Ruskeala Mountain Park.
Walking tour of marble Quarry of Ruskeala.
Free time for independent lunch.
Transfer by bus to the historical Karelian village of Kinerma (170 km).
Walking tour around the village, including chapel of the 19th Century.
Meet Karely people, a Finno-Ugric minority living in Karelia and Finland.
Dinner with traditional local meals.
Continue to Petrozavodsk (110 km).
Overnight at the hotel in Petrozavodsk (“Cosmos Petrozavodsk” or similar).

Day 4. Wednesday. Petrozavodsk and Kizhi

Meals B
Walking tour of Petrozavodsk.
Departure for the island of Kizhi by boat.
Arrival at Kizhi. Walking tour of Kizhi Museum, followed by free time on the island.
Departure back for Petrozavodsk.
Return to Petrozavodsk.
Free evening, independent dinner.
Overnight at the hotel in Petrozavodsk (“Cosmos Petrozavodsk” or similar).

Day 5. Thursday. Kivach and the White Sea Canal

Meals B, L, D
Transfer to Kivach Nature Reserve (75 km).
Observe Kivach Waterfalls and visit a small museum of the Reserve.
Continue to the small town of Medgora (100 km).
Lunch at local restaurant.
Transfer to the village of Povenets located in the northern part of Onego Lake, a starting point of the White Sea - Baltic Canal built in Stalin's times. We will have a look at the first locks of the Canal and visit Sandarmokh Memorial, a place where Gulag victims were secretly killed and buried in late 1930-s.
Transfer to the town of Kem on the White Sea coast (290 km).
Dinner at the hotel.
Overnight at the hotel in Kem (“Prichal” or similar).

Day 6. Friday. Solovetsky Islands

Meals B
Departure for Solovetsky Island by boat, travel time is about 2 hours.
Arrival at Solovetsky Island and transfer to comfortable tourist class hotel.
Walking tour of Solovetsky Monastery and Fortress, including the inner bailey and a small graveyard, the Transfiguration Cathedral, churches, monastic cells, refectory, prison, fortress ramparts and one or two towers. Learn about the dramatic history of the monastery from the time of its foundation in the 15th Century till modern days.
Optional tour to the museum of Gulag prison and camp. Located in an old barrack, it holds documents, artefacts, photos and letters of prisoners of 1923-1939.
Independent dinner.
Overnight at the hotel on Solovetsky Island (“Solovetskya Sloboda” or similar).

Day 7. Saturday. Solovetsky Islands

Meals B, D
Boat tour to Zayatsky Island. The Island is interesting in terms of both history and nature. The main attraction of the Island is a small wooden church of St. Andrew the Apostle, built in 1702. Thirteen stone labyrinths are located on the Island. There is a theory that these labyrinths are in fact pagan “sanctuaries” built several thousand years ago.
After the return, free time for lunch. Pick up the luggage at the hotel and transfer to the port in time for the boat to Kem.
Departure for Kem
Dinner at local restaurant in Kem.
Transfer to the train station.
20:30 - Departure for St. Petersburg by train (2nd class sleeping cabin).
Overnight at the train.

Day 8. Sunday. St. Petersburg

Meals No
Arrive at Ladozhsky train station in St. Petersburg at about 10:10
Transfer to the airport, another train station or your hotel if you want to spend more time in St. Petersburg.

During this tour, you will visit the following sites.




The city of Petrozavodsk was founded in 1703 and today it is an important centre of tourism in the North-West of Russia.

Traditional Karelian Villages

Traditional Karelian Villages

The historical Karelian villages of Kinerma, Rubchoila and Manga. Description of the sights and excursions.

Valaam Monastery

Valaam Monastery

Valaam monastery is one of the most interesting cultural, historical and nature attractions in the North-West of Russia.

Kivach Waterfalls and Nature Reserve

Kivach Waterfalls and Nature Reserve

Located just 80 km from Petrozavodsk, Kivach Reserve is one of the most visited nature reserves in Russia. The main highlight of the reserve is Kivach waterfall. You can also visit the Museum of Nature and the arboretum with various species of plants, including the Karelian birch tree.

The White Sea - Baltic Canal

The White Sea - Baltic Canal

The White Sea-Baltic Canal connects Lake Onega and the White Sea. Description, photos and construction history.

Solovetsky Islands

Solovetsky Islands

The Solovetsky Islands are considered to be one of the main sights in the north of Russia.

The White Sea

The White Sea

The White Sea as an interesting tourist destination in the north-west of Russia.

Kizhi Museum

Kizhi Museum

Churches of Kizhi are Russian cultural icons. They are inscribed in the UNESCO's World Heritage List.

1. 6 nights accommodation in hotel.
2. 1 night at train, 2nd class ticket.
3. 12 meals - 6 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 4 dinners.
4. All transport during the tour.
5. Visits and experiences as per the itinerary.
6. Guide’s services.

We wish to congratulate you for the wonderful visit to your country. Believe us when we say that you could teach many tour operators in France and abroad! Michel keeps saying that you know how to select your collaborators... The journey was so smooth (except for the roads) and trouble-free all along. Hotel Rossi was a very good choice as it is very comfortable and close to Nevsky Prospekt. We particularly appreciated to see Alexander I waiting for us at the door of our car in Saint Petersburg railway station. Thank you again.


Thanks for a great experience. The tour of Karelia was everything we expected and more.The tour went like clockwork. Our guide Alyssa was knowledgeable, patient and quick to lend a helping hand when needed. The drivers were professional and the vans we traveled in were clean and comfortable. We have no complaints about our hotel rooms. What an experience to visit an area of Russia few Americans have ever seen! We wouldn't hesitate to book another Nordic Travel tour.

Judy, Albuquerque New Mexico USA

Thank you very much for arranging the Russian part of our trip. We were very impressed with your professionalism, and all the arrangements worked very well. Vladimir was a very good driver and Elena was an absolutely outstanding guide. She is extremely competent, has a lovely personality, her English is excellent and she was very knowledgable about the sites we visited. She was also very good company and the four of us got on well and had many memorable moments together, particularly dinner & vodka at Sortavala! Regarding the sites, the highlights for us were the visit to Kinerma (we have been involved in raising money to restore a traditional barn in our own small village (only 12 houses) so we could empathise with their efforts and problems), and of course the Solovetsky Islands. The train journey from Kem to Saint Petersburg was fine and I had a very memorable 70th birthday at Palkin Restaurant where we coincided with the BBC filming a programme in their series on rail journeys, so we will now appear on English TV later this year, they bought us champagne, and the restaurant staff made a special dessert with a large sparkler in the middle and sang happy birthday! So a great holiday. So once again thank you for all your help. Kind Regards

Katherine (Kate)

Nordic Travel provided us with support in terms of bookings for accommodation in 'difficult to book' places; with bookings for hydrofoil connections; with guides in various locations and with general support. We found them to be enormously helpful, well informed and responsive to even the most detailed of requests. As 'eyes on the ground' they were invaluable in helping us to do things that we might otherwise have missed. Even when Nordavia (a flight we'd booked ourselves and nothing to do with Nordic Travel) messed up a connection thereby deleting part of our itinerary, Nordic Travel were very quick with a sympathetic response and a very rapid, no quibbles, refund for the bits of their itinerary that we were forced to cancel. Their contact, Konstantin Simonov provided a very high standard of support from first e mail contact to face to face meeting in Karelia.They are an excellent and professional organisation and I'd have no hesitation in recommending them to other travellers

Michael Loveday

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