Grand Northern Russia Tour


8 days / 7 nights

Tourist activity

Cultural tours

Tourist destination

, Kizhi Tours

A summertime discovery tour, rich in historical insights, cultural and natural experiences.

  • Three UNESCO World Heritage sites
  • Famous Christian monasteries & traditional villages
  • Steam train, marble canyon, Gulag heritage
  • The White Sea, great European lakes of Ladoga & Onega

Day 1. Train to the Northern Russia

  • Included meals: No

Board a comfortable double-decker sleeper train and depart from Moscow at 16:50 (hop on in St. Petersburg at 02:25 or take a later train at 06:15). Overnight at train.

Day 2. Valaam Monastery

  • Included meals: Lunch

08:22 (or 10:25) – Meet in Sortavala, transfer to the pier and embark on a 60-minute hydrofoil journey across Lake Ladoga to reach Valaam Island.

The Valaam monastery tour. You will see the central cloister, visit the Cathedral of the Transfiguration, attend an Orthodox liturgical music concert and enjoy nature and landscapes. Refectory lunch includes monastery dishes such as vegetarian soup and fish. At around 5 o’clock leave Valaam back for Sortavala, transfer to the hotel and overnight.

*Boat trip to Valaam is a subject of weather conditions and can be delayed/cancelled if there’s a storm on Lake Ladoga.

Day 3. Steam train, Ruskeala marble canyon & historical village

  • Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Breakfast and a city tour of Sortavala, formerly an important town of the Grand Duchy of Finland. Observe the historical centre with several interesting houses built in the style of the Northern Art Nouveau, neoclassicism and functionalism.

Board the Ruskeala Express vintage steam train for a scenic train journey to Ruskeala Mountain Park. Visit the marble quarries of Ruskeala.

Continue to Kinerma (170 km). In the historical Kinerma village, you will experience the rural life of Russia, meet local Karelian people, see the village chapel (18 century) and traditional log houses. Dinner with typical local dishes, such as Karelian kalitki open-faced pies, meat/fish or vegetables of the day, berry drink and tea/coffee.

Continue to the city of Petrozavodsk (110 km) for two nights.

Day 4. Petrozavodsk city & Kizhi Island

  • Included meals: Breakfast

Breakfast and a city tour of Petrozavodsk, one of the biggest towns in the northern Russia.

Embark a hydrofoil to the island of Kizhi and travel across Lake Onego. A guided walking tour of Kizhi museum of wooden architecture includes the Kizhi Pogost, designated as a World Heritage Site because of its outstanding universal value. You will see two 18th-century wooden churches, visit a peasant log house with original interiors, furniture and household items.

Return to Petrozavodsk and evening at leisure.

Day 5. The White Sea – Baltic Canal & Neolithic Petroglyphs

  • Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch

After breakfast, depart for the town of Belomorsk, located on the White Sea coast. It takes an average of 4h30m to get there by car. A coffee stop is planned en-route.

A short drive around Belomorsk will put in the picture about the town. After included lunch at local café, observe one of the locks of the infamous White Sea – Baltic Canal, constructed by Gulag prisoners in Stalin’s times.

Visit the White Sea Petroglyphs. The prehistoric rock carving art depicts human figures, animals and birds. It was in July 2021 when petroglyphs of the White Sea were designated as a World Heritage Site.

Continue to the town of Kem for one hotel night.

Day 6. Solovetsky Monastery & Gulag museum

  • Included meals: Breakfast


2-hour boat trip to Solovetsky Islands and transfer to the hotel for one night.

Walking tour of Solovetsky Monastery and Fortress. See the inner bailey and a small graveyard, the Transfiguration Cathedral, 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 to 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.

Overnight on Solovetsky Island.

Day 7. Zayatsky Island. Nature & history

  • Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner


3-hour boat trip to Zayatsky Island. Among the cultural attractions of Zayatsky are the old wooden church of St. Andrew the Apostle (1702) and 13 prehistoric stone labyrinths, believed to be pagan sanctuaries. Those interested in nature will enjoy the tundra landscape and see various bird species. Bearded seals are sometimes spotted in the waters and on the shoreline.

Afternoon transfer to the port in time for the boat leaving from Solovki for Kem. Arrival in Kem and dinner. Transfer to the train station and board the sleeper train to St. Petersburg leaving at around 20:30. Overnight at train.

Day 8. St. Petersburg

  • Included meals: No

Arrive at Ladozhsky train station in St. Petersburg at about 10:10.

Dates and prices

Small group tour price: 120.000 Rubles per person (adult) in a double room.

Small group tour dates in 2024:
June: 2–9
July: on request
August: 13–20

Private tour price and dates: on request.

If you would like to join, please, register your interest by email to or by using the Ask a Question/Send a Request function and we will contact you with the next steps.


1. Hotel in Sortavala (1 night), Petrozavodsk (2 nights), Kem (1 night), Solovetsky (1 night).
2. Train tickets Moscow–Sortavala (2nd class sleeper), Sortavala–Ruskeala (2nd class seat, steam train), Kem–St. Petersburg (2nd class sleeper). 1st class is available on request.
3. Meals as per the itinerary: 5 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 2 dinners.
4. All transport during the tour.
5. Visits and experiences as per the itinerary.

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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.


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)