In Russia’s far north, bordered by Finland and the White Sea, Karelia is frontier country. It encompasses vast tracts of wilderness – dense forests and idyllic lakes ringed by hills and steppes. Yet if you were to visit Karelia on holiday, you will notice that it is also a living museum of human history. Inhabited by Scandinavian peoples for 6000 years, it has been bitterly contested by the Finnish, Swedish and Russian forces over the centuries. After the Winter War of 1939, most of Karelia was ceded to the Soviet Union. Today, while Russian is the official language, Karelia retains a strong cultural connection with Finland. Distinctly Karelian culture lives on in the peasant traditions of poetry, music and folk ceremonies that reinforce the people’s bond with the land and sea.
Why travel to Karelia:
- Be enthralled by Karelia’s breathtaking nature and landscapes, from picturesque hills and crystal-clear rivers to lush green forests and idyllic lakes, such as Europe’s two largest lakes - Lake Ladoga and Lake Omega
- Explore the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Kizhi Pogost on Kizhi Island, a spectacular cultural site filled with a collection of 17th and 18th-century churches elaborately and skilfully crafted entirely out of wood