Grand Karelia Tour: St. Petersburg - Solovetsky

Duration

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
Itinerary
Day 1. St. Petersburg
  • Included meals: No
Arrive in St. Petersburg at any time.
Transfer to 4* hotel in the city centre (“Rossi” or similar).
Overnight in St. Petersburg.

You may wish to arrive a few days earlier. We can book a hotel for you or just find your own accommodation.

Day 2. Valaam Monastery
  • Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
~07:30 - Pick-up at the hotel and transfer by van to the town of Priozersk (or Sortavala).
Departure by boat for Valaam Island.
Visit the central cloister of Valaam Monastery and the Cathedral of the Transfiguration, beautifully decorated with icons and frescoes.
Short concert of Orthodox church music.
Lunch in the refectory, including typical monastery dishes 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.
Departure by boat to Sortavala.
Transfer to Hotel “Piipun-Piha” for one night.
Dinner.
Overnight in Sortavala.
Day 3. Ruskeala and Karelian village
  • Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Breakfast.
Walking tour of the town of Sortavala, observe the historical centre with a few old houses built in the style of Northern Art Nouveau, neoclassicism and functionalism.
Scenic train ride from Sortavala to Ruskeala Mountain Park on board of a vintage steam train decorated in a style of the Russian Empire.
Walking tour of marble quarries of Ruskeala.
Free time for independent lunch.
Transfer by van to the historical Karelian village of Kinerma (170 km).
Meet Karely people, a Finno-Ugric minority living in northern Russia and Finland.
Visit a small wooden chapel built in the XVIII Century.
Dinner with traditional local dishes.
Continue to Petrozavodsk (110 km) for two nights at 4* hotel (“Karelia” or similar).
Day 4. Petrozavodsk and Kizhi
  • Included meals: Breakfast
Breakfast.
Walking tour of the historical center of Petrozavodsk.
Departure for the island of Kizhi by boat.
Arrival at Kizhi Island. Walking tour of Kizhi Museum of Wooden Architecture, observe churches, chapels, houses and other wooden structures of the XIV-XIX Centuries. Visit one church and one historical house.
Departure back for Petrozavodsk.
Return to Petrozavodsk.
Free evening, independent dinner.
Overnight in Petrozavodsk.
Day 5. Kivach Waterfalls and the White Sea - Baltic Canal
  • Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Breakfast.
Travel to Kivach Nature Reserve by van (75 km).
Observe Kivach Waterfalls and visit a small museum of the Nature Reserve. Hike the nature trail.
Continue to the small town of Medgora (100 km).
Lunch at local restaurant.
In the village of Povenets observe the first locks of the White Sea - Baltic Canal. Constructed in 1932-33, the Canal connects Onego Lake and the White Sea. Visit Sandarmokh Memorial, a place where Gulag victims were secretly killed and buried in late 1930-s.
Continue to the town of Kem on the White Sea coast (290 km).
Dinner.
Overnight at Hotel “Prichal” in Kem.
Day 6. Solovetsky Islands
  • Included meals: Breakfast
Breakfast.
Departure for Solovetsky Island by boat, travel time is about 2 hours.
Arrival at Solovetsky Island and transfer to the 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 XV Century till modern days.
Visit the museum of Gulag prison and camp. Located in an old barrack of 1929, it holds documents, artefacts, photos and letters of prisoners of 1920-1939.
Independent dinner.
Overnight at the hotel on Solovetsky Island (“Solovki hotel” or similar).
Day 7. Solovetsky Islands
  • Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Breakfast.
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.
Overnight at the train.
Day 8. St. Petersburg
  • Included meals: No
Arrive at Ladozhsky train station in St. Petersburg at about 10:10
Transfer to the airport, another train station or hotel if you want to spend more time in St. Petersburg.
Dates and prices

Dates:

13.06 - 20.06.21

05.09 - 12.09.21

Price:

Adult – 1390 Euro per person

Child 4-16 – 1290 Euro per person

Child 0-3 – Free of charge

Supplement for single accommodation in hotels – 230 Euro.

Supplement for private accommodation at the train from Kem to St. Petersburg:

-          When two persons travel in a private cabin, extra payment is 60 Euro per person.

-          When one person travels in a private cabin, extra payment is 180 Euro.

Included

1. Six nights in hotels.
2. A one night stay at train (2nd class 4-berth cabin).
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.

Questions & Answers
What kind of vehicles do you use?

We use modern, comfortable 9-seater vans, for example Volkswagen Caravella with plenty of luggage space.
For smaller groups we use suitably sized cars, such as Skoda Octavia.
For bigger groups we use Mercedes Sprinter buses or full-sized coaches.

Reviews

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.
    

Katherine (UK)

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, the USA)

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.

Monique (France)