On the border of Northwestern Russia with Finland is the Karelia region known as the “country of lakes” with over 60,000 covering over one quarter of the land area. This region is prime territory for year wide activities like hiking and cycling in the summer months to dog sledding and winter sports during winter months. Come during the winter months and hop on a dog sledding tour to visit normally inaccessible villages and take in the wonder of old multi-domed wooden churches as you take in the natural beauty that Karelia has to offer. Spend some time walking around the UNESCO World Heritage site of Kizhi Island’s, located in Europe’s second largest lake, Lake Onega, architecturally beautiful buildings and wooden churches. We would highly recommend that you pay a visit to the Solovetsky Islands located in the Onega Bay of the White Sea. They symbolize Russia’s spiritual past and which are the home to many of Russia’s best-known monasteries and chapels and priests. These remote islands used to be transformed into one of the USSR’s most notorious prison camps by Stalin, but today they bring out opportunity to absorb the history and the silence of the forests, bays and outer islands. Visit Spaso-Preobrazhensky Solovetsky Monastery a unique corner of Russia that has a history as a destination for worship, pilgrimage and a notorious prison camp. Stalin turned the complex into the harshest forced work camps in 1937 where countless of prisoners died. It is today as a UNESCO World Heritage and is once again a working monastery.
Another fantastic monastery worth visiting is Valaam Monastery located on Valaam Island. A magnificent church that has gone through a few reconstructions from when it was founded in the late 14th century. It is the home of about 200 monks and the nature around the church is magical.
After all the beautiful nature and activities of Karelia, head to the capital city of Petrozavodsk to see an outstanding collection of medieval icons and folk art such as embroider and weaving in the Fine Arts Museum. The waterfront is beautiful and has several modern sculptures and a lovely promenade to stroll on before hopping on a train to St. Petersburg.