St. Petersburg and Karelia Tour9 Days | St. Petersburg, Peterhof, Kronstadt, Petrozavodsk, Kizhi, Kivach

St. Petersburg and Karelia Tour

Our 9-day St. Petersburg and Karelia tour combines the palaces and canals of St. Petersburg and the wooden architecture, traditional culture, and beautiful nature of the Republic of Karelia. Starting in Peter the Great’s elegant northern capital, you’ll journey north by train to Petrozavodsk on the stunning Lake Onega. From here, the capital of Russian Karelia, you’ll discover the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Kizhi Pogost, an enclosure of wooden buildings that includes the magnificent 22-domed Church of the Transfiguration. Other highlights include exploring the taiga forests and lakes of the Kivach Nature Reserve, visiting the Marcial Waters Resort founded by Peter the Great, and experiencing the republic’s unique mix of Russian and Finnish culture.

Tour itinerary:

Day 1: St. Petersburg – Arrival
 
Arrive in St. Petersburg, meet your driver, and transfer to the hotel (check in is possible from 14:00). Free time. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 2: St. Petersburg
 
After breakfast, take a tour of Peter the Great’s masterpiece, the elegant city of St. Petersburg. The tour starts at Nevsky Prospekt, the city’s central artery and the main place for Petersburgers to meet each other and take walks. As you follow this famous thoroughfare, you’ll come across numerous historical attractions including the Anichkov Bridge over the Fontanka River (one of the symbols of the city), Catherine’s Garden, Gostiny Dvor, Griboedov Canal, the Admiralty, the Field of Mars, Palace Square (the location of the stunning Winter Palace), and Senate Square (the site of the “Bronze Horseman”, the impressive statue of the city’s founder). Continue to the famous religious monuments of St. Isaac’s Cathedral (the world’s fourth largest Christian church), the colourful Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood (which is decorated with beautiful Byzantine mosaics), and Kazan Cathedral (the city’s main church, where the main icon of the Kazan Mother of God is kept). Explore the Holy Trinity Alexander Nevsky Lavra Monastery, the city’s first and largest monastery, before walking past the legendary revolutionary naval cruiser, Aurora, which played a key role in the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. End the day with a tour of the Peter and Paul Fortress, a fascinating monument of military history and architecture. In addition to the St. Peter and Paul Cathedral, where all Russian emperors are buried, see the Triumphal Gate of the fortress, the Petrovsky Gate, the fortress bastions that became Russia’s political prison in the 19th century, the Mint, and the Commandant’s pier. Return to the city. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 6-7 hours

During your free time in St. Petersburg, we offer the following optional activities (at additional cost):
Boat tour along the rivers and canals;
Night city tour, which includes watching bridges open;
Tickets to the Mariinsky Theatre.

Day 3: St. Petersburg – Peterhof – Kronstadt – St. Petersburg
 
Breakfast. Drive out of St. Petersburg to Peterhof (40 km), learning about the history of the old Peterhof road on the way. Visit the Great Peterhof Palace, the former summer imperial residence and the centre of social life in the 18th century. Admire the stunning gardens and fountains and see many of the more than 1,500 rare exhibits of furniture, paintings, fabric, and porcelain. Continue to the old port city of Kronstadt (33 km) on the island of Kotlin, via the tunnel under the Sea Canal that connects the mainland to the island. Explore this former centre of maritime trade and defence, including the defensive and hydraulic structures, the monument to Admiral Makarov, the Petrovsky Marina, the Italian Palace, and the Arsenal building. End the tour of Kotlin Island with a visit to the Naval Cathedral, the main church of the Russian Navy and a monument to the country’s dead sailors. Return to St. Petersburg. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 6-7 hours
Day 4: St. Petersburg – Petrozavodsk
 
After breakfast, check-out of the hotel and transfer to Ladozhsky station to take the train to Petrozavodsk, the capital of the Russian republic of Karelia (395km, 6 h 40 min). Karelia is an historic region spanning north-western Russia and south-eastern Finland. Russian Karelia offers its visitors a unique mix of Russian and Finnish culture, along with magnificent wooden Orthodox churches and pristine landscapes with endless emerald forests and over 60,000 shimmering lakes. Upon arrival in Petrozavodsk at 16:44, meet your driver and transfer to the hotel. Free time. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 5: Petrozavodsk – Kizhi – Petrozavodsk
 
After breakfast, take a guided tour of Petrozavodsk. The tour begins at the city’s central squares: Kirov Square, which has two museums and two theatres, and Lenin Square, where the National Museum is located. The nearby Governor’s Park hosts a monument to G.R. Derzhavin, the region’s first governor, who was also a poet and influenced the development of Alexander Pushkin. Walk past the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, one of the city’s most beautiful cathedrals, and then take a stroll along the famous Onega Embankment. This is a popular place for city residents to relax and boasts lake views and a set of impressive sculptures. See the mouth of the River Lososinka, where Petrozavodsk (the name of which comes from the Russian for “Peter’s factory”) began with the construction in 1703 of a munitions plant by decree of Peter the Great. This was followed 70 years later by the establishment of iron-smelting and cannon-casting plants. After touring the city, take the hydrofoil to Kizhi Island on Lake Onega (1h 20 min). Here you’ll find the legendary Kizhi State Open-Air Museum of History, Architecture and Ethnography, one of Russia’s largest open-air museums. The highlight of the museum is the Kizhi Pogost, an enclosure of wooden buildings and a graveyard that is on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. The Pogost includes an octagonal wooden bell tower and two churches representative of the ancient Russian wooden architectural style: the magnificent 22-domed Church of the Transfiguration and the Church of the Intercession, both of which have retained masterpieces of Karelian icon painting. Enter the Church of the Intercession and one of the peasants’ houses. Then see the 14th century Church of the Resurrection of Lazarus (one of Karelia’s oldest churches) and other churches and bell towers from the outside. Free time. Return to Petrozavodsk. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 4-5 hours

During your free time, we offer the following optional activities (at additional cost):
Drinking tea and tasting kalitki (traditional Karelian pasties);
Horse carriage, boat, or bicycle rides in the Kizhi Museum-Reserve (boat and bicycle rides are only available from late-May to September);
Traditional craft master classes in the Kizhi Museum-Reserve.

Day 6: Petrozavodsk
 
Breakfast followed by free time in Petrozavodsk. Overnight at the hotel.

During your free time, we offer the following optional activities (at additional cost):
Rafting trip on the Shuya River (late-May to early-September);
Mini-cruise on Lake Onega (late-May to early-September);
Visit to the Doll’s House (private art gallery).

Day 7: Petrozavodsk – Marcial Waters – Kivach – Petrozavodsk
 
After breakfast, take an excursion to the Marcial Waters Resort and the Kivach Nature Reserve. Marcial Waters (55 km away) was founded by Peter the Great in 1719 and boasts iron-rich mineral springs. During the visit, you can taste the waters from three healing springs, visit the 18th century wooden Church of Peter the Apostle that was designed by the Tsar himself, and see the historic caretaker’s house. Then transfer to the Kivach Nature Reserve (50 km away), one of the oldest nature reserves in Russia. The reserve boasts extensive coniferous forests, including some trees over 200 years old, and stunning water features including the Kivach Waterfall and 14 lakes with rocky shores. Take a walk through the forest and along the river to the waterfall and admire the scenery from the viewing platforms. Then visit the small Museum of Nature to see displays on the reserve’s history, flora, and fauna. Drive back to Petrozavodsk through the territory of the 2-billion-year-old Girvas Volcano. Today the area is covered with thick pine forests, sand dunes, and impressive landscapes of petrified lava. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 5-6 hours
Day 8: Petrozavodsk – St. Petersburg
 
After an early breakfast, check-out of the hotel and transfer to the train station to take the 06:36 train to St. Petersburg (395 km, 5h 24 min). Upon arrival at 12:00, meet your driver and transfer to the hotel. Free time. Overnight at the hotel.

During your free time in St. Petersburg, we offer the following optional visits and activities (at additional cost):
State Russian Museum (Mikhailovsky Palace);
Mikhailovsky Castle;
Menshikov Palace;
Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera);
Peter the Great’s Cabin;
Grand Model of Russia (a vast indoor scale model depicting Russia’s scenery, buildings, and everyday life).

Day 9: St. Petersburg – Departure
 
Breakfast. Check-out of the hotel (by 12:00). Free time until your transfer to St. Petersburg International Airport. Departure. End of the tour.
  • All transfers (1-2 pax by sedan type car, 3-7 pax by minivan, 8-13 pax by 30 seat bus, 14+ pax by 40-50 seat bus);
  • Accommodation based on double/twin room sharing, breakfasts included;
  • Sightseeing tour programme in each city with local, English-speaking guides;
  • Entrance tickets to sights as per itinerary;
  • Tickets for trains from St. Petersburg – Petrozavodsk – St. Petersburg;
  • Visa support for Russian tourist visa;
  • In groups of 11 or more travellers, 1 person travels free of charge and is accommodated in a single room.
  • Tour leader to accompany the travellers for the whole period of the tour;
  • Full board (lunches and dinners);
  • Hotel charges for additional services;
  • Consular fees for Russia tourist visa;
  • International flight tickets before and after the tour;
  • Personal travel insurance;
  • Tips/gratuities for guides and drivers (although these would be appreciated).

Accommodation:

Economy Option
Comfort Option
St. Petersburg - 4 nights
Ibis St. Petersburg Centre, Station Hotel L1, Hotel Bristol, Mini-hotel CentreSolo Sokos Hotel Vasilievsky, Original Sokos Olympia Garden, Vedensky Hotel, Park Inn by Radisson Nevsky
Petrozavodsk - 4 nights
Hotel Fregat, hotel LadogaHotel Fregat, hotel Sacvoyage

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