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Karelia & Kizhi Island in 3 Days

Detour from Moscow or St Petersburg

Karelia is a place of rare beauty where nature and wooden architecture coexist in full harmony and revive a unique atmosphere of the past.

This short detour from either Moscow or St Petersburg gives you the chance to explore some of the most remarkable historical and natural landmarks of Karelia, a republic with its own unique culture bordering Finland and the White Sea.Your tour begins in Petrozavodsk, the largest city in Karelia and the gateway to Kizhi Island, the most visually spectacular cultural site in Karelia. We’ll reach Kizhi by fast boat, giving us plenty of time to explore the World Heritage Listed Kizhi Pogost, a collection of 17th and 18th-century churches, elaborately and fantastically crafted purely out of wood.

On the Karelia Kizhi Island 3 day tour you’ll also explore Kivach Nature Reserve, whose 11,000 hectares of primitive forest protect some of the most important plant and animal species in Karelia. On the last day of the tour, you’ll visit the old Karelian village of Kinerma and its 16th-century chapel, before dinner with local hosts who will introduce you to traditional, Scandinavian influenced Karelian food. Resting on the shores of the Onego and Ladoga Lakes, the historic and undeniably scenic region of Karelia boasts a beautiful backdrop of hills, lakes, rivers, forest and steppes. With a variety of outdoor leisure opportunities and active pursuits, Karelia is one of Russia's best-kept hideaways.

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Arrival

Departure

Accomodation

Petrozavodsk

Petrozavodsk

3* hotel

Duration

Action rating

Group size

3 days / 2 nights

     

Min 2

Itinerary View map

Day 1:Petrozavodsk and Kizhi island

On the first day, you’ll be meeting your guide at the railway station in Karelia’s capital,
Petrozavodsk. After introductions, you’ll head to a local restaurant in the city for a welcome
breakfast. Next, you’ll enjoy a city tour of Petrozavodsk and an overview of the history and
culture of Karelia. A laidback city of around 280,000 people, Petrozavodsk is set on a quiet bay
in Lake Onega, with attractive neo-classical architecture and a distinctly European vibe.
We’ll aim for a late morning departure for Kizhi Island on Lake Onega by hydrofoil. The trip takes
around one and half hours. You’ll then spend several hours exploring Kizhi Pogost, aka the
Kizhi Open Air Museum of Wooden Architecture, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1990.
Considered one of the greatest cultural attractions in Russia, Kizhi consists of around 80
structures from the 17th to the 19th centuries, all of which have been crafted entirely out of
wood. Among Kizhi’s many treasures is the Transfiguration Church, an architectural
masterpiece featuring five tiers of 22 intricately decorated wooden domes, built in 1714 without
using a single nail. The building has withstood the elements for over 150 years.
You’ll then be taken to another side of Kizhi Island, where you’ll see some of the Kizhi Museum’s
restoration work in action, and learn some of the secrets of traditional Russian wooden
architecture. On the way back, we’ll make a stop near the highest point of Kizhi to enjoy a
panoramic view of these magnificent structures and their lakeside surrounds.
After a late lunch, we’ll take the hydrofoil back to Petrozavodsk where we’ll spend the evening.

Day 2:Kondopoga and Kivach Nature Reserve

After breakfast, we transfer to Kondopoga, 54km north of Petrozavodsk. Here we’ll visit the
ancient Church of the Assumption on the shores of Lake Onega. Built in the 18th century,
the church is considered one of the finest examples of Russian wooden architecture and is the highest timber church in Karelia.
Our next destination is Kivach State Nature Reserve, a short drive north of Kondopoga. The
Reserve was established in 1932, making it one of the oldest in Russia. Spanning roughly
11,000 hectares, the reserve is vital for protecting Karelia’s primordial forest, a fragile
ecosystem home to 197 species of birds, 48 mammals, 18 species of fish and 569 plants
including the Karelian birch.
In the heart of the reserve is the Kivach waterfall, the second highest plain waterfall in Europe.
Flanked on either side by magnificent pine forest and dark basalt rocks, the roaring cascades
are an inspiring showcase of nature’s handiwork.
In the afternoon we’ll make our way back to Petrozavodsk for dinner in town.

Day 3:Ruskeala Park and Kinerma Village

One of the most striking sights in Karelia, Ruskeala was formerly a marble quarry, mined by the
Swedes, Finns and Russians for around three centuries. Dynamite was used for extracting the
marble, eventually creating a vast, steep-sided canyon, which became inundated with
groundwater. The 109 metre wide canyon now stretches for 456 metres and its sides are
riddled with caves and grottoes. Tall pines sprout from the tops of the canyon walls and the
groundwater has become a river of deep emerald green, creating a truly beautiful union of the
natural and the man-made. The canyon can be traversed by boat, and some of the caves and
mine shafts can be explored with a professional guide.
We’ll make a short stop in an ancient Karelian village of Kinerma, which in 2016 was named
the most beautiful village in Russia. We’ll be met by a local resident for a personalised tour
around the village, made up of late 19th century houses and a wooden chapel to the Virgin
Mary erected in the 17th century. Afterwards, we’ll be invited to lunch in a traditional Karelian
house.
Late afternoon we’ll transfer to Petrozavodsk for dinner, before transporting you to the train
station in time for your onward journey.

Inclusions

Accommodation

3* hotel in Petrozavodsk

Meals

All meals (B,L,D)

Transportation

Train-station/airport transfers

All transportation on tour according to the itinerary (car, fast boat)

Guides

Local professional English-speaking guide

Experienced driver

Activities and sights

All sites according to the itinerary

Other

Russian visa support document

*Russian visa can be arranged by 56th Parallel for an additional cost (for Australian citizens only). Apply for comprehensive visa service here.

Not included

Train tickets, travel insurance, visa, optional excursions, tips

If you have any urgent questions or enquiries, please give us a call +61 2 9388 9816