Grand Northern Russia Tour

Duration

7 days / 6 nights

A balanced northern Russia tour rich in historical insights, cultural and natural experiences.

  • 3 UNESCO sites: Kizhi, Petroglyphs & Solovetsky
  • Valaam Monastery
  • Ruskeala Mountain Park
  • The White Sea–Baltic Canal
  • Summer small group tour
Itinerary

Day 1. Valaam Monastery boat tour

  • Included meals: Lunch, Dinner

Depart St. Petersburg Finland train station (Finlyanskiy vokzal) at 06:15 on train, arriving Sortavala town at around 10:28*.
Meet in Sortavala by our tour leader, transfer to the pier and embark on a 60 minute hydrofoil journey across Lake Ladoga to reach Valaam Island.
On the Valaam monastery tour you will see the central cloister, the Cathedral of the Transfiguration, one or two sketes (small monastic buildings), attend the donation-based Orthodox liturgical music concert and enjoy island’s nature and landscape.
Refectory lunch will include Russian monastery dishes such as vegetarian soup and fish.
At around 5 o’clock leave Valaam back for Sortavala.
Transfer to the hotel for dinner and overnight.

*For your convenience, we can arrange St. Petersburg hotel and train station transfer or alternative transportation to Sortavala from Moscow or Petrozavodsk.

Day 2. Steam train, Ruskeala Park and Karelian village visit

  • Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Breakfast.
Morning Sortavala walk - observe the historical centre with a few houses built in the style of Northern Art Nouveau, neoclassicism and functionalism.
Board the Ruskeala Express vintage steam train for a scenic train journey to Ruskeala Mountain Park.
Walking tour of the marble quarries followed with free time for optional activities and independent lunch.
Travel by car to the village of Kinerma (170 km). Time permitting, we can make a short stop to observe Ruskeala waterfalls.
In Kinerma, you will experience the rural life of Russia, meet local Karelian people, see the 18th century village chapel and traditional wooden houses of the 19th century where people still live.
Dinner includes typical local dishes, such as Karelian kalitki open-faced pies, fish or meat or vegetables of the day, berry drink and tea.
Continue to Petrozavodsk (110 km) for two nights.

Day 3. Petrozavodsk city walk and Kizhi Island by boat

  • Included meals: Breakfast

Breakfast.
Morning Petrozavodsk walk.
At around 10 o’clock embark hydrofoil to the island of Kizhi in Lake Onega. Travel time is 1h30min.
2-hour guided walking tour of Kizhi museum of wooden architecture and visit Kizhi Pogost. Featuring two 18th-century wooden churches, it was the second location within Russia to be designated as a World Heritage Site because of its outstanding universal value. You will also visit the premises of the 19th century peasant log house and see original interiors, furniture and household items.
Another two hours are available to explore the island on your own before leaving back for Petrozavodsk at around 15:30.
Free evening and overnight in Petrozavodsk.

Day 4. The White Sea Baltic Canal and the Petroglyphs

  • Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After breakfast, depart for the town of Belomorsk, located on the White Sea coast. It takes an average of 4h 30m to get there by car, over a distance of 370 km. A coffee stop is planned en route.
A short drive around Belomorsk will put in the picture about the town.
After lunch at local café, continue to the White Sea - Baltic Canal. Learn how it was built in 1932/33 by mostly Gulag prisoners using rudimental tools and observe the 19th lock, where the canal connects with the White Sea.
Visit the White Sea Petroglyphs site with the prehistoric rock art carvings that depict human figures, animals and birds, as well as hunting, sailing and skiing scenes. It was in July 2021 when Petroglyphs of Lake Onega and the White Sea were designated as World Heritage Sites.
Continue 110 km north to the town of Kem for dinner and overnight.

Day 5. Solovetsky Monastery & Gulag museum

  • Included meals: Breakfast

Breakfast.
2-hour boat trip to Solovetsky Islands 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.
Overnight on Solovetsky Island.

Day 6. Zayatsky Island – nature and history

  • Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Breakfast.
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 Solovki at around 16:00.
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 7. St. Petersburg

  • Included meals: No

Arrive at Ladozhsky train station in St. Petersburg at around 10:10.
Transfer to your St. Petersburg hotel or airport.

Dates and prices

Dates:

29.05. – 05.06.22
17.07. – 24.07.22
07.08. – 14.08.22

Price:

  • 1190 Euro per person in a double room;
  • 1340 Euro per person in a single room.

Due to current international travel limitations we are taking provisional reservations for this tour without monetary commitment. If you would like to join, please, register your interest by email to info@nordictravel.ru or by using the Ask a Question/Send a Request function and we will contact you with the next steps.
Included

1. Five nights in hotels.
2. Train tickets: 2nd class seat from St. Petersburg to Sortavala, 2nd class seat from Sortavala to Ruskeala, 2nd class berth from Kem to St. Petersburg. If you want to upgrade, please enquire.
3. 11 meals - 5 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 4 dinners.
4. All transport during the tour.
5. Visits and experiences as per the itinerary.
6. English-speaking tour leader/guide.
7. Local guides where necessary.

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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.

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)