Many people think about visiting Russia, and it is not a surprise. Russia is such an enormous country stretched from the West to the East more than 10.0000 km. The country is so rich for its natural, human and cultural resources. There is still the stereotype that travel to Russia is not safe, but it is not true. The country’s crime rite is much lower than in the United States according to the statistic from numbeo.com.
There are tons of interesting places to visit in Russia! Normally people prefer for their first trip to Russia to go to Saint – Petersburg or to Moscow, and this is quite fair – these cities have the mostly known historical and cultural attractions. There are many sigh seeings in other parts of Russia as well – if you take a Golden Ring tour to 6 ancient Russian towns, such as Suzdal, Kostroma, Yaroslavl, Vladimir – you will be fascinated with the architecture and soul of Russia. For those who likes been outdoor it would be an unforgettable journey heading to Karelia.
Karelia – the Edge of forests and lakes
Karelia is situated in the northwest part of Russia, and if you travel to St. Petersburg, you will reach this destination for about 5 hours with the train. And if you are in Moscow, you can easily take a one-hour flight or a night train to Petrozavodsk, the capital of Karelia republic. The region is known as the Edge of Forests and Lakes because it has 60.0000 lakes! Onega and Ladoga Lakes are the two biggest Lakes in Europe and in Karelia as well. The region’s lakes and swamps are the largest reservoir of high – quality fresh water. This destination is not well-known for foreign people, but very popular among the Russian tourists. The top 3 attractions you would love to choose from reachable within one day from Petrozavodsk – Valaam monastery situated on the island in the Ladoga Lake, Kizhi island in the Onega Lake and Ruskeala National Park. If you have more time you can you go to Solovetsky monastery as well.
Valaam – mecca for tourists and pilgrims
Valaam is one of the most visited places in Russia by tourists and pilgrims. This is an archipelago in the northern part of the Lake Ladoga, and the total area includes 50 islands. The largest island is called Valaam and well-known because of its famous monastery founded in the 14 century. The amount of permanent residents is about 600 people including monks, service personnel, guides and their families. This place was visited by emperors Alexander I, Alexander II, composer Petr Tchaikovsky and scientist Dmitry Mendeleev. What to see in Valaam:
- Valaam Monastery
- Voskresensky Skit
- Ascension Chapel
- Ostrov Skitsky
- Nature & Park
Kizhi is another famous island in the Lake Onega and a place of unique beauty. You will enjoy tranquility and atmosphere of the pastime, the wooden architecture coexisting with pristine nature and the unreal beauty of the churches. The church ensemble called Kizhi Pogost is a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990, and Kizhi itself is one of the first open – air museums. There is a story about building this church: the main builder used only one axe for the entire construction and upon completion he threw it into the lake and said “there was not another one to match it”. The Transfiguration Church has 22 domes and with a height of 37 meters is one of the tallest wooden buildings in Northern Europe. The best way to reach Kizhi in summer is to take the hydrofoil from Petrozavodsk, which is about 1 hour and 15 minutes long. There is also an opportunity to book accommodations in the nearby village.
The Monastery is located on Solovetsky island in the White Sea and is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Russia as well. The archipelago belongs to Arkhangelskaya oblast, but the most convenient way to reach it is from Karelia. The trip from Petrozavodsk will not be a piece of cake – about 6 hours by bus plus 2 hours by boat. In 1436 by the Monk Zosima was founded the monastery and later became an economic and political center of the White Sea region. During the time of USSR it became a Prison camp and was reestablished after the collapse of communism. Now the Monastery is the part of UNESCO World Heritage List as well. During this excursion you can explore the Monastery itself, Botanical Garden of Solovetsky, Sekirnaya Mountain and Labyrints of Big Zayatskiy Island.
Ruskeala and Waterfall Kivach
If you visit Valaam, you are pretty closed to another wonderful attraction – the Ruslkeala Mountain Park, which is the most astounding places of the Nothern Ladoga. The main part of the park lies in the Marble Canyon – an old abandoned quarry. The huge bowl carved by people has the length of 456 meters, 109 meters wide and 25 meters above the water line. The canyon is framed by steep and sloping rocks and filled with the purest water. The sides of the canyon are cut with the system of tunnels and caves, open and underwater. This is a huge monument to the nature and the industry of mining. Every year in early August in Ruskeala Mountain Park takes place the “Ruskeala Symphony” International Music Festival where you can enjoy the talents of world – renowned musicians from around the world.
The Waterfall Kivach is the must see fabulous attraction as well, which is about 1,5 hour away from Petrozavodsk – the Capital city of Karelia. It is located on the Suna River and derives its name from Karelian kiivas – “impetuous”. The Waterfall is about 10,7 meters high and the second largest plain Waterfall in Europe after the Rhine. This is a part of the Kivach State Nature Reserve and was founded in 1930. The touristic area includes the Waterfall itself, the museum of flora and fauna, some souvenir shops and cafes. This is an awesome place for an incredible snapshot!
My tips for your trip to Karelia
These are the few websites providing tours to Karelia : www.go – karelia.com, www.east – west-tours.com, www. kolatravel.com. They have a plenty of various tours to choose from – you can take a package tour if you have more time, day tour or some of the active tours like Jeep Adventure to Karelian Waterfalls or Snowmobile tour if you visit in winter time. If you have, for example, two days only, you can take the two – day tours to Valaam and Kizhi. But if you don’t like crowds you might want to book a guesthouse by a lake and enjoy tranquility and amazing Nature. Paanajarvi National Park is the right place for this, and if you want to take a look at this place and book your stay there, you can go to www.paanajarvi-park.com.
Written by Alex
If you need any advice or would like to share about your experience in Karelia, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below:)