Karelia is a stunning spot, famous for its natural beauty and quiet, a spectacular combination of rocks and pine trees, and one of Russia’s most popular tourist regions. Colliding with different parts of the area, Karelia offers something different for every kind of personality and weather. People come here to take a break from the city and touch nature: to live by the lake, pick mushrooms and berries, fish, go boating. The list of experiences and things to do is as rich as culture; here is a shortlist of some of the best places to visit.
There are also many interesting attractions for those who interested in history. Orthodox shrines, as well as cultural monuments of Karelians, Vepsians, Finns and other peoples living in this multinational region. In addition to the petroglyphs and sites of the Stone Age inherited from the ancient people, there are many evidences of WW2 left here. So read on and start planning your trip!
So, get all of your traveling gadgets ready, make sure all of your cameras, phones, tablets, and other electronics are correctly charged and well working, make sure you have enough devices to document your trip. At least one or two video editing software go to’s to make quick edits on the go, and let’s hop on a plane.
Where to Start
photo by GordonShumway
The Kivach Waterfalls are a must-see for those visiting Karelia in the hotter months. It’s a perfect place to walk through the forests and appreciate nature with picturesque rivers, forests, and waterfalls. There is a range of excursion options available, each offering truly breathtaking views.
photo by M-V-N
The church in Kizhi is a fine example of traditional Russian architecture.
The Kizhi Pogost Architectural Ensemble is situated on a narrow spot in the southern part of Kizhi Island, a tiny island in the Kizhi Archipelago in Lake Onega. The architectural complex consists of two wooden churches of the 18th century and an octagonal wooden bell tower built in 1862 and significantly restored in 1874.
The churches on Kizhi Island were first mentioned in the 16th-century chronicles. They burned down after the lightning struck in 1693, and the current churches were built on the site of the former ones.
Kizhi’s architectural ensemble is part of UNESCO’s heritage, and the view of the island as soon as you reach it will remain forever in your mind. The most exciting thing about Kizhi is that such a beauty was designed a few centuries ago by an unknown architect, without a plan, a design, or the use of any metal nails.
photo by Boris Bosarev
It’s the 14th century men’s monastery located on the archipelago of the northern part of Ladoga, a place of pilgrimage for believers and a must-visit point on the route. Valaam monastery is a complex of several temples, sketes and households scattered across the islands. Believers are attracted here by the glory of Valaam as a holy place; there are a number of famous shrines: venerated tombs, relics, icons.
Ruskeala Marble canyon and Mountain Park
photo by Timofey Shutov
Ruskeala Marble canyon is a natural monument. It is located near Sortavala on the site of old marble quarries. Under the supervision of instructors, tourists will have a fascinating active rest with a survey of mine workings and woodlands. Adrenaline lovers will be offered a descent along a four-hundred-meter stretched cable over a marble canyon filled with water. Those who prefer educational excursions – a descent into an 800-meter half-flooded mine.
photo by Maxim Evdokimov
Karelian (or Onega) petroglyphs are rock carvings made by ancient people. A group of such historical monuments is located in the Pudozh region of the republic, on the shore and on the islands of Lake Onega. The images were made about 4-5 thousand years old, and the total length of the area occupied by them is more than 20 kilometers.
The Onega petroglyphs are one of the most interesting rock carvings preserved in Russia. On them you can see images of people, animals, boats and other objects. You can see all the archaeological finds as part of an organized excursion tour or on your own – they are open for free visits.
Petrozavodsk and Onezhskaya Embankment
photo by Mazilov Evgeny
The capital of Karelia Petrozavodsk is located on the shore of Lake Onega. About one and a half kilometers of the embankment within the city limits are equipped for walks for residents and guests of the city.
Walking along the embankment, you can admire not only the water surface of Lake Onega. Monument to the founder of Petrozavodsk, Peter I, was moved here back in the 1970s. Later many more interesting sculptures were added to the area of the Onezhskaya Embankment, including compositions donated to the city by sculptors from other countries.
Places to go near Karelia. The Arctic Circle and The North Pole
Teriberka, Murmansk Oblast
photo by Pavel Kondratiev
The way north to Karelia, not far from Murmansk, is where the Arctic Circle officially starts. The polar day’s territory and the polar night, where the sun is not going down for half a year, are not going up for half a year. Just the North Pole.
The arctic circle is enticing in its geographic isolation; it is one of the last several places in The world that feels like a real adventure. That said, visiting the art circle often means you’re traveling through some of the world’s most vulnerable habitats. Want to see whales and see other endangered animals such as Arctic foxes and reindeers? How about skiing down pristine mountains or kayaking among huge icebergs? If your dream trip looks like, you’re going to find it in the Arctic.
As the Arctic Circle encompasses various countries and regions at the top of the globe, there are several choices for travelers seeking to explore this part of the world.
Things to do: reindeer and dog sledding, fishing, rafting, jeeping, sailing, skiing
Amazingly beautiful Karelia seems to have been created for lovers of northern nature. Fishermen, hunters and fans of water sports as stand up paddleboarding and rafting, come here in summer. Active leisure as skiing, snowmobiles riding and even reindeer and dog sledding in winter. And on the frozen lakes, winter fishing lovers gather in groups and one by one. Besides that you can ride a bike, sail across Onega and Ladoga lakes, go for a forest tour!
Taste the delicious dishes of local cuisine!
Karelian pies (kalitki)
The traditional national cuisine of Karelia region in many ways resembles Finnish and necessarily includes Karelian pies (kalitki, калитки), Kalaruoka fish soup, sulchins (сульчины) Karelian pancakes, traditional Karelian flatbreads – skantsy (сканцы); Petrovsky meat, which is cooked in a pot along with potatoes, carrots, onions and mushrooms; fish dishes, porridge and much more. It differs in relative simplicity, richness of taste and satiety. Many original recipes of Karelian cuisine have survived to this day.
If well planned, or with a tourist guide or a Russian friend, Karelia is one of the top beautiful destinations in northern Europe and one you shouldn’t miss either during the summer months or the winter months. It all depends on what kind of tourist you are and how much adventure you want to have.